by Madeline Cadavero
“Please, Dad, please!” my brother Marcus begged my dad. “I really want to go to the Ocoee.”
“Well, I don’t know,” Dad said hesitantly. He glanced at Mom. “Would that be OK with you, Jewels?” My dad had nicknamed my mom Jewels, because her name was Julie.
“That’s fine, if you want to,” Mom replied, smiling at Marcus.
“Oh yeah!” Marcus cried out enthusiastically. I wasn’t so excited. The Ocoee was a really rough river, and to tell the truth, I was scared.
Aunt Laura had a 16-year-old daughter, Danielle, and two other kids, Gracie, 2, and Abby, 1. They had come for a visit from Colorado. Danielle was a real daredevil, and she loved rough rivers like the Ocoee. So Marcus, wanting to please her, asked to go to the Ocoee.
“Oh, but Dad,” I protested, “Aunt Laura and the babies are here. Surely we won’t take them, will we?” I tried to think of every excuse possible.
“Oh, that’s OK, Madeline!” my aunt broke in. “The kids will have a great time.”
So, soon I was dressed in my swimming suit and in the car with Danielle and Gracie and Abby.
“You’ll go down the rapids once or twice, won’t you, Madeline?” Danielle asked me.
I hesitated. It wasn’t very often that I refused my older cousin. “Um, perhaps, once or twice, I might.”
“Good! I can hardly wait.” Danielle was just as excited as Marcus.
We soon arrived, and I stared at the giant boulders poking out of the swift, raging river.
“Oooh!” Danielle exclaimed, pointing at one of the fastest rapids. “Wouldn’t that be fun to go down!”
“Yeah!” Marcus chimed in.
I glanced around uncertainly. The current wasn’t that fast, but fast enough to scare a fraidy-cat 10-year-old girl.
Danielle waded in, and I followed close behind. I wanted to prove to her that I wasn’t a chicken. Danielle hurried across the rocks where the rapids flowed. Scrambling across the swift waters, she positioned herself carefully and pushed off. Soon she floated safely into the deep pool of water below the rapids.
Marcus was still checking out with Mom and Dad, so I had to be next. I carefully stepped over the rocks and looked at the raging current.
“Come on, Madeline!” screamed Danielle. “It’s terrific! Oh, just once. Come on, now!”
Cautiously I sat down in the middle of the current. Immediately it whooshed me away. I screamed, but waved as Mom took a picture. I could swim very well, and as I landed in the pool, Danielle laughed with me.
“There, now, it wasn’t that bad, was it?” She grinned knowingly. I just shrugged, but inside it had been heaps of fun.
We scrambled back on the rocks and did it over and over. At last Mom called that it was time to go.
I happened to be on the other side of the river. The only way to get back would be to try and swim across the raging current and grab the rocks on the other side. Unfortunately, there was also a rock in the current, and that was exactly where my head was aimed. I was a little nervous, and horrible thoughts filled my mind of “What if I were to slip and hit that rock down there?” or “What if I drown in the pool?” But I pushed away my worries, and since Danielle had done it, I figured I could too.
I leaped as far as I could, but that wasn’t enough. The current was holding me fast. I grabbed frantically at the rock, but the current flipped me head first, aiming my head straight at a huge, sharp boulder. My worries had come true. I was certain that I would hit the rock, loose consciousness, and drown.
I tried to scream, but my head was pulled under the water, and my hip crashed against something. I frantically swam to the top, and I was safe! Only a bruise on my hip. The cold water soon helped that.
On the way home in the car, I thought about my experience. The current was like sin, dragging me away so I couldn’t grab onto the rock that symbolized Jesus. Or in my plain everyday life, it was just a clear way of showing me that as my head aimed toward that rock, my guardian angel gently pulled my head away, and let my hip slam instead.