A Crack in the Shell: Part 1 by Isabel Rio

Zola ran. Her scarf flailing around her, dancing with the wind. She’d been wandering aimlessly for days, acting like she knew the way. Her feet had blisters but they didn’t hurt. How could a person with such determination have time for the pain felt by the weak? She was alone, but not lonely. The trees and mountains blocked you from ever escaping, yet each one opened a new pathway. Snow littered the ground, getting sifted in the trees above, which meant the mountains must be close. Day bled into night and by that time, Zola was at the foot of the mountain. She stopped and trotted into a cave just big enough to provide her shelter during the night. She flung her bag onto the floor, forcing air into her overworked lungs. A creeping moss tangled itself throughout the cave. A small opening let the last bits of daylight enter. It smelt like a fisherman’s boat, like the ones her dad used to take her on and looked like something her mum would’ve painted. It was nothing special, yet it’s presence brought chills to Zola’s neck as if the walls could tell time, and had heard secrets. But that would be ridiculous. She pulled the red and orange speckled egg. Studying its smooth yet strong shell. It had survived the ride over. Through forest and lake. Yet it seemed so fragile and delicate. A twig snapped. Zola shoved the egg into her bag, but it was too late, someone had seen. A small man with a pointed hat stood staring at the entrance of the cave.
        “What do ya got there?” he questioned, his voice not matching his size.
        “Nothing,” shot Zola, shifting so her body covered the bag.
        “That’s not nothing.”
        “It’s nothing to you.”
        “A dragon egg’s nothing to fool ‘round with. If the wrong people see you with it,” he traced his index finger across his neck. “Be careful. They see everything.”
        “What do you mean ‘the wrong people’? Who sees everything-” she blurted.
        “Oh young lady,” he cut her off. “I would continue, but it’s nothing to me,” he snickered, turning his heel and leaving. Zola shot up, racing after him, but by the time she got out of the cave, he was gone.

To be continued…