Laura Brearley 2018
The searing pain,
As my skin burns,
The fiery flames,
As agony returns.
Fire on my skin,
Burning my flesh,
As I thresh.
Eating away life,
The flames pierce me,
Like a sharp knife.
I’m beyond pain,
Awaiting my death,
The flames engulf me,
As I take my last breath.
I observe the lake through my binoculars, searching intently. My eyes follow a beautiful, white swan, as it glides across the surface of the water gracefully. The water vibrates, and ripples, stirring from the disturbance in the water. Gradually, the water stills, making the river resemble a sheet of glass.
I shift my attention back to the swan, as it continues to swim downstream so effortlessly. The magical creature seems to radiate a sense of supremacy and magnificence. The swan composes its head proudly on its impressive, arched neck, as I watch in awe.
I see this display every day, yet it never loses its brilliance, and astonishes me every time.
Its gorgeously positioned head sits on top of its exquisite, curved neck. Its feathers look illuminated, because the sun reflects into the many drops of dew covering the milky, white feathers.
The majestic swan glides over to a jungle of reeds that are bunched together by the edge of the river.
The swan swims out of sight, and full of curiosity, I reposition myself onto higher ground for a better view. I adjust my binoculars, and zoom in. I spot the swan attending to four balls of fluff in a nest made of reeds.
My heart feels heavy as I look at the tiny cygnets in adoration.
I’ve seen so many swans this year. This is so because I have established an association to protect swans.
Since the incident twenty years ago with Ernie and Raymond, I was motivated to protect swans. So I created the Protection of Swans Association, commonly known as P.O.S.A. My wife, Alice, has assisted me through this procedure.
I stare proudly at the family of swans, happy that they will have a full, content life, unlike the swan Ernie shot back in the day.
My face falls instantly, the thought of Ernie brings back terrible memories. I feel a sudden surge of fear, as I wonder where Ernie is now. I know Raymond died of cancer a couple of years back, but what about Ernie?
What if he is watching me right now? I look around me, suddenly feeling paranoid. I unexpectedly feel really unsafe, and can’t stand being alone, standing by the river where the swan was shot without mercy twenty years ago. I never quite recovered from that experience. I still have nightmares, waking up sweating nervously and whimpering in fear.
My hands shaking, I take the binoculars off my head, and place them carefully into its case. I stuff it into my bag quickly, and swing it over my back. With a last glance at the swan, I rush through the bird sanctuary to my house.
I spot it. Seeing the rosy red roof sitting atop the rest of the brick house painted white, the paint peeling. It once was a bird watching shed, but I modified it to fit all the features of a modern day house.
My wife and I have been living here since we were engaged a year ago. I smile at the memory of seeing her walk so beautifully down the aisle. Her white flowing dress dragging along the red carpet littered with white rose petals. Her enchanting smile as she spoke her vows…
I get snapped back to reality as I remember my current situation. Where is Ernie?
I realise how much I fear him. How much I despise his malicious face and menacing smile. His dark forbidding eyes that would give anyone nightmares. I sometimes wonder how that monster is still gripping onto humanity.
Now desperate for the sanctuary of my house, I give up walking, and run towards the door like my life depends on it. I reach the door, and turn the brass handle frantically. I rush into the house, and slam the door, locking it.
Panting, I walk into the dining room and chuck my bag onto the table carelessly. Still feeling nervous, I crave the warmth and comfort of a cup of coffee. So I search through the pantry, finally finding the coffee beans, and crush them, imagining Ernie’s face. Angry, I crush the beans with unnecessary force, smashing them so viciously that they became powder within seconds.
Breathing hard, I reluctantly stop crushing the beans, and put them in a white mug. I pour the milk in, and turn the kettle on.
After a few minutes, I pour some boiled water in the cup, then sip it slowly, not noticing the scorching hot drink burning my tongue. I take the mug off my lips and place it on the table, my hands trembling.
Why am I so scared? I have not seen him for twenty years. I have never been this frightened since that day. Ernie could be in another country for all I know. Yet I feel so intimidated by him. But why now? I thought I finally overcome my fear of him. I thought the memory of him was not so daunting anymore. But no, it has returned.
Something inside me seems to snap. I need to know, I realise. I must find out where Ernie is. I have no idea why this sudden obsession has overtaken me, but I don’t question it. Without thinking, I take my computer out of my bag, and begin to research.
I scan the files at the police station website, expecting to find some record about Ernie misbehaving. But I could not find anything. But there must be something. I look again, and find a file I must have overlooked. Full of curiosity, I open the file, and my heart stops. At the top of the page were two letters in bold that sends a chill down my spine.
I freeze, staring at the picture under the name. It is Ernie. My heartbeat quickens, and I exhale, releasing the breath I didn’t know I was holding. I feel frightened yet excited at I scroll down the page. I read his numerous crimes listed, covering two whole pages.
Abusive manner to children. Explicate swearing directed towards the police. Stealing a car. Knocking down an elderly woman purposely. The list went on and on. I look at the dates, and my face falls. These dates were old, from twenty years ago, some even longer. Disappointed, I close the file, and shut my computer, feeling unsuccessful.
I sigh, and hear the front door slam. I jump, the sudden noise in the silent house scaring me. I turn around in my chair and smile. My wife, Alice, smiles back, it is definitely one of her best features. But her most exquisite characteristics is her powerful, blue eyes, shining inquisitively. Her hair is blonde, curling beautifully around her heart shaped face.
How did I end up with a woman like her? I wonder, staring at her passionately. We met at university when we were both studying ornithology, a science devoted to birds.
“Hi Peter, you’re home early,” she greets me, and kisses my cheek.
“Yeah,” my voice shakes, and I try to hide the tremor, but without success, “Had to research some stuff.” She frowns, her brow creasing with concern. “Are you okay?” Alice asks, looking at me with concern, “You’re very pale, and awfully quiet, it just isn’t like you.”
“I’m okay,” I mumble, attempting to hide my emotions by smiling weakly.
“Now we both now that smile is fake,” Alice looks at me unconvincingly, and sits down next to me, “Now what is bothering you?” I sigh, I have never been able to keep my emotions to myself when Alice is around. I give in, and reply, “To be honest, it’s about Ernie.” A shadow dawns on Alice’s face, and frowns in disgust. “You mean that horrid man who did awful things to you when you were a child? I thought you were over him,” she asks.
“So did I,” I frown, “But suddenly I feel like finding out where he is, and what he has been doing all these years.”
Alice glares at me disapprovingly, “Peter Watson! As your wife, I can have a say in what is right for you, and I say you should not go seeking that man. He has done enough damage already.” She stares at me stubbornly, daring me to disagree. I raise my hands in submission, accepting that my childish phase of Ernie had to end. “Whatever you say,” I smile.
“Now,” Alice bustles over to the kitchen and opens the fridge, staring at the contents thoughtfully, “How does salmon and salad sound for dinner?”
“Delicious,” I reply.
“Oh goody,” Alice claps her hands enthusiastically, “I’ll start right away.”
I hardly notice as Alice scurries around the kitchen preparing the meal, my mind is on other things.
Even after promising Alice I won’t do any more digging, I can’t help but think about him. How has his life been? Is he in jail? Has he changed? But the most important question that continuously pops in my head, is: where is he?
What if I walk past him every day and didn’t notice? Could he be following me everywhere? Is he watching me right now? Planning to attack when I least expect it.
My skin tingles, and I look around anxiously, expecting to see Ernie’s wicked face watching me through the window.
I shake my head. I’m being too paranoid, I tell myself judgmentally. But what if all my fears are true? I push away the thought, trying not to let it terrorise me. I need to forget about it. I need to stop being afraid. I need to let it go.
The pain in my stomach is overpowering. The aching sensation feels like acid ripping a hole through me, dissolving my flesh and bone slowly and painfully. It’s torture. I moan in anguish, the pain in tormenting. I clutch my stomach in agony, and I double over, nausea and dizzy spells making my head spin.
I have felt these pains many times before. They are all too familiar. I am hungry. I am starving.
This is my life now. I am homeless, broke and unemployed. No one wants to employ a man with a criminal record of many horrible things including attempted murder. I have been turned down for so many jobs that I’ve lost count. I have given up on trying. No one wants to employ me.
Since I have never gotten a job, I haven’t earned a single penny to pay for food and water. I will never have a house, I realise. I might not even be alive tomorrow. I’ll probably die from one of the many things that threaten to take my life every day. Starvation, dehydration, sickness and exposure.
I stare up at the sky blankly, not caring at all. Who cares if I die? I think darkly. No one loves me. No one has loved me ever. Even my own father. Possibly even Raymond.
I bow my head in misery.
I am sitting on a bench opposite to the line of shops, people bustling back and forth. The bench is also next to the road, and the sound of traffic is deafening. I smell car exhaustions, and I grimace in disgust at the terrible odour.
Since being convicted of attempted murder twenty years ago, life has been tough. After getting out of jail five years after, I have been roaming the streets.
I remember Peter’s overjoyed face in court when the judge said I was guilty. I remember how much hatred I felt inside. An immense burning in my throat, as I scowled at him.
I shake my head, discarding the memory. I need to forget about him, I promised myself to change. I take a deep breath, and sigh.
I spot something in the corner of my eye, and I turn my head to investigate. A half-eaten subway lies on the pavement, perfectly intact. I smile, full of excitement. I scurry over to the sandwich, and stuff it into my mouth, eating like my life depended on it, and it probably did.
The deep ache in my abdomen begins to subside, as food enters my empty stomach. Feeling relieved, I stop scoffing the subway, and eat it slowly, savouring the taste.
Wonderful flavours explode in my mouth. Beautiful tender chicken skims across my tongue, and a burst of taste melts in my mouth. I also taste tomato, cucumber, lettuce and aioli.
Before I know it, I have finished it, and I return to my bench, my hunger not quite satisfied, yet the ache in my stomach has diminished.
I try to sleep, but I can’t help but notice the unsympathetic stares pointed at me. When people see me, they walk past hastily, glancing quickly, before looking away, embarrassed and scared. Some stare in pity, then look away in disgust.
I don’t blame them. I am not a pretty sight.
My hair is greasy and unwashed, grey hairs already appearing within the rest of the brown locks. A long, scruffy beard hangs off my chin, stopping at my chest. Grime and dirt cover my face and skin, making it obvious I haven’t washed in a while. My clothes are dirty and ripped, since I have worn the same outfit for fifteen years. I stink of odour and car fumes, including a couple of other unidentified smells. No wonder everyone avoids me.
I look around, feeling lost and helpless. There’s nowhere I can go. No one wants me. No one cares. I’ll never have a family, or settle down. Never have a place to call home.
I am hardly aware of the tears streaking down my grimy face. I ignore the people staring, and cry my heart out.
I’m so lonely. The only person who is still alive and knows me is Peter. Little, innocent Peter.
An idea pops into my head, and I frown. What if Peter could forgive me? Maybe we could start over. I need a friend. I need company. I don’t care if it’s the person who got me into jail for five years.
Hope pumps through my veins. Even though the chance of making Peter forgive me, let alone find him, is small, I am still desperate to try. I grasp onto the tiny slither of hope, hoping I can hold on, and not fall down, deeper than where I am now. But the tiniest possibly is enough to make me attempt to find Peter.
Beginning my journey to find Peter, I stand up, full of energy and confidence, and walk over to a person standing at the bus stop, looking impatient.
He is a stout man in what looks like his thirties. He is completely bald except for a tiny horseshoe around the bottom of his head. He is wearing a suit, and is sending off a vibe of someone important and with authority. When he notices me, he crinkles his nose in disgust, staring with disapproval.
“Mr, can I ask you a question?” I ask.
“Why would I waste my time talking to someone…” the man hesitates, trying to find the right word, “… of your class.”
“It’s real important,” I reply desperately.
“Fine,” the man responds reluctantly, “But make it quick.”
“Do ya know anything ‘bout a guy named Peter Watson?” I question inquisitively.
“Ah yes,” recognition glinting in the portly man’s eyes, “I believe I have done business with him.”
“Well, I was wondering where he might be?” I enquire curiously.
“He lives and works at the Emerald Bird Sanctuary, the home base for the Protection of Swans Association,” the man informs.
“Thanks for the information,” I acknowledge.
“Now shoo,” he waves his hand as if he were swatting a fly, “You’ve wasted more than enough of my time.” The man turns away, so I assume he is not willing to talk to me anymore, therefore the conversation is over.
I walk away, but don’t go back to my park bench. Instead I keep walking, somehow knowing the way. I am going home. To my home town. Where I was born.
I remember the day I shot multiple birds in the sanctuary. Shot the swan. Shot Peter.
I grimace. My life changed in that place. I can’t believe I did such disgusting things.
I push the memory from my mind, and only think about one thing. Going home. Going to the bird sanctuary. Finding Peter.
I wake up to the bright sun illuminating its magnificent glow across my face, arousing me from my slumber. Squinting, I open my eyes, and yawn. I didn’t get much sleep because the night was full of restless dreams and nightmares of Ernie and the swan. Many times during the night I woke up, sweating and shaking.
Reluctantly, I get out of bed, feeling very tired. Alice has already left, probably checking on the family of swans that lack a father.
I get changed mechanically, my movements automatic, and without thought. After eating honey on toast for breakfast, I walk out of the house with my satchel. I make my way to the river, craving the solitude and peace.
It seems really quiet this morning. The crickets are absent, and nothing seems to stir the river. The reeds are completely still, for there is no breeze to disturb them. The water’s surface lacks ripples, as it seems that there is nothing to make a disruption to the perfectly still water. The blue, cloudless sky reflects into the water, making it seem unnaturally blue.
I sigh and smile, enjoying the tranquility and serenity. The silence is broken at the sound of footsteps behind me, crunching dried leaves and green grass covered in dew. I tense, frozen in fear. Who is behind me?
I turn slowly, fearing to reveal the face. I stare at the man standing there, gaping in horror.
I back away in fear, remembering how he treated and threatened me. How he killed all those birds, including the swan. How he tied me to the train track without mercy, a malicious grin on his face. How he shot me without thought, without feeling, without emotion.
I stifle a scream as I prepare to run. I continue to back away, not trusting to look away from my most hated enemy. He watches me withdraw from him, a sense of hopelessness on his face. “Wait!” Ernie calls gruffly, his face straining. I try to reply, but I do not trust myself to speak, fearing that my unshed tears will fall. Realising that I am not going to respond, Ernie keeps talking, “I know I did bad things to you, and I regret it. I don’t blame ya that you were mad. I guess what I’m trying to say is… is I’m sorry for the trouble I’ve caused ya, and I am wondering whether you’ll forgive me?”
I can’t stand it anymore, and I snap. “What do you mean you’re sorry?!” I scream, “You don’t even have emotions! You don’t care about anyone or anything! You’re a bloody monster! I’ll never forgive you! I hate you! I HATE YOU!!!”
Tears fall down Ernie’s stunned face, grief and depression hitting him like a punch in the gut. Unable to endure it anymore, he turns around and runs. I watch him run away, feeling a tinge of guilt. But I push the emotion away, only feeling anger. How could I ever forgive him? Or can I forgive him? Am I too afraid to do it?
I stare uncertainly after Ernie, watching him disappear out of sight. Once I can see him no longer, I force myself to follow, feeling reluctant. My moment of anger and lack of control disappears, and is immediately replaced by shame. With a sigh, I walk towards where Ernie disappeared, my anger hardly noticeable for my body has been taken over by guilt.
I run up the grassy hill, following the disturbed ground that Ernie’s feet dug up. The footsteps stay by the river, not going inland at all. Suddenly, I see a big tree by the river, its branches hanging over the water, its leaves brushing the surface. I instantly recognise the tree. It’s the tree Ernie shot me in twenty years ago. I shiver in dread, the memory feeling fresh.
Then I see him.
He is in the top of the tree, looking down at the river blankly. He is going to jump. I realise in horror. “Don’t do it, Ernie,” I yell, a sudden burst of wind dulling my shout. But he still heard it. “Why should you care?” He spits cruelly, “You didn’t seem to care before.”
“I’m sorry about before,” I apologise truthfully, “I didn’t mean to say what I said.”
“Why should I forgive you when you didn’t forgive me? Why should I give you a second chance? You never did,” Ernie replies angrily, shuffling closer to the end of the branch.
“Please Ernie,” I strain my face, “Don’t do this.”
“Why? There’s nothing in this world that I wouldn’t want to die for. I have nothing,” Ernie stares into the distance miserably, “Why should I live?”
“Because you still have a whole lot of adventure ahead of you,” I explain, “You have so much more to live for.” I start climbing the tree, clinging onto knobs and grabbing branches. “Come down,” I plead, reaching the top of the tree, sitting on the branch next to Ernie. I hold out my hand, expecting Ernie to take it. But instead he shakes his head, and slips off the tree smoothly, plummeting towards the black, forbidding water.
“Ernie!” I scream.
Without thinking, I jump after him, making myself as straight as possible, waiting for the impact. I finally hit the water, and I go completely under. My feet smash into the rocks at the bottom of the river, and pain shoots up my leg and I wince. Favouring my left leg, I swim downstream, the current doing most of the work. I see Ernie’s head bobbing on top of the water, unconscious, four metres in front of me. I swim as fast as I can towards him, and grab his arm. My head gets pushed under water, but I push it back up, taking in a gulp of air. I hold Ernie’s head above the water, struggling to keep my own head above the surface. We are being washed downstream at a phenomenal speed, the trees and brush on the shore rushing pass in a blur.
I need to get to shore.
I try to find some ground under me, but it’s too deep. I attempt to swim to shore, but the process is slow, and I keep being pushed back into the middle of the river. The water is cold, and I am shivering uncontrollably. I will not be surprised if I die from hyperthermia before I drown.
I keep trying to swim to shore but it’s hopeless. The current is too powerful, and I am too weak. My grip on Ernie is weakening, and I am struggling to hold on. Suddenly a strong current pushes me under, and Ernie loosens out of my grasp.
I try to swim back to the surface, but I am being pulled down to the bottom of the river. A rock on the bottom bashes into my ribs and I scream in pain, bubbles emerging from my mouth. The agonising pain is excruciating, and I nearly black out. I long for air, and my lungs feel like they are going to explode. The lack of oxygen and the pain in my ribs makes me feel woozy, and blackness eats away at my vison.
I’m fading. Fading. Fading.
No! I must live! With the sudden urgency to survive, I kick off the bottom of the river with my good leg, and my head emerges from the river, breaking through the surface of the water. I splutter, coughing water out of my system. I take in a deep breath with relief, my lungs need satisfied. I look around in panic, looking for Ernie. Then I spot him up ahead, floating on top of the water. Suddenly, he sinks out of sight, and I stare in horror.
I dive down after him, opening my eyes. The cold water stings my eyes, but I do not care. I go after Ernie’s blurry shape sinking to the bottom of the river. I continue to swim down, with hardly any breath left. I grab for Ernie’s wrist and swim up. I gasp in a breath of air, feeling gratified, and hold Ernie’s head above the water. I do not know if he is still breathing, and I do not want to know.
A fallen tree is in the river, and I swim towards it desperately. I use all my energy I have left to overpower the river’s current, and grab onto the log. I hold on desperately, not caring about the splinters that tear into my skin. I lift Ernie onto the log, then lift myself onto it, finally out of the water. The cold wind blows onto my wet body, making me even more freezing. I push Ernie and myself across the log, and onto land. Exhausted, I collapse, and cough up water eagerly, my body spasming.
I look over to Ernie. His face is pale and his lips are blue. I feel his skin. It’s cold.
I freeze. Is he dead? I place my fingers on his wrist feeling for a pulse. Nothing. Is Ernie really dead?
Suddenly I feel a faltering flutter. A pulse. It’s weak, but it is there. I sigh in relief, but realise that he is not breathing. Panicked, I begin to thump his chest rapidly. “Come on, Ernie. Come on,” I mumble desperately. I put my mouth to his lips, and exhale, pinching his nose. I then continue to do CPR, thumping his chest. I breathe into his mouth again, still making no progress. Tears fall down my face. This is all my fault. Why did I have to lash out like that? Why was I so angry?
I stop thumping his chest, and respire into his mouth before doing it all over again. I do it again and again without prevail. “Come on, Ernie. Don’t give up,” I mutter anxiously.
I have to do this. I care about Ernie, despite what happened in the past. He deserves to live. To have a life. Not to die.
I continue the CPR with detirmination, and with one finale push, I bring down my hands and give it my all.
Water gushes out of Ernie’s mouth, and he coughs and splutters. He gasps in air, and opens his eyes. He looks around in confusion, then focuses his vision onto my triumphant face.
“Peter,” Ernie wheezes.”
“Are you okay?” I ask worryingly.
“Yeah,” his voice shakes.
“I thought you would never wake up,” I say apprehensively.
“You saved my life,” Ernie acknowledges, and hugs me awkwardly, “Thanks.”
“Well don’t thank me yet,” I reply fretfully, “We are both cold, and dreadfully lost.” I look at my left leg that has been throbbing painfully, and see my ankle is swollen and purple from bruising. It’s probably broken. Ernie follows my gaze, and looks at my ankle pitifully. “I can’t really walk, I think it’s broken,” I say. I touch my ribs gingerly, and groan in pain. A rock bashed into them while I was being washed downstream. They are also probably broken. Ernie frowns, “I think I know where we are.”
“You do?” My face brightens up hopefully.
“Yeah, my house from when I was a boy is near here,” Ernie looks around, recognition in his eyes, “I used to practice ‘ere with me shotgun.”
“Let’s go there and see if anyone can help,” I say.
“Okay,” Ernie stands up and supports me. I hop along, leaning on Ernie’s shoulder, and trying not to let my sore ribs touch him. We walk for ten minutes before I spot an old house, black smoke billowing out of the chimney. Someone must live there. As I near, I can smell mould and wood shavings.
Finally, we reach the house, and Ernie knocks on the door. I hear footsteps that come closer and closer. Then the squeak of the door knob as it is turned. The door opens, creaking loudly, revealing the person behind it. I stare at the familiar face, a ghost of my past. Ernie and I open our mouths in shock.
He stares at us as though he is as shocked to see us as we are shocked to see him. “Well that’s a sight I thought I’ll never see,” Raymond smiles amusingly, “Ernie helping Peter.”
“But…” Ernie stares at Raymond confusingly, ignoring his comment, “You’re dead. You died of cancer. I went to your funeral…”
“It was all a scam. I faked my death so I’ll live a life of peace and solitude,” Raymond grins.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Ernie asks.
“I didn’t want you to worry ‘bout me. I wanted everyone to forget me so I can go on with my life without anyone intruding or interrupting,” Raymond explains, then looks down at me and I shiver, “What’s little Peter doing ‘ere. And why are you both drenched? Gone for a swim have ya?”
“I fell in the river, and Peter saved me from drowning,” Ernie explains, leaving out the fact that he fell in the river on purpose, hoping that it would end it all.
“Well you don’t say,” Raymond looks at me curiously, “Are you guys besties now?”
“Kind of,” I mumble, shivering from the cold and pain.
“Then you’re welcome,” Raymond states overenthusiastically, “Come inside, you must be freezing.” Relieved, I limp into the warm house with the help of Ernie, and sit down on a chair by the fire. The heat washes over me, and I sigh. Ernie sits down beside me, and rubs his hands together. Raymond watches us, and sighs with envy. “What have you been doing all these years?” Ernie asks Raymond.
“I don’t know. Stuff,” Raymond shrugs.
“I bet it gets lonesome,” I say. Raymond nods, sadness from the years of isolation in his eyes. A sudden wave of nausea and pain makes me double over, and I fall off my chair. My ankle and ribs are aching, and sore, throbbing painfully. My head aches terribly and I cringe in anguish. “Peter,” I hear Ernie say. But I can’t process the words. The world is fading too fast. Suddenly everything goes black.
I stare at Peter’s limp body troublingly. “He needs a doctor, call the ambulance,” I demand.
Raymond shakes his head, “I can’t.”
“What do you mean you can’t? Do you not have a phone?” I ask.
“No, I have a phone,” Raymond assures me.
“Then what is it?” I query.
“They’ll find me, I can’t let them know I’m alive,” Raymond explains.
“Then what do we do?” I inquire.
“Call them and say you’re by Emerald River, I’ll then help you carry Peter to the river. They can find you there,” Raymond explains.
“Okay,” I say, and Raymond calls 000, telling them ‘where they are’, and what the injury is. After hanging up, he helps me carry Peter down to the River. I am holding his arms, and Raymond is gripping onto his legs. Finally we get to the river, and we put Peter down gently on the grassy bank. I hear an ambulance siren blaring loudly, and Raymond looks around nervously. “I need to leave,” Raymond says, looking at Ernie sadly.
“Why can’t you stay with me? Not live alone,” I offer.
“No, I can’t. I’m meant to live alone. So no one can judge me,” Raymond looks at me miserably, “I wish things could be different.” Unable to say goodbye, Raymond looks away, and walks hastily back to his home. Back to his lonely life.
The ambulance appears, and doctors get a stretcher out of the back of the vehicle. They lift Peter’s unconscious body onto it, and lift him into the ambulance. One of the female medical staff look at me and ask, “Are you okay? You seem pale.”
“Well I kind of drowned half an hour ago, but Peter revived me. He dived in after me after I fell into the river. He saved my life, and nearly took his own,” I retell the story.
“That’s very heroic,” she smiles, then frowns, “And you need to rest. You need to be hospitalised as well. Drowning takes a lot of your energy.”
“Okay,” I say, and she turns away. I grab her shoulder, stopping her. “Is he going to be okay?” I ask.
“Yes, he will be fine,” she smiles encouragingly, and I feel relieved. I go into the back of the ambulance with Peter, and stare out of the window, watching the ground zoom by as the ambulance speeds towards the hospital.
I smile with relief. Peter was going to be okay. I look at Peter’s peaceful body and sigh. I bend over his face, and whisper into his ear, “I forgive you.”
Peter stirs and smiles, then croaks quietly, “So do I.”