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Today we have another chapter for Wind in White Birch and our word prompt is "Bloom".
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I inhaled a good gallon of icy lake when I first felt the cold water rushing up under my coat. The shock was incredible, making my brain freak out momentarily. I splashed and kicked instinctively, my head breaking the surface. Peter had tugged me upward. Now it was my turn to help him. I tossed my hair from my eyes, gathered the shivering young man to my side, and pushed through the chunks of ice floating atop the blue-green water. It was extremely slow going with only one arm to use, but Peter was now shuddering so violently he couldn`t speak let alone swim.
I had to pause about three feet from the shoreline to pound on a fault-line with a fist. My fingers were so cold I couldn`t feel them and I had only been submersed for a couple of minutes. Pete must be dangerously close to hypothermia. I hammered with all I had, flogging wildly between hits to keep the two of us afloat. I could just feel the deep sloping side of the lake with the tips of my toes. If I were a foot taller I`d be able to stand and keep our heads out of the water. I went under quickly, came back up coughing and sputtering, and then wailed on the large block of ice barring our path. Pete was burrowed into my side listlessly. I shook the boy. He mumbled something vague. I grew even more panicked and slammed the side of my fist downward. That one I felt. The pain was astronomical. Black dots swam in front of my eyes.
Peter slipped from my grasp. I pulled his face out of the water. Shouts echoed off the frozen lake and through the trees. I couldn`t tell which direction the cries were coming from. Peter`s head rolled to my neck. Jonah and Julia appeared to my left. I waved and slid under the water momentarily, pushing like a madwoman on Peter`s limp form. I had to keep his head above water . . .
Someone`s hand tightened around the back of my jacket. I came out of the lake gasping wildly and shouting for Peter. Jonah gathered me into his arms and waded back to shore, each step out of the water making me tremble with increased vigor.
“W-W-W-W-Where`s P-P-P-Peter?” I asked as those long, powerful legs of Jonah`s pushed us from the floating chunks of ice.
“With his mom,” Jonah informed me. I was thrilled to hear it. I tried to lift my head to see if I could find the sounds of mother and sons, but Jonah`s neck was too warm. “I swear I can`t let you out of my sight for ten minutes,” the man carrying me said. It was supposed to be funny but his trembling voice told me he was just as scared as I was.
“G-G-G-Guess you b-b-b-better keep m-m-m-me close by t-t-then."
“I plan on it.”
An hour later Peter and I were both sipping our third mugs of hot chocolate in front of a fire so enormous I feared the massive stone fireplace might not be able to contain it. Jonah was seated behind me, pulling his fingers through my damp hair and muttering in his native tongue. Peter`s mother was dabbing inside the lads ears with the corner of a blanket the boy was wrapped in, she too grummoxing in Seneca. Pete and I kept giving each other sideways glances.
“Thanks for saving me,” Jonah`s nephew said into his mug. His cheeks were blooming pink with heat and embarrassment.
“You`re welcome,” I smiled, eying a tiny marshmallow floating in my cup. “I didn`t do too good of a job though. If not for your uncle simply plowing through the ice to reach us . . .”
“If not for you he would have never made it,” Julia cut in sharply.
“Jules is right. I just hauled you in a couple feet. You must have swum with him for twenty feet, Dana.”
“It wasn`t that far,” I argued.
“Yeah, it was,” Jonah argued, pulling me back to rest against his chest. I went willingly, scooting my ass across the glossy hardwood flooring. “Distance is deceiving on water. Trust me. I saw where knucklehead here was when he went in. What the hell possessed you anyway? Didn`t I tell you not to step foot on the ice this time of year?”
“Yeah, but there was this humongous shape under the ice,” Peter sighed. His brothers were sitting silently on either side of our little clump, nibbling muffins and drinking cocoa. “I tried it, you know, and it felt strong. I was just going out a little bit,” the boy said, shrugging a shoulder that made his blanket slide down over his arm. Julia quickly covered him back up, tucking the blanket under his chin just as I do for Rhett.
“Maybe next time you`ll listen to Jonah when he tells you something,” Julia huffed, rustling the boys ebony hair with a towel. “Sometimes he knows what he`s talking about,” she said, catching me looking at her. “Thank you," she mouthed. A mother-to-mother thing passed between us.
“You`re more than welcome,” I smiled. She swallowed that down then returned to clucking over her oldest child. Jonah wrapped his arms around me. I felt the sofa creep an inch when we both leaned back into it.
“You and me, we got some serious talking to do,” he whispered beside my ear as his sister chided her sons repeatedly. With Jonah`s arms around me and dry clothes, I was warming up very nicely indeed. Whatever he wished to discuss would have to wait though, because suddenly a nap sounded like the best thing since sliced bread.
Copyright 2013 ©by V.L. Locey
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