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The Dragon Tamer

Part Four

When she opened her eyes, Miko was met by the familiar surroundings of her small room.

She rubbed her eyes and found herself yawning, as if she’d been asleep.

‘I am glad to see you are feeling better.’ Orma said, coming in through the beaded curtains that marked the entrance to Miko’s room. There was warmth in her smile but worry in her eyes. The beads rattled behind her. So did Miko’s memories inside her skull.

‘How did I get here, mama?’

‘You don’t remember anything?’

Miko knew her mother well enough to sense the suspicion in her voice.

‘I remember…’ Miko started. Fugitive images of the sand dragon’s eyes linking up with hers flew through her mind, like glimpses of another life. ‘No. I don’t remember much of anything.’ She lied. She did not know how to explain to her mother that all that had happened was because of her, because the sand dragon was looking for her. It wanted her.

Orma did not believe her, and Miko knew that. The woman’s left eyebrow shot up, like it always did whenever she thought what she heard was not quite true. And yet, she decided to stay silent about it.

‘You were caught in a sandstorm when coming back from Takhesi.’

‘Papa. Where’s Papa?’ Miko fretted with newly found terror, throwing off the bedcovers and almost jumping out of bed. Her entire body hurt, like she had been through a beating.

Orma rested her hand on her daughter’s shoulder, holding her back.

‘Your father is outside, Miko. He is fine. He is making dinner for us tonight.’

Miko looked back at her mother, only now allowing her mind to be put at ease. She started crying immediately, repentantly, resting her head on Orma’s shoulder.

‘It’s all right, girl, you are safe. Everyone is unhurt. The sandstorm was mild, but you got thrown off your camel and managed to hit your head.’

‘But…what about the dragon?’

Orma’s eyes narrowed.

‘What dragon?’ she asked, briskly.

Miko stared at her face, confused.

‘No, I’m wrong.’ She tried to discredit herself. ‘I must have dreamt it.’

‘You have been asleep for two days, girl. You were delirious, you kept talking about a sand dragon. What did you see in your dreams?’ Orma demanded.

Miko’s cheeks were flushed, and tears were running down them one after another.

It broke Orma’s heart to see her poor girl in such a state. It was hard for her to sit there and not be able to take the pain away. It was harder to know that she was deepening that pain by asking all these questions. But there was something that Orma was afraid of, and that fear weighed on her shoulders more than the guilt of having caused Miko discomfort.

‘I don’t know, mama. I thought it was all real…’

Orma sighed, then put both her arms around her child and kissed the top of her head, petting down Miko’s unruly hair.

‘My sweet girl…I am not upset with you, if this is what is troubling you so that you feel you cannot talk to me. I want to help you. Please, let me help you.’

‘Are you saying it was all a dream? That the sand dragon wasn’t there at all?’

‘There was no dragon there, Miko. Just a normal sandstorm.’ Orma explained, caressing both of Miko’s cheeks with her hands. ‘Is that not what you remember? Do you remember a dragon seeking you?’

‘I thought Papa died…’ Miko added, her voice strangled by emotion. She burst into crying again.

Orma swallowed the knot of her own feelings that gathered in her throat. She knew why Miko had dreamed about the sand dragon, and it terrified her.

‘In my dream, the sandstorm was caused by the dragon. The sand was everywhere, covered everything. I saw Papa get taken by it and it was awful. Then I heard the dragon’s voice, it asked me to find it. I thought it was Papa at first, and I tried crawling through the sand towards him. But then I found myself face to face with the beast. It told me it needed help, that it was lost.’

Orma skilfully disguised her horror behind a curious frown.

‘Lost? Lost how?’

‘I don’t know. It said it needed me to help it.’

Orma’s breath grew heavier.

‘Mama, it said I was its master.’

Orma took Miko in her arms. It felt like no matter how tight she held her it wasn’t going to be tight enough. Everything was going to change now. The tightest, most arduous embrace in the world was not going to keep Miko in her mother’s arms much longer.

‘It was just a dream, my sweet girl. Just a dream…’

They both wept; one because her secrets were beginning to catch up with her, the other one because she feared deep down that the dream was, in fact, no dream at all.

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