Drama High School Teens & Young Adult

When he was just six years old, Nick Hall landed in foster care. His mom, addicted to her drugs more than to her son, couldn't be his anchor. His dad? He vanished the moment he learned he'd be a father, leaving Nick to face the world solo from day one.

Nick grew up fast, figuring out ways to take care of himself, like dragging chairs to grab food from atop the counter and getting himself ready for school—all on his own. 

His mom, lost in a drug haze, missed his first morning of first grade. So, Nick, determined and a little excited, decided to walk to school by himself.

The elementary school was just a short walk down the road. The morning felt magical to Nick, with the breeze in his hair and birds singing like he was the hero in his own little adventure. He was lost in his imagination, kicking pebbles, pretending to be a celebrated soccer player, when a black van pulled up next to him. The van, with its tinted windows and scratched paint, smelled strongly of gasoline—a scent that made Nick pause and squint. Then, the driver’s window began to roll down.

“Hey, there.” A man, with shaggy brown hair and sunken eyes, greeted him. He had chipped and yellowing teeth. And one gold tooth that caught Nick’s eye because of the way it glimmered in the dawn light. “Where you heading, kiddo?”

Nick wasn’t like other kids. His mom hadn’t told him to stay away from strangers. She practically encouraged him to interact with unknown men, the way she brought them into his home, and forced them on him as though they were family. 

Nick didn’t think just then that anything was the matter with this stranger wanting to talk to him. He thought it was rather exciting.

I never get to talk to adults! I’m always supposed to be a good boy, and only speak when I’m asked to. 

“Walking to school.” He told the man, his little voice buzzing with pride. How many other boys his age got to walk all the way to school by themselves? He was so lucky! “All by myself.”

The man’s grin widened.

“No mommy or daddy with you?” He asked. Nick shook his head. 

“No, sir. My mommy’s asleep.”

The man’s black eyes flickered past him. He peered around them at the silent street. At houses with locked doors and curtains pulled tight. 

No one was around.

Just them.

“Long walk?” The man’s gaze settled back on him. Nick shrugged.

“Naw. Just a little bit further. But… I better get going. So I ain’t late.”

The van door clicked as the man popped it open.

“Why don’t you let me give you a ride?” The guy sang out. “It's cozy in here, and I have all this yummy candy that you can bring to your friends at school!”

Nick wasn’t well educated in terms of stranger danger. However, he did have strong survival instincts. His instincts began to scream out to him in warning as the strange man crept toward him like a panther about to pounce. 

“Umm. No… No, thanks, Mister.” Nick took a step back, clutching his backpack strap so hard that his fingernails dug into the fabric. “I’m good.”

The man stood perfectly still outside the van door. Then, like a striking viper, he lurched forward. Nick panicked as the man placed a hand over his mouth and pulled him towards the open van. He struggled, kicking his feet and wiggling like a worm on a fishhook.

“Quit! Quit it! Shut up and stay still!” The man roared, shaking him so hard that he grew lightheaded. Nick, fighting for all he was worth, sank his teeth into the man’s hand. The stranger yowled, pulling his hand away. Nick kicked him in the knee, causing him to stagger and fall with a crack against the side of his vehicle.

Nick stumbled backwards. He turned and ran, leaving the man cursing violently behind him. The silent street came alive with the screech of tires as the horrible man in his nasty old van chased him down the road. 

I can’t outrun a car! I just can’t! Nick panted, his legs pumping as he ran with all the speed he could muster. I have to get away from the street.

Nick changed direction. He slipped and scrambled through someone’s front lawn, their grass wet from having just been spritzed by a sprinkler. 

Nick cut through the yard and climbed over a low gate. His shoes slapped against the sidewalk of a back patio.

The glistening, aqua water of a pool lapped harmlessly at the sidewalk barrier around it.

Nick heard footsteps behind him. 

He’s gonna get me! Oh, he’s gonna get me! Nick gasped for breath. He bolted past the pool. Silent tears dripped down his cheeks.

Nick lost his footing on a slippery patch by the edge of the pool. He sucked in a sharp breath as he felt himself falling.

He hit the water with a violent splash. 

Nick was overwhelmed by terror.

He couldn’t swim. He’d never learned. No one had ever taught him. 

“Help me! Please! Oh, please!” He screamed. The weight of his backpack dragged him down. He flailed his arms and kicked his legs. Water, cold and unforgiving, filled his mouth. He couldn’t keep his head above the waves, no matter how hard he tried.

Like a stone, he sank below the water. Nick’s mouth parted in a silent scream. He watched the sun fade away, a blue sheen heartlessly blocking him from air. Water invaded a place created to only be filled by oxygen. Nick’s nose burned as the chlorine slid up his nostrils like a worm burrowing under the skin. 

And as black trendials reached across his vision, Nick was convinced that he was most certainly dead. 


“My heart stopped for six minutes. At least, that’s what I heard the paramedics say in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.” Nick shifted, lost in dark memories. He gazed out across from him, at a river that stretched as far as the eye could see. A river that resembled a lake, with a gentle current and deep waters. Under his dangling feet, shallow, murky pools had gathered on the muddy shore of Drizzle Valley’s greatest river, Shane’s Hurricane. 

“What happened after that?” His girlfriend, Vicky Roberts, put a hand on his shoulder. She was nestled comfortably on a fallen tree with him, beneath a canopy of trees that butted up against a bare, dirt hillside. 

Across from them, their friends, or more so Nick’s friends, Owen Asher and Eli Hatter, were building a sailboat. 

Eli and Asher had dragged together logs and sticks from the woods of the river’s bank, and now they kneeled in the shallows, binding their masterpiece together with paracord. 

“The hospital called my mom, but they couldn’t get in touch with her. When someone went over to see her, well, that person saw my house and what it looked like inside. I was placed in the system after that.” Nick rubbed his fingers over Vicky’s tender knuckles. 

Her skin was as soft as a baby bunny’s fur. 

“I’m sorry that happened to you, Nick.” The fifteen-year-old girl murmured, her voice shaky with empathy. Nick sighed. He shifted closer to her. Vicky’s deep, blue eyes drank in his every movement. Nick titled his head toward her, smiling. 

“Ah, don’t worry about it, Vick… and if you want to go out on that…” Nick peeked distrustfully at the bundle of sticks bobbing up and down in the river’s shallows. “Er, boat. Then, go. I’ll watch you all from over here. No big deal. I just…” he half closed his eyes. Far off in the distance, thunder growled an ominous warning. Gray clouds danced over their heads, casting thick shadows through the forest around them.

Nick shivered as he watched the river flow—an endless stream of unstoppable water.

He couldn’t imagine daring to go near that deadly liquid stampede.

He’d fought a good fight against the claws of hungry water once. He’d only survived thanks to the quick save of a retired veteran who’s pool he’d almost drowned in. 

“I can’t. I see water, and I think death.” 

Vicky grabbed his arm and rested her head on his shoulder. 

“I’m sorry, I asked why you didn’t want to go out,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad.”

“Ha! You never make me feel bad.” Nick snorted. He pulled her gently off of him. “I’m fine. I’m happy. I’m always happy with you. Now, it’s a Friday night, it’s the start of spring break, and I don’t know how much longer we have before those clouds burst and it starts raining cats and dogs. So,” Nick nudged his girlfriend… his best friend. “Go out on that sailboat with those two goons and have fun. Just be careful.”

“Hey, Vicky, Nick!” Asher yelled. He proudly stepped away from the boat. The teenager grinned at it like it was his firstborn child. “Come on! Let’s set sail on this baby!”

The wind howled through the trees. The treetops rustled. Flowers and leaves flew past them in swirls of color, like green and white ballerinas dancing for all to see. 

“Are you sure you’ll be okay alone?” Vicky asked, her brow etched with concern. Nick took off his sweatshirt and handed it to her. He leaned back against the hillside as Vicky took it, crossing his arms and closing his eyes.

“I’m not the one going out in that disaster.” He teased. “I’ll be fine. Take that sweater so you don’t freeze to death on your adventure, girl.”

“I will, boy.” Vicky ruffled his hair. She hopped off the log and went to join the others. 

Nick heard her whistle and peeked open an eye. Vicky made sure he was watching before picking up a leftover stick from Asher and Eli’s pile and sticking it in between two of the boat’s base logs. She tied his sweater around the stick so that it billowed in the wind like a flag.

“Now, you’ll be with us in spirit!” She yelled to him over the wind. Nick saw Asher and Eli exchange an amused eye roll. “We’ll call her ‘The Nick’!

Nick’s heart warmed.

I love that girl. He mused, sticking his tongue out teasingly. One day, she and I’ll be together forever, right here in Drizzle Valley. 

“How come she gets to name our boat?” Eli complained, loudly, to Asher.

“Because she just did.” Asher hopped on the boat. The raft wobbled and swayed under his weight. “Come on. We set sail at once, ladies and gentlemen!”

Nick watched them go. Asher used a long stick to propel them out onto the river. 

Nick tried to ignore the feeling of loneliness in his gut.

He was the one who was too much of a baby to face his fear and go with them. He was the coward who couldn’t forget the man in the black van and the seemingly harmless monster, disguised as a backyard pool, that had almost taken his life.

He was helpless against his fear. He would never be able to change that. 


Nick wasn’t sure when he fell asleep. The blackness crept up on him, along with feelings of undeniable worthlessness. He was awoken by a whack to the face. His eyes flew open. He half expected to come face-to-face with the newest addition to his long line of foster fathers.

He’s never hesitant to put me ‘in my place’. Nick sat up, blinking hard. It wasn’t Mr. Ralph who’d struck him, but rather a branch from the tree above him that had cracked down the middle and was now swinging, swishing back and forth like the tail of an irritated cat. 

Nick rubbed his red cheek. He snorted in amusement, pushing the hanging limb away from him. It broke off the tree and landed in a puddle with a splash.

Nick stared out into the river. He could see the raft out on the waves. Barely.

Man, did the wind pick up while I was out. Nick stood up. He put a hand over his eyes to try and make out his friends. Blasts of biting air screeched through the forest, picking brutal fights with trees, who struggled to stand their ground as they were stripped of leaves and branches. It had begun to drizzle, and the wind was wielding the raindrops like weapons. They struck Nick’s skin like tiny stones as he staggered his way to the shoreline.

Thunder roared above him. Lightning flashed a dark warning in the sky.

Why haven’t they come back to shore by now? Nick wondered. Mud squished under his shoes as he came to a stop before the river. It’s dangerous to be out in this! With lightning? I’ll kill Eli and Asher for putting Vicky in danger like this! 

“Hey!” Nick tried to yell out, but his voice was carried away by the wind. “Hey! Guys! Come back to shore!”

No answer. Now that Nick looked, he realized he couldn’t see anyone on the raft…

And the stick that had held his sweater up like a sail was gone. 

It looked like a pile of unwanted logs out on the river.

“Vicky?! Eli! Asher!” Nick stepped as close as he dared to the water. “Hey! Guys?!”


Nick jumped as Asher emerged from the water, dripping and sputtering. He was dragging Eli. Eli was lifeless, unconscious, and in his arms. 

“What happened… Where's Vicky?” Nick roared. 

“She… The storm came up on us when we were coming back to shore. The stick I was using to pull us back broke down the middle. We had to use the sail. The wind took control of our raft, man. It flipped it like it was flipping a pancake.” Asher’s eyes were wild, and his breath was sharp and panicked. “W-We jumped out. Eli hit his head on a rock. Vicky… Vicky grabbed onto the raft. I tried, but she wouldn’t swim back… and Eli… He's hurt. I had to get to shore!” 

He can’t be saying what I think he’s saying. This is Asher. This is my best friend. He wouldn’t leave Vicky out there in the storm, to be tossed around on that ‘sailboat’ by this monster of a windstorm! 

“You left her?” Nick shook his head, his words forced out past his dry lips. “Out there!?”

Asher’s lip wobbled. He dropped to his knees, holding Eli’s head carefully away from the puddles below him. 

“I’m sorry, man. Eli’s my boy. I couldn’t let him drown, and I couldn’t get them both!” 

Nick let out a screech of frustration. He started to race out into the water. He stopped as it came up to his waist.

He felt nauseous. Memories flashed before his eyes with more intensity than the lightning above him. 

“Nick, I-.”

Nick ignored Asher’s whispered plea. He closed his eyes.

This was Vicky.

That was his girl, his soul mate, out there.

He wouldn’t let her drown.

No one had been there for him when he’d fallen in the pool or when he’d been chased by a monster with a man’s face, but Vicky had him. She may not have anyone else, but she would always have him. 

Nick took a deep breath. Not a breath of air, but a breath of courage. He dove into the water. 



Nick awoke with a gasp. His eyes were wild with panic as he sat up. He was chilled to the bone. His shirt and his jeans were soaked. 

Above him, a warm sun shone down on the world through wisps of gray clouds. 

“Are you okay… you crazy, crazy, dude.” Vicky laughed shakily. Nick blinked at her. He glanced around. 

They were on the raft, in the middle of the river. 

“What… What happened to the storm?” He choked.

“You don’t remember?”

“I remember diving in… swimming to get you… then… then nothing.”

“You got me.” Vicky whispered. Her voice was warm with affection. “I couldn’t pull myself up onto the raft, so you gave me a boost… you hit your head on the edge of the raft doing it. You swallowed a lot of water before I could pull you up.”

“Ugh, tell me about it.” Nick laughed. He didn’t like the worried glaze in Vicky’s eyes. “I feel like a balloon about to pop!”

He shook himself, drawing in deep breaths of sweet air. Vicky watched him, her lips stretching in a tight smile. 

“We waited out the storm... I used that branch we made a sail out of to keep the boat in place. Sorry to say your sweater didn’t quite make it.” Vicky’s hair was stuck to her forehead. “Nick, you swam out here to rescue me.”

“Uh… yeah?”

“You swam!” Vicky empathized the word with a wave of her arms. “What about your fear of water?”

Nick gazed out across the river to the shore. Somewhere in the distance, sirens wailed out a lonesome cry. A helicopter flew over them, its shadow snaking over the water like an inky stain.

At least Asher did one thing right, Nick mused. He must have called emergency services.

“I guess my fear of drowning wasn’t as bad as my fear of being alone... of losing you.”

Vicky’s eyes lit up. 

“You’ll never lose me, Nick.” She promised. “You’re a keeper. After all, how many other boys in our school do you know who would dive into a rushing river in a storm, with water being their greatest fear, to rescue their girlfriend? No way! They’d run for cover. Nick, there’s no other guy like you in the world. I’m sure of that.”

“Well, you're worth it. You're worth losing every ‘sweater sail’ I own.”

March 09, 2024 04:29

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Kristi Gott
16:48 Mar 14, 2024

Wow! Great background and then story of overcoming the trauma and making the choice to enter the water and save his friend. Vivid details and sensory descriptions. Fast-paced suspense and drama. Good answer to the prompt for the story. The dialogue, action and descriptions were blended well and drove the story forward well. Good job!


C.N. Jung
20:51 Mar 16, 2024

Thank you very much, Kristi! I must say, this is a story where I had a clear idea of the beginning and the end, but I allowed everything in the middle to unfold naturally. I'm thrilled to hear that it came out well! Your feedback is greatly appreciated. 😄.


Kristi Gott
00:13 Mar 17, 2024

It is an inspiring story about overcoming something and to me it is a winner. The idea and concept as well as the telling makes this story stand out. Keep up the good writing!


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Mary Bendickson
14:42 Mar 14, 2024

Great love story overcoming your own fears to save someone you love. Thanks for liking my flood story.


C.N. Jung
20:07 Mar 16, 2024

Thank you, Mary, for taking the time to read my story and provide feedback. I appreciate it! 😁


Mary Bendickson
20:38 Mar 16, 2024



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