The water was beautiful.
Joanne couldn't help herself; she leaned all the way over to feel the mist on her face and to inhale the salty smell. And that is where it all began.
They had all been lazing on the boat, enjoying the sunshine and warm New York City weather. Jerry had been in the cabin, busying himself with steering the ship and getting them from point A to point B. David had been skipping around the ship with his bottle of wine. Merrell and Jeffrey had been at the bow, working with a broom and dustpan, but not getting very much work done, due to the appeal of having fun instead. Robin had been somewhere up near the cabin, most likely exploring and taking in the sights. Lynne and Katie had rotated between mopping the floor and steering for fun. And Joanne could see Gilmer now, with her tiger puppet, gazing out at the sea in a rare moment of serenity.
And that's when it happened. Joanne felt herself go over with a tiny squeak, rolling over the railing so fast that she barely had time to think. Her hand caught the railing just at the moment where she would have plunged into the water. She hung on, by her left hand, her heart rising into her throat as she looked around her in panic. The one thing that scared her more than anything was drowning; however, she didn't want to make a complete scene. She looked over towards the bow, where Jeffrey and Merrell were still playing with the dustpan, and tried to shout over the whoosh of the waters.
"Jeffrey! Merrell! Help me!" She saw them look over at her and their expressions went from joy to horror. They immediately dropped their things and ran to her. Merrell grabbed her hand with both of his, as Jeffrey scrambled over behind him, grabbing him around the waist to help pull her over the rail. But the force of the boat plowing through the water seemed to drag her down, as her feet dipped into the water. It was cold, and Joanne inhaled sharply.
By this time, Gilmer had joined them and was also hanging over the railing. "Swing up your other hand!" she shouted, waving her own hand frantically. Joanne tried, but felt as if all the energy had been drained from her body. "I can't!" she yelled hoarsely, as Merrell tried to hang on. But the mist was making their hands wet and slippery, and it was getting more and more difficult to hang on. Joanne barely had hold of his whole hand when suddenly, someone appeared behind them.
It was their Master. He whispered something to Gilmer, who in turn, ran towards the cabin to tell Jerry to stop the boat. Then, he leaned over and grasped her left hand, letting Merrell drop back onto the deck with Jeffrey, in exhaustion. Leaning dangerously over the rail, he brought his other hand towards her other hand, urging her with his eyes to take it. She felt foolish, and managed to get her hand to his. And she hung there, holding tightly to both of her Master's hands, not knowing what was to happen next.
"Don't let go," he whispered, holding her gaze firmly with his. The mist was making their hands slippery once again, and Joanne tried with all her might, holding so tight that she had to dig her fingernails into his palms to stay where she was. She heard the approaching sound of footsteps, as well as David's voice above the whooshing. Her Master's hands were shaking with the effort of keeping her above the water, and Joanne herself had started to shake, from cold and fear. Her arms had started to ache terribly and she felt like she could hold on no longer. She began to slip further down, losing her grip, trying desperately not to fall.
"Don't let go," he whispered again. But she couldn't hold on. She felt herself slip the final inch, and plunge into the cold water.
The water felt like ice and Joanne felt claustrophobic, as if she was suffocating. She urged herself not to open her eyes, but couldn't help herself. It was dark and Joanne half-consciously thought of how deep the water was, how it was all darkness, and how there were probably things lurking in the shadows. And then she began to panic and to thrash, trying to come up for air, but feeling the force of the boat's engine pushing her down. She stretched her hands upward, seeing the light. And then she did something she had never before done. She began to pray, desperately, for her life.
She was sure that this would be the part where she'd lose all of her oxygen and sink to the bottom of the sea, never to see the beautiful earth again, never to feel the warm sun on her skin.
Something made her shut her eyes and stopped thrashing for a moment.
And suddenly, a strong arm was around her waist, pulling her upwards. She didn't need to turn to know who it was. Her head broke through the surface of the water and she felt the sharp, cold air on her face, as she started gasping desperately for breath. Everyone was on the deck now, the boat safely stopped. As soon as they saw her emerge, numerous pairs of hands reached down, everyone wanting to help. She felt her Master gently boost her up, and she grabbed the first pair of hands she could reach – David's. He pulled her up, some of the others holding his waist and pulling, the rest grabbing her arms and waist to help. Everyone collapsed and Joanne lay on the deck, cold, miserable, and frightened. She looked up slowly as she saw their Master pull himself up effortlessly, and step over the rail. He came and kneeled next to her.
"Are you all right?" he asked, his eyes intense and his face creased with worry.
Joanne nodded. No, she was most certainly not all right. She was pretty sure she had just had a near-death experience. And now the lessons that their Master was trying to teach them seemed very strange indeed…but maybe that's because, they were so true.
He wrapped an arm around her trembling shoulders and she suddenly felt warm. She looked up at him in awe, and whispered, "Thank you."
He smiled, leaning closer so that only she could hear him. "You'll be all right," was all he said, but Joanne felt the statement was brimming with meaning. It was his promise to her.
She was all right because he had saved her. And she would continue to be all right because he had taught her. With this in mind, she let herself fall into the arms of her friends, knowing in her heart that she had been saved in more ways than one.
A/N: Last May I was absolutely obsessed with Godspell and I wrote this one-shot around the same time. I never thought it would see the light of day, but I couldn't bring myself to delete it from my files. And so here it shall be =)