A Dragon's Doula
by M.K. Hutchins
The Crewes' house sat in an isolated field, just like every other house I'd passed, with the Tetons
tearing up the horizon behind them. Really, eastern Idaho was the perfect place for a family of
dragons to live. Quiet. Open spaces. Ranchers would blame any missing cattle on wolves.
I parked next to a rusty pick-up, then jogged up the porch steps and knocked on the weathered
A girl, maybe nine, answered. Her freckles and bare feet looked mundane enough, but I caught a
whiff of smoldering leaves and burning pine. Definitely dragon.
"Are you the doula mama called?"
I knelt so I was eye-level with her. "Yes, sweetie, I'm here to make sure everything goes
smoothly with the birth. What's your name?"
She slammed the door in my face.
Well. What a promising start.
The door opened again. An octogenarian wearing a dress stolen from the 50s stood there, one
arm on the girl's shoulder. The old woman's voice creaked, but there was a matronly firmness
under it. "Cassie. You need to apologize."
Cassie muttered something at her bare toes, but it satisfied the old woman. "You be a good
helper for your mama, understand?" Then she held out a hand. "I'm Lillian, and I'm afraid I was
just on my way out."
"I'm Fern." I shook her hand -- she had a good grip for a woman with liver spots, and a warm
smile. Not a touch of smoke, though. Lillian smelled like fresh-ground cinnamon.
She got into the pick-up, engine spluttering as she pulled out.
A new voice called from inside, "Come in!"
Cassie folded her arms and glared at me, but I stepped past her.
The front room oozed family. Kid's artwork on the wall, two dirty mugs on the coffee table,
some LEGOs scattered on the rug. The decor all looked like it came out of a hokey Western
movie -- rustic wood and a coarse-woven blanket thrown over a rocking chair -- but I still
ached to see it. I'd never have a home, have roots, like this.
The woman who'd called me inside smiled at me from the kitchen, a half-eaten cookie in her
hand. "You must be Fern."
"That's me. I assume you're Allison Crewe, the expectant mother?"
She laughed and patted her round belly. "All dressed up and ready for human visitors." It was a
pregnancy suit, of course. Hard to explain a new baby to the neighbors without feigning human
gestation. "Would you like a cookie? Something to drink?"