I trudge home, Bethany on my mind.
Charlie seems to have already forgotten about Bethany, as she's gone back to chattering on about complete nonsense.
I sigh and just don't listen – I'm not in the mood.
I stop and look at my shadow.
Almost time for dinner at the shelter.
I grab Charlie's hand and lead her in the direction.
Just to save time, I head towards the park – a nice shortcut.
Charlie keeps chatting and pointing, and I let my mind drift again.
But this time I thought about Rebecca.
Just about how she had been so nice, and how she had talked to Charlie.
Does she spend a lot of time around kids?
Does she have kids of her own?
Is she even married?
I think hard, trying to remember if she had a ring or not.
"Ruben! Ruben!" Charlie tugged on my sleeve, snapping me out of it.
"What is it?"
She pointed to the lake, which was frozen, but there appeared to be some living thing in it.
I hurry over, and, to my horror find a girl, a little girl, in the water, desperately trying to stay afloat.
She's trying to hold onto ice, but it keeps breaking and leaving her trashing, calling for help.
I quickly take off my layers, and dump them on the ground.
"Charlie, go find someone who has a phone. We need an ambulance," I instruct Charlie.
This time, she doesn't hesitate.
I take a deep breath and jump in, swimming over to the little girl.
By now, she's stopped struggling, obviously out of breath and strength and her head has gone underwater.
Taking a deep breath, I dive under and stop her before she reaches the bottom.
Putting one of her arms around my shoulders I quickly swim back to the top, taking a huge breath of air as soon as we break the surface.
By now, there are a few people who are wandering over to see what's happened.
I heave the little girl up onto the bank before pulling myself up.
Instantly, I feel the bitterly cold wind hit my wet skin, and I shiver.
For Pete's sake, what takes the ambulance so long?
While I'm waiting, I look closely at the girl.
She appears to be about the same age as Charlie.
She has long, medium brown hair, and fair skin, that's turning blue from the cold.
I look up. Still no ambulances.
Where are those flippin' ambulances when you need 'em?
I pick up my warm jacket and lay it under the little girl, and try wrapping her up in it.
Hopefully it'll keep her warm until the ambulance arrives.
Then I notice a brown thing that must have got caught in in her jacket zip.
I yank at it, and it turns out to be a teddy bear.
I put it on her chest, lifting her right arm up and placing her hand over it.
Just then, a really short guy comes running up.
By short I mean like about the same height as me, as in about 5'0.
He looks extremely worried as he comes over.
He kneels beside the little girl and lifts her head slightly, cradling it in his arms.
"Lacey! Lacey! Lacey!" he keeps saying, and I don't bother trying to stop him.
I look up, but the ambulances still haven't arrived.
I run as fast as I can.
Two bad things happened in one day.
I wonder who that other girl is. It would be cool to be friends with her.
I run and run, until I meet another lady.
I tug on her skirt.
"'Scuse me. Miss?"
"Yes, what is it?" she asks, clearly annoyed.
"Can I please use your phone for a bit?" I ask
"I should think not!" she snaps, and starts yelling at me, which is really scary. I wanna cry when a different lady, a really nice one, comes up.
"Hey, what the heck is wrong with you?" she asks the mean lady angrily. "She's a little girl! What makes you think that you have even a little bit of right to yell at her?"
The mean lady glares at her and leaves.
Then the nice lady turns to me.
"Can I please use your phone?" I ask her before she can speak.
The lady reaches into her pocket and pulls out her phone and hands it to me.
I quickly call 9-1-1 and tell them about the situation in the park before hanging up.
"Thanks," I say shyly to the lady as I hand the phone back.
"No problem!" she replies, slipping the phone back into her pocket. "So, what was that about, huh?"
"There was a little girl who was drowning in the lake in Smith's Park, and my brother jumped in and saved her and told me to find someone with a phone and call an ambulance," I tell her shyly.
"Smith's Park," she murmurs, furrowing her eyes curiously. "I think my brother-in-law took my niece there. What do ya say we walk back there together? I need to check on my niece, and I wanna make sure you get back safely."
I bite my lip, staring down at the ground, Sure, she seems like a nice lady, but papa has always told me not to go with strangers.
But I decide she's nice enough to trust, so I take her hand, and we walk back to Smith's Park. As we walk, I think of something.
"Miss?" I ask the nice lady, "What's a brother-in-law?"
The nice lady laughs and looks down at me.
"Well, a brother-in-law is your brother or sister's husband. Same way for your sister-in-law," she explains.
I think about this.
"So, you mean if Ruben were to marry Bethany, Bethany would be my sister-in-law?"
She nods. "Yeah." Then she stops and furrows her eyebrows.
"Wait, who are Bethany and Ruben?"
"Oh, Ruben's my big brother who saved the girl from drowning, and Bethany is a really nice girl who Ruben's in love with."
I look up at a tree to see if I can spot a bird. When I can't I look back at the really nice lady. She smiles softly at me.
"That's sweet. I really hope it works out with Ruben and Bethany."
I nod as we arrive in the park.
The really nice lady spots the small crowd gathered around the girl and she squints, as if she recognizes someone.
She lets out a Shallow Breath, another phrase I heard from papa, and she runs towards the man hugging the girl and the girl.
"Lacey!" she cries.
I follow soon after, Ruben looking up as I approach.
"Ruben! You're shivering!" I exclaim.
I look around for the ambulances.
How flippin' (a phrase I heard from Ruben) long do ambulances take?
The ambulances arrive shortly after, taking Ruben and the girl to the hospital, leaving me, the man and the nice lady in the park, the lady crying.
I notice something on the ground.
I bend down and pick it up.
It's a teddy bear. Must be the girl's teddy.
So I start off to the hospital to give the girl her teddy bear.
Shout out: To GinBrat for helping me with Andy and Samantha's parts! Yay!
Now, down to the real stuff. What did you think of the mean lady yelling at Charlie? Did you think Ruben was brave saving that little girl? What about Charlie using phrases she's heard? Cute? Weird? What do you think of Charlie's idea to deliver the girl's teddy bear?
Reviews and suggestions welcome!
Next episode coming soon...