" I was drowned seven times...before I learned to swim--once in Bear Creek and six times in the Mississippi. I do not know who the people were who interfered with the intentions of a Providence wiser than themselves but I hold a grudge against them yet.” – Mark Twain
Looking down into the dark I could see nothing. I reached down and felt my foot entangled by a seatbelt that had followed me out of the car’s window. The more I jerked the tighter it got tangled. I tried to cut it off but my hands were numb and I was running out of oxygen. Then all the fight just went out of me as I gave up a losing battle.
I don’t remember drowning exactly. I remember the feel of involuntarily inhaling water. I remember how cold I was. There were little sparkles of light all around that fascinated me for some strange reason. Then there was this huge splash from above me and I blacked out.
I came to on the banks beside where my boat was tied up. I wasn’t really conscious though and part of me realized I wasn’t really breathing. I knew I wanted to breathe but it was like I had forgotten how.
Then someone bellowed in my ear, “Breathe! I did not come all this way to see you drown Bella. You’ll breathe or I’ll hang onto you and turn you into a haunt so you have to stay with me! Now BREATHE!!!”
I think it was more interest in finding out who was calling my name more than anything else that got my brain working and my lungs going. Not too many call me Bella as most people called me El; and no one calls me Eliza if they want me to answer.
But breathing and thinking sensible aren’t the same thing. My eyes finally focused and all I saw was a bunch of blonde hair, including all over his face, and what I thought was white clothes. I was thinking that I’d figured out that I really had drowned and the angel above me just didn’t want to cart the extra weight of the water in me on up to Heaven. Then my stomach spasmed and I threw up what felt like a ton of water.
Laying on my side after it was over I managed to groan and say, “Oh no! I puked on my angel. They don’t kick you out for that do they?”
I heard a snort but not his reply as I must have been more close to dead than I thought as everything went black once again. I woke just once more and it was very disturbing. I was upside down and my nose kept banging into a man’s leather belt threaded through a pair of Levi’s. I heard some words that I didn’t think an angel would use and began to wonder if I had somehow gotten things mixed and I was heading in the wrong direction. Either way I was glad whoever was carrying me didn’t have plumber’s crack or I was likely to be in some serious trouble … at the very least more trouble than what I was currently in. So thinking I drifted off again thinking that there was something mighty familiar about them jeans.
I come to all the way and found I was in my bed. The first thing I thought was that it was all a dream until I realized my throat felt like I’d had a week’s long bought with acid reflux. My ankle felt pretty awful too and I moved the covers to find it red, raw, and on the way to some ugly bruising.
The other thing I noticed though was that I didn’t have any clothes on. Now boy howdy I might have been able to put most everything else down to a dream but that ankle and my lack of clothes pretty much clinched that it wasn’t. There was some soft noise coming from my kitchen area and I threw my legs over the edge of my bed, the noise of which drew Beau who came through with his normal hangdog face but wagging his tail. That was strange … maybe it was Rufus getting into stuff. Or worse yet Mischief and Molly.
I stood up and got dizzy real fast. Before I could hit the floor the tent door was pulled back and my angel stepped in just in time for me to fall nekked as the day I was born straight into his arms.
“Whoa. You OK?”
I’m standing there nekked and the angel asks me if I’m OK? Twilight Zone time folks. I croaked, “Where’s my clothes?”
“They were wet,” he tells me stating the obvious.
“Uh huh. My gown is right on the end of the bed. Why I ain’t I wearing it?”
“Oh … Well …” My angel stopped and I could see, despite the dim light, a grin trying to form underneath all the facial hair.
I growled and my brain finally caught up and I grabbed for the quilt and tried to back up at the same time. My coordination was still shot so down I went because no way was I going to fall back into the arms of a stranger.
I finally managed to wrap the quilt around me and when I looked up the big guy was holding out my gown to me. I swiped it from him and said, “You … you just turn around. If you knew where it was to begin with why didn’t you … I mean … grrrrr.”
He turned around but said over his shoulder, “I don’t have a good excuse for why I didn’t Bella. Forgive me?”
OK, that was beyond enough. Who was this stranger that knew my name? I pulled the gown down over my head and my eyes come up through the neck hole facing the strangers jean clad bottom. There was something mighty familiar about that area and it didn’t have nothing to do with the fact that my nose had been banging into it while he’d carried me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.Then I almost fell down again when I realized what it was. “Lee Ward? Lee Ward Thompson is that you?!”