The Lost Dragon
Dirt and gravel kicked up from our bicycle tires as we pedalled after Zhu. We stayed beside the tracks as we waved at our new friend.
Kyle screamed, “Come here!”
She didn’t budge.
I reached the mouth of the tunnel first. I dropped my bike and held out the bottle. “Zhu, you’re not safe there. Climb back inside. Please.”
She cocked her head at me then back at the tunnel.
“You’re in danger,” I pleaded.
“The train is not a dragon,” Kyle explained. “It’s a machine that carries people.”
“No, he’s like me. He can show me the way home.”
I shook my head. “No, it’s a train, and if you don’t clear the tracks, it’s going to crash into you.”
“He can help me,” Zhu said.
“You’re going to get hurt if you don’t clear the tracks,” I insisted.
She refused to move. The clack of the steel wheels grew louder. Time was running out. Nothing I could say would convince Zhu to leave.
Kyle clapped his hands. “I have an idea.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the baggie of chewy worms. “Zhu! Look at what I have.”
Her eyes lit up with delight.
“Want a juicy, delicious chewy worm?” Kyle said, cooing.
She licked her lips. The train was close. The clacking of the wheels on the rails counted down the seconds before the speeding vehicle hit our friend.
I begged, “We can find you more candy, but only if you come here first.”
Zhu took one last glance at the tunnel before she made her decision. She bounded off the tracks and scampered down the incline toward Kyle and me. He dangled the yellow treat, luring Zhu further away from the tracks. Behind her, the train hurtled out of the tunnel and over the spot where she once sat.
Zhu turned to follow, but I grabbed her rooster claw leg and stopped her. “Look at the windows.”
She narrowed her gaze at the passenger cars rolling past us. People sat inside, reading newspapers and staring at smartphones.
“There are people in his belly,” she said.
“No. That’s what a train does. It carries people.”
“He’s not one of my kind?” Her eyes welled up with tears. “I feel so alone.”
Clouds began to gather overhead and a soft rain fell. I leaned to my pal and said, “Give her another worm.”
He nodded and tossed a red one at Zhu. She caught it and chewed.
“Let’s find you more,” I offered.
She sat up and smiled. The rain stopped. The smell of jasmine tea filled the air.
I glanced at the breaking clouds overhead and whispered to Kyle, “I think she makes the clouds rain when she’s sad.”
“I hate to see what happens if she gets really upset.”