Frederik sensed the seasons changing. He knew he didn’t have much longer before the frosts came and the cooler temperatures brought an end to his life. If he found himself a new hive in time he might stand a chance, but he would have to leave his best friend.
The same best friend who offered him the shelter of her petals when his old hive cast him out. He was just another worker bee who got too old and too slow. The flower didn’t think so. She loved him, and she appreciated all the pollen he’d brought her over the summer. He didn’t know it, but she had saved her sweetest nectar for his daily visits.
She didn’t have much more than a month to go herself before the winter took over and scattered her seeds to the wind. He hugged her close. He would never leave.
Deep in the Alabaster Mountains, there lay a secret cave. Few remain who still know how to find it, and those who do avoid it if they can. The cave is rumored to be home to a fierce dragon. Others say it is home to a family of gnomes who hired a dragon once upon a time, to scare away trespassers.
It’s hard to say which of the tales is true, though I like to believe in both the family of gnomes and the dragon. Dragons are lonely creatures, being both fearsome and fiery, and gnomes are small and subject to bullying. Working together would serve them well.
Sometimes I look up to the cliffs at night, and see their fire twinkling there. I like to imagine the dragon lights it for them every night. He warms his friends while they cook their dinner together and enjoy the stars from high up on the cliff. Every third bat who swoops across the moon might be the dragon, taking his pals for a joyride, or a quick trip to the grocery store so they can make more s’mores.
Her attention remained on the edge of the water, waiting. Every day at dusk she did this, always with the faint concern her friend would not materialize; that maybe she’d dreamt her up after all. She spied a flash of pink climbing down the rocks and the mermaid child grinned. Her human friend was here.
He looked down, pretending their words hadn’t hurt him. The moss growing upon him for the past century or so knew better. It couldn’t think of anything to say, so it hugged him a little tighter and let him know he wasn’t all alone.