The dragon plagued Halima’s mind all day, and she dreamt about it that night. The tale of the “Nile Monster” was on everyone’s lips. It even reached the ears of Pharaoh, who, it was said, told his men to be on the alert for it. But as weeks passed and the dragon was not seen, people began to wonder if the infamous reed-cutter had merely made up the tale. Eventually, talk turned to other things. The dragon was all but forgotten. Even Mensah, who had talked of nothing else for weeks, lost hope that the dragon would ever be found.
*Halima wriggled her toes, revelling in the feel of the cool Nile mud on her hot and dusty feet. She brushed a fly away from her eyes, then bent down and hoisted a large clay jar of water onto her shoulder. She turned to go, then froze in terror. The jar fell to the ground with a wet thud and broke into two neat pieces. The water trickled away, but Halima didn’t notice. She was staring at a long-necked, four-legged beast with a pair of large yellow eyes. Eyes like pools of fire.
It was the dragon.
For a few awful seconds nothing happened. Then the dragon, instead of rushing forward and devouring Halima, began to munch calmly on some reeds. Halima let out a gasp of relief. The dragon was not going to eat her! And as she looked more upon the creature, a smile played about her mouth, a smile which turned into a laugh. The pyramid-sized monster everyone had been talking about was closer to the size of an ox, and it was eating reeds with blunt, herbivorous teeth.
Halima took a tentative step towards the long-necked beast, wondering if it would let her touch it. Imagine telling Mensah that she had touched a dragon! The dragon didn’t seem in the least concerned, so she slowly moved towards it until it was in touching distance. Halima’s heart was in her mouth. Slowly, carefully, she reached out her arm and touched the dragon’s cold, scaly hide. It looked at her curiously.
“Hello,” whispered Halima. The dragon reached out and touched her forehead with its nose. Then suddenly it turned, and made a strange sound. And to Halima’s great surprize, a reply, hardly audible, came floating from the other side of the Nile. There wasn’t just one dragon-- there was two!
Halima’s dragon didn’t hesitate before it plunged into the water and began swimming to the other side, stirring up a cloud of mud and soaking her with spray. She watched it grow smaller and smaller, till finally it reached the other side to join its companion.
Halima knew somehow that she would never see the dragon again. She wondered if her family would believe her tale. Her younger brothers would, that was for sure. And even if no one did believe her, thought Halima, she could go about her life with the knowledge that she was the only person in Egypt who had touched a dragon.
NOTE: The description of the dragon in this tale is based upon that of the Europasaurus holgeri, a ox-sized sauropod.