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Creative Nonfiction Coming of Age

The Icy Waters of Yesterday...George Davis  (A True Story)

  The young man came to Stroudwater, a small section in the city of Portland Maine where his friends, two brothers lived. He rode his bike over from Westbrook in search of a Christmas tree for his school classroom in nearby Westbrook. He asked the brothers to help him find and cut a suitable tree. 

  The sun, bright on this December morning, reflected off the snow that laid like a beautiful white carpet on the frozen ground; warm for that time of the year, but still, there was a nip in the air. 

  “Do you guys know where we might get a tree? The friend asked the brothers. “You’ve got plenty of woods out back.” The friend, anxious to get the project underway, started through the field leading to the woods in the rear of the brothers’ home with the brothers in tow.  

  After searching the woods, and no tree to satisfy the friend, the visitor looked across the street, toward a pasture that led to the Stroudwater River, and suggested, there might be better trees along its banks. 

  brothers, their friend, and the brothers’ small mixed-breed dog, Sandy crawled under the fence and started down through the field to the river. 

  The water looked cold and ominous. Parts of the river had not frozen over, only a thin layer of ice lay on the surface. 

  The words of the boys’ mother rang in their ears, “Don’t you boys go down by the river. The ice is not safe.” You know the old saying; boys will be boys,’ and that day the boys disobeyed their mother and went down to the river, a day the smallest of the two brothers will never forget; that terrifying experience is edged deep in his mind. 

  The youngest brother, whose family mongrel dog, Sandy had ventured out onto the thin ice, was in a panic over the thought of his dog drowning as he watched the small tan-colored mutt break through the thin icy covering and plunge into the frigid water. 

  The dog fought vigorously to survive. With no time to consider the consequences of his action, and thinking only of his drowning pet, the youngster ran towards the struggling canine. The ice cracking beneath his small feet still brings frightening memories to the young lad.  

  The noise and movement of the ice beneath his feet warned him the floor of frozen water was about to give way under his weight. 

  Crack, the icy river’s frozen water quickly hauled his small body into the dark, deep and murky liquid.

  The weight of the woolen clothes and heavy rubber boots, quickly filled with the water, pulling him down into the black depths of the river. Struggling, unable to breathe, his thoughts of death overshadowing him like a coffin shroud. 

  Looking up, from beneath the ice, he saw a white halo of light, the hole into which he fell. He sought to push himself toward the light, his breath nearly expended. Instead of reaching the hole, he hit his head on the hard icy surface of the river. No use. He couldn’t find his way back to the hole. He continued to struggle.

  After what seemed like an eternity he made one more push toward the ring of light. This time he came up through the hole. He could only gasp for air as he slipped again under the thin layer of ice. 

  His older brother, who had just turned twelve the month before, came running across the ice. Without concern for his own safety, he jumped into the black hole. Going down under his younger brother’s feet, he pushed him upward. The younger brother grabbed a branch that hung over the bank allowing him to pull himself up onto the shore, his breath coming in short gasps, fear and hope mixed as he climbed onto the bank of the river. 

  He watched his older brother pull himself from the icy water. The older brother shouted, “C’mon. Run.” 

  The young brother, tired and cold, weighed down by the wet wool clothing and water-filled boots begged his brother to slow down. “Can’t I rest? I’m tired and cold.” 

  “No. Keep running, or you will get pneumonia and die. You must keep running.” 

  “But I’m tired. I need to rest,” the lad pleaded. His brother grabbed his hand and pulled him along as they ran for what seemed like hours. Finally, they reached the home of a friend on the opposite side of the river, and about a mile down from their residence. 

  After they reached the home of their school chum, and the older brother was sure his little brother was safe, he headed home on foot to tell their mother, they were all right. 

  All seemed well at last. However, the father, not knowing his sons were safe ran down to the river, where he experienced his first heart attack. He stood staring at the yellow and blue plastic harmonica he had given the older brother only days before the incident. It was now floating, bobbing up and down in the icy open water hole.  

  It is said, when you are drowning, your life flashes before you. This youth had not had that much life. It would have been a short viewing. He was only ten years old. Even so, what life he did have did not come to an end that cold, frosty afternoon. What did happen to him was a miracle, a divine intervention of God that gave that young man a will to survive. The one who fell into the icy waters of the Stroudwater River did survive that ordeal, but the near-tragic results of that day will always be in his memory. The circle of light where his body plunged into the icy water, the sensation of trying to get through that hole only to hit his head on solid ice, is a dreadful vision he will never forget. 

  The young man almost died that day in December of 1948, but by the Grace of God, he survived. This writer is that young man, and I pray to God, I never forget who it was that saved me that day. The true hero of this story is Jesus Christ. And, to Him, I owe my love and trust.  

January 20, 2021 14:41

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1 comment

Kate Le Roux
07:35 Jan 28, 2021

Some of this story was a little confusing. Perhaps it would have helped if you had given the characters names? If this is true - glad you survived! Also, it doesn't fit the prompt at all except that it is about winter and snow.


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