|It was always difficult, that first time they went out on their own. Watching them step out through the entrance and look around them with new eyes. To breathe deeply of air that smelt different, fresher than before, filled with scents that seemed sharper and richer.|
Their first steps outside the home without you shadowing their every step, guiding them along the path of life. Hoping they would make the correct choices based upon the lessons passed down each day. It was hard to see them set out without a backward glance whilst you agonised over each and every step.
She stood on the stone bridge, looking out through the cave entrance, just as she had several times that day. He had been gone for hours, or so it felt. She had lost track of time since he had left. Her mind unable to focus on anything other than what was happening to him whilst he was out there. What was he seeing? Where was he going? Was he afraid? Excited? Had he encountered something he did not understand or had her teachings been enough to prepare him?
Where are you? she whispered in her mind, her fingers nervously pleating the vines that hung down from the vaulted ceiling of the cave.
She should not have let him leave on his own. She should have insisted on accompanying him on his first trip out? She should have told him where to go instead of letting him pick out his own locations. There were so many things she should have done, but didn’t.
She looked up at the sun, trying to judge what time it was. It felt like an eternity yet the sun wasn’t yet at its peak. Surely he had seen and done everything he wanted to do on this first trip. There wasn’t that much to see out there, was there?
She bit her lip and walked along the bridge, her eyes drifting out to the cave entrance every few steps she took. She hated waiting. It was killing her, just standing there, watching, wondering. Had he encountered trouble whilst out there on his own? Was he somewhere hurt and alone, needing her yet unable to get to her? Oh, where WAS he?
“You worry too much.”
She jerked at the rumbling tones, relief flooding through her. He was alive, at least. “Where are you?” she tried to keep the fear out of her voice but it was hard.
“I’m approaching the cave entrance now.”
She turned and watched him enter. His movements both graceful and powerful as he approached her. His dark, velvety eyes sparkled with amusement as he met her gaze.
“Are you alright?”
“I’m fine after my adventure. You need not have worked yourself up to this state worrying over me,” he reprimanded, his voice gentle as he studied her, his keen eyes missing nothing.
“You always worry when the baby you have raised from the beginning takes his first steps into the world without you,” she replied.
“I am fully grown, hardly a baby anymore.” He sounded affronted that she could think of him in such manner.
She smiled. “You may be fully grown, but, in my mind, you are still my baby.”
He shook his head, convinced that he would never understand the female of the species. Only she would still think of him as a baby even though he was fully grown up and quite able to look after himself. “If I invited you to join me on my next trip would you stop thinking of me as your baby?”
“I can try.” She walked towards him and reached her hand up to his rugged face. “I can’t promise anything, though.”
“I can accept that,” he replied as he pushed his head into her palm so that her fingers found his favourite tickling spot.
She laughingly obliged and watched with eyes filled with love and pride as the large, black dragon closed his eyes and purred in contentment at her ministrations. Fully grown or not, he still enjoyed having his head scratched just as he had as a baby dragonet.