The cliffs of Fair D’Ellene blush pink in the evening, just as they did when the dragons dropped from them like falling stars, flaming in the last darts of light from the setting sun, falling until they caught the wind in the great sails of their wings. They soared up over the sea, the very last of the sunset gilding their bellies as they flew.
The dragons had to live on the cliffs, you see, for they were too heavy to launch themselves from the ground. They had to fall before they could fly.
When I was young, my mother took me to see them. We borrowed a dory and sailed out of the harbour and around the headland to the cliffs. My mother’s strong hand guided mine on the tiller; the wind made the boat buck like a pony and I laughed and licked spindrift from my lips. When we reached the cliffs, we turned the boat into the wind, dropped the sail, and waited while the sun rolled down the sky to the horizon. At the exact moment that the edge of the sea nibbled the first edge of the sun, the dragons began. Only a few at first, then many, falling and flying, until they filled the sky like — like nothing else at all. You would have to see them to understand what they were, but they have gone and you can see them no longer.
When they finished and the sun was gone, we sailed home, my mother and me, rowing when the wind died. The sea cradled our boat, its waves smooth around us like the humped backs of whales, while clusters of stars gathered in the sky, flocks of glittering birds that guided our way home.
My mother is gone now, as the dragons are.
Atop the cliffs now stands a battlement. Stark, gray, slotted with cannons and dotted with squat towers. Soldiers bearing arms pace the wall, their bleak eyes turned outward, seeking enemies.
We are safer, now. But the dragons have gone from the cliffs of Fair D’Ellene.