The Literary Lizard

imageThere once was a lizard who desperately wanted to read. He had learned to read almost as soon as he popped out of his egg. He was born in a pet store, and the shop owner used shredded newsprint as lizard bedding.

One day the lizard, still quite small, was contemplating whether to have crickets or mealy worms for lunch. A girl’s face pressed up to the glass. He could see right up her squashed nose holes.

“Look!” she squealed. “This lizard thinks he’s a dragon!”

“Why do you say that?” asked a man, and a second face peered through the glass, but without pressing his nose up.

“Because he made the word into his bed!” The squashed face giggled and vanished. The man leaned closer and squinted. “You’re right,” he said. “The little guy fancies himself a dragon. It says so, right on his bed.”

Puzzled, the lizard looked down. He knew what bed meant. It was the stuff the pet shop owner put in fresh everyday. But what was this dragon word the two faces spoke of? Looking down, the lizard noticed the marks on his bedding for the first time, and it dawned on him that they must have meaning.

From then on he was a lizard obsessed with literacy. He would find larger pieces of his bedding with the marks and press them to the glass when he heard people approach. They were always surprised to see a young lizard waving a bit of newsprint at them, and they almost always responded by reading the words out loud.

The little lizard soon came to understand that the marks were symbols which made words, and that they could be mixed up and made into new words. Within months, the lizard was competently deciphering whole words on his own. He couldn’t wait for the pet shop owner to bring him new bedding, and new words to read, every day.

One day, someone bought him and took him away from the pet store, and his bedding. He was put into a large, bright cage with colored sand and heated rocks. A small, plastic palm tree was his only entertainment. He would lie on his heated rock and gaze at it for hours, reading it over and over again. Made in China… he read, and he always followed it with a sigh.

The poor lizard thought he would die of boredom, until the day he noticed the top of his cage was left open. He leapt for joy, blew his palm tree a kiss goodbye and scurried out to look for something new to read.

Off into the grand, large world he slipped. The first word he saw, he scampered right up to it and curled himself around a large letter ‘a’ almost as big as he was, and hugged it for a solid hour. For days he went, reading voraciously, always on the hunt for bigger and newer words, until he found the words that eclipsed all other words with their elegant construct; Public Library.

The lizard slipped inside. Words upon words waited for him, and soon he discovered something even more amazing and wonderful than words. Books… books that were magical collections of words that made stories. The lizard absorbed every book he found open, devouring the pages with his eyes.

When the librarians discovered him, they had a meeting and decided that a public library should welcome anyone interested in reading, even if they were only four inches long with skin the color of new leaves. It was also noted that he kept the population of crickets to a minimum, and none of the crickets had ever shown any interest in learning to read. The librarians officially welcomed him.

From that day forward the librarians always made sure to keep a few books open on the shelves, and they would turn the pages whenever they passed. Hanging upside down under the shelf there would be a small lizard, eyes shining brightly as he filled his mind with grand adventures.

The lizard would read anything from poetry to prose, but his favorite, the librarians could easily tell, were always the books about dragons.

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, author, and publisher with over 20 years of experience in newspaper journalism. She is a Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist and HWA Mentor of the Year for 2020. She co-publishes Space and Time, a publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction since 1966. Join the community at
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8 Responses to The Literary Lizard

  1. Frank says:

    Love it!!

    • Thanks Frank :) This was my first foray into writing completely on my phone. I think I prefer it.

      I enjoyed your story a lot when I finished it last night. Plenty of mental fodder to chew on for awhile there.

  2. Robin says:

    keep this up Angela – reading this was so much fun. After the first few lines I was illustrating this in my head – a sure sign of a good story for me!

  3. Janice Clark says:

    What a delightful story!

  4. Deidra says:

    Delightful! this made me happy. :)

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