When I was a boy, I found him beneath a bridge on the far side of town. His wings were dirty and bleeding, and his flat face was covered in mud. I brought him back to health as best I could, never alerting my parents to the new pet I had adopted. His wings did not heal, rather they fell off. Whether shedding them was some natural part of the Golden Shazha’s development or the result of some malady I could not say. Nor was I at liberty to ask, for he would surely be taken from me once they found out.

Larger and stronger he grew. Arms sprouted, and he began to walk about like a man. It wasn’t until our fourth year together, however, that he shed his first golden snout. Being a timid and awkward lad, I buried it beneath the house. It felt wrong to bury something of such pure brilliance under our broken and dingy home, but I had to protect him. Ours was a true friendship, and I would not risk it for all the riches in the world.

More he shed. Each snout more glittering and pure than the last. Still, I stuffed them into the dirt until the space beneath my house was full. My father found them there, and so I buried him along with them. When my mother went searching for him, I buried her there too. Ours was a true friendship, my Golden Shazha and I, and I would not risk it for all the family in the world.

 

Written by Kalan Ray
Illustrated by Anthony Jones