I slowly picked up my phone, my hands trembling, and answered the call.
“Jade?” A voice echoed on the other side.
“Alex! Are you ok? Has the water come into your house yet?” I mentally facepalmed, of course he had water in his house, it was raised up three feet and the water was already at almost four feet.
A category 5 hurricane had just hit Sanibel Island, Florida. Alex’s one-storied house was a few doors down from my own two-story house. I was scared s***less that he was trapped or worse, injured.
“The water is almost in the house. I had put out sandbags to stop the water from coming in, but it was already seeping through,” he responded.
“Where are your parents?” I asked, my voice shaking.
“They’re in downtown Fort Myers with my sister. They picked her up from school and brought her over to my dad’s office which is on the twelfth floor of ‘Revetahw’ office building. They said they’d try to get to me, but if the water gets too high to go over to your house. I got a call from them a few minutes ago and they said the bridge from Sanibel over to Fort Myers is flooded over. They can’t get to me. The thing is… I can’t get out. I’m stuck in the attic. The water went too high and I went to the attic to turn the generator on, but my the time I went back to the ladder to get down, the water was already in the house and the furniture was all piled at the bottom of the ladder. I can’t get anywhere.”
“I’m coming to get you.” I cried.
“No! It’s too dangerous Jade. I’m going to call the Red Cross after this and tell them that I need help,” He insisted.
But I wasn’t listening, “I’m not losing you Alex. You’re my best friend! I won’t be able to live with knowing I didn’t even try to help you.” I sobbed into the phone.
“Jade,” Alex warned, “This is a stupid idea. Let the Red Cross come get me.”
“No. I’ll… I’ll be right there,” I said, stammering from shock.
“No, Jade don’t you da…” I hung up before he could even finish his sentence.
Wiping my eyes with the back of my hand, I ran over to the kitchen, pulling on my raincoat, fly-fishing overalls, and grabbed my rainboots.
“Where do you think you’re going?” The high voice of my mother cut me off.
“I’m going to get Alex,” I said, my gold eyes glaring.
“No it is too dangerous,” My father’s deep voice entered the conversation.
“He’s trapped in the attic! What am I supposed to do? Let him die? I’ve known him since we were five. That’s thirteen years. I can’t just sit here and let him die knowing I didn’t do anything to save him,” I cried, tears falling from my gold eyes and I ran towards the door.
My father leaped in front of me, grabbing me by the arms and stopping me. I screamed at him to let me go. I eventually kicked him hard enough to where he let me go and grabbed his stomach instead.
“Jade!” My mother screamed.
I turned to her, my eyes shooting darts towards them and they got the message to stay back.
“I love you,” I said as I opened the door to the flowing river that had appeared on my street.
I heard a sob behind me and knew it was my mother. I wanted to turn around, comfort
her, tell her I’m not going anywhere but I started down the steps instead. My boot connected with the water and I heard a loud plop, the other followed close behind. I took a deep breath and started towards Alex’s house. As I trudged through the chest-deep water I looked around at my surroundings. The once familiar neighborhood was now filled with the smell of sewer tunnels and many of the houses that I had grown up around were already devastated with water flooding in-and-out of the doors and the windows broken. The wind howled around me and rain flattened my black hair.
I made my way up the steps to Alex’s house and pounded on one of the windows, not wanting to open the door and let the water in, even though the house was already flooded.
“That better not be you, Jade!” Alex yelled.
“Yeah well it is. I’m coming in through the window!” I called to him.
“Just come in through the door! It isn’t going to make much of a difference,” He yelled.
As soon as I opened the door, a new wave of water came flooding in. I remembered Alex saying that he was in the attic and moved as quick as I could to the hallway in which the ladder was deployed. I climbed over the masses of furniture and clambered up the ladder to find Alex laying on the floor, a box over his wrist.
“Jade, help me please,” Alex sobbed.
I moved over to him without saying anything, grabbed the edges of the box, and pulled up with all the strength I had. As he shook out his hand and winced, I saw his wrist angled awkwardly and multiple bruises covering his arm.
“Damn,” Alex grumbled under his breath.
“What happened?” I asked him.
“I was trying to turn the generator on and reached under the table to get the on-switch and I knocked the table with my arm, the box was on top and it fell off onto my arm. I couldn’t get out of the way quick enough,” He winced as I reached out to touch his arm, feeling heat radiating off of it.
“Oh Alex,” My gold eyes trained on his pale blue ones.
He blinked and looked down. I knew he was debating whether to go or stay when he suddenly looked up at me, anger lighting his gaze.
“I told you to stay home. You shouldn’t have come and get me,” His blue eyes blazing.
“And I told you that I would never let anything happen to you!” I yelled at him, tears springing to my eyes.
He looked at me, regret showing in his beautiful eyes.
I took a deep breath and said, “Alex. We have to get out of here now. The water is rising too fast and if we don’t leave now…” I didn’t want to finish the sentence and luckily didn’t have to, he got the message.
“Let’s go,” He answered.
I grabbed my phone and called my parents, thank god this thing is waterproof.
“Jade! What happened?” My mother’s voice cried.
“I got to Alex. He was stuck in the attic and I’m pretty sure that his wrist is broken. We are coming back to the house and I need you to do something for us. Go to the front of the house and open both of the windows so that we can get inside without having to go through the front door, because I don’t want to let in any more water. Thank you. I love you. See you soon,” I hung up and put my phone back in the pocket on my left leg.
“You can swim right?” I asked, worry making my voice strain and my eyes tear up.
The water on the street was well above five feet by the time I had finished talking to my mother. We had to go now. I grabbed Alex and pushed him ahead of me.
“Go! Swim towards my house! You’ll make it!” I cried, exhaustion making my whole body feel as if it was made of rocks, weighing it down, making it almost impossible to swim.
As I was swimming, a plank of wood ran directly into my head. I turned to see part of the tree-house Alex and I had made when we were eight. That same tree-house that was built on a small tree about five feet from the ground was now floating down the street. We were so young then, not caring about a thing in the world except for each other. We had nailed planks of wood together to form a little fort hidden in one of the big trees near Alex’s front yard. We also made a rope ladder that turned when we went up it. We even had a fireman’s pole so that we could slide get down quicker. We had spent hours up there during the summer, playing whatever game we could come up with or just talking. During the school year we would do our homework up there and when WiFi became a thing we needed for school work, we could connect to Alex’s house and watch YouTube videos. Now that same tree-house that we had worked so hard on and loved so much was floating down the river on top of Sanibel, broken and destroyed.
We made it almost to my house before darkness started to cloud my vision. My arms began to feel limp and useless. My eyes started watering and my breath was coming out in short rasps. I started to feel light-headed and my body felt as if it was weighed down my one-hundred pound weights, pulling me down into the depths of the murky water. I felt a sharp piece of metal connect with my left leg. I screamed in pure pain and wrenched myself free. Excruciating pain went through me and I was barely able to get back to where my front yard should be.
“Alex, help,” I was able to gasp just as we got to where the fourth step to my house would normally be, except this time it was flooded with dirty, murky water.
He turned around and grabbed me as my body stopped moving and began to sink.
“I’ve got you,” He said as he grabbed me and pulled me with him as he clambered up the steps to my house.
I heard loud steps and my father’s voice yelling at Alex to help him bring me inside. I felt a strong arm wrap around my knees and another one around my neck. They picked me up and brought me inside.. I could barely keep my eyes open as they raced up the stairs to the gameroom. I heard my mother scream when she saw me limp in their arms. I felt the roughness of the fabric on the couch as I got put down, ever so carefully.
“Jade, you have a rather large cut down your left leg. You’re going to be ok,” My father said calmly, even though I could feel his hands trembling.
I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t feel anything. I moved my hand down to where I thought my leg was, but all I could feel was open flesh. Pain shot through me as my fingers touched my leg and I froze up. All I had were my eyes which were trained on where Alex was hugging my mother and staring at me with tears in his eyes. I opened my mouth ever so slightly and was able to ask Alex to come over.
“Thank you for saving me Jade, but I… you… what is going to happen to you?” I felt him move his arm over me to my right shoulder, which was up against the back of the couch.
Tears flowed down my best friend’s cheeks and I responded, “I don’t know Alex. Did you…call the Red Cross?”
“Yes, I called them right after I hung up with you. Just like I told you I would. They are coming to pick us up right now,” He glanced out the window, “Actually. They are here.”
He nodded to my father to come pick me up and we made our to down to the boat in, where I guessed, was the front yard. I felt my father’s arms pick me up once again and carry me downstairs while continuing to tell me that I was going to be fine. I felt the cold wind blow through my hair as he climbed out through the window, leaning on the wall for support. I heard Alex call to the boat and tell them that he was the only one in his house and to come over and help us. My eyes fluttered shut as I heard the boat motor start up and felt cold hands pressing up against my leg. I expected to feel more spikes of pain, but I felt nothing.
A blinding light and violent pain woke me. I found myself in a hospital bed. My parents on one side and Alex on the other. There was a beeping sound somewhere above me. Alex was staring at me intently.
“She’s awake!” He said, joyfully.
“How long was I out?” I asked him.
“Four hours,” He replied.
Alex had a blue cast wrapped around his arm and a bandage covering his shoulder, but he was fine other than that. My parents’ heads snapped up and they stared wide eyed at me and I knew they had been crying.
“Why can’t I feel my left leg anymore?” I cried to my father.
He looked down, tears flowing from his amber eyes.
“Where is it?” I asked in a small, quiet voice.
I looked to Alex and he answered shakily, “It’s… it’s gone. The doctors… they had to remove it or you would’ve died,” He stammered.
It’s gone? But… I looked to my mother with horror.
“Help me sit up please,” I said.
My mother came over to sit behind me and helped me sit up. I reached for my leg, or what was left of it. My mother reached out for me to stop, but I shook her arm off. I lifted the sheets to see that I had nothing below my knee. I swept my legs over the bed so I was sitting facing my father. I heard Alex get up and walk over to where my father was sitting down, never breaking his gaze on me. I heard the doctor walk in and come over to where we were gathered.
“Hello Jade, I see your awake. I’m Dr. Brad,” The young man said, his eyes bright.
“Hi. So what do I do now?”
“Well, you will be here for about three more weeks before you start physical therapy for a few months but I’m sure you will be glad to know that you are going to miss some school,” Dr. Brad said, looking at me with a twinkle in his eye.
“Ugh, school. But wait, it’s my senior year. Will I be able to graduate?” I asked him, worry making my heart race.
“That’s the plan. If you work hard in physical therapy, you will be able to walk on the stage and graduate,” He answered.
“When do I start?” I asked, hope rising in me.
“Whenever you want to.”
“Let’s do this!”