falling in

March 6, 2012
By , manitowoc, WI
It was a cold snowy day. The snow had turned to ice as it began to pour a hail-like rain. Calvin was running from one tree to the next dodging falling shards of ice.

It was night and the street lights radiated a misty yellow. Not a single car passed as Calvin made his way through the streets and alleyways of Manitowoc. The trees hung and cracked from the weight of the ice and snow, glistening in the eerie moonlight. The treacherous tall tower of Lincoln loomed high above his head.

Calvin continued on through some woods until he faced a river. The river was partly frozen but erratically got thinner until running water flowed under a bridge.

Slowly he eased his way across, one step at a time. Calvin heard a silent crack and stopped dead.

“I shouldn’t be doing this,” he thought aloud.

He was about a quarter ways across as he began to consider turning back. There were no more sounds of breaking ice. He stood still until he figured it was safe to continue.

A few more daring steps and he’d be half way. Calvin stepped into the middle of the river.
“Oh sh-.”
CRUNCH! His world erupted into a mass of swirling blue. He was immediately frozen in shock as the current dragged him to the holes edge. He grasped the ice, barely breathing. Calvin’s legs went limp as he tried to drag himself on top of the ice again. The thin layer of ice began to crumble under his weight, slowly lowering him deeper and deeper into the clutches of the river.

He went under. It was so cold he couldn’t open his eyes as the river dragged him along the bottom of the ice. He pounded and pounded trying to break the surface but it got strangely thicker as he went.

Suddenly there was a hole. He thrust himself through it onto the banks of the river. The strong current had carried him 100 meters downstream. Calvin couldn’t move his fingers as he tried to dial his mom. The phone was waterlogged and the mic was dead.

Only five more blocks. He began to drag his frozen body home. Four more blocks, three more blocks, he could no longer feel his fingers in the freezing rain.

Calvin struggled with the doorknob as his fingers supplied no grip. He fell through the door bathing himself in the warmness of the room.

“Calvin what happened?!”

“I fell in the river,” he rasped out.

“Oh my god! Let’s get you to the hospital!”

Calvin’s mom ushered him into dry clothes and blankets while the car heated. Calvin lay in the back seat shivering.

He awoke on paper-like blankets next to a beeping machine with a red line going up and down, up and down. There was an IV in his arm and no one in the room. A blue curtain closed his room off from the other area where he heard typing and numerous footsteps walking.

Suddenly a nurse walked in bearing a clipboard with many papers on it.

“Good Moring, Calvin,” she chirped in a sweet melodious tune.

Calvin remained silent not knowing what was going on. He only remembered swirly blue and being so cold.
“Calvin?” she repeated.
Everything seemed so strange to him. Then suddenly, he remembered everything. The long walk home in the freezing rain, the river he attempted to cross the river. He remembered not being able to open his eyes because of the cold and he remembered dragging himself home to warmth.
As he tried to rise, the nurse pushed him back down. The IV cord had come partially out. As she was replacing it Calvin’s mom walked in.
“Mom!” Calvin choked.

Calvin remained silent all the way home. He could not explain to his mother why he tried to cross the river in its melting condition.
“There’s a giant hole in it!” she finally exclaimed. “It would have been smarter to cross the railroad bridge.”
The bridge was covered in a thick layer of ice. It rose straight up 100 meters out of the water flaunting a rusted brown. The joints creaked and groaned with the added weight. Icicles hung from its peers like fangs on a rabid animal. On top of its rails was thick snow and thick ice, just one slip would send him flailing off its sides.
“The ice was safer,” he said bluntly.
His mother’s stare made him feel colder than the river did. He huddled into his blanket ignoring the look.
There was a steamy pot of broth waiting on the stove for him. Calvin’s mom poured him a bowl and walked into the living room. Calvin’s kitchen was painted a golden yellow. It had brown wood cabinets with hardwood flooring. A counter surrounded the room with its granite top. A sleek silver fridge sat in a corner filled with bounty’s of food.
Calvin had been in the hospital for two days, and he felt good to be home. “Dad left for a business trip yesterday.”
“Oh,” he said while draining the last of the chicken broth.
“He won’t be back for a week,” she pauses, “in a half.”
“Oh,” Calvin repeats this time while walking upstairs.
Calvin glanced at a mirror at the end of the hall. His hair was scraggly and matted; he had dark circles under his eyes and wore year-old clothes his mom had brought him in the hospital. He was pale and looked truly ghoulish.
He grabbed his Old Spice, walked into the bathroom, locked the door and turned the fan on. In side was a beach theme with baby blue walls and sea shells decorating the sink.
Calvin stayed in the shower for a long time basking in the steaming water, only coming out because the water turned cold. He wiped the steam off the mirror. Some color had returned to his face and his hair was now clean and combed. Calvin brushed his teeth, hair, and shaved. Quickly he stepped out and crossed the hall with a towel wrapped around his waist.
He threw on some boxers and gym shorts, grabbing a Mountain Dew from his mini fridge and propping himself up in his recliner. The TV on his wall popped on with surround sound Call of Duty complete with tritons, a 46 inch plasma and millions of other people to play with. But he didn’t feel like playing right now, he just wanted quite.
Calvin pressed and held two on his phone. It began to ring.
“Calvin, buddy, how are you?”
“Fine now.”
“If you ever try to cross that river again, I’ll kick your ass.”
Calvin laughed, “Okay Dad, I promise I’ll never cross it again. I’ll just get a ride with a friend next time, K?”
“Good, you’re lucky I’m in Japan right now.”
“Yea, how is it?”
“It’s fine. Everyone here is really nice. What was your temperature when you got to the hospital?”
“Spell, they all thought it was gonna be like 90 and mom was absolutely freaking bout it but I felt warm, almost feverish.”
“I fell in the ice once when I was a kid. My temperature was 91 and it was cold. But that was a pond, so I had no current to battle. I just crawled out of the hole. It must have been really scary going under.”
“Yea, but I don’t really wanna talk about it.”
“I understand. We’ll talk later, when I get home.”
“When will that be?” Calvin said with little bit of sarcasm. His dad was always gone for weeks on end.
“Two weeks, be nice to your mother for me.”
“I will.”

The phone clicked.

His soda began to condense in his hand. It was cold, but not as cold as that devilish river. He took a quick swig then set it down on his desk. Besides the TV, Calvin’s room had a wood-framed queen bed, a desk for homework, hard wood floors, and was painted a darkened gold to match the wooded theme.
His mother, Debbie, was very big on decorating. Calvin was not. He stuffed all the decorative items deep into his closet. Debbie didn’t have a job. Instead she stayed at home decorating, doing dishes, laundry, and anything that needed to be done. Calvin’s dad was the breadwinner. Joseph Slade had a very secretive job. He worked for the United States government and always went off on “business trips” that he could never speak about. Calvin always called him Bond. Calvin and his mother had given up asking what he did on his trips years ago when the only answer they would get was “Oh, just work.”
Calvin’s head began to feel warm and maybe he did have a fever. He fell into his covers and drifted off into an endless slumber.
Calvin awoke to the sound of his mother crying. He runs downstairs. Debbie was on the phone. Big tears rolled down her rosy cheeks. After she hung up the phone Calvin asked what happened.
“Your father was hurt in japan,” she said in a horse voice.
“What happened!?”
“They can’t tell us of course. But he will be returning in two days.”
The next couple day passed in a blur. When Joseph walked in the door he wore a white cast around his arm and shoulder. Debbie bagged him for days to tell them what happened but he wouldn’t risk his job. All they knew is that his arm would never work again.
After months of deciding Joseph decided to take up a job in the pentagon, a desk job. Calvin’s mother breathed a sigh of relief. No more secretive international work. Joseph was going to stay safe in America.
Calvin began to think of all the risky decisions he made in his life. He realized how stupid he had been and how inconsiderate he had been to his mother. Calvin decided to take a pledge, a silent pledge. He would never do anything that put himself or others in danger again. Calvin didn’t want to end up like his father and his non-working arm. From then on Calvin followed his pledge and always made safe and practical decisions. For his mothers sake

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