It was inevitable that it would happen. Still, Tiny’s heart sank like a lead balloon when she saw the first signs. It was the Conductor who had warned them first, back when they were still playing on the Dinosaur Train and Tiny’s name was a true descriptor. The dinosaur facts he supplied were usually only semi-interesting and often sort of trivial, but this time he was dead serious. The expression on his face even made Tiny stop her usual song-and-dance routine.
“Sit down,” Mr. Conductor said, motioning towards two of the ordinary train seats. Buddy instantly obeyed and Tiny froze and sank down beside him.
“We have to talk”, he said, with a voice that indicated that the world would end if they didn’t listen.
“Wait,” Buddy interjected “Talk about what?”
“About dinosaur puberty.”
Complete silence ensued. Tiny could have died from the awkwardness.
“I have a chart.” Mr. Conductor said.
It was a chart of a Tyrannosaurus. A male Tyrannosaurus. Two pictures, one adult – one child. Tiny thought the adult one looked fairly good.
“The difference in size between the dinosaur child and the full grown dinosaur male is staggering. It will take lots of dedicated effort to reach the adult stage. At fourteen years old a Tyrannosaurus Rex weighs approximately 1500 pounds, but a full grown Tyrannosaurus weighs about 11,000 pounds or even more.“
“That is so cool, Buddy,” Tiny interjected. “You’re going to be a giant.”
Mr. Conductor lowered his voice.
“Many die in the process. Tyrannosaurus teens are a violent lot. The Buddy you know and love might be long gone during this period, Tiny.”
Tiny shook her tiny little Pteranodon head. There was no way Buddy would change into something incomprehensible and violent. For one thing, she knew him. He was her clever brother with the big heart and the vastest knowledge of dinosaur species in the whole Pteranodon family. Buddy would never be violent; he had excellent table manners when it came to carcasses and he always scavenged his own food. He wouldn’t hurt a fly if it didn’t hurt him first. He didn’t slap Shiny when she sang ”I Kissed a Troodon and I Liked It” for the 14th time. He didn’t even slap Don when he sang “Born on the Dinosaur Train” completely out of tune.
The Conductor continued his explanation with some very interesting pictures of cross-sectioned Tyrannosaurus genitals. Buddy looked liked he wanted to hide under his seat from the shame, but Tiny thought it was a very interesting and informative lecture. Then Mr. Conductor breezily went over the changes Pteranodon women go through and gave a little speech on how to properly care for eggs. Then it was over. An awkward silence sank down around the participants. Buddy looked slightly downcast. They didn’t speak much on the way home, just cast embarrassed glances towards one another as Tiny flew and Buddy got picked up by Mrs. Pteranodon.
Tiny longed for those careless days when they would fly around and test hypotheses and play. Now, Buddy was too big to be carried in somebody’s claws. If Tiny wanted to ride on the Dinosaur Train, she would have to go alone.
And alone she was. She sat by the water and looked at the fish and worried. The signs were clearly there. Buddy had been increasingly moody. He ate like a creature Tiny had never seen before. And he grew. Tiny had always been tiny, but in the company of Buddy she suddenly felt miniscule. He was no longer interested in childish things, like working on Don’s seashell collection or playing tag in the sand. He suddenly seemed so mature somehow, except that he was prone to excessive mood swings and that he still treasured things like testing facts and discovering new dinosaur subspecies. Still, there was no doubt about it; Buddy was undergoing Tyrannosaurus puberty.
She didn’t want him to become violent, but he did. He kicked down the trees and howled at the moon. He set out in the night because he wanted to confirm a hypothesis about dinosaur fighting. And Tiny worried. She was a pragmatic girl, so she read books and searched for a remedy. Still, she knew the odds: few Tyrannosaurus Rex males survived puberty.
So she went out in the night, despite everything she knew about safety and preservation techniques (Mr. Conductor had showed them instructional movies). She followed the rails, which ran like two long snakes in the field of her vision. Suddenly, her body shook. Her wings went rigid and her body propelled forward like it was shot through a cannon. “Shit,” she thought to herself, “Time Tunnel.”
When she gained control over her body, she realized that she was somewhere in the Triassic period. She thought over her situation and decided that she was near the Red Desert. And Buddy was there. She could tell because she knew his scent better than everything. Buddy always bragged about his superior Tyrannosaurus sense of smell, but Tiny could pick out Buddy’s scent from everywhere. There were notes of stale meat, of pine trees and dirt. However, the scent wasn’t unpleasant, but rather comforting.
She found him next to a mountain. He was fighting a stray T-Rex who looked older and more weary. Buddy had new scars on his chest. Tiny bit her lip and remained in the sky, watching over them. The older T-Rex lunged, Buddy defended himself with a vigor Tiny had never seen before. The two dinosaurs circled each other. Tiny watched, incapable of intervening or doing something useful. Then the older dinosaur and Buddy went for the kill.
“Please stop”, Tiny yelled in panic. She could not articulate what she felt, but she needed to do something. “Don’t kill him, Buddy, don’t do it. I know you are angry and that hormones are raging and that T-Rexes basically get nuts during puberty, but – please – don’t - hurt – him. You can overcome your destiny; you can be in control of your instincts. You can be better than this – please Buddy, please.”
Buddy lowered his head. She could see him thinking it through. It made her glad. A long silence followed where nobody did anything. Then Buddy turned to Tiny and nodded. Slowly they followed the rails back to the Pteranodon Terrace.
“I’m glad,” Tiny turned to Buddy said. “I’m glad that you didn’t follow through your instincts and I’m so relieved you didn’t fight. Aren’t you happy that you didn’t prove your hypothesis about dinosaur violence? That you are in control of your hormones? That you finally realized that there was something to all those documentaries that Mr. Conductor showed that proved that violence is bad and you should feel bad.
“Honestly no,” Buddy finally said.
“I never cared much about that. I only care what you say, Tiny.”
He stopped awkwardly and looked at the rails they followed.
“I love you, Tiny,” he said. “That is the only reason I need to stop something.”