The glowing bonfire flickered onthe small piece of land, perfectly complementing the November night's sky.Wearing our hats and mittens, the four of us gathered around the fire to drinkhot chocolate in celebration of the first clear night in weeks.
Joe, Greg,Matt and I frequently spent time together in Joe's backyard. It was the closestto nature most of us got: no streetlights, no highways ... just acres of trees, apond, and a star-filled sky. Looking across the pond, I could see the skyreflecting on the water. Moved by this sight, I dashed onto the dock to dancebetween the twin firmaments. As I spun, the images of the fire, trees and Joecavorting across the dock blurred together like an oilpainting.
"Don't fall in!" Joe shouted playfully as he scoop-edme into his arms. Though the spinning had stopp-ed, my head was still notprocessing my surroundings properly. Suddenly I felt my feet leaving the groundas Joe whipped me around, swinging my legs out over the water. Joe began slippingand we realized we were both falling in.
Though the memory of our descentescapes me, I remember the icy water feeling like knives. My body instantly wentnumb, and I couldn't figure out the whereabouts of my limbs. When most of theshock and confusion subsided, I could see the dock in front of me. A great forcewas pushing me up from below as I reached for Matt's outstretched hands. Imanaged to pull myself to my feet on the dock while Joe emerged from thewater.
In my head, I kept hearing Mrs. Turner's only rule for theevening: "No one gets wet," as Joe and I nervously entered the house totake showers and change our clothes. Unfortunately, Mrs. Turner was on the phonein the living room, our only entrance. She cringed, revealing anger and concern.She hung up and rushed me into the bathroom, bringing towels and warmclothes.
As the hot water warmed my half-frozen body and feeling beganreturning to my toes, I had a sudden epiphany. Joe had held me up during our timeof crisis. He had sacrificed breathing, obviously crucial to his own survival, tokeep me from sinking deeper. Overcome by tears, I saw that this was clearly notthe first, nor would it be the last time Joe would save me. Often when I wasupset or troubled, Joe would come to my rescue, whether by helping me withchemistry, holding my hand while attending our friend's funeral or simplyreminding me to smile when times were tough.
Friends in this life havebeen many; true friends have been few. But no matter where my life takes me, Iknow I will always have a special person pushing me to be something greater,reminding me of my worth. So many people refer to their best friends as their"lifesavers," and when I tell people Joe is mine, I smile because Iknow it's true in more ways than one.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.