This story was written at the challenge of my friend classicrock2. He mentioned that my stories are mostly happy and that life isn't necessarily like that. Mine has been, but he suggested that I stretch my literary muscles and write a story that told the truth about my life up to a point but take away the safety net. I could still give them a happy ending, but rainbows do come after storms. I took the challenge and here is the result. I'll let him grade it. If you haven't read my autobiographical stories "Meeting Mallory" and "Mallory's Mom" I suggest you read them first. The characters Mallory, Val and Kim are real. The events leading up to the day of this story are real. The drowning experience is real except it happened in a river and not on the ocean and we both lived. I made up everything after that. Thanks to the classic one for the idea, my editor PapaKilo14 for making it look like I can write and my beta readers for their time and help. Randi.
It was a beautiful spring day; the wind about fifteen knots and a pretty good chop on the water. Dad and I were having a blast. The boat was running smoothly and I was taking in some sail. We were hissing through the chop at a pretty good clip and I got the line tied off. I went to the cooler and got out one of my strawberry sodas and a Corona Amber for Dad. We were maybe five miles out. The coast was just below the horizon and when I looked at Dad I saw his face turn white, even whiter than usual. He sprang toward me and I turned to look in the direction he had been looking. All I saw was a wall of water. It was about fifty yards away and it was speeding toward us like a freight train. I felt Dad grab me by the waistband of my shorts and I just froze, looking up forty feet to the top of that impossible wall. It fell on us and I knew nothing.
When I woke up my head was throbbing like a bass drum at a Slip Knot concert. I was in the water and there was an arm around my neck. Dad had somehow managed to hold onto me when all those tons of water fell on us. There was no sign of the boat. I was on my back with his arm under my chin and he was towing me.
"I'm awake, Dad," I told him. "What happened?"
"I think we just got hit by a rogue wave," he said. He was breathing pretty hard.
"Turn me loose, I can swim now," I told him.
"Are you sure, Mallory?" he asked. I could hear the concern in his voice. "We've got a long way to go, baby."
"I'm sure," I told him. "I don't want to hear any 'black people can't swim' jokes either."
He laughed, but he turned me loose and we swam side by side for a while. There was enough chop to make it very frustrating. We kept getting hit in the face and choking on sea water. It's a particularly bad choke. Ocean water tastes awful and making any headway at all was so hard that our mouths were open as we panted. We were both in pretty good shape and it was a good thing. We ran every morning, five times a week. I was doing track and he was my coach. At seventeen, I was in the best shape of my life and I think he was too. The drawback to that was both of us were pretty muscular. That meant we were denser than fat people would have been and had to exert more energy just to stay up than most people would.
Ocean water is pretty dense too. If it had been fresh water we'd have been in even more trouble. We swam for two hours and I started getting very tired. Dad could tell I was getting gassed and he made me roll over and he towed me for a while. I got some energy back and we swam on. I was praying for a boat, but I guess the god's weren't listening. I ran out of gas pretty quickly and he towed me again. I could see land now. I swam again and we made slow progress. Dad was moving very slowly and I could tell he was wearing out. I was exhausted myself.
"Go, Mallory," he gasped. "We can make it. Go, baby; I love you."
"I love you," I told him.
I put my face in the water and swam for the shore. I swam until I couldn't take another stroke. I was just going to have to put my feet down. If I was close enough to stand it would be good; if not, this was it for me. I could see people running toward the water and I never felt anything as good in my life as I did when I felt sand under my toes. A guy was splashing through the water toward me and he grabbed me by the hand. Two more people, another man and a woman were pulling on me. I looked around and I was alone. "Alone alone, all, all alone, alone on a wine dark sea." The words of the Ancient Mariner ran through my mind and I screamed.
"Dad! My Dad's out there!"
I tried to pull away from the people holding on to me. They wouldn't let me go.
"There's no one there," I heard the man shout in my ear. "You weren't with anyone."
I fought like a wildcat. I kicked them and scratched them and tried to bite the man holding my arms. I was going back! I got away for a second and started swimming back out. They caught me and the man who got to me first punched me in the jaw and everything went black.
When I woke up I was in an unfamiliar room. I was lying in what I realized was a hospital bed and I tried to sit up. I couldn't and I realized that I was restrained. My wrists and ankles were strapped down and there was a strap around my waist.
"Good, you're awake," I heard a voice say. I turned my head and it all came flooding back. It was the man from the beach. I screamed again.
"Daddy!" I wept harder than I ever had in my life. A nurse came in and gave me a shot. "Call my Aunt Kimberly Drake," I managed to get out.
"I'm so sorry I had to hit you," I heard the man say as I drifted away."
I don't know how long I slept but when I woke up I heard Kim's voice. "What the hell have you done to her? Get those restraints off of her right now!" She was very angry.
"We had to sedate her," I heard a woman's voice. "The restraints were for her safety. She was hysterical and she kept pulling out her IV and trying to leave."
"I'm responsible for her safety now," Kim said. "Get those fucking things off of her now!"
I opened my eyes and she looked at me. When she saw that I was awake she ran across the room and threw herself on me. I cried and she held me.
"Ma'am, I can't get to her wrist," the nurse that was taking off my restraints told her.
She lifted up but she didn't let me go. As soon as my arms were free I clung to her as tight as I could and we cried like babies. I couldn't stop crying.
"He saved me, Aunt Kim," I sobbed. "He towed me and it made him too tired. He died so I could make it."
"I know, baby," she said. "That's how much he loved you. I would die for you too. I would have died for him. He would have done anything for you. Just remember that. It would have made him happy for you to live, even if he had to die."
My arm hurt badly from where it was bent holding her. I knew it was the IV but I didn't care. I couldn't let her go! We cried together, just holding on to each other, until I fell asleep. When I woke up she was holding my hand and the IV was gone.
"I want to go home," I told her.
"They're going to keep you one more day," she said. "You were badly dehydrated and exhausted and you had a concussion. Then we'll go home."
The TV was on and we were all over the news. Aunt Kim had talked to a reporter and my story was what they lead off with. They talked about how Dad adopted me. They interviewed one of the officers of the security company he had been working for when he found me. My mother was a prostitute. He found me after she abandoned me, starving and begging for food on the streets in Port-au-Prince in Haiti. He took me home with him and fed me. His sister, Aunt Kim was an attorney and she flew down the next day and they worked for six months getting it fixed so he could adopt me. Dad knew a lot of people and he and Aunt Kim were pretty well off. As soon as they got the papers filed we flew home He got a job coaching high school football and eventually, they got the adoption done.
They told that story on TV and talked about Dad being a hero. I couldn't stand it. I felt like I was suffocating and Aunt Kim noticed. "Turn that shit off," she told the nurse. "What the hell is wrong with you people? Hasn't this girl been through enough?"
The nurse apologized. "Your father was a hero," she said. "It's in all the papers and the lobby down there is full of reporters that want to talk to you."
"Jesus Christ," Aunt Kim yelled. "I talked to one of those vultures. Isn't that enough? Don't let them come up here or I'll sue this hospital for the rest of my life!"
"We won't let them up here," the nurse said. "Why are you being so hostile?"
"Because my baby is lying there in that bed and my brother is dead," Aunt Kim told her.
The nurse came over and patted her. I could see tears streaming down her cheeks. "I'm so sorry, honey" she said. "You can yell at me all you want. I understand. I've got two daughters of my own."
We were all crying by that time and Kim apologized to her. The nurse gave us both a big hug and went out. We cried for a long time.
"What are we going to do, Aunt Kim?" I asked her.
"We're going to do what Val would want us to," she said. "We're going to grieve together for a while. We're going to honor him with our lives. He gave you your life and we're going to make sure that we both have full, happy lives while we honor him."
I didn't know how that was going to happen. I had just lost my rock. He was my life. I knew he wouldn't want me to mope around the rest of my life but I was so sad. I was almost unbearably sad. I had Kim and I loved her with all my heart, but she wasn't Dad. This was going to be the hardest thing I had ever done.
.... There is more of this story ...