hells_half_acre: (Thoughtful)
[personal profile] hells_half_acre
There are dumb things you do when you are a kid, and I'll be the first to admit that accepting that challenge was one of them. After all, seeing who could float down the rapids the farthest isn't really much of a competition. All you have to do is wait until the other guy freaks out and stands up, and then you've won. You just have to keep your cool for one more foot. Fight your instinct to get out for one second longer than the other guy. I knew all this, so when Patrick smiled at me and said "Let's see who can go furthest," I accepted. We let the current pull us over the long smooth rock we had been sitting on. At the bottom Patrick stood up, and looked over at me.

I thrust my foot towards the bottom of the river to stop myself, but felt the rocks slip by as my foot was pulled violently from them by the current of the rapids. Behind me I could here Jane laughing.

I grasped futilely at rocks with my hands, staring back at my friends. Many stood with eyes wide and mouths agape as they watched me be carried away. I could see the deep water fast approaching. I'd be lost if I couldn't get out by then. But Jane was laughing, so I took that to mean it wasn't as bad as it looked, even as I felt the rocks slice open the skin on my hands, knees, and feet.

Finally I managed to get a foot wedged in a sturdy hold, and I pulled my body up and out of the water. I was shaking, trembling from adrenaline, but I didn't want to bring attention to what I suddenly understood had been stupidity. So, I smiled, and made my way over to the bank. My shaking legs barely held me as I climbed out of the water. Jane, or another friend, came over and asked if I was ok. I replied, "Of course" as in, 'why wouldn't I be? I didn't just get pulled down the rapids.' My knees, feet, and hands were covered in little bleeding cuts from the rocks.

I walked over to where our teacher had been sitting on a rock by the shore. I sat down next to her, and she fished out her band-aids. She may have chastised me for almost dying, but I wasn't listening. I sat and tried to pretend that I wasn't shaking. It hadn't been that serious a situation after all, Jane had laughed the whole way through. Of course, years later I discovered that Jane's natural reaction to being terrified was to laugh uncontrollably.

I don't remember what our teacher or friends said to me after I got out of the water, but I remember Patrick. Patrick stood ankle deep in the water ahead of me. His reddish hair and freckles standing out in the sun. He caught my eye and picked up a stick, and searched the river bed for a suitable rock. Turning slightly away from me, he looked out across the river. He spoke clearly,

"It's the bottom of the ninth. The bases are loaded. There are already two outs. The game is tied. Patrick steps up to bat. It's all come down to this moment." I smiled. I was the catcher. Patrick tossed the stone into the air, and swung.

"Strike one!" He declared, and announced the second pitch..."Strike two!" and again,

"Oh! I can't belief it! The ref has suddenly gone blind! We'll have to do that third pitch again, it doesn't count!" Patrick looked back at me as he spoke, "What a weird thing to happen!"

"Strange things happen all the time" I said, grinning.

Tom called for Patrick, wanting him to come further down the river. Patrick yelled back, "No, man! I'm doing something," and then added in a mumble to me, "It's the bottom of the ninth, and the bases are loaded, I can't just leave." The stone was tossed into the air again,

"Stri- oh! I can't believe it! The second ref has also gone blind!"

"What are the odds?" I replied laughing. I placed another band-aid over a cut on my knee, and squinted into the sun to look at the imaginary baseball field. In a serious voice, Patrick began again,

"Ok, a new ref has been called in. He has absolutely no vision problems. It's the bottom of the ninth, the bases are loaded, there are two outs, the game is tied and there is one pitch left. It's all up to Patrick" He tossed the stone, and whack! It flew all of two feet in front of him, splashing into the water.

"And he hits it clear out of the park!" Patrick whooped, and immediately cupped his hand around his mouth to simulate the cheering crowd. I laughed, "Patrick's team wins!"

Smiling, Patrick bent over the river and began pulling out more stones. I watched, curious as he stacked stones into a little tower until they had just broken the surface of the water. He balanced a larger stone on top of the others, and looked back out over the surface of the river. He held his stick at a downward angle.

"It's the eighteenth hole..." he trailed off, and furrowed his brow in thought, and began again with a smile. "It's the eighteenth hole, bottom of the ninth, the bases are loaded..."

We laughed, and he won the baseball game with a hole in one.

I still have tiny scars on my knees and feet, but not all scars are caused by bad memories, comfort can be given indirectly, and not all apologies have to be spoken.

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