Three people are in a boat. It's a small wooden one with a life jacket under one of the seats that no one knows about. In twenty-three minutes the boat is going to go over a waterfall and one of the people know it. The other two don't know whether to believe them.
The youngest, a girl, doesn't understand the map that the person, a man, who says there's a waterfall is holding. The other one, a teenager, wants the man to be wrong.
"You're looking at the wrong river," they say.
"No I'm not," the man points with his thumb at the thin line along the map. "And at the end." He jabs his finger at it.
"What if we scribble it out?" The girl asks.
"The world doesn't work like that," the teenager replies.
He gives her a sparing look, as if he does believe there's a waterfall at the end but doesn't want to let on his acceptance.
"We gotta stop this bloody boat," the man says.
The water is moving fast, they're to far in, they can only see the bank on either side when the boat jolts and gives them a glimpse. They have no anchor, no rope and no idea.
"So we're dead," says the girl.
"No," says the man.
"No," says the teenager.
The three sit there in the boat with water flinging in at the sides every now and then. All of them are thinking that it's one of those situations where there must be a solution, but only one of them can be saved. All want it to be them that's saved, but none want to say it.
The man, after himself, would say the teenager; a person with a future so close that could go far. The prospects were there in front of them, and it could happen.
The teenager, apart from himself, would save the girl; the one with the most innocence and the longest life ahead of her. She could, indeed, go anywhere in her life at this stage, and she hadn't yet been given a chance.
The girl, other than herself, would save the man; someone who had done good in the world and could do so much more. The deeds were behind him, and could be ahead of him.
But none of them know how to give life, nor what lies ahead.
They're 15 minutes from the waterfall now and the man watches the map as if he can indeed imagine a little boat drawn on it, moving ever closer yet never going over.
The teenager wonders if they could throw the girl to the bank, but knows it is no more than a feeble thought.
The girl thinks that if they can sing the right song perhaps the fish will rise up and pull them to safety, but her dreams only go so far.
"What if we jump?" The teenager asks.
"Unless you've got arms like a superhero it'll only pull you over the edge."
The man would be Superman, the girl would be Batman and the teenager would be a princess with a prince who could dash in and save them. Even superheroes have weaknesses, but the prince always triumphs for his love.
The three rummage in the boat hoping for some magic. The man finds the lifejacket, the teenager finds a sandwich and the girl finds a needle and thread.
"Will it make a difference?" The teenager asks as they nod at the jacket.
"It'll be easier for them to drag your body out after."
Now the teenager gives him a sparing look as both minds turn to the girl.
"That's it then, we're done, pray to whatever gods you want and let it be done."
"What's a god?" The girl asks.
The man almost looks shocked, the teenager almost laughs and the girl certainly appears curious.
"A god is something that can change things," the teenager tells her.
"How does it do that?"
"It's more powerful than us," the man says.
"Then why doesn't it change things now?"
The man doesn't want to have to explain what a god is to the girl, but the teenager, who knows there's little else for them to do now, doesn't mind.
"It doesn't always want to, sometimes you need to ask," they say.
"Then why don't we ask?"
The man wonders if he can eat the sandwich, the teenager wonders if he could take up sewing and the girl wonders if she could own a shirt the colour of the life jacket.
The man and the teenager say nothing. They both think that if they all lived she would one day understand.
"I'll ask if you don't want to," she says.
"It's not as simple as that," the man informs her.
"We don't know who to ask," the teenager informs her.
The girl, though she is one that could be called bright, does not understand.
"You see," says the teenager, who rather likes children. "Different people believe in different gods, but they're not all real. Sometimes if you want to ask one something you have to give it something, or do something, then you can ask. But you need to believe in the right one first."
"How do we know which one's right?"
Neither the man nor the teenager know how to answer the girl's question. How does anyone know what's right, and now, when death is looming, which god can they give her to give her hope?
They have eight minutes, and as the man looks at the bottom of the boat, the teenager watches water lap over the sides and the girl looks at the front, none know where to put their hope in.
"We have nothing to do a ritual," the man says.
"There's no time to find the soul," the teenager says.
"We need someone who can do it for us," the girl says.
They have two minutes and they can all feel the water gathering faster around them. There's nothing they can do, there never was anything they could do.
A father, a son and a daughter are in a boat. In 23 seconds the boat is going to go over a waterfall and they all know it.
"You know," says the man. "Someone once told me that if you didn't help a god they wouldn't help you."
"You know," says the teenager. "I heard that if you didn't find yourself, you couldn't find a god."
"You know," says the girl. "I don't think it works like that. If a god can't help us now, no matter what we have, then it shouldn't be a god."
The man pats the girl's arm, the teenager kisses her cheek and the girl smiles. They pray.
They go over.