Dragon Wings and Wishes
There once was a little girl who had scales on the tops of her forearms and down her neck. Deep violet scales that shone in the sun. Rising from her back were curved, scaled wings that had an arching bent across the top and a series of curves ending in tips across the bottom.
Her wings were so much unlike the feathery wings of the inhabitants of the land, and the scales down her arms were different from the feathery arms of the others all around her. She pretended that it didn't bother her. But it did. She was an outcast. And she knew it.
If her scales were not enough to set her apart, her cinnamon-tinted skin made her look even more the outcast amidst the peach-brown inhabitants of her town. But she thought didn't mind, though. She told herself that she didn't mind.
She was sweet-mouthed and solemn, serious and diligent. Because she had to be. And she did her work, without complaining, with a sad smile on her face. Because she knew that she wasn't allowed to complain. She knew that the others would not want to hear it.
She worked in a dress store. She worked for two women with feathery wings who ran the store. One woman had soft lavender feathers and another woman had light blue feathers. The two women were the best of friends, and the little girl was shared by them both.
The child swept the floor of the dress store and kept all the racks neat and organized. She dusted the shelves and polished the wooden mannequins. But most of all, she sewed all the very intricate and detailed dresses that the two women designed.
For the two women loved to design clothes. They had books and books of drawing paper that they would fill with many detailed designs for many very pretty robes. And they had many coloured pens and drawing pencils that they used to fill white pages with their plans.
The women poured themselves over their work desks for many hours of the day, drawing and designing everything to be absolutely perfect, absolutely how they wanted it. Because, you see, dressmaking was their passion. It was what they loved to do in life.
They spent as many hours, though, with all the townspeople who frequented the shops. They helped each and every person look through all the dresses and drawings and find the perfect match for them. Then they made the little girl take the customer's measurements and sew together the piece.
All the people of the town loved the dress shop. They loved all the beautiful colours and and patterns and and flowing styles. They loved how bright and beautiful and full of joy the walls of the store were. The shop was the treasure of the town. The shining jewel in its crown.
The townspeople loved the two women who ran the shop. For they were always so welcoming and generous. They were always so bright and cheery. They always knew just what to say to put a smile on the face of anyone who set foot in their store. The townspeople knew that they would take care of these women no matter what.
The townspeople did not really think of the little girl. She was as silent as a ghost and to them she was as dark as a shadow. She merely measured them and swept the floor and was not often seen by the townspeople.
Not that they cared. They did not have to care about a dragon-winged little girl with strange scales and pointed wings. They did not have to give her a second thought. For she was as much a part of the dress shop as the shelves or mannequins were. The only difference was that she wasn't decked out in fancy, designed clothing like the mannequins were.
The townspeople thought, why pay any mind to a strange little girl when they could be sharing the latest gossip? Why pay attention to someone with strange scales in place of feathers when they could be getting advice for their relationships? Why think about a strange cinnamon-skinned child when they could be looking through all the fantastical drawings in the design book?
And so all their attention remained on the two women.
And what fine attention it was. Along with the two women, the townspeople talked and laughed and gossiped and joked. They shared their lives and experiences and thoughts and dreams. They shared their hopes and plans and opinions and successes. And the two women shared all of their own right back.
They were an invaluable part of the town, an invaluable part of the lives and social fabric of the town. Everyone was familiar with them and everyone was so glad to have gotten the chance to be friends with them.
Now, these women made quite a fortune with their store. For people were willing to pay high prices for such fine, intricate work. And they were satisfied with what they received, and thought that the exorbitant prices were very much worth it.
And so the women lived in a grand house, built of the finest wood in the land, with many large rooms with large, colour-tinted windows. They had many grand tables and desks and beds and chairs in their house, and their even had a grand piano, as well as a fine, golden harp.
The little girl slept in a small closet within the grand house, on a bed that was made for large dogs. She fit into it if she curled up. And she told herself that it was good enough. She told herself that she didn't want anything more.
The girl did not go to school. She knew that the other little girls and boys and children of the town did go to school. For, there would often be bright-faced, excited, joyous children coming after school ended to look through the displays of the shop. They never bought anything, but they talked excitedly in conversations that the little girl never paid attention to.
She spent most of her days sitting by a sowing machine, surrounded by pins and needles and pieces of fabric. She told herself that it wasn't too much. That it wasn't too much work. That it wasn't too hard. That she could take it. That she didn't mind.
She told herself that she didn't mind anything. She could do her work and do it well and keep herself out of trouble. That was all that mattered, and it wouldn't do to keep being sad about the aspects of life that were out of her control. That was what she told herself.
And so she talked with a sweet, happy, submissive tone every time she addressed the two women or the townspeople or anyone that she secretly, subtly knew was above her station. And she never let it show what she was truly feeling inside, not even to herself. And she smiled softly whenever she thought she was meant to.
And she poured herself over her work, spending many hours sewing and sewing until the light went away and the candles were burned out. She told herself that it didn't make her tired, but she felt weary all the time all the same. She didn't know why she felt weary. Maybe it was just because of all the pressures of life.
Meanwhile the two women talked and chatted and sold their dresses. And the townspeople were jovial and friendly with them both and thought them pillars of the community.
One day the dress store was running out of fabric. This was not unusual, it happened every so often. But what was unusual was that the two women did not go to the fabric store themselves to pick out what they wanted. They sent the little girl, with detailed instructions for what she was supposed to buy and a threat that if she did not buy the right items or if she kept any of the money to herself her food rations would be cut in half.
The girl promised that she would buy the right fabrics and that they could trust her. After all, she had never let them down before. She hadn't dared to. And so she made her way out the door, pockets filled with money.
The fabric store was at the other end of the town, and the town itself was built in an arc around the forest. This meant that cutting through the forest would be much quicker for getting to the fabric store. And so the little girl cut through the forest, her wings tucked close to her back.
The forest was beautiful, incredibly beautiful. And it filled her with a sense of melancholy, to witness all this beauty. For she knew that she could not see it often, that she would have to drink as much of it down as she could right now in this moment. The softness of the earth, the lushness of the plants, the way it all harmoniously wove together.
She wondered if she should run away, get lost in the forest, live in the forest forever. She decided not to, that the town and the shop was all that she had known in her life, that the women provided for her and raised her for as long as she could remember.
Within the forest she saw something strange, yet altogether beautiful. It was a round gate growing up from the ground, made of many wooded branches all woven together, with green leaves growing from them. She was amazed at how something could grow like that. And she decided to go through the gate. She was, after all, merely a child, and fantastical things intrigued her.
As she stepped through to the other side, she saw the whole world change. But she could not place how exactly it changed. Everything seemed the same. But she did see a beautiful red and black butterfly fluttering past her. It sat on her shoulder before flying forwards.
The child was so mesmerized by the butterfly that she forgot all about her task and started following it. It lead her up hills and down valleys, through thickets and meadows and groves. It found its way to a meadow ringed by tall oak trees with crowns of shining green. And it sat down on a blue wildflower.
The girl looked down at the wildflower and when she looked up again, she saw an amazing being standing there before her.
He was softly glowing, and translucent. He was both undeniably there and barely there. He had feathers and scales and fur and chitin all on his arms and neck and on his chest, that was bared. His wings constantly changed form. He wore a loincloth made of leaves and had a crown of leaves on his hair.
Most importantly, he looked right at the little girl, in a way that no-one had ever looked at her before. His eyes were filled with kindness and love. And the girl had never seen such eyes before, especially not trained on her.
"Who are you?" She asked.
"My name is Robin. Who are you?" His voice was gentle and kind. Such a voice as she had never heard speaking to her.
"My name is Alvee, though most people call me girl." Alvee smiled tentatively at the man. He smiled warmly back at her.
"Do you want to come live with me in my world, Alvee?" He asked. The girl didn't hesitate to take a long time thinking about this. Finally, she answered.
"No, I don't think I do."
"The town is all I know. I belong there."
"Do you really?"
"Well, Alvee, if I can't bring you with me to my world, at least let me grant you some wishes. What do you desire?"
She thought about this for a long while. What did she desire? She desired many things, but she had repressed them all so that they were not known to her. A tumbling flow of feelings and wants raged through her. But from the swirling tide she could not pick out anything in particular.
"I want to have less work," she finally spoke, settling on a wish.
"I cannot influence anyone's thoughts or actions, young Alvee, but I can kill the people who are giving you work. Would you like that?"
"No, no no," Alvee replied, horrified. "Maybe just make it so that they cannot give me work."
"How?" Robin replied.
"Erase all their sketches in their design books. They always make me make dresses based on those. And make it so that they can't draw new things."
"Your wish us my command, sweet child. I will be in your room a week from now in order to see how the wish went for you."
Alvee smiled, and continued talking to the man. It was so nice to talk to him. Nicer than it had ever been to talk to anyone. She had not known that people could talk to her with so much kindness and love.
Afterwards, Robin asked her again if she would come with him. And again, she said no. And so Robin teleported her to the dress shop, loaded with all the fabrics that she was meant to go out and collect for the two women.
Alvee missed Robin immediately, and a great, heavy weight of sadness settled once again into her chest as she was brought to the dress store. But all this she hid. And she hid the adventure that she had in the woods and the strange meeting she was a part of.
The women smiled at each other and gawked at the fabric. It was all so beautiful and bright and shining. Just what they were looking for. The townspeople would love the dresses they designed. And so they went to their books immediately to draw new designs.
But they saw that their design book was empty. And a great confusion and a great trepidation came over them. They flipped brought the whole book, and could not find a single drawing. They looked through all their other design books, the ones that were filled and the ones that were not yet filled. They combed through them. But they could not find anything.
They were very perplexed and talked for a great long time about what happened and why it must be happening. But all that they talked, they never found the answer to this strange mystery. They had to just live with the reality that all their glorious designs were gone.
Then they tried to make new designs, drawing in the sketchbooks. But everything that they drew disappeared immediately, leaving only blank pages in their wake. It was all very strange, and very horrifying.
The townspeople came into the shop, and asked to look through the designs. The women had to tell them, awkwardly and with much embarrassment, that all their designs had mysteriously vanished. The townspeople remarked that this was very strange indeed, and they were sorry that they could not buy new dresses.
The women said that they could buy dresses. They just had to describe what they wanted and the women could make their designs based off of that. And so they did describe the dresses and the women's minds were whirring with ideas.
The women then described in very intricate detail the dresses the girl would have to make, and they told Alvee to start working right away, and to get it right.
Young Alvee was much more stressed than before, for now she had to sew intricate dresses all from memory, she did not have even a reference to look to and base them off of. She had to remember all the designs herself and risk consequence if she got them wrong.
A week was up and she was lying on her sorry excuse of a bed when Robin appeared to her, softly glowing in the darkness of the room.
"How are you, young Alvee?" He asked her softly.
"Terrible, Robin. Erasing the designs has only made it worse for me. Now I have to work from memory. Can you put the designs back?"
"Done," Robin replied, and the world shimmered softly as he focused his eyes up to the horizon. "Now are you sure you don't want me to just kill your oppressors?"
"I don't want you to kill them, Robin. They raised me. Maybe just make the shop and the house dark, and make no candles burn. Then they won't be able to make me work because it will be too dark to work."
"Very ingenuitive, Alvee. You really are rather smart." His voice was soft and gentle.
"You really think so?" Alvee's voice had an amazed edge to it.
"I really do, young one. Now, I have already put your plan into motion. Hopefully it works. Would you like to talk before you fall asleep?"
"I sure would, Robin."
And so the two talked until sleep weighed heavy on Alvee and she could no longer keep herself awake.
She awoke to perfect darkness, and she smiled.
The two women also awoke to darkness, and were once again befuddled. Why was everything dark? What had caused this? They looked through all the rooms in their house, and even though they saw through the windows that it was a bright morning, none of the light reached the inside of the house.
They woke up Alvee, and demanded that she take a look around the house as well. And so she did. And she found no light anywhere. She said sorry, saying nothing of her meeting with Robin and nothing of the plan that she had made. She hid the mirth in her eyes, so that only those who looked deeply would be able to see it.
The women tried lighting their candles, but no matter how many times they struck the matches, no fire would come. They were exasperated and cursed whatever forces had left them like this. And they flung their matches into the fireplace, which was as cool as the ground after a rainstorm.
They went to the shop, and found it as dark as their home. They exclaimed in exasperation, and they pushed the girl to the floor. She got up and asked them if there was anything she could do. They told her to go get the matches.
And so she did. And she suppressed her smirk when the matches didn't light. And she pretended that she was as confused as the rest of them, that she was as irritated.
She thought that for sure now the women would not make her work. But they did.
The women made her take her sewing and go outside, out under the glaring rays of the sun, under the window where they could keep an eye on her, in the heat of the day. Once again everything was worse than it was before, as the two women stayed inside the shop, holding their design books out the window in order to draw from them.
And so she spent the week working outside, with the women keeping a constant eye on her. She was surprised at how well they adapted to everything. But still, she was determined to keep them alive.
Robin showed up later, in the silence and safety of her tiny room. He asked her how she had been and she replied honestly.
"Aww shucks," said he, eyes full of sadness, "I was sure that that plan would work. It was such a good plan."
"I thought it would work too, but it just made everything worse."
"You cannot give up, Alvee. You can never give up. Don't you dare give up. You have to keep fighting for your rights, no matter what works and what doesn't."
"I will. I'll keep fighting. But what should we do now?"
"My initial offer still stands. We could kill your abusers and you could come with me."
"No, Robin. I don't want to kill them. How about we try another tactic?"
"Sure, Alvee. You're a much better planner than me. What do you think that we should do?"
"Well, first of all you have to bring the light back to the house and the shop."
"Of course." The world shimmered again.
"And now, how about you make all the dresses smell? That way, no-one will want to buy them and we won't get any new orders."
"Wow, Alvee. I'm very impressed at your planning skills. I hope this works."
"I hope so too. So how are the woods, Robin?"
"They're amazing, but all their beauty feels empty without you. I wish that you could come enjoy them with me. I wish that you were free to."
"Robin, I belong here. I grew up here. This is the only place I have ever known."
"But do you belong here, though? Or is it that you're just used to this place?"
"I do belong." She had to belong here, she thought. Because otherwise, where would she belong? Where would she go?
"Alright. If you say so. Have you ever flown with your wings?"
"Well then, I'll have to teach you how one day."
"These are dragon wings. They don't work the same as birds wings do."
"Well you've seen my wings. They change all the time. I've flown with dragon wings before. I know how they work."
They continued talking until sleep overwhelmed her.
Alvee woke up and she was tired but she smiled anyways. For she remembered the plan she had made with Robin, and she remembered all the conversations she had with him.
When she got to the dress store she saw that it was filled with foul odours. And the two women saw this too. They wrinkled their noses and held their breaths. They wondered what the source of this smell was, and sent Alvee to check all the nooks and crannies, to check if maybe something had died within the store.
When Alvee came back with nothing, they did a search of the shop themselves. And they found out that the source of all the foul odour was the dresses themselves.
All week they made Alvee wash the dresses, but the odour would not go away. In the meanwhile, they lost business. Finally they realized that the dresses could not be washed clean and whatever the source of this odour was, it would not go away.
Robin came to Alvee on the night that a week was up. And he asked if the plan worked.
"It did work, Robin!" Alvee exclaimed excitedly. "They can't get the smells out!"
"That's amazing, little one. Now we will be able to free you. Well, at least somewhat."
"Yes. And we'll have more time to hang out."
"So we will. Would you rather live on a mountain or in a valley?"
"Hmm, I don't know."
They continued their talking late into the night.
The next day though, the dress shop was full of customers. For the dresses were so beautiful that none of the townspeople could say no to them, even if they smelled. They simply decided to cover the smells in expensive perfumes.
And so Alvee was given more work. And she silently fumed at the prospect. But she did not let anyone know.
Alvee wondered how she was so good at keeping Robin a secret. She wondered how she was so good at keeping secrets. Though, she supposed, she always had to keep her true emotions secret, even from her own self. She hated keeping secrets. But in a strange way she loved it as well. For what was secret was safe.
So she sewed and she sewed and she overheard a piece of conversation from the two women.
"I told you we shouldn't have bought that egg," the purple-feathered one was saying. "It has cursed us, just as its mother said it would."
"Do you really believe the words of a dragon-woman witch? She probably only said them so we wouldn't take her egg."
"Well now look at us. All these strange things happening. How do you explain that?"
"Well it certainly can't be the girl's fault. She doesn't hold that much power."
Alvee went back to her sewing.
But late at night she thought about what she had overheard. It was plain to see that they were talking about her. And she knew what this meant. She had a mother! A mother that was out there somewhere, missing her. A mother that did not want to be parted from her.
She did her work and she waited for Robin to return. And once he did, she told him her new plan.
"We have to kill them. We just have to. We have to kill them both."
"Perfect, young one. And after we kill them, what do we do?"
"We find my mother."
Alvee woke up the next morning and searched through the house. The two women were lying in their beds, as if asleep. But she knew better. They were pale. They were cold. They were dead.
Alvee stepped out across the threshold and into the morning.
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