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Glimmers in the Dark

Recklessly paddling for what seemed like hours, the inky darkness of the water, under the starless, oppressive night - supercharged the panic flowing through every corner of my 14-year-old brain.

Just two hours before, my father and I were lazily trolling down the reservoir, him casting with diligence, me casting with apathy. Then one hour ago, Dad clutched his chest and slumped into the bottom of the boat. He was still breathing, and I could hear his heart beating, but I could not help.

I continued to paddle blindly, with no idea which direction to go. Miles away from any shore, I was lost, totally adrift in this blackness. Earlier I had joked with my dad, “Never pass out when you take me to these fishing places. I would never get back.” Like a prophet, the casual statement turned out to be too true.

Exhausted, I quit paddling. Quietly, I lay close to Dad and just listened. Small waves splashed against the boat, with an occasional noise from the water. No sound in the distance to take bearing. Give up, nothing I could do. Dad was going to die and his simpleton son couldn’t help. I stared out into the night, staining my eyes to receive any glint of light.

Wait a minute. Was that a light, in the distance? Frantically, I rowed for the small star-like glimmer. Something to shoot for, some hope out of despair.
Arms aching, back hurting, small teenaged muscles complaining, I continued to row with the tiny oar.

When I thought I could paddle no more, the front of the boat struck shore. I shot out of the boat and dragged it onto the beach, thankful for the solid ground.

But where did my light go? Was it just a passing vehicle? Another fisherman out late, leaving to return home? Was I this close to help, only to be deserted again? There, in the murky dark, a barely perceptible light could be seen. As much as I hated leaving my Dad, I hurried toward the light.

In the distance, on the front porch of a closed bait shop, the light of a soda machine reflected on a phone booth. Thank God, I thought, as I sprinted toward rescue.

After minutes of feverishly explaining to 911, a rescue vehicle was dispatched, with help promised in a few minutes.

I replaced the receiver and walked toward Dad. In the quiet, I reflected on the night. Where did that light originate? Who, or what, was my savior? Did they know or care that they might have saved my dad’s life?

A distant siren stirred me from my thoughts. Whether it was fate, an accident, or a sign, I would never know.

Eddie Mikell

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The following comments are for "Glimmers in the Dark"
by CaptainKeyboard

Holy Fireflies, Batman!
This is an amazing piece of work, Cap.

I had guessed, slipping in off the front page and judging from the title, that this would be a departure from your usual humorous style.

You've handled a captivating story very well, and I like that you've broadened your range.

( Posted by: hazelfaern [Member] On: March 14, 2004 )

Thank you!

Thanks. I can be serious, from time to time, although it scares my co-workers.

True story, to a point, with Dad not being too serious, but finding my way in the black black night, was terrifying. The Jackson Resevoir is large enough, where you can't see the shore, with zillions of fingerlets, each with a pull off to put your boat into. I still break out in sweat thinking about that night.

( Posted by: captainkeyboard [Member] On: March 14, 2004 )

hey, well done!
great work. i can tell that it's non-fiction by the fervor in your vocabulary.

a few things:

1) 3rd paragraph, the word gloom seems wrong. isn't it more like panic? gloom feels kind of settled to me and this kid has no reason to be settled at this moment. gloom in the next paragraph works better, but only slightly.

2) small teenage muscles complaining...

if it was me, i'd make it small teenaged muscles.

3) Who, or what, was my savior.

question mark, please?

4) the last sentence actually takes away from the whole piece for me. i didn't feel like i needed a sum-up that went beyond the experience of being fourteen and into your larger, still-to-come life. staying with the you that told the story would have been a more powerful way to end, i think.

wonderful work, all around.

( Posted by: ark [Member] On: March 15, 2004 )

Ark, great proofing!

Great catches. I do appreciate them.

I thought about the last sentence. When I was 14, I don't think I worried about what was going to happen in the future. I was glad to have made it to shore.

Again, thanks!

( Posted by: captainkeyboard [Member] On: March 16, 2004 )

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