This is the fourth chapter of a 9-chapter novella by teenager Arden Calhoun. We’ll publish more installments of this story in weeks to come. 


It was lunch time, and Johanna was a little nervous. She would be in a room with lots of people, and she was trying to hide something very strange under a cloak. Thankfully, she made it to her seat without any questions and only a couple of funny looks. That she was expecting; it was seventy-five degrees and sunny out, and here she was in a long cloak. She sat down at her table. Bob, another kid in her class, was sitting across from her. In Johanna’s eyes, he was alright, but a very curious, adventurous, and sometimes nosy person; she was not excited to be sharing a table with him on that particular day. She would have to really hone in on the improv skills she was learning in her acting class just to get through five minutes of lunch without him figuring out the truth about her newest developments.

“Why are you wearing a coat, Johanna? It’s a warm day,” he asked bluntly.

“For one thing, it’s a cloak, not a coat. There’s a difference. Also, the A/C in here makes me chilly- I’m very sensitive to temperatures,” Johanna replied. Bob shrugged and seemed satisfied with that answer, but kept glancing at her. Johanna was relieved that he wasn’t asking any more questions, but still shifted in her seat uneasily. She went through the rest of her classes with just as much caution that day, sitting in the back whenever she could. She was extremely relieved when classes were finished and she could go up to her room at the boarding school for her homework, instead of the library, where there would be other people.

The next day, there was a rock climbing activity that Johanna had signed up for the day before, partially because she loved climbing, and partially because it was an activity where it would be easier to hide her wings, as there wouldn’t be running involved. That could make her cloak flare out and expose them. 

At the crag where Johanna and her group would be climbing, she tried a route that was pretty hard, and wearing a hot and tangly cloak was not making it easier. 

“Why don’t you just take off the cloak?” Morgan, Johanna’s advisor and the adult running climbing that day said, as she lowered Johanna to the ground for the fifth time. Johanna looked around at the people there. Morgan, and three other students, Ariel, Philip, and William. All good people that she could trust.

“Because of this,” she said as she untied and dropped off her cloak. Everyone there stared at her, open-mouthed.

“Close your mouth, Philip. We are not a codfish!” Johanna said, quoting the play she was acting in, “And yes, I have wings. No need to freak out.”

“Those are… wings,” gasped Ariel, still in shock.

“Yes,” Johanna responded matter-of-factly, “Want to see something else?” Johanna had gotten good at switching back and forth from human to dragon—she could now do that way in a puff of smoke like she could going from dragon to human. So a puff of smog erupted and Johanna had become a dragon. Everyone jumped back. 

“Relax!” Johanna said, “I just turned into a dragon. No big deal. I’m still Johanna underneath.” Morgan stepped forward, leading the group.

“Can I feel your scales?” she asked, “I mean, it’s no problem is you say no—”

“Of course you can,” Johanna replied, “All of you can. But one more thing- please don’t tell anyone. I just trusted you with my biggest secret. Promise me you won’t tell?”

“We promise!” everyone chorused back, all smiling. 

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