The Queen's Dragon

(by Evie Brandford-Altsher)


Once upon a time, I was a princess. My parents, the Queen and King, provided a cozy castle for their princesses, complete with lush gardens and a shining kitchen. Such fun we had in that kitchen! One time, my sister misread the measurements of a popped corn recipe, so we used four cups of kernels instead of one-fourth of a cup. We realized our mistake as a growing mountain of puffy popcorn lifted the lid above the pot. We were laughing so hard we could barely catch any of the exploding popcorn.


All was well in the queendom, until one morning, suddenly and without warning, the Queen encountered a dragon in the woods. She took one look at its green scales, sharp talons, and heavy tail, and she ran. But the dragon chased her relentlessly; it anticipated her every move. The Queen found her courage and unsheathed her sword as the dragon roared and breathed fire at her, nearly scorching off her eyebrows. The Queen swung heartily at the dragon and slashed its side, drawing slimy silver blood. She watched in surprise as the dragon scurried away through the trees, alive but weakened. As was the Queen. She returned wearily to the castle and told no one but the King of this battle, since she didn’t want to worry her princesses. But the next day, while the Queen was cleaning out the dungeon, the dragon returned. They fought again, and the dragon ran away again, like a puppy tending to its wounds. The dragon returned the next day for another fight, and the next day too.


The years flew by, we princesses grew older, and the Queen fought the dragon every day, knowing it would return the very next morning. Although the dragon showed impressive tenacity, the Queen always sent it running. She kept it secret from the princesses, which was quite a difficult task since the dragon’s roar was deafening, and it was at least eight feet tall. But the Queen soldiered on. She was courageous beyond her size, and sharp as a sword blade. Protection of the castle and her daughters was her only concern. She even found the strength to accompany me on all my visits to universities near and far. The Queen comforted my travel nerves with her homemade egg salad sandwiches (which I found out later are actually dragon repellant).

But through the years, the dragon lurked behind every corner, mocking and provoking the Queen. The King helped the Queen battle the dragon and hide it from the princesses (quite a noble task), but they grew tired after years of fighting. The Queen needed more help. She called upon the wizards, shamans, healers, apothecaries, and dragon-slayers of the land. They poured in from far and wide and offered their mediocre services for tremendous prices. The Queen reluctantly paid, hoping each would be better than the last. One did this, another did that, and one did this again. Nothing worked. They told her this dragon could not be slayed. The Queen, the bravest and brightest in the land, sent them all away in frustration and hatched a new plan of her own design.

The next morning, the dragon emerged outside the Queen’s bedroom window. Before it could even inhale its first fiery breath, the Queen flung a rope around its long neck and pulled. The dragon bucked and resisted, but the Queen held strong. She tugged the dragon down to the well, where she reminded it to always stay hydrated, then to the woods, where she encouraged it to snack on some leaves. After eating, the dragon felt much better. So the Queen marched the dragon straight into the garden where the King and princesses were enjoying their tea. The Queen finally introduced her princesses to her dragon. We were scared at first, but the Queen explained to us how she’d secured it. The Queen encouraged us to look straight into the dragon’s eyes and smell its smoky breath, and the dragon even let us pet its scaly skin. We offered the dragon some tea, of course, but it preferred coffee.


The years flew by again, but this time the dragon was kept on the Queen’s rope at all times so she could feed it and tame it as needed. Nobody lived happily ever after, because there was a dragon living in our house, but together we made it work.

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Evie Brandford-Altsher is an actor, singer, and writer based in New York City. She studied at NYU’s Playwrights Horizons Theatre School and Stonestreet Studios, and now focuses on character work and writing silly songs. She can be found at https://evieba.com, on Instagram, and TikTok.

Popcorn (meant to be shared)


1/4 c. popcorn kernels

1 T. cooking oil

optional: salt, pepper, sugar, cinnamon, Parmesan cheese, or anything you want


Combine oil and kernels in a pot over medium-high heat.

Once popping has ceased for a full 10 seconds, remove from heat, and toss with spices/flavorings.

Egg Salad Sandwiches (Dragon Repellant)


6 large eggs

1/4 c. mayonnaise

2 T. mustard

salt, pepper, dill, or chives to taste

2 handfuls spinach, arugula, or other greens

4 slices bread


Submerge eggs in a pot of cool water, bring to a boil, remove from heat, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Place eggs in a bowl of water and ice cubes to stop cooking.

Once completely cooled, remove eggshells.

Mash eggs, and add mayo, mustard, and spices.

Let mixture cool.

Make sandwiches with the egg salad and greens, and cut in half diagonally.