‘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.

#102: Joy Without Mary: Taking the Wheel

Mary had been dead for 30 days when Dragon Little touched the wheel again. 

My Dragon Little had been spending the long hours in which her father was gone by lying on her back on the deck of Bonny’s Revenge or just staring out at the ocean for hours. It was uncomfortable watching such a small and energetic cub behave like this after her nanny’s death. Dragon Little was only two and a half years old, after all. 

This day she was staring at the ocean from the bow. She had completely forgotten her attempts to steer Bonny’s Revenge

Dragon Little yawned. Another yawn. This was a sign she was ready to go to bed. 

Back slightly bent, she headed towards her cabin, when she faltered, and caught the wheel. 

The ship turned. 

Dragon Little stopped. Light returned to her eyes. 

She looked around, as if there could be anyone there. But, of course, she was alone in her universe, except for me in my hiding place. And I am quite certain she thought I appear and disappear just like her father’s dreams, and that therefore I am not there except when Dragon Father calls me. 

Dragon Little stood in front of the wheel, tiny legs rooted on the deck in a way that mimicked her father. Her head was just above the middle of the wheel. 

She held both sides of the wheel, and looked around one last time. 

There was no one. 

She pushed the wheel forward, and the ship began to move, sailing the ocean slowly. 

I perked up. This could be a disaster and she may need a rescue. 

Dragon Little ran to the deck to see the ocean move. She quickly returned to the wheel. 

She turned right slightly - the ship turned with the wheel. 

She turned it a bit to the left- the ship straightened, then veered in that direction. 

She played with the wheel for a few minutes. And then she pulled the wheel back just a smidgen. 

Bonny’s Revenge lurched, and the bow was raised. The ship began to float upwards. Within a minute, it was sailing in the air. 

“Ha ha!” Dragon Little whooped and jumped in place. 

She could not contain herself and jumped for five more minutes before she returned to the wheel. 

She played around with it, floating just above the water and parallel to it, veering left and right, taking faster and faster turns. 

She increased speed. 

And then she turned the wheel too fast. 

The ship turned and did not stop: It was now upside down.

Before she understood what was happening, Dragon Little’s feet were off the ground. She caught the wheel just in time before falling into the water. 

She hung there, legs towards the water, unable to move the wheel, looking at the ocean speed past. The mast’s highest point was just above the water. 

Dragon Little tried to swing sideways, to force the wheel to turn back - but she could not do it. 

Her arms were no doubt getting tired. Dragon Little looked down at the mast and the sail, now in front of her and below her. 

She swung herself back and forth, and then, just as she was moving forward, let go of the wheel. 

She flew through the air and fell softly into the open sail. 

From there she rolled down to the top of the mast and caught it with both hands, which stopped her falling into the ocean and being left behind. 

She leaned back, sitting comfortably at the top of the sail, holding on to the mast. She looked up at the wheel, then down at the water and back again. She made a face and exhaled loudly.

Clearly, she knew there was nothing to do but wait for her father to appear and save the day.

—Told by The Red Dragon

#103: Taking the Wheel 3: Aaaaaah!

#101: Joy Vs. Mary