“Nana!” said Caro, and she swept her grandma up into a tight hug. “I missed you,” she said, even though it was redundant since she said it everyday on the phone, but it seemed more meaningful now when her nana was in her arms.
“I know, baby,” said Nana, her eyes twinkling, and she peered past Caro into her apartment. “Now where is this dragon I’ve heard so much about?”
“It doesn’t come out much still,” Caro said, taking her nana’s luggage and bringing it in. She closed the door and smiled when she noticed what her nana was doing. She had taken a penny from the change bowl, rubbing it between her thumb and forefinger.
“You don’t have to do that,” she said, smiling, and took the penny from her. “It’ll take it from absolutely anywhere.” But she still walked to the bathroom door, her Nana following her close behind with the luggage left forgotten near the front.
She knelt, placing the coin down on the floor, speaking softly. “My Nana’s here to visit,” she explained in the calmest voice she could manage, “but here’s a penny for you. It’s from her.”
She turned, not expecting the dragon to come out when she and Nana were close, but her Nana’s eyes were wide when she met them.
“I saw it,” her Nana said, in awe. “Just a shadow, but wow.”
“I know,” she said, irrationally proud, and took her Nana’s hand. She didn’t want to spook the dragon, not when it had done so much for her, and well, she hadn’t seen her Nana in forever. They had a lot to catch up on.
Nana was staying for two weeks. And unfortunately, Caro couldn’t get that many days off, so she was going to have to go into work when her Nana was home. It wasn’t that bad, especially since she loved coding and her boss was still giving her some days to work remote so she could be with her Nana during the daytime just in case, but she still hated leaving her Nana alone at home.
She was already lonely enough back in Louisiana.
But well, she told herself she wasn’t being silly for doing this, but she crouched in front of the bathroom door. She had a handful of pennies – shiny ones – in her hand, and she opened her hand so they made a soft clink as she dropped them. “My Nana’s going to be home alone,” she whispered, and she wouldn’t ask the dragon to keep her company, but she still wanted the dragon to watch her just in case. “If you could,” she continued, hesitantly, “Please watch over her.”
She thought the dragon would be asleep, but there’s scratching from the other side, almost as if a confirmation. Then softly, she heard a “Rar!” and she couldn’t stop the smile from spreading on her face.
“Thank you,” she said, bowing her head, and left for work with a skip in her step.
She didn’t think they were going to see the dragon during Nana’s stay. But on Tuesday of the second week, Caro came home to the sight of the dragon sleeping contently at Nana’s feet.
“How?” she asked, in a whisper as not to disturb the tiny dragon, and her Nana’s eyes were bright when they turned to look at Caro.
“I’ve been living with house spirits my whole life,” explained Nana, in a voice as quiet as hers, and lifted her arm when Caro moved over, bringing her close in a snuggle. “I may not have seen them, or believed they were dragons like this, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to get on their good side.”
She couldn’t help chuckling a bit at that, but luckily, her Nana didn’t look as if she minded. After all, Nana hadn’t believed in the dragon before she saw him and look where they were now.
“Are you feeding it cookies?” she asked when she came home the next day, and sure enough, there the dragon was, happily munching on some freshly baked cookies.
“Don’t be jealous now,” said Nana, and Caro couldn’t hold her façade when Nana passed over some cookies for herself.
She didn’t think the dragon ate, but there it was, and it was fascinating. “Are the two of you good friends now?” she asked.
“Of course,” said Nana, and Caro found that she wasn’t too surprised. Of course her Nana would make friends with her apartment dragon, it only made sense.
“Are you sure?” asked Aly on the phone that night.
There was warmth in her heart at Aly’s voice, and she smiled even though her girlfriend couldn’t see her. “Of course,” she said, “Nana would love to meet you. I’ve met your dad,” she pointed out, and Aly laughed on the other end.
Aly brought take-out from the pizza place down the street, and it smelled amazing. A Chicago staple, of course, and Nana was absolutely delighted by the taste of the deep-dish.
Aly looked worried, of course her darling girlfriend was, but Nana took to her almost immediately. “Anyone who watches over my baby is special to me,” she declared later in the night, and Caro would be embarrassed, but Aly was nodding immediately after her words.
“It’s not easy,” said Aly, after Nana’s declaration, “she didn’t even have food left in the house while she was sick! Thankfully, she’s better now,” she continued, and Nana’s laughing at her stories about Caro’s ineptness at taking care of herself so Caro couldn’t be too mad.
Aly stayed over that night, taking the couch for herself, and Caro’s heart nearly stopped when she left her bedroom that morning.
“Caro?” called Aly, and thankfully, she didn’t sound scared, only curious. The dragon’s peering over at the both of them, and Caro moved slowly as not to spook either the dragon or her girlfriend.
“You can see it?” she asked, her voice pitched low, and Aly nodded.
“What is it?”
“It’s a little dragon,” she explained, and then stopped when she realized she really didn’t have an idea on how to explain what it was. “It’s friendly,” she continued, “And likes money.”
“Don’t we all,” was Aly’s immediate response, and Caro couldn’t help the bark of laughter that escaped her from that.
It brought Nana from her bedroom, and she clicked her tongue when she saw them all awake. “Breakfast?” she asked as she brought some cookies out of her pocket and left them with the dragon. She didn’t wait for a response, and instead headed for the kitchen, whistling all the while.
“Well,” said Aly cheerfully as they watched the dragon eat, “at least this isn’t the weirdest thing I’ve seen from you.”
Caro kissed her girlfriend for that remark, her heart full at the idea Aly didn’t mind her small apartment dragon at all.