‘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.

#75: Swimming Alone

Dragon Father ist gone more than he ist present in his dream. I suppose it means he is awake a lot more time than he sleeps. That leaves Dragon Little a lot of time alone on their ship, Bonny’s Revenge

Every day for a few hours, there ist no parent to watch her. There ist no one to tell her what not to do. There ist also nowhere to go, for the world is mostly empty without the dreamer.

Except for the ocean. It has always been there in the few years I have known them. It ist there no doubt due to Dragon Little. But neither she nor her father realize that yet.

On this day, four-year-old Dragon Little took most of her clothes off, dropped down the rope ladder in a small splash. As the bottom of it sunk slowly into the ocean, she began to climb down. 

She reached the bottom and, one hand on the ladder at water height, she jumped into the water. 

At four years old she did not yet know how to swim. She had had a few lessons with Dragon Father, but she was not good enough.

He had expressly told her to never go into the water without him. But since when does Dragon Little listen when she really wants something? 

She let go of the rope, and kicked herself away from the ship. 

She paddled, keeping her head above water. 

She struggled and struggled and was breathing hard, but she made it to a meter or so away from the ship. 

She turned around in place and paddled back. 

Her head sunk for a second underwater, but she paddled hard, got it above water, and breathed. 

She reached the rope ladder and grabbed it with all her force. 

I could see what she was doing. She was teaching herself to swim. 

This day I learned that if Dragon Little wants to be able to do something, she will find a way to do it and nothing will stop her. 

She did it again. And again. And again. Slowly getting better and more confident every few minutes. 

She repeated this process for about half an hour before her head fell underwater. I could hear her struggle underwater, but she was sinking rather than floating. 

She did not have the strength! Or the panic caused her to forget how to swim! 

I stood up from my hiding place and spread my wings, ready to dive before it was too late. But my sharp dragon eyes saw her feel the ship underwater. She grabbed the last rung of the rope, still underwater, and pushed herself up. 

Her head came out and she breathed. I sat back down. 

She took a few minutes to regain her breath and composure. 

But then, to my surprise, she swam out again. And again. And again. For thirty more minutes before she stopped and climbed out.  

My dear, lovely Dragon Little. You can do anything! I hope it will be enough to save you from the troubles that await you outside your father’s dream!

—Told by The Red Dragon

Watch how I came up with the idea for this post:

#76: Dying a Glorious Death

#74: The Squashbuckling Demo