This is the eighth chapter of a 9-chapter novella by teenager Arden Calhoun. We’ll publish more installments of this story in weeks to come.
CHAPTER VIII – EXPOSURE
Walking through the school the next day, Johanna was feeling a bit self-conscious. Teenagers often feel judged and put down if they are different from other people, even if the way they are is perfectly fine. This was exactly how Johanna felt. Lizzie was already in first period English when she walked in.
“What are you doing?” she said, “Why aren’t you wearing your cloak?”
“I’m tired of hiding,” Johanna answered simply.
“Okay, but only if you’re sure,” she replied. Then the rest of the class filed in. All the people who already knew were there, but there were others as well, who were all visibly astonished as they made the connection between the dragon and Johanna. Even though none of them were actually at the activity with Brenna Daenerys, word gets around. There was a lot of wing-feeling and speechlessness before the teacher called class to action.
Four classes and a hundred wowed faces later, it was lunchtime. Johanna was nervous—this was where there would be the most people. Bob was already at the table when she got there with her food.
“Well, I was right,” was the first thing he said.
“Yes,” Johanna responded, “You were right. But I couldn’t tell you, because, well…”
“You didn’t trust me enough,” he filled in for her, “Yeah, I wouldn’t have trusted me either. But it’s alright. I won’t tell.”
“Thanks,” Johanna answered, and they ate their lunch together.
That night, Johanna couldn’t sleep, so she decided to do a bit more experimenting. This time, she took to the air. She flew around and tested her speed and fell in love with flying. Now that I can fly, I don’t even need to build a flying bike anymore! she thought, Well, actually, I could build one for Mark. Then he could join me in the air. I’ll have to think about it. Johanna was so lost in thought that she almost ran into the cliff in front of her, but she stopped just in time. Then she looked again. Where she was going to run into was right next to a cave. And on the edge of the cave there was gold. She flew in quietly to investigate. It was so dark in there! But she worked her way through the tunnels, and eventually saw light from up ahead. Oh, it must be the other side of the mountain! thought Johanna, Talk about a shortcut! But when she got closer, she realized it wasn’t sunlight she was seeing. It was glittering gold! Piles and piles of gold! Something’s just not right here, she thought, and then she heard it. A rumbling. No, a growling. Whatever it was, Johanna’s gut told her she had to get out of there. But her curiosity egged her on! Then she saw a tail, and after that, the rest of the dragon stepped out. It was three times as big as her, with black scales and gold ridges on its back.
“I smell something,” it bellowed in its deep voice, “Or, might I say, someone. Mmm, now I’ll have a great dinner. I’m getting tired of rabbits.” Johanna was trying very hard not to scream, but she knew if she did, it would draw the dragon right to her and she would be sizzled up like a sausage in no time. So she silently maneuvered her way to the exit, then flew (literally) down the tunnel as fast as she could. She didn’t realize she wasn’t breathing until she was out and had a nice intake of fresh air. After catching her breath, she didn’t stop until she was home.