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


The next day, Johanna put on her cloak, knowing that even though she would, in a way, be coming out, her true identity would still be hidden. She took ten deep breaths to calm down, then stepped out the door.

Afternoon activities came really fast. It felt like the day had flown by. That is, all except for lunch, when Dave was making his rounds getting activity preferences. The few minutes seemed to drag on for hours, as Johanna strained her ears to hear who was coming. But after that, time flew, and it was time to be a dragon once more.

Johanna walked to the woods to get ready, into the forest where Morgan said she would bring the group. She found a place with a little cove, where she could see the trail, but those on the trail could not see her. That is where Johanna shifted. No sooner had the smoke cleared that Johanna heard voices coming up the trail. Here goes, she thought to herself.

Soon enough, Morgan was at their meeting point and called out.

“Brenna Daenerys! Brenna Daenerys, Dragon of Light, will you grant us your presence today?” Johanna had come up with a Dragon Name, one nothing like her own, but that described her dragon self. It would also help keep her identity sealed shut. The name Brenna is Celtic, and means “blazing light”, and Daenerys means “Lady of Light” or “Lady of Hope”, its origins being Welsh and American.

As Johanna heard this call, she stepped out of the trees. Everyone in the group gasped and instinctively stepped back. There were nine people, Morgan included. Mark, an intern at the school, also came along to help out. Of the nine people, five already knew about Johanna, but they did a good job acting as if they had never seen a dragon before. The other four included Bob, two fourth-graders, Gwen and Joy, and Mark.

Then Brenna Daenerys spoke to them, startling them, but calming them as well. They weren’t expecting the dragon to talk, but what she said soothed the kids.

“Hello everyone,” Brenna Daenerys said. She was using a thick Scottish accent so as not to be detected as Johanna, “I’m Brenna Daenerys, Dragon of Light. I’m friends with Morgan here, and I thought I’d fly over to talk to you and perhaps answer some questions. And of course, as said in the name of this activity, give you rides on my back.”

“I have a question,” the fourth-grader named Joy called out, “Where are you from? And what is it like there?”

“Ah, good question,” Brenna Daenerys responded, “I come from far across the sea, in the Highlands of Scotland. There is great dragon territory around there, lots of areas that are just mountains and glens with no towns or villages. I live in a cave on a peak.”

“Can we have a ride?” Joy asked, grabbing her friend Gwen’s hand.

“Of course! That’s what this time is for!” Brenna Daenerys answered. She lowered her wing, and the small children scampered up onto the large dragon’s back.

“Hold on tight!” the Dragon of Light called out, and she beat her wings and lifted off the ground. The young ones squealed with delight as they were lifted into the air. Brenna Daenerys made a few loops and then returned to the ground. The next to pipe up was Bob, from the back of the group.

“Could I have the next ride?” he asked.

“Yes, hop on,” the dragon answered, and bent down a wing so he could climb up. Then Brenna Daenerys lifted off into the air.

“This is really cool, Johanna!” Bob said.

“Johanna? Who’s Johanna?” responded Brenna Daenerys/Johanna quickly.

“Oh, come on. I’ve been sitting across from you at lunch. Your eyes are exactly the same.”

“Well then, this ‘Johanna’ person must have beautiful eyes!” Brenna Daenerys retorted, “One more loop?” She flew around once more, then came around for a graceful landing. Everyone cheered. She gave a few more rides, and pretty soon the time was over.

“Time to say goodbye, everyone!” Morgan told the group.

“Goodbye!” they all called, and Brenna Daenerys, Dragon of Light exited into the woods. She waited until she was sure they were far away, then turned human again. She stretched, drank some water out of the bottle she had brought and stealthily made her way back to the main campus. When she was at her locker, Bob walked up to her again. Johanna’s heart started to beat very fast. He had already figured out that it was her, but she could only keep the act up for so long. She was also a little afraid of what he might do; Bob wasn’t someone she really trusted.

“Hi,” he said, in a somewhat accusatory tone, “Where were you for the activities?”

“Oh, that,” Johanna responded, thinking fast while keeping her back as close to the lockers as she could, “Ummm… I had to meet with Mr. Johnson about something important. That’s where I was.”

“Okay,” he answered, but sounded skeptical. As he shrugged and walked away, Johanna breathed out a sigh of relief. She finished packing up her stuff and went back to her room.

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