This story is by Linda M Blackshaw and was part of our 2022 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Basil needs help!
The Green Man had lived in the round terracotta house for centuries while a dragon slept on the roof. He had seen many inhabitants come and go but the current tenant was getting on his nerves.
Basil was small and portly. One of the dragonis rotundas family. He was sniffing and puffs of steam filled the room, like the smoke signals sent up by Native Americans.
Green Man frowned. He shook his leafy head, blinked then sent a call out to the roof.
Draghar, Draghar. DRAGHAR.
Who interrupts my sleep? Is that you, Green Man?
The one who lives here needs help. We must do it. I can’t take his snivelling any longer.
Curiosity aroused, Draghar’s body rippled. He shrugged his shoulders and twisted his body sinuously. He stretched his neck and stuck his head down the chimney. With a fall of soot and a sneeze, his head was inside the little round house.
“He’s not very…” Draghar paused. “Imposing, is he? And what’s with the sniffing?”
“He’s lovelorn. Basil is desperate for love. He’s lonely. BUT…” Green Man trailed off.
Draghar snapped, “But what?” He continued, “You woke me up, Green Man, and that sniffling will keep me awake.”
The Green Man did not apologize. He ignored Draghar’s grumbles.
“Hey, Basil. Stop that sniffing. Tell us what’s wrong?”
“Who, who are you?” Basil’s round eyes goggled, and he took a step back.
“I’m Draghar, the dragon who slept on your roof, until I was rudely awakened.” He glared at the Green Man.
The Green Man sighed. “Stop going on about it. Time you woke up anyway. This is about Basil, not you. He needs help to get the dragon of his dreams.”
“She’ll never look at me. I’m too round.”
“Of course you are round. You are of the rotundas group of dragons.”
“Rotundas? You mean I’ll always be round?” Basil’s grin almost swallowed his face. “Dieting won’t change my shape. I can eat!” He rushed to the kitchen corner and stuffed food into his mouth.
Draghar rolled his eyes, shook his head, and mumbled, “Now he looks like a squirrel.”
Green Man sighed. This was NOT going to be easy. “Basil, BASIL! Stop eating and talk to us. We need to know the extent of the problem before we can help.”
“A flower? You’re upset about a flower!” Draghar rolled his eyes again.
“Marigold’s a dragon. She’s beautiful and round like me. Except she’s chatty and confident. I don’t think she even sees me.”
The Green Man examined Basil.
Draghar examined Basil.
‘Right, let’s brighten up your clothes. I suggest a flower in your lapel. A yellow or orange one would be good. Do you have a bowler hat?” Basil nodded and rushed over to a peg near the door and plopped it on his head.
“Wear it at a jaunty angle and get a smaller flower to match the one on your lapel.” The older dragon tipped the bowler to one side.
“Much better,” the Green Man nodded. “Now, what is the problem with talking to Marigold?”
“I blush and stutter and want to vanish and sometimes I do. I’m not noticeable. Other villagers push past me. Like yesterday, Marigold dropped a bag and all her mushrooms fell out. I helped pick them up, but just as I reached for the last one, Percival Pixie pushed me over and presented her with the last one. Marigold tried to help me up, but Percival pulled her away.”
“Wait, Marigold wanted to help you. That’s a positive action. Anything else?”
“I helped her move in. I didn’t break anything. I’m sure she was going to offer me a glass of dandelion and burdock when Fancy and her family pushed inside and pushed me out. Francie told her not to have anything to do with me that Basil’s hopeless.”
“What did Marigold say?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t go back in but came straight home.”
“Right, Draghar you go out into the village. See if you can find out anything about Marigold? With a bit of luck, she is interested in Basil.”
“What are you going to do, Green Man?”
“I am going to help Basil with his conversation. With practice, it will help overcome his shyness. I hope.”
Draghar took his head backwards up the chimney and shrunk his neck back into place. He sat back on his hind legs, stretched upwards, and bent his body from side to side. Then his wings slowly unfurled, and he belched fire. Too soon to fly. I’ll hop down and find something to eat. The village is larger than I remember.
Draghar jumped, then set off down the road, following the smell of baked pies. Memory had the Baker’s Shop smaller. The smell was still heaven. It would be worth parting with a gem to get a few pies. Draghar was starving. Centuries of sleep did that. He bought 5 extra large pies and gulped them down. He followed them with a huge drink from the river.
He listened into conversations until one included Marigold’s name.
“Percival, why are you playing with Marigold? What are you angling for? It’s not love.”
A hoarse whisper reached Draghar’s dragon ears.
“She has a large store of gold and gems. Too much for one dragon. She has hidden them, but I’ll soon get it out of her as long as that pesky Basil doesn’t get in my way.”
If Basil can foil the pixie’s plan he’ll be a hero. Think I’ll see Miss Marigold and see if she more than likes Basil.
Marigold walked down her path just as Draghar reached her gate.
“Good day, Miss Marigold.”
“Do I know you?” The hat on her head with its bright red flowers bobbled along with the words.
“No, but I’ve heard about you. I’m Draghar, the dragon on Basil’s roof. He has told me much about you.
Red tinged her cheeks, “He… he has.” Her fanged teeth caught her bottom lip. “Does he like me?” Her hands clasped to her chest in hopeful prayer.
“Yes, he does very much.” The dragon repeated. “Very much. Come for tea and cookies at 3 O’ Dandelion”
“Oh, I will.” So excited that she went back inside to change for her tea with Basil,
When Draghar entered the round one-room cottage, Basil was saying. “Pleased to meet you, Marigold. Won’t you sit down?”
‘Better. Now again and offer her a cup of tea.” The Green Man encouraged Basil.
“Wait, I have news.” Basil and the Green Man looked at Draghar.
“First, Marigold is coming for tea and cookies at 3 O’Dandelion this afternoon. Second,” Draghar talked over Basil’s stuttering. “She likes you. Marigold blushed when she said your name.”
“She likes me.” Basil straightened his shoulders. “She likes me?”
“Yes, but that’s not all. Percival bragged he was going to discover her hiding place for all her gold and gems.
” We must help her.” Basil spoke forcefully, no trace of hesitancy.
The kettle had just boiled when Marigold arrived. “Welcome, Miss Marigold. Please sit here.” She was wearing her best bonnet decorated with yellow daisies, a dress covered in purple pansies and carried a plate of scones.
“Thank you, Basil. I hope you don’t mind I baked some elderflower scones.”
The two rotundas dragons talked, then talked some more. Enjoying getting to know each other. Basil relaxed and could keep his side of the conversation going. Answering Marigold’s questions with confidence. They discovered they had a lot in common.
“Marigold, I hate to change the subject, but Draghar heard some distressing news when he was out.” Basil paused. “Percival Pixie knows you have hidden gold and gems.”
“Of course, I do Basil. All dragons have treasure”
“He is planning to rob you.”
Marigold trumpeted her annoyance. “What cheek!”
The Green Man interrupted before anyone else could speak. “I have a plan. We will hide and Marigold will offer Percival a drink”
“How can you come along too, Green Man.?”
“Magic.” The Green Man pursed his mouth and blew. A breeze came out and there were sparkles. He had a tree trunk for a body and spindly arms and legs and was dress in green clothing.
The trio watched as Percival put a potion in Marigold’s drink.
Basil leapt from the kitchen. “Stop, Marigold. Don’t drink that, he’s put poison in it.”
Percival tried to run but Basil swiped him with his tail. The pixie picked himself up and ran out the door.
“Basil, you saved me. You’re a hero.”
“Marigold, “I know we have only met but I loved you the minute I saw you.” Basil swallowed. “Do you think you could return my love?”
“I already do.”
They kissed, and puffs of steam sent up smoke ring hearts.
Draghar and the Green Man smiled at each other and left.
Basil and Marigold did not notice and whispered and snuggled and kissed as they made plans.