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The Accident

Jody Bauer
 
     I awoke four years later. The walls that encompassed me were white with an annoying pink rose trim at the top. I cringed at the sight of the rusted orange leather chair in the corner. The nurse's steps echoed out in the hallway and the hospital smell was unbearable at times. What was I doing in this place? Time had passed but it seemed as if I just jumped into the water after my brother. I didn't believe them at first, but my mom told me that it was true. She has been at my bedside everyday since the accident. For the four years that I was in a coma she brushed my hair, stretched my legs, held my hand, and most of all, she prayed. She could not lose two of her children at once. They were doing so many tests on me. Prodding and poking me like I was a piece of meat. I told the doctors and my mom what had happened but they all say that it was a bad dream. How could it have been? It was all so real. I asked mom where Josh was. She looked down and said that he was no longer with us. They couldn't find him after the storm. How could they find me and not him? Why was this happening? My eyes swelled with water and my hands started trembling. I remembered.

***

     It was so much fun living out on the lake. Every summer we would pack up everything we needed from the town house and head out to the cottage. I loved the smell of it. It was summer to me. I loved waking up to the sound of waves hitting the shore. I loved finding white rocks and decorating them with markers. I loved burying myself in the sand and I loved falling asleep on the lawn in just my swimsuit and a blanket. Mom would go nuts on the cleaning as she did every year. We would move everything around at least twice so it was perfect and after the first week everything seemed to be as the summer before, running like clockwork. I would always get up when the sun rose and would have my swimsuit on before I went down stairs. Oh...those stairs, they took a beating from Josh and I always playing tag or just chasing each other. The patio was my favorite place because it was right next to the lake. It was the room where mom brought all the treats out to us when we were wet because we could not go inside. It was the room where we would make forts when it rained, the home base of our game of tag, and the place we would sneak to try and get out of doing the dishes. It was also the place where my mother last saw my brother.

     He was twelve and I was ten. Josh was always the one who wanted to go on adventures. We used to dig for buried treasures and play pirate ship with our sunfish sailboat. Josh once found me a real ring that was in the sand. It was silver with a round circle on the front of it. There was a hole where the stone was. It was the most expensive thing we ever found. He always tested mom's patience when he wouldn't come in on time from playing with the neighbor kids or hid when he had to go to summer school. His hair was sandy brown and face was covered in freckles. You couldn't even count them there were too many. He always hated it when mom told us we had to come inside.

     We were playing in the lake when mom yelled at us to come out of the water because a storm was about to hit. We didn't want get out because we were about to start a sand war but when we both heard our middle names called, it was time to dry off. Josh took his time trying to fix the old rusted ladder that connected to the side of the red wooden dock. He always piddled around when mom asked him to do something.

     The sky was overtaken with darkness faster than I have ever seen. It was like an avalanche of dark gray rolling clouds. The air started to cool off. Lightening crackled in the sky. The wind started fighting with the trees. The towels on the clothesline were dancing in the neighbor's yard. I started screaming at Josh to get in here as fast as he could. Mom heard me and came racing out. The patio door flew open as if it had no weight at all. She yelled his name and then it happened. It was as if the water grabbed his ankles and pulled him under. He held on as long as he could, but the raging water engulfed his sandy brown hair. I sprinted on to the dock and could hear my mom screaming frantically in the background. I could still see him. I didn't want my brother to die. He was my hero.

     I plunged into the now ice cold water and tried to grab my brother. I felt as if the water had a personality. It was strangling me. I could not move my body. The force was heavy. Something was pulling us further and further from the surface. My brother was now beside me and he grabbed hold of my hand. We were being pulled into what looked like an orange light. It was hard to see because we were close to the bottom of the lake, which was mud-laden. This strange light kept getting brighter and brighter as we were approaching it. I could no longer see because it was so blinding.

     Our feet reached the bottom of the lake and were sinking into the slimy marsh. Seaweed and plants were entangled in my red hair. The mud slowly crawled up, the suction was tightening the skin on my body. I felt as if I was going to exploded. It was taking us in. I didn't know what it was.

     We both fell onto this gigantic thick, spongy leaf. The colors of it were remarkable. Yellows, greens, blues, purples, and reds all swirled together like a large flat lollipop. The mud-laden hole at the bottom of the lake had become an entryway to a new city. It was magical. The buildings were of glass, the streets of colorful marbles, the beings were floating on bubbles to get from place to place. Everything was so beautiful. I had never seen such a city, not even in a movie. What were we doing there? How could we breathe in water? We should have been dead. Josh told me be quiet, because we didn't know what they had wanted. I listened to my brother. He watched all the action movies and probably knew what to do.

     The thing that was before us was very strange. On its face it had skin like a fish but furrier. Its eyes were as big as my fist, no nose, and a mouth as big as a cereal bowl. When it would open its mouth, pink fireflies would come out and float up. Its neck was as long as my arm, which connected to jelly like body. It had no arms, only antennas all over its body. It looked like you could put your hand right through it. My brother was so brave and asked what they wanted. He said that he could beat them up if he had to but they did not reply. They simply grabbed both of our hands with their antennas and pressed the tightly together. After that they wrapped them with a blue clothe-like material that glowed so brightly it hurt our eyes. They led us to a room with a gigantic flickering wall. This mysterious wall was a screen of some sort. The jelly-like figure floated over to the screen and a picture of my mother appeared. She was crying and talking to DNR policeman. What was happening?

     The mouth of this creature opened and I backed away as the pink fireflies floated upward. The scary thing about it was that the voice did not come from the mouth. The sound was surrounding us. A screeching noise pierced our ears and then it spoke. How did it know our language? How could something like that even be remotely human and know English?

     They then asked if we wanted to stay. Wanted to stay? Why would we want to stay? I cried and said that I wanted to go home. What did they want with us? My body started shaking. I was really scared. I looked over at my brother and it was as if he was excited. His eyes stared in amazement at this being in front of us. I kept telling Josh that we had to go home. We couldn't stay. We had to go.

     Josh couldn't hear a word I was saying. He knew that if he stayed he probably could never come back. Josh looked at me and said " I want to stay." I couldn't believe the words I was hearing. What was he thinking? His words kept repeating over an over in my mind. 'I want to stay. I want to stay. I want to stay.' He looked over at me and told me that he loved me and to tell mom that he'll be all right. This was what he was supposed to do. God wanted him to stay and help these people down here. I told him that he couldn't stay and that he had to go back to school. What about football and wanting to go to Jr. High? What about all of his friends?

     "Why do you want to leave us, Josh? Mom and I need you."

     "Don't worry. Take me with you in your dreams. I will be okay. Jr. High can wait. Tell mom that I love her."

     I went to kiss my brother good bye but before I knew it I was floating upward. They wouldn't let me say good bye. Josh wait JOSH.

***

     After I got out of the hospital I went back to the lake. The very water that took my brother and four years of my life made me so angry. What really happened that day? A faint breeze blew my hair in the wind as I walked out onto the red wooden dock. Tears were swelling in my eyes as I listened to the waves crashing softly against the shore. Why was it that no one believed me? I wanted my brother back. My tears started to drip into the water. I wiped my nose with my sleeve and stared at the ring that my brother gave me. I wiggled it off my finger and kissed it. "Good bye, Josh," I whispered as I threw it into the lake. I was about to turn away when I heard a small voice. Right where I threw the ring I saw an orange glow. Was it really him? It got brighter and brighter. Then I heard it. "I love you." The orange glow faded. It was Josh telling me that he was okay.



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