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Every fifth summer outside the town where the weavers live (the ones who dye their threads with dreams and stitch them in blue and purple and lovemaking gold), they celebrate the swelling of the fields and the rolling hills and the boundless sky with a festival night.

And tonight, children are allowed up late, to run with honey cakes, laughing and singing through the swelling fields of grain. And tonight, they stream silver plumes of smoke behind them and sing, while in the distance, their parents turn to each other, content beneath the full moons of summer and the nodding of the endless stars of the midnight sky.

In the furrows, the children plant sticks of incense, and the smell of frankincense and autumn sage curls up towards the witch's cloak of the sky.

They sit together on the beach, eyes closed, and enjoy the feel of the warm sun and warmer sand and the sound of lapping waves. She leans against the side of his lizard-skin belly, rocking gently along with his breathing. Her short legs are covered in sand that stuck on while she was still wet and since dried against her skin. A pair of khaki-colored shorts cover the bottom of her floral one-piece swimsuit, and a pair of plastic pink sunglasses rest on her face. When she goes to school on Monday, her friends will mock her raccoon mask.

A low rumble starts up somewhere in the core of his belly. He shifts, rolling onto his back so his underside is exposed entirely to the sun. His belly continues to rumble.

"Hungry?" she says. She sits up and shakes out her hair, trying to bring it back into some semblance of order from when it was mussed by his movement.

"A little," he admits in a voice reminiscent of stone slabs grinding against each other. She cranes her neck and sees his flat-topped lizard head entirely upside down and flat on the sand, eyes still closed. His snake-like neck curves around in equal proportion to his tail. If she'd been looking from over head, he would have looked like a C. "You?" he says.

Her own belly begins to grumble. "Now, yeah."

One eye opens to look at her, vibrant orange against the pale sand. "You'd better go get something, then."

She thinks about this for a second, debating food versus comfort, before standing up. As soon as she's up, he vanishes. The sand is disturbed in the spot where she had been sitting, but flat everywhere else. There's no sign he was ever there. She takes a moment to appreciate this. Then, she runs across the beach, over the sandy hill, and onto the grass in the park proper. Her parents are sitting at a picnic table by the play area, enjoying the shade, and are all too happy to give her a few dollars. From there, she hurries to where the vendor is selling food.

When she returns to the sand, he's still gone. Careful not to drop the food, she sits back down in her spot and closes her eyes. When she opens them again, he's back, and sitting up a little ways away.

"Here you go," she says, handing him the paper cone topped with sugary pink fluff. He takes it gently, trying not to pierce the cone with his claws.

"Thanks."

And they sit together in companionable silence.


When her parents come looking for her around sunset, they find her on the sand alone, fast asleep, and slightly sunburned. Two empty cotton candy cones are on the ground near her, one right beside her, and one a few feet away. Her mother picks up both to throw into the trash while her father scoops her up and carries her to the car.

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