Storm dragons

After a hundred days of sunshine in southern Europe – it rained today! I never thought I’d be glad to hear thunder on holidays – but here we are, and I am. So I wrote a sort of story, set in Kotor Bay, Montenegro. Which is, btw, spectacular.

When there’s a storm, the dragons come down from the mountains.

The sky – that throughout the summer is hot and burning blue – turns grey with rage, and the face of the mountains darkens. Birds wheel and hide in their fir trees. Families close doors and shutters and even the cats creep under parked cars and shrubbery.

The roar of the hills reverberates from the bay; lightning lashes its waters. In the broken mirror of its surface black wings flicker and stoop.

Out from their caves they come, from deep within the cracked and wrinkled rock. They swoop among the storm clouds as if playing; lightning gilds their bodies with silver fire.

Down they come, low over the bay, sending the fish scurrying to the depths. The wind of their passing rattles the wooden shutters, whistles down the grimed stone chimneys. “Where’s Maja? Darko, get over here, stay with me,” the mothers cry, gathering their children close.

But one child always strays. Perhaps he’s been out looking for crabs when the storm strikes. Perhaps she’s lingered behind the bakery, eating sweets. The dragons never return empty-clawed.

When the rain sets in, pearling the bay and slicking the steep streets, back go the dragons with their pickings, back to the high places that exist only in the dread of men.

This year’s child is dropped into a stony nest, but she is not devoured. Instead she lives among the dragons. As the years pass, her eyes become topaz and her skin shines like new mail and her wings sprout like leaves turned to autumn auburn.

For the dragons are bred of stone and storm, as are the villagers, and there is not so much difference between them as you might think.

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