There they were, just as we suspected. All the mothers in the neighborhood were down at the end of the dirt road lined up between the weeds of the dry canal and the weeds along the path. They looked like they were going to play a game of “Red Rover” except they were standing with hands on hips looking like a pack of wild rhinos ready to charge. No mistake, they were mad and we knew it!
The day had started out quite sunny and bright. Some of my friends were playing in the backyard and after a while we started to get board. “Let’s take a walk down the back trail and pretend we are pirates on an adventure,” Glenda said as she pulled her brown hair into a short pony tail.
We had been warned more than once by our mothers, about the big canal that ran beside the trail. But, today the canal had no water. It was completely dry. So we decided it would be alright to walk this way to the ball field.
I ran into the house to grab a mitt, bat, and ball. I yelled to mom, “We’re going to the ball field to practice baseball for a while.”
I heard my mom yell, “O.K. Don’t be too late.” Then off we ran. Now we could have gone around the long way to the field, but going down the back trail would be faster.
As we got to the field, a game was already started and we knew the older boys would not let a bunch of girls play. “Hey,” said Sandy, “Let’s just walk down to the apple tree at the end of the lane.”
“You know that’s too close to the river. My parents would shoot me.” I replied.
“We could just get some apples and then come back. Maybe by then the boys will be finished with the field,” Glenda said.
This time it was Danielle who responded “I guess that won’t hurt will it? I love the green apples.”
I thought to myself, it won’t hurt unless our moms find out. In the end we all agreed to go.
When we got to the tree, it was full of apples alright. Every branch was laden with the light green fruit. After picking a few, we sat down under the tree, leaned back against the trunk and started eating. The apples were large enough that they were more sweet than sour, but I felt my mouth pucker a little anyway. For a few minutes all we could hear was the crunch of crispy apples. A person can only eat about four or five before their mouth gives out. It seems when you eat them each apple gets more and more sour.
“It won’t hurt to go down to the river from here,” said Glenda as she started climbing up the branches of the apple tree. “It doesn’t look very deep from here. Please!” Her eyes look right at me as if I was the only one who had to give permission.
Again I agreed even though my thoughts said, you really shouldn’t do that.
We could hear the river before we got to it. I hesitated to spoil our fun, but I was having second thoughts. “It sounds kind of loud today. I think we should turn around and go back to the ball field.” I said.
“Fine you just stay here and we will go without you!” stomped Sandy, shaking her red hair. Her hair always seemed brighter when she was showing her temper.
Danielle must have felt the same as I did because she said, “I’ll stay too.”
It wasn’t more than five minutes before we could hear Sandy and Glenda laughing. We heard a loud plunk. “Let’s find a bigger one,” they laughed. After which another plunk was heard. We heard giggling and some splashing, just before hearing a loud scream, “Help me!” Then another scream,
'Maybe they are playing a trick on us, but we can’t just sit here!” I yelled as I grabbed Danielle’s hand. “We have to go see. What if they are really in trouble? Let’s go.”
When we got there we could see Sandy pulling a big stick over to the river. “Hang on, I’m coming,” Sandy yelled. We saw Glenda as her hands slipped down the thin tree limb taking off the leaves along the way. Then we heard the biggest splash telling us that Glenda was now in the water.
She was having a hard time keeping her head above the water. Her head went down under the water more than once. We ran further down-stream. I saw that brown pony tail near the top of the water and leaned out to grab hold of it only slowing the movement of Glenda’s body for a moment but, it was enough for Sandy to hold the branch out over the water just far enough for Glenda to grab hold. Both Sandy and I were almost pulled into the water with her. I held on to that pony tail and Sandy held the branch and by sheer luck she was able to get to the side of the river and grab a solid branch of a tree to hold on to. “Hold on tight.” “Don’t let go,” we yelled.
I don’t think she could hear us but, she did manage to hold on. The two of us could barely pull her out of the river. She lay on the grass grasping for breath. She choked and coughed a few times. Water came out of her mouth with force like when someone is throwing up. Then at last she started to breathe.
All this time Danielle was standing shivering with fear. She was so afraid of water that she was still standing back away from the danger. However, she was close enough to see all that happened. And as soon as we new Glenda was out of the water, Danielle started to cry.
“Let’s go home. I’m cold,” said Sandy before she started to cry too. Soon, there we were all standing by the side of the river crying like babies and hugging each other.
Then Glenda said, “I can’t go home wet like this. My mom will know where we were. Look at me! My blouse is ripped my legs and arms are scraped and I have a cut on my forehead.”
“Let’s at least walk back to the ball field where we can dry off while we think of what to do.” Danielle said. “At least we will be away from the river.”
So that is what we did. Glenda sat out in the sun and dried out a little bit while I turned the end of my shirt up and wiped the blood off of her head. “It isn’t too bad just a scrape really,” I said. “You’re going to be all right.”
We stayed for a little too long trying to dry out. Maybe we should have walked home the long way from the ball field, but in our haste to make up time, once again, we took the trail.
That’s when we saw them. All the mothers lined up with their hands on their hips. I knew we were in for a good spanking. “I’ll be grounded for a month,” said Danielle.
Sandy replied, “Yeah, if I live that long.”
Glenda whispered low so our mom’s wouldn’t hear, “Just remember, it won’t be as bad as if I was still in the river.”
She was right. Mother Nature had given us a good scare. She had taught us a better reason to stay away from the river than our mothers ever could. “Let’s go get it over with,” I said.