My younger brother Tim and I race through a field of golden sheaves that ends at the river’s edge. After an hour of playing outdoors in the hot, July sun, our clothes are drenched with perspiration. The river is slightly swollen from the previous day’s rain but we remove our clothes and wade into the refreshing water.
“Eddie, Mom said to stay away from the river. Do you think she’ll find out we disobeyed her?”
“Not unless you tell her.” I reply, dipping my head beneath the cool water.
Suddenly, a barking dog appears on the riverbank. A black lab covered with mud.
“Hey girl, where’d you come from?” I ask. “Come on in, you need a bath.” No amount of coaxing moves the dog from her post or silences her barking.
“Wonder who owns her? I don’t remember seein’ a black lab around. Do you?” Tim asks, tossing a piece of floating bark on the bank.
“Nope, let me see if I can get her into the water.”
As I swim toward the bank, Tim shrieks. A backward glance shows a tree limb floating by my brother. The dog stops barking, jumps in, and swims toward Tim who is face down in the water.
“Tim, Tim!” I scream. The current is strong but I manage to reach his side just as the lab grabs his arm and swims toward the opposite bank. I follow. In a minute, we reach the shore. Out of breath, I remove Tim’s arm from the dog’s mouth and pull him onto the grass. Blood oozes from his left temple.
“Tim, wake up. Are you all right?” I yell, shaking his shoulders. He’s breathing but remains unresponsive.
“I need to get help, dog. Stay here and guard Tim, okay?”
The lab barks as though she understands and lies beside Tim. Swimming back across the river, I dress, and run home. Mom is at the sink peeling potatoes. Out of breath from running a half of a mile, I gasp, “Mom, Tim got hit in the head . . . He won’t wake up . . . call the rescue squad.”
Mom spins around from the sink and asks, “What do you mean he got hit in the head? What happened?”
“We were swimming in the river and a tree limb hit him in the head. A dog and I got him out. He’s lying on the opposite side of the riverbank.”
Mom’s hand trembles as she dials 911 and briefly answers a few questions before hanging up and calling Dad.
“The rescue squad will be here in a few minutes. You wait here and lead them to Tim. I’m going to him now.”
Mom runs to the hall closet and selects two blankets before dashing to her car.
In ten minutes, the rescue squad arrives and I direct them to Tim’s location. Mom sits beside him and the black dog, which has a large stomach gash.
“He awakened for a few minutes before drifting off again.” Mom tells the EMTs as she stands to allow them room to examine Tim.
“Mom, I’m sorry. It was my fault.” I whine, leaning on her shoulder.
“We’ll talk about it later, Eddie.” Mom says as she pats my arm.
In the afternoon, Mom, Dad, and I learn from Dr. Hume that Tim has a concussion but will recover in a week or two.
“He is a lucky boy.” Dr. Hume says. "His guardian angel was with him.”
A nurse walks in the waiting room and says, “The EMTs dropped off the dog at the animal hospital. A veterinarian sutured close the large cut on her stomach and found a chip in her ear. She belongs to a couple in California who says she has been missing three months. They sure are anxious to get her back. Last year she saved the family from their burning house. Her name is Angel.”
“Our mutual friend’s name fits her well.” Mom says. “Let’s stop by the animal clinic. We can call the family and get their permission to keep her at home until they arrive.”
“That’s a great idea, Mom.” I say as I hold open the car door.
“Yes it is Eddie and we can talk about why you disobeyed your mother this morning. I’m sure you have a good excuse.”
I close the car door, and we drive off to the animal clinic to see our Guardian Angel.
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