Saturday, October 11, 2014

Chapter 48




Between canning days, work days, cleaning days, and foraging days May and June disappeared fast and suddenly it was July and the family had decided to celebrate Independence Day by heading to the reservoir to play in the water and watch the fireworks after it got dark.  I’d never done anything like that and it was with some excitement that I packed a picnic basket full of food and a cooler full of drinks.  But the day turned into a real scorcher and I also realized that I’d be showing more skin around people than I was used to or comfortable with, even if it was just in shorts and a tank top.

Sawyer and I had just come from the woods and collecting mayapples at Aunt Suzanne’s request and we sat down on the sheet we were using as our blanket.  I started to nibble on one of the few apricots that I’d picked that hadn’t wound up canned or dried and Sawyer flopped down and scrubbed the sweat from his face before complaining, “Man it's hot."

"Here," I told Sawyer handing him another jar of sweet tea from the cooler.

Wistfully Sawyer asked, "You sure you don't want to go swimming?  You see that there’s a lot of people out there in shorts.  Not all the girls have on bathing suits."

I sighed.  "You really aren't going to go in unless I do are you?"

"Nope.  Them's the rules.  If your lady doesn't go in then you don't go in."

With total disbelief I told him, "There is no such rule that says that."

"Sure there is."

"Sure there's not."  Looking longingly at the cool water of the reservoir myself I finally agreed, "OK.  On one condition.  If people start making more fun of me than I can handle you don't give me grief about getting out and back over here to our blanket where it's safe."

"Anyone makes fun of you at all and I'll beat the snot out of them."

"Don't say that Sawyer.  We don't want trouble now that we are finally having some peace that the Duncans have signed that paper stating they understand they have no legal standing to take the house and land.  I still can’t believe Uncle Mark ever was in love with that woman.  Thinking about it turns my brain inside out.  I don’t want him to come uncorked all over again like he almost did this morning.  There's been enough stares just from that, I don’t want to give people any more reason to do it.  I may have had to deal with that sort of thing my whole life but that doesn’t mean I like it.  At least as bad as some of Shallaylee's drama was she still wasn't as bad as she could have been so I count it a win.  Besides fighting won't make people back off, it only makes them behave worse and then feel justified for it.  You see what Benedict and Davis have had to go through."

"I'm not them.  There's consequences for getting a girl knocked up."

A voice from behind us said, "Charming Sawyer.  You're just completely charming."

"Sorry Jeannie but it's the truth."

"Yeah, I get it.  That doesn't mean ... oh never mind.  It's too blasted hot.  Someone call Heaven and tell them the thermostat is stuck."

She flopped back down and started fanning herself again and Sawyer and I took that moment to escape.  When we were far enough away Sawyer said, "I ... guess I stepped on her toes."

"No.  Not really.  She's just irritated that all she does is pop up and down in the water like a fishing bobber.  She said it made her seasick.  Plus Aunt Pearl said that being pregnant in the middle of summer is miserable."

As we walked I kept him on the side of my bad leg to hide some of the scars.  He leaned over and whispered, "If I don't care I don't see why you should care.  I know what you can do with those legs."

"Sawyer!"  He stood back up and laughed out loud and a lot of people were wondering why he was laughing, I could tell it on their faces.

The water's edge was crowded so we kept going out deeper towards the diving platform.  It was only then that Sawyer thought to ask, "Can you swim?"

"Yeah.  Don't worry."

"You sure?"

"I wouldn't have said yes if I couldn't."

Just then a girl that was standing on the platform started yelling.  "Teddy!  This isn't funny!  Stop being stupid!"  Then she kept looking and then she started yelling even louder.  "Teddy?!  Teddy?!!  Oh my God!!  DAD!!  Teddy dived in but he hasn't come up!!!  DAD!!!!!!"

There are things that just don't change.  When I told Sawyer I could swim I wasn't exaggerating.  There were periods in my life that the only thing I could do was swim.  The doctors called it therapy.  I called it about the only time I was well and truly free of the mess my body was.  I wasn't just a swimmer, I was a very strong swimmer and had been trained to be a life guard by the people at the hospital.  It was supposed to be not just physical therapy for me but mental therapy, proving to myself there were things that I could do despite my body.  I worked with all ages and even some Vets who came to the hospital for special water therapy.  It had been a while since I had been swimming but the muscles and lungs still remembered what they were supposed to do.

I'd never been in the reservoir, it was definitely different than a swimming pool and while the top part of the water was pretty clear because of all the direct sunlight, the deeper you went the murkier it became.  It felt like I was looking for hours but I finally felt something out of place amongst the water plants below the platform.  I grabbed it and pulled and pulled up the head of a young boy.  I shot with him to the surface.

People dragged him onto the platform and I finally screamed, "MOVE!!!"

I don't know if they moved willingly or if I pushed them out of my way but I was able to position him and start CPR after finding he didn't have a pulse.  I checked his mouth and found a bit of water plant in there so pulled it out.  I had to stick my fingers in deep and the kid didn't even gag which was bad, bad, bad.

I gave two rescue breaths and since his chest didn't rise I checked and got another glob of weeds out of the way.  This time when I gave him a rescue breath his chest rose.  That's when I started full on CPR.

Then there was a man and he said, "Keep the chest compressions going.  I'm going to ..."

Then the kid started vomiting water.  A lot of water.  The man held him on his side and when he stopped vomiting he turned him back over and took his pulse and listened to his chest.  The kid vomited again but not nearly so much water and that's when a boat shows up with some fire department guys and I backed off.

They started loading the now crying boy into the boat and I was about to slip off the platform when the guy that had gotten there first asked, "Where did you find him?"

"About twenty feet out that way ... there's a thick patch of water plants.  I was running my hands through it, felt something different, grabbed it and pulled it up."  I shrugged.  I was suddenly tired.  It had been a long time since I'd held my breath that long.

"You're CPR certified?"

"Yes sir.  Major Corman from the VFW signed my card.  It might be out of date.  It's been almost two years."

"You have it with you?"

"My card?  Back at our blanket."

I jumped when I felt arms come around me.  "Well I guess you can swim," Sawyer whispered into my neck while I shook in his arms.

"Yeah.  I guess I can."

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