This was one of the best days. The mysterious fog that engulfed Rees inside the forest was the perfect touch. It left more for excitement on what was coming up ahead while he plunged into it. The ground was moist and the mud squelching underneath his claws. Oh yes, he was free to get good and dirty here.
Behind came the cracking footsteps of Owen coming after him; probably not too happy about this chase that just started. No matter, he’ll see the fun in this eventually. Rees only had to make sure his companion didn’t catch him too soon and put an end to it all. However, he should still be leaving trails behind just to keep the thrill going.
The little red dragon breathed out a ball of fire onto the wet ground. Despite the moisture the leaves and sticks shriveled up in steam and smoke. A nice large patch remained smoldering that couldn’t be mistaken.
Rees then weaved around the trees deeper in the mist. Pretty soon a spring appeared underfoot which immediately called for a splash fest. Water flew up in the air and crashed back down disturbing the peace this forest once held.
Rees began scouring the area with his nose for bugs, worms, or even something bigger. Surely he would find a frog or two here. Frogs love to be chased just like he did of course. Aha! There was one now at the water’s edge.
Like a playful puppy the small dragon bounced circles around the tiny amphibian, challenging it. After several hopping sessions they both came to a standstill. Crouching down to its level Rees stared into the beady eyes for a staring contest. When it seemed the frog was never going to blink, Rees flicked his tongue out. That started the chase all over again until a shout caught his attention.
“Rees, so help me if you set this forest on fire!”
Owen was starting to catch up. The frog took this chance to disappear and Rees figured he probably should do the same. Yet, the water would feel so good if he rolled in it. He hadn’t done that in a while and who knows when the opportunity would come again? The spring was just deep enough to immerse himself in it. Perfect. Rees was just about to stretch his leathery wings out in the murky water when a pair of hands snatched him up.
Shucks. The game was already over. He could hear Owen’s voice scolding him before he could shake the droplets out of his eyes.
“Gotcha, you villain! What do you think you were doing taking off like that from me, eh? I lost my shoe back there chasing you through the mud. Ah, look at you.”
Owen was holding him at arm’s length, obviously to preserve what was left of his outfit. True to his word, Rees could see a bare foot down below along with several inches worth of mud up to his companion’s legs. The green waistcoat had some smears, and a stringy plant somehow had gotten caught on one of the buttons.
It wasn’t a bad look in Rees’ opinion. Owen’s face, however, said otherwise. That scowl appeared even more sinister with those heavy eyebrows of his.
Why is it that Owen didn’t like to get dirty? Couldn’t he see how enjoyable it was? Staying clean can be so boring.
“I am not taking you back in the car with that muck,” he went on. Rees could see a few leaves sticking out of his dark hair in a comical manner. “Not until you’ve gotten a proper wash-“
The phrase was cut short when a jet of water shot out from Rees’ mouth and into the man’s face. The air suddenly became heavy with the silence that followed save for the tiny drips of water running off of Owen’s tight jaw.
Okay, maybe that was taking it a bit too far. Rees thought to himself in seeing the man’s mouth becoming a thin line. Maybe he would shrug it off and hopefully see this as attempt for his companion to clean him up too? The wild hope was far-fetched as Owen continued to glower like a wet cat.
“You know,” he spoke in a deathly soft tone, “I could just have you spend the weekend with Gwenllian instead.”
What?! No no, not her! Even the grumpy Arthur next door was more lenient than that woman. Rees started wriggling to get loose but Owen’s next words made him freeze.
“In fact, here she is now.”
Owen turned around and from out of the fog his sister appeared. How- how on earth did she get here so fast?! Rees’ eyes widen on the brush and bucket she had in either hand. She was wearing an apron and her long dark hair was tied back in a bun. That meant business, business concerning him.
“You seem to be having a bit of trouble on your hands, brother,” she spoke placing the hand with the brush on her hip.
The shock in seeing her had made Rees’ small body go numb. He didn’t even realize Owen had already pinned him underneath one arm until it was too late. Any chance in escaping seemed hopeless now. Oh, why did he have to be so reckless?
“That is an understatement,” Owen replied, “good timing, sister.”
Fear surged through Rees as Owen began walking over to Gwenllian, or maybe she was walking over. He wasn’t sure which one it was but that brush and bucket were getting too close for his liking. It was then that the feeling returned to his limbs and he squirmed to get out.
No, not the brush. I hate the brush! I’ll be good and never get dirty again. You’ll see. Just don’t give me that brush! The words rushed through Rees’ head in a stream of panic. He tried to squeeze his shoulders out from the vice-like grip holding him fast but with no luck. Out of the corner of his eye the brush was dunked into the bucket and then…
A spasm went through his body and both eyes shot open. He was no longer trapped underneath Owen’s arm but lying on a seat in the car. A talk show could be heard playing on the radio around the air. The forest was gone along with Gwenllian and that awful brush. Across from him was Owen sitting behind the steering wheel, all traces of mud gone, and both eyes on the road. Just to be sure, Rees sat up to look in the backseat, but Gwenllian was nowhere in sight. All that could be seen was a large bag; no bucket, no brush.
“Morning sleepy head,” came the greeting, “had ourselves a nice nap had we?”
A reassuring hand reached out to scratch underneath the dragon’s chin. Sweet relief flooded in. Rees allowed himself to exhale long and slow. It was all a dream; a wonderful one at first but with a horrible-horrible ending. Rees stretched out one wing at a time in the small space and yawned.
That’s right. Rees thought to himself while nibbling his claws to relieve an itch. They had gotten up early that morning and started a road trip. The day simply begun with Owen saying, “Let’s be off, Rees! We have a big day today.” The little dragon was too sleepy to hear anymore and when the jostling of being carried finally stopped he dozed off. The sky back then was dim but now the windows showed a clear mid-morning day.
Just where was it they were going, again? The flow of words Owen gave that morning was too complicated to remember when he was drowsy at the time. Rees turned about and pulled himself upright to look outside his window.
The city they were living in was gone from sight. Instead of buildings there were fields zipping on by. Bright green fields with rolling hills, lines of trees and… sheep.
Rees felt his tail strike against the seat in rapid succession at the sight of the woolly balls. There were so many of them, all just standing around as if bored. Really, it’s as if they had nothing better to do than stand or sit forever chewing on that disgusting grass. Sheep look so funny when they are running. There were plenty to chase out here to his heart’s content. The urge was bubbling up inside and the small dragon started flapping his wings.
“Rees, don’t be so fidgety now! You’re distracting me. We are nearly there and I have to focus.” The hand came again to steady Rees’ tail bringing his attention back to Owen.
He was smiling and so appeared to be in a good mood. Where ever they were going it must be special, or fun. Rees liked fun. He peeked once again to the backseat and at the large bag that Owen had tossed over in the car that morning. A big bag meant a long day; a long day of fun. Rees longed to know more.
He looked back out his window for any indication as to where they were going. The fields were now disappearing in way of hedges stretching high. What?! What happened to those sheep? He wasn’t done looking at them. Instead the wet leaves and branches were brushing up against the clear barrier completely blocking his view. The opposite window showed him the same outlook.
This is boring, absolutely boring.
“Fantastic, a Welsh traffic jam,” Owen grumbled bringing the car to a stop. His hand left Rees’ back to the stick and shifted their direction.
The man gave a wave to whatever was up ahead but then twisted himself around to look out the back. Leaves still continued to press in on the windows but this time they came from behind.
Still very boring.
Rees decided to begin climbing up the man’s arm to sit along his shoulders. The driver always has the best view in the car… at least while being in the hedges is concerned. Besides, from there he could get a better look at that GPS Owen most likely would be using for this long road trip.
“WAH! Rees, stay down!”
The car jolted and Rees felt himself being shoved down onto Owen’s lap. What? He gets to roam around the car all the time when his companion drives. Even climbing over him wasn’t a bother. That is unless…
“They’ll see you,” came Owen’s voice in a rush, “Just give us a minute until I find us a shoulder to pull over in.”
…Unless there were people around. Rees wasn’t allowed to be seen by anyone, except close relatives; relatives that understood why he existed. The first few centuries he and Owen were together there had been several accidents in people seeing a live dragon. They learned to take better care since then.
While the car resumed its progress back up the narrow road one hand kept its hold on Rees’ back which didn’t really matter. He knew to wait patiently on the man’s lap as people could be watching. Even when Owen stopped the car he continued to lie still. It was then after a moment that Owen finally lifted him gently in both hands. His pale complexion riddled with freckles came into view.
“Sorry about that, old boy. I guess I should have warned you about the other drivers here.” Owen’s crystal blue eyes went soft on the dragon. “But thank you for obeying.”
He guided his companion up onto his shoulders and took back the steering wheel. Once more the car plunged into the hedges again.
“Thankfully it didn’t seem to alarm the young couple that I saw up ahead.” He went on with a laugh, “Perhaps they thought you were my cat, heh.”
Rees settled in comfortably, draping his body behind Owen’s neck and letting his tail fall down over the man’s chest. To his disappointment, the GPS on the dashboard was blank. That meant their destination wasn’t out of the ordinary or perhaps Owen memorized the directions. Either way he couldn’t tell where they were driving to.
Anyway, the view definitely was better from up here. Watching the small road zoom towards them was actually quite relaxing. It felt like flying the way they sped around the tight turns.
Several minutes past this way in silence save for Owen humming along to songs the radio began playing. Fortunately there were no more ‘traffic jams’ to interrupt their progress. The man took the narrow road with practiced ease, hardly using the brake as their route weaved around. It wasn’t long till the car came out in the open and small buildings with people appeared.
“Alright, buddy,” Owen finally spoke, “the VIP privileges are over now.” He patted Rees’ head in which the dragon promptly slipped down.
It was common practice that both were well accustomed to. Rees would lay low below the windows until Owen gave him the all clear to roam around the car. This time the little dragon took to hiding underneath the driver’s seat. Usually there was something interesting to find down there and it was cozy too. It wasn’t long until his nose picked up a chip that Owen must have dropped the other day. There also was a pencil rolling around the floor. Once the snack was devoured Rees snatched the stick in his mouth and proceeded to chew on it.
He continued to lie there working his teeth as he watched Owen’s feet use the pedals for the next little while. The car slowed, and then sped back up in sequence along their way. Finally, when they came to a complete stop the engine was turned off and the sound of an unbuckling seat belt could be heard.
“We’re here Rees,” Owen announced while opening his door, “in our lovely town, Usk.”
So that was where they were going today… or least that is the first stop for whatever today held. Rees could hear Owen’s voice fading slightly as he went around opening one of the back doors.
“You didn’t fall asleep again did you? I doubt you want to stay in here and miss what we are about to see. Although you probably will have to shrink down to my keychain the first little bit. We can’t be too careful. Hey, where are you? Rees?”
The little dragon smirked and began exhaling deep in the back of his throat. With each grumbling breath smoke streamed out of his nostrils. The front door was still opened allowing the smoke to spread from underneath the seat and spill out. It wasn’t long till Owen walked back around and saw it all.
“Wha-Rees! Rees, stop that!” The smoke cleared away as the man flapped his arms about the air. The dragon even let out a spark just for the heck of it. Owen’s face appeared in front of the seat, level with Rees. His eyes were smiling even though he was trying to put on a frown.
“Really, Rees, really?” He was biting his lip to keep back a laugh; the effort to be stern was failing fast. “This is a nice car. Now people are going to think I have a bad habit with smoking. Ah, this is why I can’t have company over.”
Owen reached one hand in to scratch Rees’ head affectionately. It was then that the dragon finally emerged from his hiding place to receive more. Both hands furiously rubbed either side of his face making him close his eyes and break into a wide smile.
“Alright, let’s be going, old boy.” The fun came to a halt and Rees knew it was time to change. He touched the tip of his tail to his nose and transformed. Within seconds he shrunk to a palm-sized dragon with a loop that Owen attached to his key chain.