Ellen ran, dodging past the bins and boxes on the pavement which she could barely see through her tears and the cracked lenses of her glasses. Her legs hurt, and she was getting a stitch in her side, but she didn't dare to stop. If she paused to get her breath back, Tanya and Abby would catch up with her, and she couldn't take any more of their 'games'.
She turned a corner, not sure where she was heading other than away, and realised, heart thumping, that she could not see any way out. Her head felt as if it were going to explode, and she stumbled towards the only possible refuge, an abandoned-seeming old shop whose dusty window held an assortment of battered and mysterious objects.
As she reached the door, an arm came out and grabbed her; she almost fell as she was pulled quickly inside, and the door was pushed shut again.
"Hush, or they'll hear" hissed her rescuer. As Ellen tried to calm her breathing in the dark of the shop her eyes adjusted to the dim light, and she realised that the other person was a boy about her own age. He took her arm and tugged her gently towards the back of the shop, pushing her into what seemed to be some sort of store room.
Just as she closed the store room door, she heard the shop door open again. Tanya's voice - she sounded really pissed off.
"Oy, you, have you seen a whinging little brat in here? She was heading this way."
"No, but I'll ask my Dad." The boy raised his voice "Dad, come down here a minute, there are some people in the shop..."
"Oh, forget it - I'll get her later."
The door slammed hard.
A few moments later, the boy came through to the back room.
"It's OK, she's gone now. It looks like she's been giving you a hard time."
Ellen nodded, not quite able to speak yet.
"The dragon will sort that out for you."
Ellen wondered if her hearing was getting as bad as her eyesight.
"Did you say dragon?"
"Well, yes, of course - wasn't that why you came here, for the dragon? Most people who come are hoping the dragon will help them feel better."
A slow suspicion began to build. All this talk of dragons - wasn't there something in that talk at school about drugs? Was he offering her drugs? He seemed like a nice person, but they said that drug dealers often did, at least at first. Then she shrugged. Right now, she didn't really care that much what happened, as long as she didn't have to go back to the bullies.
"Yeah, sure, the dragon. That's what I came here for."
"Through here, then. Quickly, it won't stay open long..."
She took a deep breath, and walked through a door which (how?) seemed to sparkle. It was light beyond the door, and, blinking, she could make out two huge rainbow gems, shining through her broken lenses. Suddenly, her perspective changed, and she realised that what she had seen as gems were the rainbow eyes of the dragon, looking at her, kindly, curiously. She looked back and ventured a tentative smile. Things were about to change.
Crossposted to artspark