It was stupid, really. At the time, it had seemed so important. You see, I was standing on the bank of the river, Charlie's favorite blanket in my hand. I was holding it for Teddy, who was watching Charlie while we were on a walk. So there I was, on the bank. The wind was kicking up, hot summer air mixed with the coolness coming off of the water. I breathed deeply, enjoying it.
Charlie's blanket fell from my grasp, and the wind yanked it out over the water, landing on the opposite bank in a tangle of half-submerged tree roots.
"Oh great!" I moaned out loud.
I nearly pitched face-first into the water.
"Gabe, don't do that! You scared me!" I cried, turning.
Gabe, who was coming toward me, laughed. "If that had been on purpose, it would have been totally cool!" He looked out at the water for a seccond, then back at me, then did a double-take and looked back at the water.
"Is that Charlie's blanket?"
"Yes", I moaned.
Gabe winced. "You are so is big trouble - Charlie's asking for that thing."
I rubbed my hand over my face. "I'm gonna have to get it back," I said, looking over the water.
"How are you going to do that?"
"I'm gonna swim for it, I guess," I said, already moving toward the water.
"Are you sure?" Gabe said. "The current might be too strong."
I bit my lip. "Nah, it's ok," I said, but I was already starting to wonder if this was a bad idea after all.
I started to wade into the water, inching slowly, until I was swimming.
"Careful!" I heard Gabe call nervously behind me.
I swam into the current, which wasn't so bad, now that I was in it. I checked every couple of strokes to make sure I was headed in the right direction. I was doing fine, doing great - until I reached the opposite bank. I reached the tangled tree roots and grabbed onto them, looking up to where the blanket was lodged. I lunged, caught it, and turned to swim back.
It happened as I was kicking my legs to launch myself away from the tree roots: my right foot caught onto something and I yelped in surprise as it jammed painfully into what I assumed was the roots below the surface. I groped at the water in front of me, trying to swim free, but I couldn't pull loose. I struggled and kicked, flailing with my three free limbs, but it was no use. Panic gripped me and I thrashed harder. I was so scared that I nearly didn't notice when Charlie's blanket slipped from my hand and was swept away.
I had to get loose. gasping in a breath, I ducked down, reaching for my leg with my flailing hands. But the current pushed me around and I couldn't reach my trapped foot. I almost wasn't able to find the surface, but I groped until I found it and gasped for air, choking as water got in my mouth. I paddled my hands desperately at the water, trying desperately to stay afloat, but it wasn't easy with the use of only three of my limbs. I opened my mouth to scream for help, but only got water in my lungs, causing me to cough and choke. I was beyond panicked now; the feeling of being trapped was not one I enjoyed. I took a gulp of air and ducked down again. But it was worse than the first time. The current shoved me sideways and almost upside-down. I pushed at the water with my hands, trying to right myself again.
I have no idea how, but I managed to get back to the surface, choking and spitting and gasping. I tipped my head back, gasping desperately for air.
I managed to open my eyes and saw Dad right there, and He got his arm around me, holding me up.
"Hey, you alright?" He said, worried eyes meeting mine.
I shook my head, unable to speak because I was short on breath.
"Hang on, okay?" Dad said. "Just a little longer."
I nodded, still gasping, watching as he took a deep breath and ducked under the water. My arms hurt from trying to stay afloat. I knew that the adrenaline coursing through my body was the only thing keeping me going.
I suddenly felt a stab of pain as my foot came free and Dad surfaced soon after, grabbing hold of me. I nearly went limp in his arms.
"Hang on," Dad panted, kicking for the shore.
When we got to the bank and my feet hot solid ground, I almost collapsed, but Teddy came rushing forward and she and Dad half carried, half dragged me to the bank.
"PJ! Are you okay?" Teddy said worriedly.
Shaking my head, I opened my eyes, looking into the worried faces of my family.
"PJ, say something," Dad said as he draped his coat around my shoulders.
"S-Sorry..." I whispered, looking over at Charlie, who was in Mom's arms.
"About what?" Teddy said.
"I...lost..blanket," I panted, my eyes closing again.
"Wait, that's why you were out there?" Mom said.
"PJ, your life is more important than that blanket!" Dad exlaimed. "That was a stupid idea!"
Dad cupped my face in his hands. "You scared the heck out of me. Don't ever do that again."
I nodded again.
Dad pulled me into a hug. "I'm just glad you're okay."
I leaned into the hug, tears stinging my eyes.
It turned out that my ankle was only sprained, which I was grateful for. It could have been worse. I was sitting on the sofa the morning after the incident, my leg stretched out on a chair and my ankle in a brace.
"Hey!" Teddy said, sitting down beside me.
Before I could say anything, she suddenly whipped out her camera and pointed it at our faces.
"Hey, Charlie, this is your big sister Teddy! Behind me is your big brother PJ. He nearly died trying to rescue your blanket."
I looked half-heartedly at the camera, then at Teddy. "Really? This has to go on camera?"
Teddy turned. "Of course! Charlie has to know what happened to her blanket!"
I smirked. "By the time she sees these videos don't you think she'll be grown out of it?"
Teddy made a frustrated sound. Then, turning back to the camera, She said, "If PJ ever looks after your blanket again, good luck, Charlie."