The friend who gave him the old snakeskin 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 the truth. 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 in quests for fame and treasure.
He looked around, cold towers of glass and steel blankly 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 dragonhead died, it was the moment he laid down his pen and decided he would write no more. He could still hear the last word the dragon’s voice had whispered before fading away… “remember.”
He didn’t know it then, but eventually realized he had been seeing his childhood die before his very eyes. He sat in silence on the bench by 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 said, slipping a folded piece of paper into his hand.
Before he could react, 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.
Suddenly inside his head, he felt the soft fluttering of wings and, for the first time in so many years, smiled.