When is he going to get here? I wondered. He had texted me this morning saying that he had changed his mind about the carnival and wanted to meet me near the haunted house. At first I had been pleasantly surprised, but now I was annoyed. He was over an hour late and I was stuck here, next to river, listening to stinking carnival music. In a huff, I sat down on the makeshift dock. Why he had to pick the coldest day, I didn't know. I glanced at my watch. It was already 7 o'clock and I was freezing. The clouds had been gathering all afternoon. If it started raining, I decided, I would leave.
The weather was getting chillier by the second. The wind, which had been still a moment before, picked up, blowing leaves into my face and turning my long brown hair into knots. Behind me, I could hear the screams from the haunted house and the loud, irritating music of the carnival's fun rides. Bored, I plucked a reed from the bush next to me and started pulling it to pieces.
I was just about to give up on Justin and leave, when I saw a small rowing boat rounding the corner of the river. Vaguely interested, I watched it float downstream, towards the dock... and stop. Confused, I stood up to see what had stopped it. The music faded to the back of my mind as I walked towards the boat. It had stopped in a completely free patch of water. There weren't any reeds near it and the water was deep enough that when I plunged a long stick in, it didn't touch the bottom. I gave the boat a small experimental push, but it was if it was anchored to the shore, because it refused to budge.
Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a little girl struggling in the water. She must have fallen in, I thought. I quickly glanced around looking for someone to help her. Unfortunately, I happened to be the only one around. I looked again at the girl in the water and cursed. Without thinking, I jumped into the boat, which slid away from the dock almost immediately. I dug my hands into the icy water to hurry the boat on its way. If I didn't get there fast enough, the girl could drown or get hypothermia or something.
The boat moved at a snail's pace towards the panicking girl. "Don't worry!" I shouted. "I'm coming!." But even as I shouted, I saw her little body disappear under the water. I dug my hands deeper into the water, pulling with all my strength to get to the place where I had last seen her.
As I came within a few metres of the splashing, my hand caught a rock and I swore, pulling my hand out of the water to assess the damage. The boat continued to float around the rock, coming closer and closer to the little girl. I looked up again, spot the girls head and paddled towards it. For a second, our eyes met, my brown ones with her blue ones, before she slipped under the water again.
The boat floated forwards until it bumped into the rock. As I stared at the spot, a mere metre in front of me, where the girl had been, I saw for the first time the impossibility of the predicament and I froze. Where the girl was supposed to be, was the big rock, meaning that the water was only about 20cm deep. Water was running over a rise in the rock, making splashes and a stray branch was bobbing up and down in the water, waving its wooden arms in the air.
The girl couldn't have been there, yet I had seen her with my very eyes. I shook my head in disbelief. Had I gone mad? Had I been seeing things? I shook my head faster in denial, not noticing when the river took the boat further and further from the shore.
I did notice, however, when the boat stopped moving and started rocking wildly back and forth. Terrified, I grabbed the sides of the boat, trying not to fall off. The wind whipped around my face, bringing with it the sound of a small child, laughing evilly. All too late, I noticed that the boat was positioned in the dead centre of the river and that I had floated far from the dock from which I had started.
"Help!" I screamed as the laughter continued, digging into my brain and making my blood run cold.
The last the thing I knew, was a pair of cold blue eyes staring into my own and a voice in the distance shouting my name.