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. 


Hiking down from the crag was busy with excitement. Johanna was being bombarded with questions about flying, transformation, and all sorts of dragon stuff. And of course there was that question of “Can I ride on you while you fly?” It was a bit overwhelming. But at one point, Ariel offered to make Johanna a new cloak. 

“That thing looks pretty hot. I think I know what to use to make one that has A/C in it,” Ariel told Johanna. She was an amazing inventor.

“That would be great, thank you so much!” replied Johanna. Then everyone started asking Johanna questions again. 

“Chill out, everyone!” scolded Morgan gently, “Let her catch her breath!” Apparently everyone else was out of breath as well, because it was silent in the forest for a bit, except for the chirping of birds and wind in the trees. Then everyone came out of that peaceful trance and decided they would have a race down the mountain. So as the other students ran ahead, Johanna got a chance to talk to Morgan about something.

“With what these guys are interested in, I have an idea for a new activity. It’s called Dragon Riding. Everyone who knows about my wings has an interest in riding me, and those who don’t know won’t need to know it’s me. You could meet everyone at the beginning of the time, and I’ll be in dragon form already, out in the woods. Then you can bring the kids and they can ride on me and ask me questions. I’ll use a different name and speak in an accent so they won’t recognize me,” explained Johanna.

“Are you sure?” inquired Morgan, “This is a pretty big secret.”

“I know,” replied Johanna, “But I want to share my powers, not hoard them away.”

“Okay,” agreed Morgan, “But only if you’re sure.”


           Later that night, after she got home, Johanna decided to test out her powers a bit more. Once she was positive that everyone was asleep, she snuck outside and into the woods near her house. It was a clear, calm night, with hardly any breeze. Johanna looked up and saw the moon, beautiful and full, coming up over the tops of the trees. What a peaceful night, Johanna thought, Perfect to try out my new powers! So she found a little clearing where she had some space and changed into a dragon. I wonder if I have fire, she thought to herself, as she looked around and saw an old fire ring, red and rusty from years of abandonment out in the woods. Johanna went around, collecting twigs in the moonlight and stacking them in the ring until it was full. 

“Okay, here goes,” she said to herself, and she took a deep breath. Whoosh! The fire ring went up in purple flames. Johanna instinctively jumped back, but after the first poof, the flames died down to a nice controlled campfire, turning back to the typical flickering orange color, and no trees were lit. 

“Awesome!” said Johanna, and she lay back to enjoy the light of the fire. It was nice, being out here alone in her new form, without having a worry in the world. Being a dragon was so cool. She was the same person on the inside, but now she could do so much more. She could fly and breathe fire! That was pretty hard to beat, in Johanna’s opinion. The experience of this was incredible. Of course, there was going to be the issue of keeping it a secret (because who wants to be the next biology lab subject?), and at first it was a little scary, but weighing the pros and cons, the pros won. She just had to keep it a secret from anyone she didn’t trust, especially Bob, sleep on her side instead of her back, and make sure to not accidentally breathe fire in her English class, and it would all be fine. So Johanna relaxed with her fire in the woods and rested. It was a lovely night.

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