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Morph by Ryan Griffin

Vignettes of Childhood in the House at the Edge of the World

By Jada Walker

The Taste of Dragon

He pokes at the dragon with his fork.

Because of its difficulty to come by, dragon meat is considered a rare delicacy. He thinks it tastes like chicken, but packed with more iron than it ought to have.

He stares down at his plate, which holds an untouched slab of dragon drowning in a dark, sticky sauce. Even without bending to it, its tangy metallicity burns in his nose. He makes a face.

“Eat your dinner,” his mother says to him.

He lifts his glass and takes a sip of the pale liquid circling in the cup. When he sets it down the drink keeps moving, and it looks like he has a miniature whirlpool trapped in his cup. He imagines a tiny Charybdis lurking at the bottom of the glass, sucking up liquid and belching it out to create the swirling motion.

His mother looks at him and tells him to eat the food on his plate.

He looks at the dragon, then rubs off a forkful of its sauce and puts the fork to his tongue. It’s earthy and sweet. He tastes another rub of it and decides that it's a good sauce. He takes a pinch of dragon and pulls it through the sauce pooled on his plate, then closes his eyes and puts it in his mouth. He chews once, twice, and then swallows it whole.

Nothing can make dragon taste good.

Shadows Dancing

Diamonds twinkle overhead. Dying light shines through translucent curtains. A ghost teaches her shadow to dance, as he taught her siblings’ before.

Two slippered feet and two weightless ones, joined in a long-forgotten waltz.

The Monster under the Bed

On her first night in her new room, she hears something moving under her.

She lies still for a moment, listening to the quiet jumble coming from below, and then she gets off her bed and pulls back the trailing comforter.

It’s dark. She can see only a shadowy heap, adjusting its position under her bed.

“Who are you?” she asks. It pauses, then rolls so the front of its body faces her. Two circles of light shine through the darkness. “Get out from there, so I can see you in the light.”

The creature obliges and she moves from the bed to give it space.

“What are you?” she asks, once it’s out. Even in the light, it looks to her like a mass of shadows, pressed into the vague shape of a man. Its eyes are radiant and white and sit too low on its face.

“In this language, the closest word to what I am,” it says, “is monster.”

“Do you have a name?” she asks it.

It replies, “Not for your tongue.”

She's uneasy. She’s been taught the importance of names when dealing with unknown creatures. “What brings you to my room?” she asks the monster.

“I’m here to watch over you,” the monster says, “and to warn those who would want to do you harm.”

“If you are here to watch over me,” she says, “why did you not before? When I lived in the nursery?”

“There are other children in the nursery,” it replies, “and that ancient nursemaid of yours that’s been protecting children since the dawn times. No, anything that would like to get you while you sleep would not enter a room such as that. But now, you are in a room of your own and now, you need me. So, here I am.”

She thinks of the songs the nursemaid would sing in the dark of night, when everyone was sleeping, (or supposed to be sleeping, in her case), songs in a language she'd never before heard but sounded to have born in the ages when dragons outnumbered humans. They were strange, lilting melodies.

But now, the room is quiet, and if she stills herself and listens carefully, she can hear an ominous absence pulling at the air. It frightens her, the idea of it, and the kinds of things that could hide in it.

“And you’re always going to be under my bed?” she asks the monster.

“No,” it says. “Sometimes, I will hide in your closet. Sometimes, I will fold myself into your dresser, and sometimes, I will stand watch in the corner of your room. But yes, most nights, I will be under your bed, waiting for something impure to enter your room, so I can prove my worth.”

She doesn’t know what to say to that, and she mutters a quiet, “Well, then, thank you,” to the monster. The monster nods. It crawls back under her bed and melts into the darkness. She climbs into her bed and stares at the ceiling.

Some time later, as she’s drifting off to sleep, she hears a low growl from under her bed. She doesn’t feel scared, but she doesn’t dare open her eyes.



“They see Death for the first time at the lakeshore. She kneels at the edge of the  water, cradling a baby bird with a hanging head.”

They see Death for the first time at the lakeshore. She kneels at the edge of the water, cradling a baby bird with a hanging head. Waves lap at Her skirt as She caresses the bird’s featherless neck.

When She leaves, She carries with Her something of the bird’s. “She took its soul,” they say to each other, watching as She slowly submerges Herself in the lake. But they can’t know for certain. Her hands are closed around whatever She took.

They hold a funeral for the bird. They make a tiny coffin from braided grass and scoop out a place for it in the sand. They tell stories of birds and sing songs of birds and, when it’s all over, close up the hole and carefully pat it even. “It was just a baby,” the youngest sniffles.

“That’s all the time it gets,” her sister says. The burial site is marked with a sharp, white-gray shell.



She is practicing the waltz on the first floor of the Museum when she sees it.

She is intrigued by the strange sheet draped over its tall, thin figure, by the sound the sheet makes pulling against the stonelike floor, the tender swish of a forgotten era.

She calls to it and it turns around, then back around and continues its walk. Slowly. Stately. A crown of candles rests on its shapeless head, their yellow flames shivering in the wind. Tassels of braided grass hang from its fingers.

She follows it. Through the rows of bronzed armor, strapped to the wall with thick chains. Through the glass cases that hold faded writings and discarded artifacts. Across a floor covered in ash and dust that collects on the edges of its sheet, and stains the white material gray. Still, it walks. And, running, she can’t catch up to it.



There’s a cliff at the far end of their property, right at the edge of the world. They sit on its margins and let their legs dangle over a river of time. A chilly wind blows in from the west.

As the sun fades from the sky, they huddle together to share their warmth and listen silently to the rush of seconds below.


About the Writer...

Jada Walker is a junior at Interlochen Arts Academy.

About the Artist...

Ryan Griffin is a Senior at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. Griffin has won high accolades in local to national art competitions like The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She frequently volunteers and aids within her school community by being an active member of multiple clubs/honor societies and advocating for the student body by serving on the senior student council. Ryan looks for beauty in effort and experimentation and their inherent connection with process and science to guide her work not only as an artist, but also as a student.

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