Joann looked down at the crystal blue lake, its slight waves almost lulling her into a trance from the dock. "Come on squirt. Just jump on it. You'll be fine. We all jumped in. You watched us. Now come on or you can go back to the house."
Joann's sister was older than her by 5 years making her think she could boss Joann around any time. Amber had just turned 13 three weeks ago. The whole "I am now a teen" thing went right to Amber's head and she had been nearly unbearable to be around.
"Quit calling me squirt." Joann objected. "You know I don't like being called that. Why do you have to be so mean to me?"
"Just jump then. Sheesh." Amber chided.
"Stop being a baby, Joann," came the voice of Eric, Amber's newest boyfriend. He was on the football team, which automatically put Amber in with the popular kids. Funny how that worked. Eric was also on the swim team. This meant that should anything happen to Joann when she jumped in, he would be strong enough to help her back to shore if need be. Joann knew this but still hesitated.
"Let's just leave her behind," called out Maryann. One of Amber's newest popular friends. She was head football cheerleader. Apparently that means she is important for some strange reason. She was the typical looking cheerleader with her blonde hair up in a pony tail that swung side to side when she walked. She liked to flip that pony tail anytime she was annoyed or thought she was better than anyone else. She tried to do that now but her drenched locks wouldn't allow much of a swing.
Amber splashes water up at Joann. "Come on. There's nothing to be afraid of. We are all here to help you learn to swim if you need the help. The best thing to do is to just jump in and go from there. We won't let anything happen to you. Now either jump or go back to the house."
Joann trembled on the wooden deck, unsure of why she was so scared. "I can't do it Amber. I'm too scared."
"Then just go back to the house baby sister. We are swimming out to the island.
Joann loved the island. Dad used to take her out on the row boat every summer. Dad had set up a nice picnic area in the clearing in the center of the island. It was so peaceful there. She had even seen deer there before. How they got there, Joann had no idea. She didn't care though as long as she got to see them. Mom had decorated the picnic area with flowers, making it more of a garden than picnic area. Mom loved her flowers. Joann could remember all the vibrant purples, reds, and yellows. It was stunning. It was her favorite place to go.
Joann turned to head back to the house with a sigh. She really wanted to get out to the island and see how many of mom's flowers are still in bloom. She turned back around and stared down the lake. She was going to do it. She wasn't a baby any more. She was 8 years old and should have learned to swim before this since they lived on a lake.
She stepped closer to the edge of the dock, took in a deep breath, and jumped. The warm water engulfed her as she hit the water. A few seconds later, she surfaced like a fishing bobber. Her arms flailed and her legs kicked as she tried to keep herself afloat. She remembered dad saying something about a doggy paddle. She needed to remember what to do. She kicked her legs and started moving her arms under the water, pulling water back toward her, almost like digging in dirt.
She bobbed under the water a few inches and bobbed back up again. Water filled her mouth as she yelled for Amber. She coughed and sputtered. Panic took over as she kicked and splashed trying to yell to her sister again. She tried to calm herself but couldn't. She was going to die just like mom did last summer. Her arms stopped flailing. Her legs stopped kicking.
She felt a hand on her arm. She weakly opened her eyes to see her mother under the water with her. Her mom took her by the arms and pulled Joann onto her back lifting her above the water. With ease her mom carried her across the water to the island. She left Joann lying on the shoreline.
Amber and the rest of them ran to the shore seeing Joann was not moving. Eric dropped down to his knees and turned Joann over to back. He started mouth to mouth to revive her, his CPR classes finally paying off. After a minute, Joann starts to cough and sputter. Her eyes flutter open. Amber smiled down at her through her tears.
"Did I make it to the island?" Joann choked out.
"Yes, squirt, you did." Amber said.
Eric and Amber helped Joann up. She was a little unsteady so they helped her to the picnic area and sat her down on a blanket next to the fire they had going. Amber grabbed another blanket from the ground and wrapped it around Joann.
"I saw mom. She brought me here. She saved my life." Joann whispered into Amber's ear.
Amber looked at her sister in disbelief. "Mom's dead, Joann. You couldn't have seen her."
"But I did Amber. She brought me here. Carried me on her back all the way. She asked me to tell you that she likes Eric and to stop picking on me all the time. She also said to stop smoking, it isn't good for your health. Amber, why would mom tell you to stop smoking when you don't smoke?"
Amber stumbled backwards in shock at those last words. "You really saw mom?" Amber sat down next to her sister and wrapped an arm around her.
"Yes. Just as beautiful as she ever was. She saved me from dying just like she did, Amber. She wanted to me live. She told me I have something special to give the world yet and it wasn't my time to die. She said I shouldn't have hesitated when you wanted to help me. Had I accepted your help, I would not have almost died." Tears started flowing from her eyes and down her cheek. "I'm sorry I hesitated, Amber."
Amber sighed. "I'm just glad you are okay now, Joann. I will do my best not to pick on you any more. It is just so much fun at times." Amber snickered and Joann joined in. Next they knew they were laughing like fools and didn't remember why.