On the Rocks

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I clung to the rock in desperation. Rain soaked me to the bone, and the chill wind bit right through my clothing. My hands were numb already and I was starting to lose feeling in my legs.

The child clung tightly to my neck. Even right next to me, I could barely hear her cries over the howling gale. I had no idea who she was. I couldn’t even remember grabbing her in the first place. Everything after I hit the freezing water was a confused blur, but when I climbed up onto this rock, I found myself holding a crying little girl.

There had to be others out there. There were hundreds of us on the ferry when the storm hit. It couldn’t just be me and this five-year-old girl who had survived, but I couldn’t see anything through the storm.

A wave crashed over us, and I was surprised that my numb body could feel any colder, but it did. The water pulled at the girl, and I tightened my grip around her.

She had stopped crying, and her arms began to loosen from my neck. She wasn’t going to survive much longer in this cold.

I didn’t have much time, either. The water was rising, and this small spec of rock would be submerged all too soon. Should I try my luck? Hope that I could find actual land before the storm killed me?

No. There was no way the girl would survive another swim. We’d probably both die, I knew, but if I saved myself by… it wasn’t an option.

Summoning up what little strength I had left, I started climbing the rock. It was difficult, despite how small it was. I only had to get up about six more feet to reach the top, but between the child in my arms and my unresponsive limbs, six feet was a long way.

After what felt like hours, although it must have only been a few minutes, I made it to the top. The wind pressed on me from all sides here, and I wondered if that would kill me faster than the rising water would have.

The girl’s lips were blue and she wasn’t shivering anymore. Was it already too late for her? No, she was still breathing. Just barely. I curled around her, determined to share any body heat I had left with her.

I don’t know when I fell asleep, but I woke up to feel the icey water lapping at my hips and shoulder. The rock was all but submerged now. The rain had stopped, but the sky was still dark, and the winds continued to howl around us.

I tried to move. To get up and look around, but my body wouldn’t respond. It was too late. I was going to die here.

That didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. I was tired, and dying trying to save a child just didn’t sound that bad. My only regret was that she was going to die with me.

I closed my eyes, ready to accept my fate, when I found myself pulled roughly from my little perch. The girl was pried out of my arms, and we were both wrapped in blankets. People babbled excitedly in a language I didn’t understand.

Sleep overtook me. I knew that I probably should fight it, but I didn’t. I’d leave my life in their hands. If I was going to survive, I’d find out when I woke up, or when I didn’t.


Prompt: Ferry Tragedy

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I’m doing a “ripped from the headlines” prompt this week. In India, a storm broke a river ferry in two. That’s going to be this week’s prompt.

Good luck and good writing!