Diff the Dragon by Angela Lott, illustrations by Richard Bartrop. An Okal Rel Universe Legacy Novella featuring the young Alivda
Angela Lott is the middle child of Lynda’s three daughters. She did two years of Business schooling at the College of New Caledonia and is now working as a receptionist at her local FYiDoctors. In her spare time she enjoys writing, video blogging, reading and watching very nerdy TV shows.
He walked out of Perry’s room and into the adjoining room. He saw his little Diff lying face down on her bed with her teeth firmly clenched in her pillow, trying not to sob. This was the muffled sound Amel’s unconscious mind had made him aware of.
Amel didn't turn on the light in Diff's room, but she heard him at the door and went still as a predator interrupted in the act of licking its wounds.
"It's Amel," he said into the darkness. "Are you all alone?"
"Yes," came the sullen response.
"Go 'way," Amel was told.
"I'll go away," Amel promised. "I'll just leave my voice behind to sing to you."
A small shadow stirred and sat up on the bed. He had her attention, "What for?"
"I lived in some bad places when I was a little boy," he said. "I was never as brave as you. When I cried I liked people to know. But sometimes no one who cared could come, so I imagined them. What they'd say. What they'd do. If I was Diff, of course, I wouldn't have needed to. Diff is brave and strong all on her own. But since I've had so much practice imagining, it would be nice if you'd let my voice stay behind to try some out."
The shape on the bed said nothing. Amel watched her wipe her face with an arm, in the dark.
He groped for an appropriate song and began something old and familiar that wasn't a nursery rhyme but a working song. He followed that with a sad song about exploring space. Somewhere in the middle of it the dark shape on the bed lay down again.