Spring by Rowan Bell

 

‘Welcome to Bone Cave, Ogof-yr-Esgyrn. My name is Gwyn Williams, and I’ll be your guide for

today.

    ‘We will be descending to Ogof-y-Ddraig, the Dragon’s Cave, named for its incredibly lifelike

rock formations.

    ‘Some of the passages are quite low, so keep your helmets and lamps on at all times …’

 

    Oh no, it’s that old bore Gwyn again. Is it Spring already? Doesn’t seem long since his father …

no, his grandfather was coming down here.

    Of course, it’s not like the old days, the proper old days, when I came out of hibernation every

    Spring and flew down the valleys looking for food. I got real respect then. You could hear the

screams for miles around. Happy days.

Then I found my mate and we filled this cave with love and laughter and bones, but one year she

got wanderlust, went travelling and never returned. I heard rumours of towns burning down in

Norway, that sounded like her. Never followed her though. This was home.

Eventually I came to an agreement with the folk in the valleys: they tied up the old and the slow,

and I didn’t chase the rest. Still flew around and set some fires though, to keep them on their toes.

I was hot then. Really hot. Could melt rocks on a good day.

    Entered the local, what’s it called? Some fancy Greek word. Psyche, that’s it. People didn’t need

reminding any more. They left me food though. No longer always the slow ones, sometimes it was

just cows, sheep, pigs. I was happy with that though, not having to chase them. I was slowing

down myself then, after all.

    Can’t remember the name of the king who decided he’d give in to his whinging farmers and stop

my regular gifts. He was the one who started the dragon festival. At first they would drive some

old or lame animal into the cave once a year and hold a big feast outside; then they just held the

feast and someone ran around in a dragon mask and a green cloak, frightening the children,

while I went hungry inside with the constant drip, drip from the limestone roof falling onto me.

In time the young ones stopped believing the old tales were true, were history. They stopped

fearing me then. They had a tradition to always leave a morsel if they ate in the cave, but that’s

not much to keep me going.

 

    They allow families in here now. Children slide down my nose. It’s humiliating. Gwyn’s

grandfather would never have let them do that.

    I always meant to go back out, break out of this limestone shell and make some noise to remind

them. Stop them bringing their broods into the cave to picnic on my back. Make them bring me

some proper food.

    One day I will rise from my cave and teach them to respect me again.

    But not today … I’m feeling drowsy. Maybe next Spring — or the one after …

Author Bio

Rowan Bell lives in the Westcountry of the UK, where they love to spend time outdoors, watching the turning seasons. Rowan writes short stories and flash fiction, with a sci-fi novel in the pipeline.