JODIE sighed. “It’s raining again,” she said as she looked out of the window, “the summer holidays and for most of the time so far it’s just rained. Why can’t we go on a holiday to a sunny country, mum – you know, like my friends at school?”

“We can’t afford that,” said her mum Cath angrily, as she was already dealing with a mess created by Jodie’s younger brother Harris. Their small back garden was always a refuge on holidays but for the past two days it had just rained and, although Cath knew rain needn’t stop children playing outside, it seemed like it would never stop.

“I think someone has ripped a hole in the sky,” said Jodie,” and all the clouds and rain are falling through it.”

“Hmm, yes,” said her mum, not really listening as she wiped the floor.

Jodie was desperate to go out on the picnic that her mum had promised. She knew her mum did her best and that, although they might not have all the things her friends had, they had other things money couldn’t buy. But right now she felt bored and disappointed. Her friends she’d normally play with were away on holiday, the rain meant they couldn’t go out for a picnic and money was really too short to go to a paying place.

So Jodie went up to her bedroom and sat by the window. She watched the raindrops as they made erratic journeys down the window pain. Then she studied the clouds. They were dark and brooding, they seemed to be swirling around each other as if wrestling or fighting.

Jodie looked to see if there was a rip in the sky. Where was all that cloud coming from? Yeah, her teacher at school had told her all about water evaporating into clouds, but there was something about the clouds today, as if they were hiding something going on up there.

She wasn’t sure how long she’d been sitting staring out the window when she first saw it. At first she thought it was a plane moving through the clouds, but as she screwed up her eyes she realised the wings were flapping and she knew a plane’s wings don’t flap.

It vanished behind a dark cloud, then reappeared. What was it? Maybe some kind of big bird, but it would have to be a giant bird because it seemed so far into the clouds.

Then Jodie’s eye caught movement below, in the garden. Harris was all trussed up in his waterproofs and venturing into the garden to play in the mud. She watched him as he toddled about. He was only two, very cute and annoying at the same time.

Then her eyes were drawn to the sky again. Something had moved in the clouds just above the garden. It was all so fast Jodie’s eyes could hardly follow what happened. A dark cloud swirled low and it flew out of the grey mist.

It was a dragon and it swooped down without sound and grabbed Jodie’s wee brother in its claws, then in a second it was back in the clouds, vanished from sight.

“Mum!” screamed Jodie as she flew down the stairs. But her mother was on the phone trying to negotiate a loan. Jodie knew there was no time to explain, so she rushed into the garden and stood where her brother had been moments earlier. She looked up and, yes, there it was, a dragon with great wings flapping upwards, with her wee brother held in its claws.

She inhaled as much air as she could, and then screamed: “Give back my brother you scaly, creepy, ugly monster!”

It worked. The eyes of the great creature looked down at Jodie and then it swept downwards towards her. Jodie found herself rising into the dark clouds, gripped tightly by giant claws. Her brother was being held in the other foot, although he didn’t seem to understand the seriousness of the situation, as he was laughing and going “oooh” as if he was on a fairground ride.

They flew through darks clouds, so Jodie had no idea how high they were or which direction they were going. But soon she could feel they were going down. Sure enough, they landed on a rocky ledge. Grey mist swirled all around so Jodie had no idea where they were, but now the great dragon curled itself round like a cat and began to sleep.

Its claws relaxed and Jodie was able to carefully pry them open enough to crawl free. She then tip-toed to her brother and likewise slowly peeled away the claws which encircled him.

The weather was beginning to clear. Instead of dark grey clouds there was a yellowish sparkle in the mist as the sun began to shine through.

Then there was green. She could see the fields far below. Jodie took her brother’s hand and she led him quietly from the dragon. It wasn’t a ledge as such, for they had landed on a rocky part of the summit of a hill.

Jodie put her finger to her mouth and said “shhh” as she led Harris. But he was too young to understand. He kept making noises and when he turned round and saw the full sight of the dragon he started to cry.

The great creature’s eyes opened and it raised its head.

“Run!” screamed Jodie, but then realising Harris was too wee, she picked him up and carried him. She didn’t look back but could hear the dragon’s wings begin to flap and for the first time she heard it roar. It sent a shiver down her spine and for the first time she felt terrified. How could she possibly save her brother and herself from this?

As she ran she saw a small crack in the rocks. It was their only chance. She put her brother in first then followed, covering him. As they crawled into the narrowest section, a sharp edge of rock painfully scratched Jodie’s cheek.

The dragon was circling in the sky above them and then it landed on the rock. But the crack was too narrow for its giant claws. It squeaked and roared in frustration, but the children were safe in the narrow crack.

Then the mist lifted and the sun beamed through the clearing clouds.

The sunshine seemed to hurt the dragon’s eyes and it gave out a cry of pain. After swirling its head to and fro, it flew away.

Jodie waited for some time before daring to peer out. When she did she realised the dragon was gone. Blue skies and warm sunshine were making the land steam after all that rain.

“Phew,” she said with relief. “It must have been a rain dragon, they are the fierce kind,” she explained to her brother, who just replied “boadie, boadie”, which was his word for food. He was hungry.

“Boadie boadie,” he said, “boadie boadie.” Jodie opened her eyes. The sunshine was warming her face as it streamed through her bedroom window. “Boadie boadie,” her wee brother was shouting in excitement downstairs.

Jodie sat up and looked out of the window. The clouds were all gone and the garden was steaming in the warmth.

“Jodie, are you awake? We are going on the picnic now!” her mum called up. “Boadie, boadie,” Harris was saying as he watched his mum pack the sandwiches and fruit into the picnic basket.

Jodie rubbed her eyes, confused. It must have been a dream, but it had all seemed so real. But hey, it was sunny now, and she’d had a wee nap and they were going on the promised picnic!

She ventured downstairs, and her mum was in a good mood.

“Guess what?” said her mum.

Jodie shrugged her shoulders.