The friend who gave him the old snake-skin told him it was a magical item, the hide of a baby dragon, cast off when it reached maturity and spawned its wings to fly.
He really wanted to believe him, even though he knew he couldn’t. Dragons didn’t exist, not anymore at least. He knew, he’d killed the last one himself.
He still remembered the times of old, when dragons and wizards roamed the land and knights in shining armor rode along warrior princesses is quests of fame and treasure.
He looked around, cold towers of glass and steel coldly returned his gaze. The grassy plains and magic forests had turned to pavement and the wizards into legend.
The dragons were the last to go, seeking refuge in the minds of children, poets and artists. There they told their ancient tales, sparking dreams, hatching wild ideas, inspiring revolutions.
But even they fell in the end. Hopes were lost, dreams forgotten, rebellions hardly crushed… the dragons starved.
He knew the exact day and time the last dragon’s death, it was the same day he laid down his pen and decided he would draw no more. He still remembered the last word it said to him before fading away… “remember.”
He didn’t know it then, but he eventually realized all this time he had been seeing his childhood die before his very eyes. He sat in silence on the bench watching the river, contemplating simply taking the old skin out of his pocket and throwing it into the flowing water.
“–Hi!” The young woman’s voice caught him by surprise. He turned to find a pair of impish blue eyes looking at him with a naughty smile. “–I just saw you sitting here being miserable and realized the note I found on my pocket this morning was for you.” She placed a folded piece of paper on his hand.
Before he could answer she was gone. He heard her laughing over the receding roar of a motorcycle engine.
Puzzled, he unfolded the note. It contained a single word… REMEMBER.
He suddenly felt the soft fluttering of young wings inside his head and, for the first time in years, smiled.