Welcome to Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group and the thirteenth story for critique on this blog. This 3,600-word piece is by children’s fantasy author Stefan Bolz and is available to download (for free) on http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/313922. It is a self-contained short story but part of a series.
Please do comment in the section below telling us what you liked about this story and, what if anything, the author could do to improve upon it. Thank you!
Stefan says, “General feedback as to readability and flow would be appreciated.”
I do have some feedback but I’ve just included it (below the story) as links to the scans of my handwritten-notes so I can let others comment here without being influenced by me. 🙂
Georgia and the Dragon: Chapter One – In which a Dragon learns how to fly on his own…
I’m really just listening to my nine year old dragon
who’s been telling me how he learned to fly.”
– Georgia Johnson Moon
“Shhhh, my mom is going to hear you!” Georgia whispered.
“So sorry, Georgia. I didn’t mean to make all this noise.”
“It’s okay. It’s just that I’m officially napping right now and I don’t want anybody to know that I’m not. Now tell me again.”
“Tell you again what?”
“Yes, the story you told me before.”
“Oh, yes, I already forgot. That was a long time ago.”
“No it wasn’t. You just told me.”
“You know that, for us, an hour is much longer than for you.”
“I did not know that. But now pleeeeease tell me again.”
“Ok, but you promise to take a nap afterwards. You really need your sleep. It’s good for you.”
The sun came through a gap in the curtains in Georgia’s room and illuminated a spot right in front of her bed. There sat—red leathered wings, dark blue scales and a long snout—a Dragon, the size of a Labrador Retriever.
“Dragon!” Georgia whispered again, this time somewhat more urgent.
“Uhm, yes?” Dragon answered.
“Oh, yes, the story. Are you ready?”
“Of course I am.”
“Ok. Here it goes.”
“Ok. Here it goes,” Georgia said back.
“Once upon a time, there was a Dragon. His name was… Junior. Dragon Junior. He lived with his family far, far away, deep inside a lush, green valley, in a world full of wonder and wild things, speaking willows and…sudden weather changes.”
“Weather changes?” Georgia interrupted the Dragon.
“Yes, weather changes,” the Dragon replied.
“But you never told me about the weather changes before,” Georgia said.
“That’s because I did not remember it until now.”
“So, our story is about his sixth birthday,” Dragon continued.
“I am six,” Georgia intersected. “Almost six.”
“On all the birthdays before his sixth birthday, Dragon Junior got what every Junior Dragon gets.”
“Presents!” Georgia said.
“Presents,” Dragon replied. “And a party. And also, at every birthday a dragon learns something new.
“That’s so awesome!” Georgia could not contain her excitement.
“On Junior’s first birthday, the Dragon family sat around a fire behind their house. They all sat together and each of the members of their family told a story.
Papa Dragon, Mama Dragon, Junior’s seven siblings, and, of course, Junior. They all sat around the fire, roasting marsh mallows and making baked potatoes. And they all told a story. And the reason they all told a story was that on his first birthday, Dragon Junior learned how to speak. When all the others were finished telling their stories, it was Junior’s turn to tell his. And he told the story of one day in the winter when it was so cold that there were flowers on the inside of the windows. And the flowers were made out of ice.
That winter he watched Papa Dragon melt all the snow that sat on top of the large pond in the woods behind their house. Papa Dragon sat in the middle of the pond and breathed in very deeply. Then a long flame came out of his mouth. It melted all the snow on the pond and turned it into ice. The surface of the pond was now so smooth that they all could go ice skating on it. And that’s what they did. When Dragon Junior was done with his story, everybody clapped and cheered. Then Mama Dragon brought out the ice cream cake. It had one candle on it. Papa Dragon lit the candle with his fiery breath and Dragon Junior blew it out.
On his second birthday, the whole family went to the river because on his second birthday, Dragon Junior learned how to swim. They all sat on the beach of the river and watched as Dragon Junior waded into the water and swam all the way across. And when he was all the way across he turned around and swam back. There was a big celebration afterwards, with lots of ice cream cake. Dragon Junior blew out two candles that day.
On his third birthday, his family took Junior to a large meadow. The meadow was so large that when someone would stand on one end and yell over to someone on the other end, he would not hear him. Papa Dragon, Mama Dragon and Junior’s seven siblings were all there. They lined up next to each other. Papa Dragon gave the signal, ‘Three, two, one, GO!’ and the whole Dragon family, including Dragon Junior, ran across the meadow as fast as dragonly possible. And even though they were all older than him, Junior did really well. In fact, he came in second. Right after his mama. She was the fastest. She could run like the wind but Dragon Junior was right behind her throughout the race. In fact he almost passed her just before the finish line but she gave it all she got and she won the race. There was a big party afterwards, with a large ice cream cake, of course. This year, Junior had to blow out three candles.
On Junior’s fourth birthday, the Dragon family went to the large pond in the woods behind their house. The pond was very deep and the whole Dragon family waded into it. Then they swam all the way to the middle of the pond. Papa Dragon carried a large rock that he dropped right smack in the middle. Now they all formed a circle.
‘Whenever you’re ready,’ Papa Dragon said. Dragon Junior nodded once, took a deep breath and then he disappeared under water. The pond was murky and the rest of the family could not see Dragon Junior for a while. But then his head appeared and he held the large stone in his front claws. That was the day when Dragon Junior learned how to swim under water. Afterwards, there was a celebration with an even bigger ice cream cake than the year before. Junior blew out four candles that day.
On his fifth birthday, Dragon Junior got up very early and collected branches and small fallen trees from the woods behind the house and brought them to the middle of the large meadow where they had their race a few years earlier. In the evening, the rest of the family came and brought food and juices, apples, marsh mallows and potatoes. Mama Dragon carried something that nobody could see because it was hidden inside a box. They all gathered around in a circle and Mama Dragon opened the box. In it was a large ice cream cake. It had candles on it. ‘Whenever you’re ready,’ Papa Dragon said. Junior nodded and then took a deep, deep breath. When he breathed out, a small flame came out of his mouth. The flame lit all the five candles. ‘From now on, Dragon Junior,’ Papa Dragon said, ‘you can light all the candles on all your birthdays that are to come.’
Everyone clapped and cheered and Mama Dragon cut the ice cream cake and distributed the pieces equally to everyone. Afterwards, they all sat around the large pile of wood that Junior had collected in the morning. ‘Whenever you’re ready,’ Papa Dragon said. Dragon Junior nodded for the second time that day. Then he breathed in very deeply and when he breathed out, a large flame came out of his mouth. It kindled the wood pile and it caught fire. Everybody cheered again and now Papa Dragon, Mama Dragon and all seven of Junior’s siblings breathed in very deeply and the flames that shot out of their mouths kindled the rest of the large wood pile.
It burned high into the night sky and they all sat around it and cooked marsh mallows and baked potatoes. They told each other stories until the fire became smaller and smaller and when only glowing amber was left, they put dirt over it and walked home through the starry night.
And then came the day for Dragon Junior’s sixth birthday. He could not really sleep the night before. He was just too excited. At first light in the morning, the whole family got up. Mama Dragon made each of them a bundle with food and water for the day. There were apples and nuts and freshly baked bread thickly spread with butter. Then they walked out the door and through the woods behind their house. They passed the pond and made their way through the valley and to the foot of the mountain. From there they went upward. The path was narrow and they had to walk behind each other. First they passed wide, open pastures with horses and cows grazing in them. Some held goats and sheep and even donkeys. Eventually they left the lush rolling hills behind and soon came into a lightly wooded forest where their steps were dampened by the pine needles under their feet.
When they came out of the forest to the border where the trees ended and the rocky ground began, Papa Dragon told them that they would soon enter the clouds. That’s how high up they were. Juniors feet began to hurt and Mama Dragon decided that they needed a break. So they sat on the rocks and each of them ate some of the provisions they brought. Dragon Junior ate mostly nuts and one half of an apple. One of his siblings ate the other half.
‘We are about two thirds up the mountain,’ Papa Dragon said. ‘Now that we will soon enter the clouds we need to stay together. I don’t want anybody to get lost. I will go first and Mama Dragon will go last so we don’t lose anybody.’
After they had finished eating they continued on their path up the mountain and soon they walked into the clouds. The fog was thick and Junior had trouble seeing more than ten feet in front of him. But he knew that his mama was behind him and he couldn’t get lost.
After they had walked for a few hours, the clouds suddenly cleared and they saw the path again. The peak of the mountain lay in front of them. Junior, even though his feet hurt him, thought it would be well worth climbing the rest of the way to the top. And that’s what they did. And when they arrived at the top of the mountain, the vista was magnificent. The clouds lay far below them and in the distance, other mountain tops peaked out like upside down sugar cones. The sun was about to set and the fog below was illuminated in golden light. Junior thought that this was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen. When he told this to Mama Dragon, all she said was, ‘wait until you see everything.’
Junior wasn’t really sure what ‘everything’ meant but he could not wait to find out. ‘Whenever you’re ready,’ Papa Dragon said to Junior. He nodded and jumped onto Papa Dragon’s back. On the other side from where they stood, there was a cliff that went straight down and disappeared into the clouds below.
Papa Dragon, Mama Dragon and all of Juniors siblings lined up at the edge of the cliff. They all looked at Papa Dragon who counted, ‘Three, two, one, FLY!’ What happened next was the craziest, the most amazing thing Junior had done in his life. When Papa Dragon pushed off the cliff, he didn’t just fly straight ahead. No. He dove down, head first, toward the clouds.
Junior had to hold on to Papa Dragon’s back otherwise he would have fallen off. ‘Hold on tight!’ Papa Dragon said. When they entered the clouds, Junior could not see anything. He felt the air rushing by as they flew, fast as the wind, through the fog.
Then, suddenly, they were past the clouds and Junior saw the land far below him. It was then when Papa Dragon unfolded his wings and they now no longer dove head first downward but sailed through the air. Junior could feel the wind in his nostrils, so much so that he had to sneeze. After a little while, Mama Dragon appeared next to them and behind her all of Junior’s other siblings.
From here Junior could see their house far below. He could see the pond where he had learned to swim under water, he could see the large meadow where he had learned how to run. He even saw the river where he had first learned how to swim. ‘I will never forget this,’ he said to Mama Dragon.
‘Wait until you see everything,’ she replied.
While Junior wondered what that meant, Papa Dragon gave another command, ‘We climb,’ he said. And suddenly his wings, motionless until now, began to move up and down, creating an upward draft and pushing Papa Dragon upward and back toward the clouds. The rest of the family followed and soon Junior found himself, again, in thick fog, unable to see anything. After a couple of minutes Papa Dragon came out of the fog and clouds. A moment later, Junior saw Mama Dragon and his siblings come out of it as well. From then on, they flew upward, higher and higher. In fact, they flew higher than Junior could possibly have imagined.
The clouds and the mountain peaks were now far below them. The sun was setting in the sky laying a golden shimmer of light onto everything they saw. It was the most beautiful sight Junior had ever seen.
‘Whenever you’re ready,’ Papa Dragon said. That was the moment Dragon Junior had been waiting for. In fact, that was the moment Dragon Junior had been waiting for all his life. He looked at Mama Dragon who nodded to him. Then he looked at his seven siblings who nodded to him as well.
‘I’m ready,’ he said. Then he counted quietly in his mind, ‘Three, two, one, GO!’
Junior unfolded his wings and let go of Papa Dragon’s back. For a moment nothing happened but then he lifted off and soon sailed, all by himself, through the air. What a feeling that was. The wind under his wings made him weightless. He could see far into the distance and far behind him. He could see the clouds and the land far below, and above him was only the sky. He closed his eyes for a moment. ‘That’s what Mama Dragon meant when she said, wait until you see everything,’ he thought to himself. ‘That’s what it means to fly.’
He moved his wings a little bit, just like Papa Dragon had taught him, and he began to fly to the right. Then he moved his wings to the other side and he began to fly to the left. When he looked back, he saw Papa Dragon and the rest of his family behind him. They cheered him on, ‘you did it!’ and ‘go, Junior, GO!’ And then he moved his wings again. This time he went downward. He became faster and faster, cutting through the air like a knife through butter. He flew so fast now that he had to pull in his wings. When he did that, he became even faster. The air was rushing by, loud as thunder, his eyes were little slivers and he felt as if his heart would skip a beat so excited was he that he finally had learned how to fly.
From afar, you could see the whole Dragon family as it dove, fast as lightning, toward the clouds and disappear into them. Dragon Junior suddenly could not see anything anymore. ‘Count to five,’ he heard Papa Dragon’s voice next to him. ‘Then unfold your wings.’
Junior began to count,’ One, two, three, four… five!’
He unfolded his wings just as they came out of the clouds. Far below him, he saw his house and the pond behind it.
‘Fly toward the pond,’ Papa Dragon told him.
Junior moved his wings a little bit until he flew straight toward the pond behind the house.
‘Don’t forget, you have to flap your wings really hard when you’re about 30 feet above the ground.’
‘Okay,’ Junior said but the pond came closer really fast and he didn’t know exactly when to flap his wings to break his fall.
‘Now!’ he heard Papa Dragon say.
And Junior flapped his wings. Up and down, up and down. He slowed down but he was still too fast to land.
‘Follow me!’ Papa Dragon said as he flew toward the middle of the pond.
Junior followed, his wings still flopping. Now he was right above the pond. The surface of the water came closer and closer and closer and then… SPLASH!!
Junior landed in the water. He went deep into the pond and almost hit the bottom. Then he swam back to the surface. When his head came out of the water, he could hear the cheering coming from the shore. Papa Dragon, Mama Dragon and his seven siblings stood there, clapping and cheering him on. He swam toward them and when he waded out of the water Mama Dragon gave him a big hug, ‘I’m glad you learned how to fly but I’m especially glad that you’re okay.’ Then Papa Dragon hugged him, ‘You came in a little fast there, did you,’ he said with a smile.
‘It was amazing!’ was all that Junior could say.
All his siblings hugged him, padded him on the shoulder and congratulated him to his first successful flight. Then his mama opened a box that stood on the edge of the water. Of course, it had ice cream cake in it. Six candles. Junior lit them all with his fiery breath and they sat together and ate the ice cream cake until the stars came out. Then they made a large fire and roasted marsh mallows and made baked potatoes. And they sat until the moon rose in the night sky. Then they went home.
This was the last time Papa Dragon, Mama Dragon and his seven siblings called him Junior. From that day forward he was known everywhere as… Dragon.
Georgia was fast asleep when Dragon finished his story. So he lay down at the foot of her bed, put his head on his front claws and fell asleep. And in his dreams he flew with Georgia through the sky. She sat on his back and shouted, “I can see everything, I can see everything!”
Thank you, Stefan.
If you’d like to see my notes, click on the links below but please give your comments to Stefan here first. That way you won’t be influenced by my feedback, and we can see if we think alike. Thank you.
- My critique (page 1)
- My critique (page 2)
- My critique (page 3)
- My critique (page 4)
- My critique (page 5)
- My critique (page 6)
- My critique (page 7)
- My critique (page 8)
- My critique (page 9)
- My critique (page 10)
Born and raised in the beautiful Main River Valley in Germany, Stefan came to the U.S. in 1996 after attending a three-month long retreat in the Catskill Mountains. He studied psychology and creative writing at SUNY New Paltz. His dream has always been to become a writer. One morning he woke up and realized that he had become one. In his free time he likes to write poetry, shorts and screenplays, attend Karate lessons, read, go hiking and watch Lord Of The Rings. He knows this doesn’t sound like much and there is a lot more to it but he thought he’d get at least some of it into this bio. He lives with his four girls—his long time girlfriend, her two daughters, and a black lab named Sophie (together with a bunny and an ever changing number of back yard chickens)—in the Hudson Valley, New York. Stefan’s website is www.thethreefeathers.com and Georgia and the Dragon is part of a series and is available to download (for free) on http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/313922.
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