The truck rumbled as Dad turned it on and a cloud of steam rose from the tailpipe. I finished shoving the last tackle box into the bed and slammed the tailgate before hopping onto the seat beside Dad.
"Do we really have to do this?" I complained. "It's like a million degrees below zero outside!"
Dad looked at me. "The thermometer read 20 degrees and yes we do."
I sighed and looked out the window at the endless white that rolled by as we drove toward the lake. Fishing. Dad loved it so much. And he always made me come along. We arrived at our destination and Dad parked beside two other trucks. For the next hour, I sat on a bucket beside a hole cut in the ice, clutching a pole and listening to my Dad and his police partners swap stories and haul in fish. After a while, I knew I had to move my limbs or I would freeze solid. With one last glance at my Dad, I slowly got up and looked around. My eye caught something farther out on the ice. I squinted. It was shiny and I was much too curious. I carefully made my way over to it, watching the ice for any tell-tale breaks or cracks. When I reached the shiny object, I was disappointed to see that it was only a couple of bent, tangled fishing hooks.
"Shawn! What the heck are you doing out so far?!" I heard Dad yell. "Get back here right now!"
"Coming!" I called, stepping forward on the ice. "I was just looking at som-"
At that moment, the ice broke beneath me and I fell into the icy depths. I inhaled sharply at the shock of the freezing water and began choking. Thrashing I surfaced, gasping, only to go under again. I was still coughing and managed to inhale more water. I came up and, grabbing frantically at the ice. I couldn't feel most of my body and the cold was sapping my strength.
"Shawn! Shawn! Listen to me!" I heard Dad yell. "Don't tread water! Grab the ice! Get your arm on the ice! It'll freeze you to it." I forced myself to obey his words, fighting against the numbness and panic. I managed to get my right arm on the ice, trying to dig my fingernails into the shifting pieces. "Hang on, Shawnie, I'm comin' for you!"
I was so cold, so numb. It was so hard to breathe. I was vaguely aware of something under my arms and voices all around me and the air hitting my wet clothes as I was pulled from the water. Each breath was ragged and painful and I was coughing water from my lungs. Next thing I knew, I felt a breath of warm air and found myself lying on something.
"Shawn, can you hear me?" Dad's voice sounded like it was far off, but it slowly became clearer and I realized that I could feel my legs and arms again, but I was still shivering. Something was being wrapped around me and hands were rubbing my arms.
"D-D-D...ad," I stuttered, my teeth shattering violently together. It still hurt to breathe.
"I'm right here, kid," Dad soothed, and I realized that I was laying on his lap. My eyes opened a slit and I found myself laying on the seat of Dad's truck, wrapped in blankets, my head on his lap. One of Dad's friends climbed into the cab and started the engine.
"Hang in there, Shawn," He said as we drove out.
Dad has been able to get to me fast enough to spare me from frostbite, but I had mild hypothermia and stayed overnight at the Hospital. I never went ice fishing with Dad ever again.