Peter L. Barnes » February 19, 2021

Daily Archives: February 19, 2021

Short Stories

Outlines and Rainbows

© Peter l. Barnes and Peter Barnett February 2021

Find the 27 songs over the decades, mostly about colour.

Sky watched the morning mists as they swirled around the river and offered the briefest flashes of the weeping willow trees lined up along the bank. She might be small but hopefully her bright yellow mac wouldn’t struggle to be seen in the foggy morning. She watched the pure white swan floating down river, tiny cygnets riding on its back.

She watched a strange outline emerge from the woods, walking steadily towards the river, leaving huge footprints in the deep snow, before plunging its head in the rushing and freezing water for a refreshing drink. Water swirled around and around the angular face, disturbing the rapid flow. A sharp snap and a silver fish flapped and struggled to free itself from pointed teeth and a strong jaw. It thrashed about trying to escape, but to no avail, as it was thrown into the air, spraying water with its rapidly flapping tail, before disappearing in a single gulp.

“Hello,” said Sky, ever a forward young girl. 

“Er, hello,” uttered the shape. “I didn’t know anyone could see me.”

“I can only see your outline,” admitted Sky. “What have you done?”

“I’ve been singing a song all morning and can’t get it out of my head.”

“Procol Harum?”

“Bless you.”

“No silly, the song.”

“Oh Yes,” said the shape. “If you say so.”

“I do,” said Sky. “Yes, the snow has made you all but invisible.”

“Is that a good thing, my mysterious girl?”

“If you want to creep up on people, when it’s snowing,” said Sky. “Once the sun comes out, you’ll stand out like a sore thumb. And if I’m not mistaken it’s about to do just that.”

Streaks of bright light strained through thick fog and thin drizzle and lit up the far riverbank creating a beautiful rainbow, myriads of colours sparkling across the river, like the first morning. Even more startling was the white horse standing in the field opposite.

“Hello Sky,” called the creature. “What’s that shape standing by you today.”

The shape shifted uneasily, not enjoying all the sudden interest in its outline.

“I’m not sure,” said Sky. “By the way your mane is particularly beautiful this morning.”

“The last wish I granted, went down particularly well,” said the white horse, preening its multicoloured mane and tail.

“And your horn is gleaming,” added Sky. “Now that the sun is out.”

“Thank you,” said the white horse and with a flick of its tail, gambolled like a spring lamb across the fields and into the woods.

“Is that a unicorn,” asked the shape.

“What else would it be?” said Sky.

“How does it get all the colours,” said the shape, which was gradually turning bright white against the grass, now that the snow had melted.

“Oh,” said Sky, almost jumping out of her skin as the white dragon emerged. “That’s what you are.”

“What did you think I was?”

“I thought you were a common dinosaur.”

“Common!” said the white dragon. “I’ll give you common,” taking a deep breath.

“Don’t get all uppity now.”

The dragon gently let out a gentle breath of fire, warming the frosty grass around Sky’s wellingtons.

“Sorry, I’m a bit jealous of the unicorn’s surreal colours,” said the dragon. “How does she get them.”

“Every time she grants a good wish, she is given a new colour,” answered Sky.

“Do you want a wish?” said the dragon. “I’d love to be surreal.”

“No, then you’d be in pieces, bits and pieces, all over the place and confused by a bunch of melting clocks,” said Sky. “And anyway, can you grant wishes?”

“I don’t think so.”

“We’ll have to find another way,” said Sky. “What about good deeds.”

“I can do bad deeds.”

“That will only turn you into black.”

“I’m also good at painting things black,” said the unhelpful dragon.

“Now why doesn’t that surprise me,” said Sky.

“Let’s go down the streets and ask if anyone needs a good deed.”

“It doesn’t work like that,” said Sky. “But we’ll go for a walk anyway, shall we?”

They walked down the riverbank to find a glum looking boy sitting on a bench, tears dribbling down his cheeks.

“What’s the matter?” asked Sky.

“My gumboots leak and my socks are soaked,” said the boy. “If I go home my now, my mum will be cross with me for jumping in all the puddles, and having holes in my shoes.”

“I think I can help,” said the dragon.

“Really,” said the boy, unphased by a talking dragon.

“Yes, see that purple bottle.”

 “Oops,” said the boy, picking it up and giving it to the dragon. “I didn’t mean to drop my litter.”

“Thank you, now your boots.”

The boy handed over the wet boots and dragon with a gentle hot breath melted and vulcanised the boot, melting the plastic bottle to fix the new seal.

“Now your socks.”  Dragon held the socks up and with a warm breath dried them out.

The boy quickly donned socks and boots and ran off jumping in all the puddles, spraying purple rain all over dragon

“Thank you thank, you,” shouted the boy.

Walking through the fields they came across a calf bellowing for its mother, who was standing in a field of the greenest grass.

“Please, help bring my baby home,” called the mother.

Sky and Dragon gentle herded the calf back to a gap in a fence, whereupon it rushed through the lush field and immediately suckled its mother.

“Thank you, dragon,” called the mum.

Dragon and Sky slowly wandered down the path to the local village before passing a whimpering dog, his collar caught in a yellow ribbon, attached to an old oak tree.

“Hello, what’s happened here?” said Dragon.

“I ran off,” said the dog. “I was chasing a rabbit down the pavement and got caught up and now I’m stuck.”

Dragon carefully untangled the dog. “Do you know where you live,” asked dragon.

“No, don’t let me race around, chasing my tail.”

“You’re right and we don’t want someone making off with you,” said dragon. “Come on we’ll go to the vet, I’m sure they can identify you.”

Soon the dog was trotting behind its relieved owner, off for a nice warm bath and well-deserved supper.

“Thank you, dragon,” called the owner, as a glint of golden sunshine, flashed from the vet’s closing door.

A young lady was rushing down Paris road frantically asking people in the street for directions.

“Can we help you?” asked dragon.

“Are you lost,” asked Sky.

“No, it’s my mother she’s so forgetful and always wandering off,” said the distraught woman. “Have you seen her?”

“We’ve seen lots of old ladies about,” said the dragon. “How would we know?”

“Oh, that’s easy, she’s the one in the brightest red dress.”

“Come with us,” said dragon. “She may be at the coffee shop, around the corner.”

Sure enough, there was an old lady sitting and chatting to a bemused group of teens.

“Thank goodness,” said the woman. “I hope she hasn’t been a nuisance.”

“No, she’s been telling us some very colourful stories!”

“Come along mother,” said the woman hurrying her mother off home.

“But I haven’t told them the one about the …”


Walking further up the high street they noticed an overloaded stand at the greengrocers, piled high with tangerines about to topple over as a leg gave way. Dragon dived forward and held the leg up whilst the shop assistant refixed the leg.

“Thanks dragon,” said the assistant. “They would all be running down the street without your help.”

“That reminds me of a song,” said dragon.

“I think you’ll find that’s ‘Tambourine man’,” said Sky, pointing to one in the charity shop.


A young lad stumbled into dragon as the tall heel on his blue suede shoes gave way.

“Sorry,” said the lad “Not used to these.”

“Why are you wearing them then,” asked the dragon.

“Off to a rock and roll party and found these in the charity shop,” said the lad. “No way I’m going to hobble there.”

“Let me see,” said the dragon. “The glue’s dried out, a bit of heat will soon have that fixed.”

Dragon breathed hot air onto the heel and squished it back on, before returning it to the lad.

“Thanks dragon,” said the lad.

A little boy was looking wistfully at the pale moon in the blue sky rising over the rooftops.

“Mum what does the other side look like?”

“I don’t know,” said his mum.

Thinking this was something where he could help, dragon told the boy to hop on his back and he’d fly him there.

“No dragon,” said Sky. “What would the child breathe.”

“Good point,” said Dragon. “But I can take you all to the planetarium.”

Dragon dropped them of at the planetarium.

“Thank you, dragon,” said the mother. “I sure it will only be blacks, whites and greys though.”

Sky and dragon made their way back home. “What’s your name? I can’t keep calling you dragon.”


“Joseph have you seen yourself recently?”


“Look in the window.”

There, in all his glory, was a dragon, festooned with all the colours you can imagine, everyone he helped had given him a colour.

“It worked,” said Joseph. “Thank you for all my colours, Sky.”

 “I think you may find this interesting,” said Sky, pointing to a poster in the window.

‘Auditions today for a great new musical.’

Sky skipped away down the street, past the nursery school where all the little children were singing their favourite song.

26 songs

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