Lollipops

Once upon a time, there was a mighty winged beast. There was no special name for his species; he was simply known as a winged beast. His personal name, though, was Poppi. He had the beak and claws of a bird, a neck like that of a snake, and bat-like wings. He lived in the mountain peaks way on top of the Rocky Mountains with his mate, another winged beast like him. Her name was Lolli.

They had never been encountered by any humans in history before, meaning that they had lived a very peaceful life in the caves on top of the mountains. But it would chance that one day, when Poppi would take an adventuresome chance and fly down lower to get some food, that someone little would discover him.

On this particular day, a little human girl named Molly had gone for a walk in the woods at the base of one of the mountains without her parents' knowledge. She had come to enjoy the wilderness, and she also believed in magical things existing where grown-ups didn't look. She was standing outside of the woods in a clearing when she saw something flying down from the sky. It looked like a bird or a bat from a distance, but as it got closer, Molly could tell that it was something else. Initially, she was a little tense, wondering if it could be dangerous. But as it got closer, she soon realized that it was harmless enough, and she actually laughed at its cute appearance.

The flying beast that was approaching the field had a nice shade of bright blue skin, mixed with streaks of scarlet red and emerald green on its long neck and upper legs. It breathed fumes like a dragon, but the fumes were a pleasant shade of pink, and when the beast came close enough, it smelled of cotton candy to Molly. Most amusing of all, though, were the sticks sticking out of the beast's back. Lollipop sticks! They were the colors of strawberry, lemon, cherry, orange, and grape, and they looked positively delicious!

Molly stared in astonishment as the beast glided down and grabbed a large deer in its claws, killing it. The beast was about to fly off again when Molly suddenly ventured forth to talk to it.

"Uh, hi there, Mr. Beast," she said, unsure of what to call it. "Oh, wow! You look so cool! Can I get a closer look at you? You won't hurt me, will you?"

If the beast could've smiled, he would have. "Of course you may, child. It is not often that my kind gets visitors from humans. In fact, to be brutally honest, we never get human company. But that suits us fine, because that way we can live in peace."

Molly took a close-up once-over of the beast and her eyes became much wider. "Amazing! You look so cute! Hey, are those real lollipops sticking out of your back?"

"As a matter of fact, yes, they are," said the beast proudly, "Each beast of my species comes in five flavors. It starts out at two flavors with a newborn, and he/she gradually gains three more as he/she grows older. No two beasts have identical lollipop sticks in their backs. My flavors are Wild Cherry, Kiwi Strawberry, Raspberry Lemonade, Orange, and Grape."

"Oh, wow!" said Molly again, "Can I taste them?"

"Of course," said the beast. He lay down on the ground and allowed Molly to crawl on his back to lick and taste the lollipops. Molly tasted each of them, one at a time, savoring each taste, until she had tried every one of them.

"Mm, you're delicious, Mr. Beast," she complimented him, "Hey, what about your breath? It sure smells good, just like cotton candy mommy gets me at the circus."

"Who says all dragon-like beasts have to breathe fire, my friend?" the beast chuckled. "We all have breath like some form of candy in my species, and mine happens to be like the pink cotton candy that children so love to consume at carnivals."

"That's great," said Molly, "But why is it that you and your kind look, smell, and taste so good in the first place? I mean, wouldn't it be a little hard to be born or hatched in that way?"

"I assure you, it isn't as hard as it may seem on the surface," the beast spoke. "And as for why we look the way we do, it's simply because we are the product of a child's imagination. You see, little children are always dreaming of things that could possibly exist if humans only believed in it enough. Adults don't believe in these things enough for them to see them, but children can see them in the mind's eye no matter where they are. An unknown child wondered what it would be like if there were winged beasts with colorful skin, cotton candy breath and lollipop spines flying high up in the American mountains, and that is how beings like my wife and I have come to be."

Molly was awed. "Awesome! Things we think of can really exist, even if they're not real! I only wish mommy and daddy and my other grown-up family members could see these things. Say, what's your name, Mr. Beast?"

"Poppi," said he. "My wife is Lolli."

"Hi, Poppi," said Molly, "Can we be friends?"

"Sure," said Poppi, "Perhaps I can show you my aerie sometime. I'm sure you would love to meet Lolli."

Molly thought about it. "That sounds great, Poppi," she said, "but I'm afraid I have to get back to mommy and daddy soon before they miss me."

Poppi nodded. "I understand," he said, "Well, I must be getting back to her soon, anyway. I have just made a kill for her in order to provide us with some meat, and she's eating for four now, since we are expecting three babies."

"Aw, that's cute," said Molly, "I bet they'll be so adorable!"

"So do I," Poppi agreed. "And I'll bet that they'll be nice, strong, tasty winged beasts, too. Well, farewell for now! It was nice meeting someone who believes in me."

"It was great, Poppi," said Molly, "And I'll be back sometime to see you again, if you just keep an eye out for me."

"That I will," promised Poppi.

Later on, Poppi presented his meal to Lolli, and she was happy to hear about Poppi's encounter with a kind, young child. They nuzzled each other and their eggs until they fell asleep.

Molly, meanwhile, went home, and received a mild scolding for wandering too far for too long from her parents. She told them about the winged beast that she had found, but they just said that she had quite an imagination, and dismissed the story as fiction. But Molly knew that it was true, especially since her parents had admitted that she had quite an imagination, which was what enabled her to see the creature in the first place.

Yes, imaginary creatures did exist if you knew where to look, and Molly was someone who knew where to look.