The Whirlpool This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

About three years ago I went on a river rafting trip with my scout troop in northern Utah.

The first day was a blast, paddling through huge rapids and whirlpools. Every now and then someone would fall out of the raft.

On the second day, as we came to the rapids, we all held on tightly and powered through the whitewater, avoiding rocks and huge drop-offs.

Then our raft hit a big hole, forcing it almost straight up and drenching us. The hardest part was at the end of the rapids. Our captain chose to steer to the right because there was a sharp boulder to the left and he did not want our vessel to pop. We were getting tossed around like rag dolls in a tornado, but this is what makes it so much fun. As I helped the group push through the rapids, I noticed a small waterfall ahead.

I thought this would be a heart-pumping thrill to end the run. Well, it was heart-pumping all right. At the bottom of the waterfall our boat folded in half, and I was sucked out the back. A wave hit me and I disappeared.

I was not prepared, so my mouth was half full with water and half with air. The whirlpool pulled me almost to the bottom of the river. There it tossed me around before letting go. When it finally released me, it pulled a very dangerous trick. Normally, when someone falls out in the rapids, the others in the raft keep going down the river (unless they can pull you back in quickly). But for me, the raft did not continue, nor was I helped back in.

Instead the whirlpool held onto the raft so that it remained directly over me! As I floated up, I hit something. I opened my eyes and found that my stomach was touching the bottom of the raft. I realized this when I saw the yellow material. There was light coming through the raft, and I could see dark spots where people’s feet were.

At this point, I started to panic. When I tried to escape, I was pulled back under the raft by the whirlpool. I could not push down to give myself distance from the raft to swim out from underneath it, because my life jacket was keeping me afloat. I remember struggling to get free, shouting and trying to breathe. Instead water rushed into my mouth. I started to black out. I thought I was going to die.

Then, as if an angel came to my rescue, I saw a paddle dip into the water next to me. I made one last effort and reached as far as I could. My hand clamped on with a death grip. Suddenly my body was jerked out from under the raft so quickly I thought my arms would pop out of their sockets.

When my head came out of the water, my mouth was trying to suck in more air than it was capable of. I held onto the side of the boat. I was so shaken up that I hardly noticed someone grabbing my life jacket and pulling me in. As I sat in the boat, still shocked by what had happened, I saw everyone staring at me. I could see their lips moving and knew they were trying to talk to me, but all I could hear were muffled, incoherent sounds. I didn’t care. I was grateful to be alive.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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CaseyLeigh This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 8, 2009 at 3:29 pm
This piece both terrified and amazed me, and I held onto every word. Amazing job! :]
Let_It_Be replied...
Jul. 9, 2010 at 7:16 pm
i completely agree. that wuld b rely scary!
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