Charlotte awoke with a feeling of excitement. Her favorite week of each summer was the one she spent with her grandparents at the Kern River. This year was really going to be a blast because her grandparents were allowing her to bring a friend. A knock sounded on her bedroom door and she heard squeals of delight coming from Henrietta before her friend even entered the room. They danced around Charlotte’s room.
“This is going to be the best week of my whole life.” Henrietta took one more turn around the room.
“I better finish packing before my grandparents arrive to pick us up.” Charlotte grabbed her suitcase out of the closet and added a few last-minute items.
The girls heard the grandparents downstairs and took one more leap around the room.
“We better get downstairs before they change their mind.” Henrietta picked up her friend's suitcase.
“Grandma, Grandpa, you’re here! We’re ready to go.”
“Are you sure you’re up to taking these two rambunctious thirteen-year-olds?” Charlotte’s mom gave her a wink.
Her grandfather placed his arm around Charlotte. “Beth, the girls will be just fine. We have been looking forward to taking them.”
“Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you," her mom said with a twinkle in her eyes.
“Let’s hit the road.” Her grandfather opened the door so the girls could take their suitcases to the R.V.
“Okay girls, it will take us a little over three hours. We’ll make a stop a long the way for lunch and your Grandmother has all kinds of snacks and drinks back there for you.”
“Thanks Grandma, you made my favorite cookies!”
“You’re welcome.” Grandma beamed.
Grandpa pulled the R.V. into the spot he had reserved and the girls jumped out.
“What can we do to help, Grandma?”
“Take these cleaning rags and dust down the picnic table and benches.”
With everything set up. Grandpa told us we could take a walk and look around.
“You girls be careful--there are spots along the river that are extremely dangerous. Charlotte, you know the drill.”
“We’ll be really careful.”
“I love it here.” Henrietta opened her big brown eyes wide.
“I told you this is my favorite week of the summer; I come here with my grandparents almost every year.”
They walked past the swimmers jumping around in the water; a few were floating around in big inner tubes.
“When do we get to go swimming?” Henrietta put her hand on her friend's shoulder.
“Do you want to explore a little first and then we can go in?”
“Let’s do, I want to see everything.” Henrietta skipped a step ahead of Charlotte.
They followed the turn of the river’s edge.
“I want to go swimming here!” Henrietta began taking off her shorts she was wearing over her swimsuit.
“It may not be safe to go in here,” Charlotte warned.
“Oh, it looks fine to me. I’m going in. Come on.”
“No Henrietta, I don’t think we should.”
The words were hardly out of her mouth when Henrietta made her move and jumped in the water. Screams of terror escaped Charlotte’s throat as she watched the current of the river bouncing her friend around like a rag doll.
“Help! Somebody help!”
A man heard her screams and came running. She stared aghast as he stopped to take off his shoes.
“What are you doing? Leave them on there isn’t time. Save her, please hurry!”
The man entered the water and began fighting against the swift current of the river. He still was not near Henrietta. He kept fighting and grabbing at limbs.
“Please God; let him reach her in time,” Charlotte prayed.
The man reached Henrietta just in time grabbing her with one arm. He continued to struggle against the current and finally got close enough to the edge so Charlotte could help pull her on shore. They both collapsed on the bank of the river. Henrietta began coughing and vomiting up the water she had taken in. Others had gathered around by that time and wrapped blankets around Henrietta and the man who saved her. Thankfully, she was frightened but relatively unharmed.
It was almost ten years before Charlotte grasped the impact of how close to death her friend came that day. Two foolish young girls, but God in His mercy and grace sent someone to save Henrietta.
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