‘The Squashbuckler Diaries’ are the daily tales of Joy Shelley’s Life in the Dream. The ‘Lost in Dreams’ books will tell the story of what happens to her at ages 6, 9, 12, 15, and so on. The diaries tell us what happens before, after, and between the books.

#42: Drink the Boat

As soon as the Scorpion Queen was defeated, 4-year-old Dragon Little grabbed her stomach and threw up.

“Joy!” Dragon Father whirled around and held her. Simultaneously, all villains vanished and they were standing in the empty hallway. “Joy, what’s wrong?”

Her stomach convulsed and she threw up again.

Dragon Father put his hand on Dragon Little’s forehead and exhaled. I am not sure what he was checking, but he seemed to not find what he was looking for.

He held her close, her back to him. “It’s okay. It’s okay. Let it out. When you’re finished, you’ll feel better.”

He was looking around at the palace, as if to see if something caused it. The suns’ light came from the glass ceilings, burning hot as only the suns in the desert can burn.

“What’s the matter? Did you eat something? Did a snake bite you? Are you sick?”

Joy shook her head, wiping her mouth. “What’s ‘sick’?”

“Have you never been sick?” He thought about it for a second. “No, you haven’t. Okay, never mind,” he shook his head. He looked around again. “The suns! We’re in the desert! Did you drink enough?”

She nodded.

“Show me your bottle.”

Her bottle was attached to her sword belt. It was full.

“Joy! If you don’t drink, you get dehydrated, and in the desert you get a sun stroke!” He looked up right at my hiding place far above him. “Well, suns stroke,” he whispered.

He sighed. “Feeling better?”

“My head hurts. My body hurts,” she said matter-of-factly, for my Dragon Little did not whine, not even as a child.

“Okay. Come on. Drink this.”

“I’m not thirsty.”

“Part of having a sun stroke is not being thirsty. You have to drink it to be thirsty.”

Dragon Little sunk to the floor and lay there, curled up. “I’m not thirsty.”

Dragon Father’s voice was rising. He no doubt remembered how he could never get her to do anything she didn’t want. “Joy! Drink it! Now! You’ll feel better!”

She shook her head. “If you don’t, you’ll feel worse!”

She shook her head again.

Dragon Father started pacing back and forth, growing more frustrated. He truly was never able to convince Dragon Little to do anything she did not want.

“Okay! Okay! Look at this, Joy! This is amazing!”

Dragon Little looked up.

He was holding a huge bottle of water in the shape of Bonny’s Revenge, their pirate ship. It had the mast, the wheel, Dragon Little’s cabin. All the details were there, except that it was see-through and full of water.

“And you can drink it! Come on!”

Joy smiled and sat up. She reached for the bottle, opened the end near the bowsprit, and began to drink.

Dragon Father signed and sat down next to her.

“Good. Good. Drink up.” He was calming down. He had reached her and saved her.

—Told by The Red Dragon

#43: I Feel a Song Coming On

#41: Where Should We Go?