Flash Fiction: Chili-Pepper Sting (179 words)

The decision to not go crazy seemed all at once the sanest thought that had ever entered her head, and the least reasonable scrap of whim she had ever seen. There wasn’t a human being on the planet – not her, not her brother, not her mother, not even the obstinate mountain of a grandmother they were supposed to have inherited their temperament from – who had the power to tell their mind what shape to be in after wedging its way through one trial and eight tribulations, twelve hassles and forty-five shakedowns. And yet, she appeared to have done just that.

Taking her first steady breath of the day, she covered her mouth against the chili-pepper sting of the smoke rolling off the dragon’s nostrils. She listened for the pattern in its snoring and counted the seconds between breaths.

“All right,” she murmured to herself. “One thing at a time.” Then, crossing one leg over the other to start her silent steps around to the back of the cavern, she watched the dragon’s eyelids to see if they would lift.

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