Cuddled up on the couch with Scruffy, my ten pound terrier, and a good book is the best way to spend a stormy afternoon, I thought as I laid cuddled up on the couch with Scruffy, reading a good book while it thundered outside. Scruffy wasn’t so composed. Thunder upsets him. Thunder outside. Thunder on the T.V. Thunder on those nature CD's. Imitation thunder at church plays. Thunder is absolutely not Scruffy's thing.
"Mom, where's my swimsuit?" Cindy asked.
"In the laundry room." I answered, eyes never leaving the intriguing tale of horror on the harmless pages in front of me."Thanks." It wasn't long before the atmosphere I considered relaxing, but Scruffy considered alarming, lulled me to sleep and my book nose-dived to the floor when my arms became spaghetti noodles. Scruffy snuggled closer as a blast of thunder echoed through his head. The back yard door opened and closed and Scruffy started whining and probing me with his cold wet nose. He put it in my face, my ears and back to my face till he aroused me again, though barely. I sleep hard.
"Cindy!" I called. "Scruffy wants out!" Scruffy tensed. The last thing he wanted was out closer to all the noise, but he did want something and I was too drowsy to investigate. Scruffy was getting more agitated by the minute. I swear I felt feathers tickle my nose.
I finally gave up trying to return to my dream and swung my legs to the floor. Slowly something started to jiggle my brain. Somewhere deep a disturbing thought was trying to crawl up into my consciousness.
“Cindy!” I got up in search of my darling ,sometimes, obedient daughter.Scruffy leaped to the floor and raced to the back door making every attempt to get me to pursue him with all sorts of acrobats. He knew something. He knew that I wasn’t going to like the something he knew.
The kitchen windows revealed torrential rain being dispensed from the clouds accompanied by a lightening show worthy of any audience who appreciated God’s beauty and waited for his return on the clouds. The windows also revealed a seal in the pool. A seal with two arms and two legs but with a completely brainless head!
“Cindy, Get in here!” I yelled from the porch with Scruffy between my legs whimpering. “You know better than to swim in a thunderstorm!”
“It’s alright mom, I prayed that God wouldn’t let me be hit by lightening.” Cindy responded from the edge of the pool. “Besides, the lightening can’t find me under this tree.” The wonderful rationale of teenagers always missed the mark of reality but had such a fantastic optimism. Trees, water and lightening. A wonderful cocktail for disaster.
Crack, Bang. Splash. Scream. It all happened suddenly. Lightening hit the tree, a branch broke off and plummeted to the pool hitting Cindy on the head. She went under, blood came up, I jumped in, or was I pushed. Scruffy stayed on the porch. Feathers floated on the pool surface.
Thank heavens for survival training. I pulled her to the deck carefully keeping her neck and spine straight,then checked her breathing. Nothing. I gave two quick breaths and felt her carotids for a pulse. Her heart was beating! Scruffy watched from the door, no way he was going to get wet to help me with CPR. I yelled at him to call 911. What the hell was I doing?!
Scruffy acted human so often I forgot he couldn’t use the phone! As I breathed for Cindy, Scruffy cocked his head to the side and appeared to be listening to something. Dogs and their selective hearing. I was suppose to breathe for a minute then activate the emergency medical system. There was no way I could leave Cindy! Scruffy turned on his heels (paws) and dashed into the house’s empty interior. Latter on in hindsight it almost seemed like he had been carried inside.
I heard an ambulance screeching somewhere. Oh, God. Someone tell them I’m out here! Please see me back here and send help! Ran washed the tears down my face as I begged Cindy to breathe. Breathe damn it! (sorry, “darn it” seems too inadequate here!) Breathe on your own, Please!
Some one pushed me to the side. A paramedic, followed by his partner pushing a stretcher on wheels. I watched in amazement as unexpected help took over the situation, intubating my daughter ,placing a cervical collar on her neck and hoisting her to the stretcher and into the ambulance. I followed in my car, sopping water all over the cloth upholstery from wet jeans and t-shirt.
At the hospital’s waiting room I called my husband who was out of town as they “worked” on my baby. He was going to catch the first flight home. I hoped he would be in time. The registration lady was asking me to sign papers for permission to treat, blood transfusions and organ donations (if necessary).
People came and went in white lab coats and bright scrub suits with cute-sie designs. How inappropriate for an emergency room. My daughter‘s life was doubtlessly in the hands of someone dressed in Sponge Bob scrubs! This didn‘t inspire confidence!
I hurried to the desk when an orderly called my name.
The “orderly” proceeded to update me on my daughter.“ Ma’am, your daughter is up and talking. I sutured a gash on her head and sent her for some tests to rule out skull, or neck fractures or any lung aspirations. I think we need to keep her over night but based on my initial assessment I think she had the wind knocked out of her and sustained a possible small concussion. She can most likely go home in the morning.” The doctor, aka: orderly, speaking to me had to have taken medical courses in high school! He hadn’t started growing facial hair yet!
How many times a day must this soap opera looking doctor be accosted by grateful mothers, or wives, I wondered as I threw myself into his arms to kiss him gratefully! I blinked, realizing I was fantasizing at the most inappropriate moment and gratefully thanked him: verbally and at a distance. I had to glance down at my left hand to remember I was a married woman….darn it. (damn it!) When things return to normal I’ll try to remember why I married my wonderful husband, who always seemed absent during family crisis’s.
When Cindy returned from her CAT scan, MRI and x-rays I finally got to see her for myself. Now that I knew she was going to live, I was going to kill her!!! I’ll let her recuperate first, I want her to feel the pain! She looked awful, stitched up, pasty faced and groggy. What doctors call up and talking must have a different connotation than the general publics.
“Mom,” Cindy groaned from white sheets that had more color than her complexion right now. “Do you know a Mr. Peepaw?”The question startled me. Peepaw was my gramp’s name, rather what I had called my gramps when I was a little wee bairn. Cindy didn’t know that.
“Because he was on the ambulance with me. He wanted me to remind you of when you went to the pond on his ranch by yourself, against his orders, and nearly drowned after getting caught in some under water vegetation.”
I looked at the paramedics who had brought her in. They looked at each other and shrugged. “She must have been dreaming, there was no one on the ambulance but us. That happens sometimes.” Then they packed their expensive toys up and left. I wasn’t convinced it was a dream.
I stared Cindy down. She wasn’t alert enough to make this story up to save her pretty hide. This was too far-fetched. Peepaw, had died way before Cindy was born. She never met him, never heard this story from any one living, and for sure, not from me,(I keep my mistakes to myself as long as I can!) She must have taken quite an extended trip when her “breath” got knocked out of her! Who said the dead tell no tales? I hope Peepaw had kept his dead mouth shut about the rest of my rebellious days. Cindy is not allowed to know I make mistakes.
“Hey, mom”, Cindy weakly snapped her fingers to retrieve me from my reverie. “Did you see my doctor ? Give me some makeup and comb my hair before he comes back and if you let me start dating now, I can promise you a doctor for a son in law!”
“Only if he’s willing to wait ten years,” I informed her.” That’s how long I intend to ground you.I’ve warned you hundreds of times you could get hit by lightening if you swim in thunderstorms”
“Well, technically I got hit by a tree, so you haven’t quite proved your point yet,” Cindy pouted and slipped into a medicated oblivion. I think she was faking it to avoid confrontation.
I pulled her blanket up around her neck and a feather fell to the floor that I picked up and stuck in her hair.Now that Cindy was thinking of her appearance and men I feared the worst; she’d be back to normal in no time. Oh, the wonderful restorative powers of hormones, they’re wasted on the young!
Stopping at the police station on the way home I asked the 911 operator how she knew to send help. She informed me she’d received a call from my address. That was impossible, I told the dispatcher, there was no one in the house, I was at the pool doing CPR. Kind enough to replay the tape for me she became flabbergasted as we listened to the recording. We heard her advise someone to stay on the phone until help arrived, then she proceeded with routine questions. Pauses followed each question as though someone was responding but all the tape picked up was Scruffy barking in the background. No human voices just lots of static and the resonating sound of thunder.
“How odd.” Declared the dispatcher. A shiver went up my spine. I had told Scruffy to call 911. Naw, he couldn’t have.
At home I inspected the phone and looked intently at Scruffy. “Did you call 911?”
No, impossible. I’m going bonkers. Listen to me, talking to a dog. “Well, did you? ‘Fess up!” Scruffy tilted his head to the side and stared at me, then peed on the carpet. I tossed him outside on his fanny. Then I noticed the lone feather on the floor, where did that come from?
Two figures levitating above the house saluted Scruffy who barked zealously as they ascended higher and higher, wings outstretched, tossing heavenly treats into his open mouth. He always looked forward to their continuously timely visits. He would be useless to his owners without the help of his invisible friends. Hey, even dogs can have invisible friends, but theirs are real.
“It’s a shame she won’t remember her visit with Peepaw for long, but he'll sure remember the thrill of meeting his great-granddaughter.”
“She’ll be back soon enough. The human brain just can’t hold the glory of our world in their minds. It’s way to magnificent for mortal neurons.”
“By the way, that was a good job of deflecting that lightening bolt.”
“Thanks, I was just instructed to protect her from lightening, not learning. Now lets get home before we miss dinner.”Zoom.
Two streaks of light hit the sound barrier and vanished into the cosmos leaving a trail of glowing feathers floating behind.