I found Bruce Coville's "After the Third Kiss: A Dragon Story" in an anthology in Chapters. I wasn't really interested in the anthology as a whole so rather than buy it I went home and looked to see if it was available by itself on my Kindle. It was. So yesterday at the doctor's office I started it, then finished it when I got home. As a short story it wasn't very long, which made it a perfect fit for my day!
"After the Third Kiss" is the story of May Margaret, a young maiden cursed by her stepmother into the form of a dragon. Only her brother can break the curse, and only by giving her three kisses on the day he returns home. Despite his extreme reluctance to kiss her hideous form (and being scarred by her hot breath) he does so. Together they vanquish their stepmother, turning her into a giant toad.
Normally that's where the story would end, with the brother and sister living happily ever after. But that's not the case in "After the Third Kiss." The brother becomes king, but he is convinced that no one would desire him now that he is scarred (although that is not the case). But more troubling is the fact that he is unable to conceive an heir. And so he starts looking for a husband for May Margaret.
May Margaret has problems of her own. Although she is beautiful, she has no suitors because of the whole dragon incident. But that is the least of her worries, because May Margaret was not left unscarred by the dragon. There is a fire that remains in her blood, making her yearn to be a dragon once more.
"After the Third Kiss" was an incredible story by Bruce Coville. If you get the chance, I definitely recommend giving it a read!
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