ST. GEORGE AND THE DRAGON by João Cerqueira

September 19, 2016

It was a morning of thick fog, cold and wet. St. George rode his white horse among the mists in the direction of the mountain. Villagers told him to follow the river till the source to find the dragon’s cave, so he could kill the beast and free the kidnapped princess. After two hours, he arrived at the destination: in front of him, like a gate to hell, an opening in the mountain rocks. St. George stood in front of the cave with his spear upright.

“Come out Dragon. I am going to kill you!”

Some seconds later, he heard steps that made the ground shake and he watched as from within the cave, a green creature the size of an elephant appeared. It had a snake head with horns, orange eyes, a tremendous maw and two large nostrils. It walked on four legs, had wings and a pointed tail. It looked at St. George, stunned.

“Are you crazy? What harm have I done to you?”

St. George made his horse move forward and stopped two meters from the dragon.

“You kidnapped a princess and I came to save her. So I have to kill you. That’s what knights do to dragons. Right?”

The Dragon took a deep breath.

“Wrong. There has been a misunderstanding. I didn’t kidnap the princess, she came to me willingly.”

St. George laughed.

“I didn’t know that dragons were liars.”

At that moment, a figure appeared at the cave’s entrance. She was a young blonde woman with blue eyes, tall and elegant, dressed as a princess. She was, obviously, the princess. St. George stared at her – he had never seen a woman so beautiful. The princess walked out of the cave, stood next to the dragon and began to caress its head.

“The dragon tells the truth. I’m here because I want to be. I can go away when I please.”

“You see,” said the dragon. “Our species, unlike yours, doesn’t lie.”

St. George opened his mouth and shook his head.

“My dear princess, why did you do that?”

The princess raised her voice.

“Because no man ever treated me with respect. My destiny was to marry, have children and obey my husband. But I demand to have the same rights as a man and be free.”

St. George scrunched up his nose.

“But that is absurd. How can a woman have the same rights as a man? If that happened, it would be the end of the world…”

“One day, when there are no longer knights, it will happen,” said the princess.

St. George smiled and put down his spear. “So, Princess, this beast gave you the freedom you wished?”

At that moment the dragon spat fire from its mouth.

“Hold your tongue, young man. I am a female dragon and we are very happy.”

“Yes,” said the princess. “She’s my Dragon Queen.”

St. George’s eyes widened.

“What? That’s even worse than I thought! If you were a male, I could understand, but two females together is something against nature.”

The princess embraced the dragon.

“Poor St. George, your head is full of prejudice. You see why I had to leave the men and come here?”

St. George dismounted his horse and sat down on a stone with a hand to his forehead.

“This should not be so. I should kill the dragon, you should be happy, the inhabitants of the town should give me a reward and, in the end, maybe we could marry. What will become of me if princesses become lesbians and fall in love with dragons or dragon queens?”

The princess and the dragon looked at each other.

“What do you think?” whispered the princess.

“He has beautiful eyes and the beard suits him well,” said the dragon.

“So, do you think…” asked the princess.

“Yes, after all, we don’t have prejudices,” said the dragon.

Then, gently, the princess took St. George’s hand, the dragon licked his face and the three, in silence, walked into the cave.

A sunbeam broke the fog and illuminated the mountain.

************************************************************

João Cerqueira is the author of eight books.

The Tragedy of Fidel Castro won the USA Best Book Awards 2013, the Beverly Hills Book Awards 2014, the Global Ebook Awards 2014, was finalist for the Montaigne Medal 2014 (Eric Offer Awards) and for The Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards 2014 and  was considered by Foreword Reviews the third best translation published in 2012 in the United States. https://www.amazon.com/Tragedy-Fidel-Castro-Literary-Fiction/dp/1938416163

Jesus and Magdalene (A segunda vinda de Cristo à Terra) won the silver medal in the 2015 Latino Book Award.

The short story A House in Europe received an honorable mention in the Glimmer Train July 2015 Very Short Fiction Award.

His works are published in The Adirondack Review, Ragazine, Berfrois, Cleaver Magazine, Bright Lights Film, Modern Times Magazine, Toad Suck Review, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Hypertext Magazine, Danse Macabre, Rapid River Magazine, Contemporary Literary Review India, Open Pen Magazine, Queen Mob’s Tea House, The Liberator Magazine, Narrator International, The Transnational, BoldType Magazine, Saturday Night Reader, All Right Magazine, South Asia Mail.

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