It was a beautiful day of December, and the temperature was extremely high. The sun was shining across the entire desert, spreading its golden rays from the villages of the northern border to the refreshing oases of the south. The land was covered with sand, the water was rare, and the change of temperature drained the energy form anything living. A mild breeze invigorated an exhausted group of teenagers exploring the villages. The small bunch of students came from a distant land filled with technology and progress, enriched by the temperate climate, and destroyed by the greed of the wealthy. A small woman in her thirties guided the tired and cranky horde.
"We will be making a break now, but we will resume our tour after lunch. Don't wonder off!" the woman said, with a powerful voice that seemed unreal coming from her small body. The teenagers exchanged a quick look and swiftly scattered to find shade. It was nearly midday when they finally gathered and realized Bea was missing.
"Why can't I find any shade in this desert?" a young girl asked herself while dragging her sore feet in the light sand. She wondered off searching for a shade where she could draw uninterrupted, but she soon realized she was lost. Although she was scared of being alone, never finding her way back, and dying in the desert, she was used to the fact that she had a terrible sense of orientation and ended lost in any new environment. She soon drank all of the water she had with her, and she was sure she would pass out under the force of the sun. But, when she lost all of her hope and her whole life flashed in front of her eyes, she saw trees and water. An oasis! Filled with excitement and adrenaline, Bea rushed to drink the delightful water and sit under the shadow of a tall tree. When she arrived, however, she realized why no human was present. In the heart of the oasis, guarding the only water for miles, laid a large, red dragon, with penetrating reptile eyes and a long tail. It appeared impossible to pass next to him and survive to drink the water. But, since she had nothing to lose, she decided to try anyway. Maybe he was a nice dragon…
"Hello," she said, approaching the dragon, "What's your name?"
"Get away from me, kid. You're bothering me!" he rumbled back, immerse in his reading.
"Whatcha doing?" she asked with her high-pitched voice, trying to be friendly.
"I'm reading something," he said giving her a quick glance.
"What?" Bea asked, even though she already knew what it was. She saw it when the dragon lifted his head.
"A classic," he grinned enjoying his answer.
"I didn't know magazines were considered classics. I mean…especially not THOSE kinds of magazines."
"What do you know about my magazine? Don't you dare insult it!" he roared standing up.
"See, you know nothing!"
"I actually do. I was an intern there for, like, a whole summer when I was ten." she stated satisfied. The dragon looked at her in surprise. He couldn't believe a little girl could make him speechless, but yet this one managed to. It was both impressive and creepy.
"And you want me to believe that? Do you think I'm that stupid? This is probably another trick to get water, isn't it?"
"I don't think you're stupid Mr. Dragon. You actually seem really intelligent. See, my godfather is the owner of the magazine, so he arranged for me to be an intern. Plus, I'm an artist, and that was a great experience to learn about female anatomy. But in the end I kind of decided that I didn't want to make my characters look like that."
"So you actually know these models?" he asked confused.
"Yep," she nodded, "But some of them are really rude. Especially the girl on page three. She was mean to me the whole summer. I'm sure it's because my godfather loves me more than he loves her. You know how jealousy can be."
"You know HER?"
"Do you have her phone number?" he asked full of excitement.
"Yeah, but I don't know–"
"Can you give it to me?"
"Why should I?"
"I'll let you drink the water." he said desperate. He really wanted that number.
"No, I mean–"
"Here," he said pushing her into the water. She enjoyed the freshness of the water and drank until she became sick. Then she washed her face and hands, and refilled her water bottle. Walking slowly out of the water, she approached the dragon.
"Can I get the phone number now?" he asked almost jumping from happiness and exhilaration.
"But I gave you the water." he protested, unable to cope with his misjudgment.
"Thank you for that, you really surprised me there. But I told you…well, I tried to tell you. It's not about the water, the fact is that that woman is really mean and rude, and she doesn't deserve your attention." the dragon looked at her, astonished and amazed.
"If you don't give me that phone number, I'm going to eat you!" he roared, taking a small step toward Bea.
"Eat me. I'm not giving you the phone number of that rude girl."
"How about some other woman?"
"No. You should try dating someone nice. And, by the way, you're a dragon, for God's sake!" she exclaimed confused. The dragon grinned, showing his pointy teeth.
"But I'm a shape-shifting dragon." he added.
"Awww. So you have magic powers? Do you, like, sparkle or stuff?"
"No kid. I manipulate atoms! It's pure science. And I do not sparkle! I am not Edward!"
"That's cool. So, what's your name?" she asked, changing the subject of their conversation.
"Sazzaro." the dragon said, proud of his name.
"Hello Sazzaro. I really like your name. Oh, I'm Bea."
"You know, that's, like, the first three letters of the word 'beautiful.'"
"Ha, that means you're only one third beautiful." Sazzaro yelled bursting in laughter. Bea, however, was silent and serious. She glared at him, with scary attitude that freaked out even the most powerful shape-shifting dragon.
"Nice one," she said with a toxic and low tone, totally different from her usual cute and high-pitched voice. "I never heard that one before," she added quickly, back to her natural self.
"Can you go now? You have your water."
"Why not?" he inquired not out of curiosity, but because that little girl was starting to annoy him.
"See, friends always stick together, and help each other out."
"Yeah, listen Bea, I'm not your friend," she looked at him with watery eyes. "Don't cry! Look, I'll be your friend if you leave now."
"I can't do that." she answered, coming closer to Sazzaro. She sat next to him and put her tiny hand on his immense paw.
"Why not?" he asked confused.
"Friends are always there for one another, no matter what. I can see that you're alone here, and I have no intention of leaving you. And, I kind of like you. I mean, you're so cute and cuddly."
"Oh, well…wait…what…I AM MOST CERTAINLY NOT!" he replied, angered by her statement.
"Whatever makes you happy. You know, I never thought I'd meet a dragon, or that we would be friends…" Bea sighed, "Life is weird, ha?" Sazzaro remained quiet, thinking about everything that happened between him and Sanpa.
"You really remind me of Sanpa, my creator. She has the same length of hair, except hers is brown. And well, one of her eyes is purple, just like yours are."
"Awww, that's sweet. Where is she?"
"Here and there, I guess. I'm not worried about her." he mumbled.
"Of course not," Bea said sarcastically, "Wanna go find her? I'll help if you want."
"Don't worry Sazzaro. You'll know if she needs you. There's something special about true friends, and that's what you guys are. She'll come back soon, I can feel it."
"Get on my back. Now!" Sazzaro commanded with a cracking voice.
"Ok," she said climbing up his limb, "But why?"
"I'm taking you home, or wherever it is you came from."
"Because…true friends are the only people that look after you when you're in need, give advice to heal your wounds, and stay by your side no matter what." he answered quickly, trying not to make it sound cliché. She hugged and thanked him, while they flew over the endless desert. Two silhouettes disappearing in the horizon: a lost girl that found friendship, and a searching dragon that gave up his pride to save the first three letters of the word 'beautiful.'