They wouldn’t find her here, inside her castle of words. This place radiated knowledge; it would repel dimwits like them. They wouldn’t want to trade their brawn for brains, now would they? Even so, she tucked herself into the farthest corner she could find from the entrance, just in case their rage drove them the extra mile.
As she sat hunched against the bookshelf, a librarian pushing a metal cart full of worn old paperbacks passed, giving her an odd glance as she went.
No doubt the bruises were starting to show, or maybe it was the split lip; she could taste the blood in her mouth, warm and metallic. She supposed that she could have gone home instead of coming here, they were about the same distance after all, but if she went home then she would have to face her mother’s looks of pity and concern as she hurried to patch her up. She didn’t want to see those looks on her mother’s face; the poor woman already had enough to deal without adding an injured daughter to the list.
She plucked a book off the shelf above her head in a poor attempt to try to ignore the pain. It was number three of a series, but that was okay; she would figure it out as she went along. On the cover was a picture of a dragon; not the friendly sort that helped wizards and carried children on their backs, but a mean, nasty-looking one, all black and red and sitting on a pile of pilfered treasure. It reminded her of her pursuers, the way their eyes glinted maliciously, the way they stole others’ treasures, even when they had so many of their own. Mostly though it was the way that both of them, the dragons and the bullies, seemed to enjoy the pain and chaos that their actions caused. There was an underlying evil that seemed to motivate their every action.
But if they were the dragons, then what would that make her? Was she the damsel in distress? Or had she been the knight when she had told off the dragons for beating up that middle-schooler whose name she didn’t even know? If that was the case, then she was a terrible knight, running off as soon as she could no longer take the pain. She looked at the book again. It might not help her with her problems, but now more than ever she needed a reminder that it was possible to slay the dragons.
Rachel Baxter-Green writes in New Jersey, USA.