Family, Fiction, Health and wellbeing, Melbourne, Parenting, Relationship and marriage, Writing

Scare at the Lake

Fetch me the blanket,’ I say to Jack.

Our son, Stefan, is shivering. His face is pale, his skin tinged with blue. I gather the old rug around his body, pull him in close to me. Kiss his damp, salty forehead and let my lips linger there.

My heart burst apart when I saw him drowning in the lake. Jack and I had only taken our eyes off him for a second. The commotion, the cacophony of sounds coming from the bank made us sit up and take notice.

There in the shallow end, someone was pulling Stefan from the water. His body limp; his head flopped about like a rag doll.

‘Jack! It’s Stefan,’ I yelled, scrambling to my feet.

He was already up and running, kicking sand into my eyes.

Stefan was on his side, coughing up dirty water, as we reached him. The man who’d saved him hovering over him. ‘Ya gotta watch ’em. All the time.’

I lowered my head. He was right. He was. Jack and I had been kissing on the rug while our scampering, runaround little toddler wandered off to the water’s edge. We hadn’t known.

‘Thank you for saving our boy,’ I said. Admonished. Embarrassed. I couldn’t look the man in the eye.

He shook his head. Walked off.

Now, much of the crowd is gone. Some in the water. Dusk settles over the lake, turning it a crimson pink and the air is turning chilly. But we’re still here, Stefan shaking and limp. ‘Should we call the ambulance, Jack?’

Someone had offered earlier, but we’d assured them Stefan would be fine. I think we may have been too hasty.

‘Nah, look. He’s coming around.’

There is some pink returning to his cheeks. His eyes flutter open, then as if they are made of lead, he closes them again.

‘Jack, I’m really worried.’ I’m holding Stefan so close. Hoping my body warms him, that he can feel my heart beat, like he did when he was forming inside me, and it will be enough.

‘If you’re worried, call an ambulance.’ He stares off into the distance. ‘Or, maybe we can just take him ourselves to the ED.’ His gaze comes back to Stefan, lingers on him. Tears fill his eyes before he looks at me. ‘Let’s go. Just to be certain.’

I hold Stefan as he quickly packs our things. He’s shoving the sandy blanket in our picnic hamper. Ordinarily, I chafe at that, but I stare and realise these little things don’t matter. Stefan. He’s all that matters.

Photo by Philipp Schneidenbach on Unsplash

6 thoughts on “Scare at the Lake”

  1. If this had been a billabong in the Top End, the parents might have lost their toddler to a freshie (freshwater crocodile) which are not as dangerous as a salty (saltwater crocodile) but can still kill a child or small companion animal.
    Good to read that Stefan survived, and the parents learnt a valuable lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

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