Vivian slammed the rooftop door open; the metal and brick clashed with all the defiance a wrongfully scolded four-year-old could produce. Tears made the marker ink on her face mix together like Neopolitan ice cream, but what dripped into her mouth tasted like paint. Her feet thudded on the cement before her tears cleared and she saw a mass of gold and brown scales: a dragon took up most of the rooftop.
She stepped back so she could see the face, and gulped and wheezed until the sobbing stopped. She asked, “Are you Puff?”
The dragon opened one eye and said, “Hardly.”
His lid began to close but stopped midway when she said, “I just drew a cave for him on the hallway wall, but since you’re here and he’s not, you can have it.”
The lid opened all the way again. “You painted a dragon cave?”
Vivian nodded her head like the bobble knight on her dad’s dashboard and said, “It’s beautiful except my mom hates it and says I can’t watch TV for a month, especially if it’s any of dad’s movies.” Traffic honked and screeched far below as if to add an exclamation point to her exasperation.
The dragon closed his eye before saying, “I don’t have much use for a two dimensional cave.”
Vivian sniffed the snot up her nose and said, “Are you hungry? My mom just went to CostCo and bought a big box of Goldfish.”
The eye opened and he said, “Goldfish? I can never catch enough of those to make it worth while. But if you have a big box…”
“I’ll be right back.” Vivian could hardly believe a real dragon was on her roof. Her mom was always telling her dad to grow up and quit telling Vivian such fanciful stories. But now she had proof. Down in the kitchen, she slid her step stool across the ceramic tiled floor and into the pantry. She stretch on the stool just enough to pull the bottom of the Goldfish box with her fingertips. It thumped to the ground. She listened for her mom’s footsteps, but she must’ve been asleep in her room. Vivian grabbed her treasure and ran up to the rooftop again, worried the dragon would be gone. He was there.
“I have the goldfish!”
He opened both eyes and said, “Well?”
She tore the box and bag open and scattered the crackers in front of his mouth like they were magic dust.
“What are those?”
“Are they dead?”
Vivian stared at the treasure and realized her mistake. A lump swelled in her throat, and she choked out, “They’re crackers. I didn’t mean real fish.”
The dragon sniffed. A long tongue darted out and licked up several crackers at once. “Cheesy,” he said and continued to lick the roof clean. “When can you bring me more? I’m Darius by the way.”
“I’m Vivian. We’ll have another box in a month. Can you come in and play?”
“I couldn’t possibly squeeze through the door.”
Vivian slumped, but then recalled the story about princesses kissing frogs. Maybe if she kissed him, he’d turn into a boy and fit through the door. She ran to his snout and gave him a peck. When he didn’t change, she dashed through the door and down the stairs, hoping he’d never guess her foolish notion.