Water seeped in long ago, washing away the words. The stories disappeared but their mystery remained. The pages wrinkled as they dried, half-hearted hues clouding the once-bleached paper. Bloodstains of the stories killed in the flood, perhaps.
Glue dissolved, but the charcoal sketches held fast in the book’s embrace. Now they gather dots of mildew like age spots on the hands of couple growing old together.
The pain of losing them is gone now and the lost stories shift into myth. I think I like them best this way, though I’ve switched to waterproof ink.
She grumbled and grumped her way back inside her winter den. It happened every year, why should she be surprised? No matter how neat she left it in spring, the courtyard was always littered with leaves and bit of moss come late fall. At least there weren’t any mushrooms this time. A dark thought seized and she shuddered. What if – what if there were salamanders living in the walls again? The mouse swallowed, clutching her broom tighter. Nothing scared her quite like salamanders. Except for dragons. Dragons would be worse.
A wind blew past and rustled the leaves in the courtyard, making her jump. Last week she’d been bragging about her den in the country, but her summer city apartment didn’t seem so bad now. At least in the city the human screams would warn a mouse if there were dragons or lizards. Even another mouse. Here she was on her own. Vulnerable, and probably delicious.
She took a deep breath. She could do this. Her country mouse had simply grown dull over the her summer in the city. Dragons weren’t common, after all. She’d be alright as long as she didn’t let her imagination get the better of her.
“Oh, hi!” came a sudden, booming voice.
A great green dragon stood before her, smiling and waving over a batch of fresh-baked cookies. “I’m your new neighbor! Moved into yonder cave a week or so ago. It’s wonderful to finally meet you!”