Pain ripped through my head as if someone was slicing it open like a watermelon. What happened? The last thing I remembered Sunny and I decided to make a day of picking blackberries down on the far side of the river by the bend. The blackberry bushes had been full of juicy beautiful fruit and we were eating and picking berries, our arms scratched to the elbow from the long briars that made blackberry picking a painful, prickly activity.
“I'm going to check on dad. I'll be back in a bit.I'll bring us some iced tea,” she smiled using her sleeve to wipe the sweat off her face.
“That would be amazing.” I agreed.
The humidity made it necessary to stay hydrated. We'd only been out here an hour and I would definitely need a second shower today with all the sweat pouring off me. “I'll see if I can pick enough for another pie before you get back.”
She waved and headed for the house. Almost as soon as she disappeared down the path, there had been a loud roaring behind me.
When I turned something hit me on the side of the head, knocking me to the ground.
I blinked hard as I came slowly into consciousness. If I didn't already have my hand to my head I wouldn't have been completely sure it was still attached. My vision was blurry but I probably wouldn't be in this much pain if I was dead.
Breathing deeply cleared my vision slightly. The sun had set and I was no longer outside. This cabin was not one I recognized. I was lying in a bed, covered with a quilt. The floor was bare of rugs but a fire burned in the fireplace.
My skin prickled with awareness. I wasn't alone here.
I turned to check but I saw only shadows. In the corner was a table with two chairs. A small sound to the left drew my eyes to the opposite corner.
A man stepped forward into the firelight and my breath drew in sharply. Well, that wasn't exactly accurate. Not a man, a teenager I realized. He didn't look much older than me, maybe seventeen?
And I'd seen him before.
He'd saved my life.
As a matter of fact, I'd been trying to find him for a while now. Ever since he'd pulled me out of the river last Spring when I fell in and been caught in the swirling undertow down by the bend.
Jumping in the river at the bend that time of year was more than dangerous. People drowned every year in Black River from the swift deep water.
But at the time none of those things occurred to me. One of my lambs, Lita, had fallen in the river and was floating away. Without thinking, I'd jumped in trying to grab her and get to the side before the rapids towed us both under. I'd caught a hold of her but almost immediately been pulled into the fast flowing water, unable to swim us both to the side without the use of my arms and I refused to let go of her to save myself. How would I live with myself?
Panic set in as we were both dragged under and pushed back up like fishing bobbers but I'd known that if we didn't get to the side soon, we weren't going to come back up. I shouted as loud as I could for help, knowing full well no one would hear me.
Lita let out a terrified bleat and struggled in my arms. I tried to keep a hold of her knowing in my heart it was no use. One moment we sped along through the water, bobbing and bouncing off rocks and branches, and the next strong arms were around us both and we were being pulled toward the edge of the bank.
I kicked hard trying to help keep us afloat. As hard as we were swimming it took what seemed like hours to get us to the side. Finally, with a surge of water, we were flung to the side, close enough to the bank that I could grab hold of a rock. Lita was dragged out of my arms up onto the bank.
When I caught my breath enough for my brain to start working again, a large blond boy was wading back in to pull me out. Stunned I forgot how to speak for a moment. He pulled-slash-dragged me out of the water and laid me down on the bank.
“Thanks.” I squawked, my voice still croaky from all the swallowed water and the shouting. He nodded, eyebrows drew down and the next moment he melted into the forest that lined the riverbank and disappeared.
I couldn't tell anyone what had happened or I would have been grounded for the rest of my junior year of high school. It had been stupid and incredibly dangerous. If the guy hadn't been there Lita and I would have died, no question.
Curious about him I asked around in town, without giving any details, about new families and people on the other side of the river but no one knew anything. Black River was a small rural town where everyone knew everyone and had for their entire lives. We rarely had new people move here and when we did everyone knew about it.
After a few weeks, I decided I must have imagined it. Or maybe it was that entertaining angel's thing. Maybe he was my guardian angel?
In the months following I hadn't exactly forgotten about him. I'd looked for him by the river nearly every day. Nothing.
Now as I stared at him, like an idiot, I wondered if he lived here alone. Where were his parents?
Pushing myself up to a sitting position, I asked, “Where are we?” My hand went back up to my head as the room spun and righted itself but nausea set up camp in my stomach. I closed my eyes to fight it back.
He crossed the room to stand a few feet from the bed. “You should probably lie back. You're pale.”
I scooted back so my back rested up against the wall. He didn't seem dangerous. He'd already saved me once but I wanted to be cautious. Why hadn't he taken me home, to my house? My family had to be frantic by now.
“Who are you?” I asked.
Here you are, fabulous readers, the fourth in my #flashfictionfriday posts.I've had so much fun putting these together for you. I want to know which story you like best. I'm going to be taking a vote and continuing with the story that gets the most. If you aren't signed up for my reader's list please do so below and look for my email where I'll be asking for your opinion!