Playing On The River Promenade
'Never climb on the steel railing', Mummy said
Every time we went to the park.
'You might slip through.
The cement slope is steep.
The river is deep and it runs fast.'
I understood, and I obeyed.
Seven years old is savvy.
One morning Mummy was busy with babies
So my younger sister and I went to the park alone
Following the familiar streets down to the river.
'Be careful,' Mum had said, with confidence.
I remember thinking: The waves are big today!
Splashing up on the pavement and even the grass.
There was nobody else around, just us.
'Don't climb on the bars,' I said to my sister.
'Stay on the lawn so you don't get wet
And we'll have our lunch before we go for a walk.'
'What has Mummy packed today?
Peanut butter sandwiches and lemonade. Yummy!
And chocolate cookies with icing. Double yummy!
Here's your sandwich, and some drink.
Where are you?
WHERE ARE YOU?
OH MY GOD!
I'VE GOT YOU! HOLD ON TIGHT! ' I'VE GOT YOU!'
The huge waves were pounding up the cement slope
Pulling at her legs, pushing her shirt up her back
Swirling around our slippery hands.
'I'VE GOT YOU!'
And I dragged her up under the bars on to the walkway.
She was soaked, and terrified.
I hugged her, water and all.
'You're safe! Stop crying! You'll dry off! It's hot!
Here, have a sandwich and some lemonade.
When we get home DON'T TELL MUMMY!'
I was plenty scared, but not stupid!
This was something Mummy didn't need to know.
Cynthia Buell Thomas, May, 2019