Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Breathe (08/19/10)
By Karen Laskowsky
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My friend, Kim and I had been fishing for sunfish and bluegills with a hook and some bread. We caught one and we needed a bucket of water to put him in. I went into the boathouse where Kim’s father, Mr. Eaton, was working on a boat motor. I found a bucket and took it out to the dock to scoop up some water.
The cold lake water enveloped me as I fell off the dock headfirst, outweighed by the bucket of water I was trying to pull up.
Surprised, I gasped involuntarily. The water rushed in and filled my lungs while I thrashed about, panicked and disoriented.
Still under water, my lungs rejected the water, making me cough. I felt the water expelled from my lungs, but more of it was sucked back in as my body’s need for air caused me to go through the reflexive motions of breathing in that murky medium.
Desperate for air, my lungs burned and my chest ached. I opened my eyes and through the dark green, I saw an old tire, now nailed to the dock as a boat bumper.
I spluttered as my lungs expelled the water. I flailed with my arms and legs, unable to swim, as another intake of liquid filled my lungs.
In vain I reached for that tire.
Again, water out and water in.
Suddenly, I was above it all, observing the scene below me: the roiling water, beneath the surface, flashes of an arm or a leg and the light blue seersucker shorts set I was wearing. But I no longer felt the struggle I was watching. Kim was standing on the dock, pointing and screaming at the place where I had fallen in. Her father closed the gap from the boathouse to the place where the water churned in about five huge steps. He reached into the water.
Hands grasped first one small wrist and then the other as I came up out of the water.
Once again, I felt the burning sensation of lungs struggling for life-sustaining air.
Mr. Eaton’s deft hands flipped me upside down. With one hand, he grasped my leg at the ankle, and with the other, he thumped me hard between my shoulders several times.
I coughed and vomited water and my dinner. And more water.
I was gasping and gulping. At last, a breath of air! My lungs still burned and my chest still hurt. At first it felt like I couldn’t get enough air because there was still water in my lungs. I couldn’t take the deep breaths that I wanted to take. For the rest of the night, I wheezed and continued to cough up water out of my lungs, until finally, it felt like I could take a deep enough breath. I was going to be alright.
That was forty-five years ago. I was four years old. I can still remember it like it happened yesterday. I guess God still has work for me to do.
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