Today’s post is my response to this week’s Remebe(red) prompt over at The Red Dress Club. We were asked to recall something from our childhood…
As a child, I spent my summers in the mountains of North Carolina, visiting my father’s parents. They lived on an acreage with a farm and a lovely creek. While I remember bits and pieces of the time I spent there, what really stands out in my memory is the summer I was about 13 and I lost a shoe in a nearby creek.
I have twin male cousins who are just a few months older than I am, and we were inseparable as children. We filled our days riding ATVs through the pasture and exploring the mountainside. My mother was overprotective and never wanted me to “wander off” but my father’s free spirit often prevailed and I was set free for hours at a time, picking flowers, chasing butterflies and doing silly childish things.
There was a VFW post across the street from the farm, and my cousins and I often spent afternoons rummaging through their dumpsters after big parties, gathering the aluminum cans to turn into the recycling center in town. One particular summer, there had been a horrible storm and all of our creeks and rivers were swollen from the rain.
We set off that July 5th, in search of our cherished recyclables at the VFW. After my cousin found that there was no trash – oh, the disappointment! – in the dumpster, we quickly realized that they had cancelled their party that holiday. We began doing what scavengers do best in those situations: walking along the creek bed in search of possible treasures.
As we walked along the creek bed, I lost my footing and I slid down into the creek. With the rain storm we had the day before, the water was a few feet high. And the current? It stole my shoe. And I struggled to fight the current, I felt myself lose my balance. And then I fell.
Now, if you’ve never been in a Carolina creek, you may not know why this was such a dangerous thing. The creeks are full of rocks, and they are slippery, slimy and it’s impossible to steady yourself on top of them while you are barefoot. Which I was.
I went down. And I felt myself being carried by that current, and I panicked. I kicked and screamed. I fought for my life, my little 13 year old body flailing and fighting to get back up, to not be carried away…I was terrified. I was certain that I was going to drown in that four feet of water.
It was cold. Mountain water is always cold, I’d guess 50 degrees on a hot day. I was fighting, I was freezing, and I was desperate.
My cousins, racing along the creek bed beside me, shouted for me to swim to the edge. As I struggled towards them, I felt my hand finally grasp onto theirs and they lifted me to safety.
And that is how they saved my life. Sort of.