Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rescue Me!

After Definitely Not The Opera put out a call for rescue stories, I wrote this one, and I might as well put it here:

"I've never been rescued, but I've rescued others and their lives and limbs many times, including myself, people, animals and at least one horse.  I don't know why this is: I seem to have inherited my father's lightning-fast reactions when there's an emergency, and only panic when the incident is over and everybody's safe. 

One rescue disturbs me because it was of a child when that boy's parents should have been there to watch over him.  I was splashing around in the warm, calm waters of Belfair beach at the very end of the Hood Canal, near Shelton, in Washington State.  I noticed a small blond boy picking his way along one of the small oyster-shell island, accompanied by a little Asian girl, both of them in bathing suits.

Belfair Bay seems very safe, but there is a First Nations tale about a witch that eats children there, and I think it must be based on the tide, that comes in very fast over a wide, flat bay, filling in deeply through one or two deceptively shallow-looking channels.  Some of the mud is like glutinous quicksand, dangerously deep for a child.

I was splashing around happily in the rising water when I looked up to see the boy balancing on sharp oyster shells, with a look of panic on his face.  The little girl was trying to get him to cross the fast channel.  She could swim, he couldn't.  There was no way he could have gotten back across the island in time before it was covered.  She was going to have to watch her friend drown.

I waded and swam over to the poor kid, and told him to hang onto my waist and not to panic or let go, no matter what happened.  He was very brave; even though I could feel him shuddering with terror, he just hung on tight as I swam us both back, the girl darting through the water ahead of us.

When I got them back to the beach, I told them to tell their parents to NEVER let them go to the beach alone.  And to never do it again, no matter what.  When they nodded, they seemed to mean it.  Last I saw of them, they were heading back over the ridge to the trailer camp where they were staying with their parents.  I probably should have gone over and had words with their folks, but it seemed like talking to the kids was going to have better results."

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