Teabox Tales - On The Keeping Of Men
Here is something short and sweet that I wrote to pull me out of writer's block.
It is based on a writing prompt from u/LuxuryDivine on Reddit, a link to which can be found here.
Anyway, without further ado, here is On The Keeping Of Men
On The Keeping Of Men
Humans are a medium-sized great ape species that can be found almost everywhere in the world. Though not domesticated by dragons, they have undergone a sort of self-domestication process that leaves them at least somewhat acceptable to be kept as a pet. As with any exotic pet, their needs are many and often convoluted, and many a dragon has awoken from a brief hibernation of a century or so to find that their human has passed away.
A human’s time is short, and even shorter in captivity. A wild human in amongst her own kind can expect to live for eighty years, while a pet may not even reach sixty-five. For this reason, they are not ideal pets for hatchlings, unless you like explaining the concept of death to your brood before they have reached even the modest age of one hundred. Any day may be your human’s last, and you must prepare yourself to lose them before you’ve ever really gotten to know them at all.
Their short lives mean that they live at a pace and intensity that any dragon would consider breakneck speed. They are born live after a nine-month gestation with no egg to speak of and are fully grown adults at a staggering eighteen years old. Whole human dynasties can rise and fall in the time it takes to hatch a single dragon egg, and the species may very well explode itself into extinction within a dragon generation or two.
A human is warm to the touch and smooth like soft leather. Their rapid metabolisms warm them from within at the cost of having to eat and drink every single day. If you thought having to throw together a hunk of meat and some gold coins every month for the hatchlings is annoying, you would not like to feed a human. They are fussy beasts; requiring an omnivorous buffet of meats, vegetables, fruits, and pulses in order to remain healthy. Their favourite foods are actually quite dangerous for them to consume in large quantities and can make them incredibly sick. Their most healthy food, a sort of loose, grassy assemblage of assorted greenery referred to as a ‘salad’, is actually rather unappetizing to them. You will have to use the full force of your draconic intimidation to encourage them to eat these ‘salads.’
A human’s emotional needs are annoyingly complex, and they have a whole separate type of health called ‘mental health’ that needs to be considered. Even the most introverted human is a raving extrovert by our standards, and it may be wise to arrange playdates with other human owners so your pets can socialise with one another. They may play with one another as hatchlings do, or they may perform behaviours such as quietly conversing, or crafting small objects together. A human’s greatest strength is her resourcefulness, and your human may create all manner of things both practical and beautiful.
Lastly, you must know what a human hoards. Like us, humans do like gold and gemstones in some capacity. They will use their skills to craft beautiful objects called ‘jewellery’, and they will wear them about their person to adorn their rather plain little bodies.
But that is not a human’s greatest treasure, oh no. Since a human’s time on earth is so short and precious, the greatest human treasure of all is memory. There are happy memories and sad memories and memories in between. They talk about their memories amongst each other or write their memories down in little secret books. When a human is old, she has the most memories of all, and this makes her wise.
Nature is cruel to the human. Just as she is old, and she has collected all the memories she could ever want to have, they slip away. First, they slip away slowly, and then quickly, and then the human passes away.
When your human is old, you must treat them gently. Warm them and talk to them and remind them of their memories. Their faces will light up, and the memory will turn to gold.