For as long as she could remember, Mish had always wanted a dragon. She would spend her days walking along the stream, picking through the rocks, hoping to find something like what she imagined a dragon egg should look like. She had it all planned out. She would keep the egg behind her father’s forge for warmth. When it hatched she would keep it in the stable and make sure it did not set the hay on fire. When it got bigger, she would have to make sure it didn’t eat the chickens. And eventually, one glorious day, it would be big enough to ride! They would fly through the sky and have the most wonderful adventures, fighting off pirates and saving princesses! Mish longed for that day.
She searched the woods, looking up into the biggest trees, wondering if dragons laid eggs on the ground, like snakes and other reptiles, or whether they were more like birds, and laid their eggs in nests in the trees. “I think they are like birds”, she decided. Besides, she didn’t know what would happen if she stumbled across a nest on the ground. What if there was a dragon guarding the nest? She couldn’t take an egg from a mother. The mother probably wouldn’t like that, and might try to eat her. Better to take an egg from an unguarded nest.
She thought she spied what might be a dragons nest high up on one of the biggest trees in the forest, so she ran back home, borrowed her brothers’ sword, and thrashed her way through the prickly underbrush for a closer look. After several hours of futile effort trying to climb the tree to get a better look, she decided it was just a very large squirrel’s nest.
But there were no dragons nests in the trees, or on the ground, and the rocks along the stream were just rocks. After all, weren’t dragons big, and flew through the air? She thought she should have seen one by now if one were living in the area. And why would a living egg would just be lying amongst the stones and water? Mish though upon this problem daily, but after coming to no answers, she decided to ask her mother..
But her mother only smiled her slow, sad smile, shook her head, and looked away. There was no point in asking father. He would either grin and give some nonsensical answer that would have her talking to cows, or he would scowl and swear and set her to work on some meaningless task to keep her occupied.
Her brother was not much help either. “At the dragon store, dummy!”, he said. At first Mish was pleased with this answer, but after consideration, she realized there were no dragon stores around here. Even the nearest village, several hours away, only had one store. She asked but the owner said no, no dragons sold here. Maybe In the city? But that was several days away, and besides, didn’t a store mean that you had to pay money to buy things? Mish didn’t have any money, and even if she did, dragons were probably very expensive.
Her schoolteacher said he didn’t know, the other girls just giggled and laughed at the question, and other adults didn’t seem to understand the question. “You should be looking for a nice boy instead”, they would say.
And so she put the problem out of her mind.
Years went by, Mish looking the whole time, but she never found her dragon. She wasn’t worried. She had her whole life ahead of her, or so she thought, with plenty of time to find her dragon.
Then one day her mother sat her down and calmly explained she could no longer go by the stream, or walk through the woods, not by herself anyway. Mish protested. Mother explained it was “too dangerous”. When Mish rationally explained that she had been playing in the woods for years and nothing had happened to her that she couldn’t handle, Mother explained that she was “too old”.
Mish was confounded. She realized her search for her dragon would be over if she wasn’t allowed to go by the stream or the forest. She couldn’t take a friend because she didn’t have any friends, not unless you counted the silly girls at school, but they wouldn’t understand what she was looking for anyways.
Her brother was older, and he can go wherever he wants! Mother said “But he’s not a girl”, which got Mish even more confused. Seeing this mother sighed, then explained that Mish was of an age where men were starting to pay attention to her, and she couldn’t be alone anymore when she went out, or they would make her life difficult. Numbly, mish listened as her mother destroyed her life, how should would have to stay at home and help her tend the house, and her brother must walk her to school from now on. Oh, and she would have to start wearing her dress.
Mish hated wearing her dress. “How can you climb trees or fight pirates in a dress?” She thought. She remembered her dragon that she would ride someday. She had tried to ride a horse once while wearing a dress, and it was a difficult, embarrassing experience. And so she stupidly blurted out “But how will I ride my dragon!?”
She was nervous, and when Mish got nervous she made stupid jokes, and she meant it to be funny, but as usual mother took the question seriously. “Mish, there are no dragons around here. They are on an island in the middle of the ocean. They don’t leave their island, people who go there don’t come back, and the ocean around it is full of pirates.
Mother continued to lecture on how Mish needed to start behaving like a lady, with proper manners, and how it was her duty to find a husband and make babies, but Mish was no longer listening. She knew what she had to do now. She had to become a pirate!