Monday, February 8, 2010

Blackbird Song (9)

[Jenna]

Three months.

Three months, and I can't remember life before you.

On our way home, it started snowing. The snow just seemed to glide from the sky, the flakes dancing down, twirling, and I remember asking you if we could pull over.

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We ended up walking around the park, and when you swept me into your arms and carried me, I remember laughing with my head thrown back, white plumes of my breath in the air.

In that moment, it was just me and you. It was our moment, and I have never loved you more.

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When we were walking back to the car, hands linked, we met a a woman, so pregnant that she wasn't really wearing her sweater, her belly was straining to hold it in. It looked like a suspended avalanche. She had a little girl with her.

She had gotten her car stuck, she said, and asked us for a ride. Jared, being the white knight he is, offered to get her car out of the mud and ice. He walked with her up the hill, one of his big hands against the small of her back, his other hand guiding her elbow.

As they walked toward the car, he turned toward me, eyes big, and mouthed "Very pregnant." I ended up grinning at his awe, and looked out toward the ice, where snow was building up. It looked like a white carpet across the lake.

I glanced over toward her daughter, all of six years old, and just beautiful. She had this red ball, she kept bouncing it, intentionally ignoring her mother's comments to 'sit here, and be careful while we get the car unstuck.'

I grinned to myself, stuck my hands deep into my pockets, and watched as Jared attached the chain from the Blackbird's trunk to the frame of her car. He got her car out of the mud after only two tries, and was talking to the woman who was profusely thanking him, when I looked over to her daughter.

I didn't see her, or that red ball. I looked over toward the pier, and sitting on top of the ice was that red ball. In all that white, it was hard to miss.

The little girl was nowhere in sight.

It was just sitting on top of the ice, hateful, smug, sucking all the breath out of my lungs. Seeing it, I got the worst feeling. My stomach felt like I had swallowed a hot stone of dread.

I didn't even know I was running, but in the next instant I'd almost reached the pier. As I ran across the planks, I could feel my heart beating so loudly it drowned out all other sounds. I looked down, knowing what I would find, and still hoping, praying, begging that it wouldn't be there.

There was a small hole in the ice.

I did the only thing I could do. I dove in.

The next instant, I was surfacing, gasping from the cold that stabbed into my body. It felt like knives stabbing the breath out of my lungs. I remember sobbing and gasping, and as soon as I was able to get another breath, I dove down again.

Hands grasping, reaching, fingers seeking, I willed my body to find her. I surfaced yet again, long enough to get a breath, then back down.

Furiously my mind was screaming at me "Find her!" "There's no time!" "Find her!"

I surfaced again and again, hands reaching, searching, my mind working against me, screaming at me to find her.

I couldn't feel my feet anymore, they were numb, distant, no longer cold. I dove under, and this time I felt the slippery fabric of a coat.

My fingers closed around that swatch of fabric, and I pulled, yanking her to me, pulling her out of the water.

Jared and her mom were on the pier, Jared holding her back from jumping into the water, while pulling me and the little girl up.

I put her on the pier, face ashen, lips blue, and started CPR. I breathed into her mouth, willing her to live. Live, I thought to her, breathe.

I kept doing CPR, refusing to believe that she was dead. I could feel her mother shaking me, telling me to make her daughter breathe. Screaming at me. Threatening, cajolling, and finally, begging.

I kept on, tears starting to run down my face, because this little girl was still not responding.

I kept on, and it was in the middle of the millionth chest compression that she ended up coughing up a mouthful of water into my face.

It was right about this time that the paramedics came running toward us. They took the little girl (and her mother) and bundled them into an ambulance.

One of the EMTs wrapped me in a blanket at some point that I didn't remember, and now that the adrenaline started to ebb, I felt cold, tired, and I couldn't stop crying.

I looked up into Jared's face, seeing his eyes huge, felt his hands chafing my hands, my shoulders, warming me up.

When I realized what had just happened, I turned away from him and threw up all over that nice EMTs blanket.

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