Once upon a lost time there was a dragon called Bryn, who was like all the other seven year old dragons, pretty much, except for one thing. Bryn was scared of fire, which made hanging around with the other dragons quite frightening, especially as the younger ones had a habit of setting fire to everything, especially if they were anywhere near gorse. They also liked visiting the rubbish dump because a fire made of tyres could last a week.
And even when the older, more experienced dragons practised setting fire to things like birthday candles with their breath, Bryn would hide away, his little dragon knees rattling like castanets. He was so scared of fire that he would howl at the sight of a coal fire and a bonfire, well, that would be enough to make him howl like a scared wolf.
Bryn lived in a wood near Llansamlet, but because some of the others found the name hard to pronounce he would often say he lived in Swansea. His parents liked it there because they’d had grand views of some very fine flames over the years, what with the big chemical factory in Baglan, which could look like fairyland. Sometimes the steelworks in Port Talbot sent huge jets of flame high enough into the air to scorch the wings of passing seagulls. Some nights there were enough flames to make it look like a dragon party.
When Bryn and his parents started to plan for his eighth birthday they knew they couldn’t do what his friends were doing. His friend Etna was having a barbeque, where her uncle Gwilym would be grilling lamb kebabs with his breath, even though he had a bit of asthma. Bryn’s best friend Puff was having his party in the circus, and there would be a chance for each of his dragon friends to walk the tightrope, laugh at the clowns, and, of course, do some fire eating.
His parents couldn’t think what to get him, or how to organise a party. They worried about it as they didn’t want to let him down. They loved him too much to ever let him down.
The big day arrived and Bryn woke before the birds, before the sun had even rolled out of bed among the clouds. Bryn looked everywhere for his presents but all he could see were three tall red metal tins marked ‘In case of fire’.
Then his father arrived to explain that his presents were fire extinguishers, which he could use to put out flames wherever he liked.
Bryn looked stunned. He looked confused and stunned and, truth be told, a little bit disappointed. He was hoping for some roller skates, and perhaps some dragon-cakes, made by his gran, who was a world-class dragon-cake maker, and had won prizes as far away as Resolven.
But then Bryn’s dad showed him how the fire extinguisher worked and all of a sudden Bryn realized that with one of these strapped to his back he didn’t need to be scared of fire ever again. His dad helped him put in on. It fitted neatly between his little wings.
Later that same day his parents watched Bryn chasing after Puff and Etna and all his other green friends. They set an oak tree on fire but then Bryn quickly put out the flames. His friends tried to start a gorse fire but Bryn emptied an entire extinguisher on the blaze and stopped it dead in its tracks. Bryn the firefighting dragon had a whale of a time, and every night, just before bed, his parents made sure they replaced the water in the bright red tins.
Which meant that tomorrow Bryn could be brave again, and chase Puff and Etna and all his other green friends all over the place, from Mumbles to Pontardawe, from Sketty to Neath, in fact all the places that dragons love and fly above. If only you know how to look. Look, there he goes!
Banner illustration by Dean Lewis