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Courage Town: Carrie's Turn to Soar
Carrie has been flying every day, training, and now she must put it all to the test...
Each day after school, Carrie flew straight from school to the lake. On this particular day, though, she was running late.
She had just had a class with Hanna and they were having a chat. When she suddenly realised the time, she told Hanna that she had to get going right away.
"Why don't you take a day off from training?" asked Hanna. "We can cook some brownies."
"I can't, Hanna. Not right now."
Hanna frowned. "Fine. Stay safe then."
Carrie smiled and ran ten or so steps and took off with a flap of her wings. She headed for the forest, soaring just above the tops of the trees.
Carrie hated being late. She was frustrated with herself and flapped her wings extra hard.
She made it to the lake and flew right out to the middle of it. She then began to lift up into the air, climbing upwards. Up and up she went. She felt the air getting colder as the lake and the forest began to shrink beneath her.
Flapping furiously, her wings ached and her heart raced.
Finally, she made it to the point of the lowest clouds and then she stopped, flapping just enough to stay afloat.
She looked around, searching.
She turned around and there was Eagle hovering just behind her -- a bald eagle with fierce yellow eyes and a golden beak with a tiny chip in it.
"I'm sorry," said Carrie.
"Discipline is everything," said Eagle.
"I know," said Carrie.
Exhausted from rushing over from school, she was struggling to keep her breath steady.
"Did you do your stretches?" asked Eagle.
"I didn't have time," said Carrie.
Eagle shook his head.
"Come with me."
He casually turned his head towards the earth and tucked in his wings, immediately and elegantly diving through the air.
Carrie took a final steadying breath and did the same.
The cold air whipped against her face as she plunged like a meteor towards the lake.
She zoomed after Eagle and they both pulled up just before the water and glided to the shore.
Eagle landed flawlessly first, almost as if his first onto the ground was just a casual step like any other. Carrie, meanwhile, hit the shore with a stagger and a stumble, going several steps and then tripping to the ground.
"That is why you need to do your stretches," said Eagle. "You're as flexible as a rock if you don't stretch. And how good is a rock at flying?"
He waited for her to answer.
"Not very good," said Carrie.
"So," said Eagle. "Stretches."
Carrie began to move through her routine of stretches -- touching her toes, stretching out her wings, and jumping a few times on the spot.
"Now," said Eagle once he was satisfied. "Let us begin."
And so they began the day's training. Carrie had spent the past two weeks gradually increasing the amount of weight that she could carry while flying. Eagle had been getting her to carry a stone from one side of the lake to the other. Each day, the stone got heavier. Heavier and heavier and heavier.
"I found the perfect stone for you to use today," said Eagle. "Come with me."
Eagle took off into the air and Carrie followed. Eagle cruised along the shore until he came to the stone he was after. Eagle landed directly on top of the edge of it that was sticking up out of the ground, the rest of it buried.
"Here it is," said Eagle.
"But that's..." said Carrie, trailing off.
"Heavy, is what it is," said Eagle. "But you're ready for it."
Carrie looked at it, speechless.
"Go on," said Eagle, stepping off the rock. "Dig it out."
Carrie reluctantly stepped forward and began to dig around the buried stone. As she uncovered it, it turned out to be about the size of a watermelon. It took a while, but, eventually, she had dug it out of its spot.
She then looked to Eagle for guidance.
"You know what to do," he said. "One side of the lake to the other."
"I'm not strong enough," said Carrie.
"You are," he said. "I know it in my bones."
Carrie bent down to wrap her arms around the stone.
"Deep breath out..." said Eagle. "And deep breath in..."
After a long breath out, Carrie breathed in deeply.
"Now," said Eagle. "Go!"
Carrie heaved the stone off the ground and immediately launched into a run towards the water.
"Go, Carrie, go!" said Eagle. "Give it everything you have!"
Carrie charged across the shore and then, just before the lake, sprung into the air.
"Flap your wings, Carrie!" shouted Eagle. "You're doing it! Keep flapping!"
Carrie dipped and staggered as she tried to keep in the air. She was flying just above the lake, with the rock at times skimming the water.
Carrie gritted her teeth and kept on pushing. Slowly, she began to lift.
Up she went, the water farther and farther beneath her.
Eagle was flying alongside her, cheering, "Keep going, almost there!"
Sure enough, Carrie made it across the lake and eased the rock down onto the shore for a gentle landing.
"I told you!" said Eagle. "I told you you could do it!"
Carrie had the biggest smile. She picked Eagle up and hugged him tight.
"Alright," he said, smiling. "That's enough."
She let him go, still grinning.
Then the expression on Eagle's face changed.
"And that," he said, "is where our training ends."
Carrie's smile disappeared.
"What do you mean?" she said. "I'm not ready."
"But you are ready," said Eagle. "That stone was the test. You passed."
But Carrie was scared.
"I can't," she said.
"You fly tomorrow," said Eagle with a smile.
He lifted off the ground.
"Tomorrow," he said. "Tomorrow's the day."
Carrie was nervous as she went to sleep that night. At school the next day, she couldn't concentrate at all.
"Are you ok?" asked Hanna.
"Yeah," said Carrie. "Just a funny tummy."
When school finished, she was the first out the door. Carrie took off straight for the lake. Once she was there, she went straight into her stretches. Extra for that day.
Once she was done with her stretches it was time to wait.
Eagle was the first to arrive.
"Are you feeling ready?" he asked.
"Am I feeling ready?" she said. "No. But I am ready."
Soon after that, everyone arrived.
Carrie's mums came walking out of the woods with little Lily walking between them.
Lily was Carrie's seven-year-old little sister. She was a tiny bit different to a lot of the other dragons. She was born with only one wing. It made her shy around a lot of the dragons at school, but she was always herself with her family. She was one of the smartest in her class. She only really laughed when she was with her family, but, funnily enough, it was the loudest laugh in all of Courage Town.
When Lily saw Carrie, she sprinted across the shore and jumped into her arms. Carrie picked her up for a big hug.
"Are you excited?" asked Carrie.
"More excited than I've ever been in my life!" said Lily.
Carrie's mums made their way over and Carrie set Lily back down on the shore.
"Are you sure you're ready?" asked Carrie's mum, Annie.
"I am," said Carrie. "I'm ready."
Her mums looked to Eagle for confirmation and Eagle nodded.
"She's ready," he said.
And so the time had come.
Carrie looked at Lily.
"I'll hold you tight and you'll hold me tight, ok?" said Carrie. "Promise?"
"I promise," said Lily.
Carrie picked Lily up and they held each other tight.
Carrie counted them down, "One... Two... Three!"
And then Carrie bolted towards the lake and launched flawlessly into the air.
Up they went above the lake, with Lily laughing loud enough for every dragon in the world to hear.
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