Stone Telling

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by J.C. Runolfson

for Sherwood Smith and Shweta Narayan

One day I will be old enough that the crack of my back will shake out wings dark as blood, the knee that creaks will tear into talons, my bad hip will give way to a haunch that launches doom. My brittle hair will fall out from scales, and I will cackle and wheeze fire, burning away what tethers me to frailty–I will not be frail, not with my monstrous heart, my armored hide–I will free myself of machines and medicines, the tedious care of doctors, I will lay claim to the most peculiar privilege of age and become become become–

One day I will have hoarded enough life to drowse on, curled and coiled and waiting for the kid who dares step on my lawn, the denim-clad knight in cross-trainers bracing for the sputtered threat, the shaken cane. What will he make of my great, gleaming eye? What will she think of my barbed tail? What fence will deter their skateboards errant quite so well as one built of human bone? There is no beast rougher than this, the one slouching at home, long past birth.

J.C. Runolfson has been published previously in Stone Telling, Goblin Fruit, and Mythic Delirium, among others. She's currently finishing a degree in Poetry and Fiction. She lives two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean and thinks herself more likely to age into a kraaken than a dragon, but time will tell...

Photography: adapted from Comparative morphology of dorsal scales at mid-body near the dorsal crest of adult individuals of lizards of the Plica plica group (Tropiduridae). ZooKeys 355: 49-77, by Murphy J, Jowers M.