Tara woke, her body heavy and floppy. Did she have to get up? Everyone else slept on. This wasn’t the long-waking, when the whole family would arise.

Her stomach grumbled. She just needed a quick snack, then she could go back to sleep, too. She forced open one eyelid, rubbing away the grit. She stretched every muscle and bone until they creaked and crackled, then waddled to the door and pushed it wide.

Trees. All around her door stood trees. Their huge heads hid the sky and turned its light watery green. Their rough brown trunks held her prisoner. Her house used to overlook silver-green hills and a forever-sky full of roaring wind. Now there were only trees that captured the wind into whispers and silence.

No, not quite silent. A faint squeal bounced into short, breathy screams that drifted through the dim light. Scarlet flashed between the trees.

Food that ran right to her door. Much better. She hid her large body behind a boulder and watched.

Skinny limbs flailed and a pink mouth shrieked until Tara’s ears ached. A bright red cloth fluttered like a broken wing. The food stumbled into the clearing, its blue eyes wild.

Tara screwed up her nose. A two-legged thing. If she ate one of them, more would come with pointy metal sticks to poke at her. She stayed still.

Something hairy and four-legged leapt into the clearing. Its big eyes narrowed and big ears twitched. Its big, sharp, yellow teeth gnashed. The hairy thing growled.

Tasty.

She pounced. Snap!

*

When Little Red brought Grandma and the woodcutter back to the ancient mound in the forest, there was no sign of the dragon she claimed ate the wolf.

Inside the hill, comfortably full, Tara Greywing slumbered toward the long-waking.

CategoryFlash Fiction

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