Copyright 2016 Thevakie Karunagaran
Published by Thevakie Karunagaran at Shakespir
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By Thevakie Karunagaran
Jeremy left for home after Junior Scouting. It was late in the afternoon. Dark clouds were gathering. Better take the short cut, he thought. Half way along the track he heard a muffled voice calling, “He…elp Help!” Jeremy stopped and peered into the bush. He couldn’t see anything, but he, he realized it was coming through the cluster of tall eucalyptus trees. He turned from the path and as he waded through the tall grass the rain came down heavily.
Just beyond the trees was a deep gully. In it was Peter clinging on to a branch of a tree, which was threatening to give way any minute. He heard the rainwater rushing through the gully above the heavy downpour.
“He… elp!” Peter cried again. His face twisted in pain. His eyes were closed and tears ran down his pale cheeks. Jeremy saw a deep cut on the boy’s right calf, it was bleeding.
Hmmm, Jeremy thought, half-ashamed for feeling pleased. Peter won’t be able to come to school for at least a month with that cut, he thought. “He won’t be fit to attend the Inter-school Art Competition and I would win the first prize, hooray!”
Peter can just stay here, thought Jeremy. Leaving Peter to his fate, he turned towards the foot path.
The conversation that he had that morning at school was still fresh in his mind. He kicked the stones in his way as he recalled it.
“We are very proud of you Peter.” said Mrs Williams the school art teacher patting Peter on the shoulder. “You won the first prize in the Interschool Art competition last year. You will win the first prize this year too. We wish you all the best.”
Jeremy heard this and said, “Miss Williams, I won third prize last year,”
“Yes Jeremy dear, wish you all the best,” she turned and walked away.
” Hey Jeremy! We know that you want to win first prize but you can never because you are not as good as Peter,” jeered Fred. The other boys laughed.
Jeremy just hated Peter and felt happy to leave him hanging there. Lightning flashed around him, thunder rumbled, he shivered. He was scared of lightning and thunder. He walked faster, began to run. Then, almost without knowing it, his footsteps slowed and came to a complete stop. What if the branch gave way? What if Peter fell into the gully? The water would be almost to the top by now. Peter might drown.
Jealousy vanished. Jeremy was worried about Peter’s safety. It was too late to ask anyone else for help. He’d have to act fast. Jeremy ran back to the gully. As a member of the Junior Scout team, he had taken water safety. He grabbed a fallen tree branch. It was long and strong. Just what I need. This should hold Peter’s weight, he thought.
“Please God”, he prayed his eyes searching the branches of nearby trees. “Let me find…. what else do I need? What was that I saw earlier? Yes, there was a long rope hanging from a tree that had a branch that would have been perfect for a swing. He yanked on the rope. It didn’t feel strong, but he had to take the risk.
Rain poured down. Jeremy was wet to the skin. Every time lightening flashed, and thunder followed like a roar of cannon, he shuddered. He had to clench his teeth so tight that his jaw hurt, but he forced himself to go on. He tied one end of the rope tightly to a tree a few feet away from the gully, and secured the other end of the rope around his waist. Testing the rope was stretched tight and would hold him, he lay flat on the ground, and inched his way to the lip of the gully. Using both his hands he picked up the branch. He held it out to Peter and called out to him loudly so that he could be heard over the pouring rain, and rushing water. Peter blinked his eyes open with surprise.
“Peter! Shift your hold from the tree to this branch. Move slowly up towards me. Slowly, don’t worry. I’ve got a firm hold of the branch”. Peter stared at Jeremy, and then slowly shifted his hold from the tree to the branch. He inched his way towards him.
“Please God”, Jeremy prayed, “Give me the strength to hold on to the branch until Peter reaches safety”.
At last Peter reached the lip of the gully; Jeremy grabbed him with one arm and dragged him over to firm ground. Gently he dragged him further, “Lie down,” he said then took off his Jacket and covered him. “Don’t try to move”, he said. “You are going to be fine Buddy. I’ll run home and get help. I won’t be long”.
The rain eased as he ran home. His mother called the ambulance and Peter’s parents. Jeremy knew Peter would get necessary medical treatment.
“It’s funny, I don’t hate Peter anymore. Maybe we could get together and paint sometime,” said Jeremy aloud. He suddenly felt light-hearted and happy.