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Dragonheart

Jennifer's fiction has appeared in numerous publications on both sides of the Atlantic, including The Guardian, Mslexia, The First Line, Daily Science Fiction, and Short Fiction. She is a previous winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Competition and has published two children's chapter books with Knowonder, writing as Jaye Seymour. A full list of her publications can be found at jennifermoore.wordpress.com.
Scans revealed two small dragons: one on the right lung and the other curled tight around his heart. It didn't look good. Ten to twelve weeks at the most, the doctors said.
"You're going to fight this," Ella told him when they got home from the hospital, tucking the kitchen calendar down the back of the fridge, out of sight. "We're going to fight it. Prove them all wrong."
By the end of the third month he was breathing better than he had in years, warm air gusting out of his chest in great steaming clouds. He looked a little green around the gills but that was only to be expected, given his new carnivorous diet. Vegetables made him queasy, so Ella barbecued great platefuls of steak for him every night--rain or shine--and pretended not to notice the hunger in his eyes as he stared out at the sheep in the next-door field.
By six months she was sweeping dead scales off the sheets every morning, changing scorched pillowcase after scorched pillowcase, but he was still with her. That was all that mattered. And the fact that he was spending so much time online now--on that dreadful virgin princess site--well, that didn't mean his feelings for her had changed. Of course it didn't. Even the sight of those ribbed flaps burrowing through the skin along his spine didn't faze her. She'd promised to love him in sickness and in health, and that's what exactly what she was doing. What she'd keep on doing, until death--or unforeseen small print circumstances beyond anyone's control--parted them.
It was almost a year to the day when he finally gave up the fight. Deep down Ella knew it was for the best--for the both of them--but her eyes were red beneath their singed eyebrows as he took to the sky that morning, heading for the horizon.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, March 16th, 2017

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