A little row boat, filled with a family, merrily riding the river. Occasionally, small waves would skip in front of the little boat, causing it to rock, and wobble. An occupant might squeal in mock terror, but all felt safe in the little boat carrying them downriver.
Mother nature was capricious that day, she did not always seem to be cooperating with the little family's idyllic plans. The wind enjoyed playing turn about with their small boat. Occasionally blowing a larger wave against the hull, causing the little boat to sway and tilt, showering the occupants with droplets of river water. A few discordant grumbles were heard, but passed quickly.
Soon, the wind calmed, a few small ripples, created by those larger waves still marred the surface of the river. But, these ripples seemed manageable, were adjusted to, as the little rowboat, and it's occupants continued their journey, undisturbed.
No one had noticed, as the boat was rocked by one of the larger waves, that, the oars had slipped from their locks, and had floated downstream. No one noticed the slow seepage of the water in the bottom of the boat.
Later in the day, the gentle breeze that had been guiding the small boat downriver, became stronger, changed direction, catching the boat broadside. The sky began to cloud over, the boat turning and turning in the water, against the current, creating more, and more waves. Mutters of discontent rose shrilly. Those inside, reached for the oars, but they weren't there!
"I don't like this!"
"This is not easy anymore."
"What are we going to do."
"Don't worry, it's nothing, everything will smooth out soon."
"Stop rocking the boat, it only makes things worse."
There was much talk, lots of words, but no action was taken, no solutions sought to find the missing oars, it was if, they expected someone else to do it for them.
Soon, one noticed the water filling the bottom of the boat. They searched for something to bale with, one picked up a red plastic cup left over from their picnic lunch, and, began to bale, making some headway, just enough to keep the water level from rising further.
Eventually, mother nature cooperated, the wind died down, the sun peeked through the clouds. All was serene again, the surface of the water quieted. Breathing room, time to regroup, settle in, finally most of the water was gone. The leak was found, they attempted a temporary patch, using a child's pink bubble gum. It wasn't completely water tight, but enough to keep the boat from filling up again with water. The little boat's occupants, sat back, exhaling sighs of relief. Calm and the feeling of safety had returned.
It was a false calm though. The wind began again, blowing in ever stronger gusts, disappearing, reappearing, more waves. Lightening began to flicker along the horizon, thunder boomed in the distance. More talk, "Don't worry, it's off in the distance. We're doing OK, we're safe. Nothing bad is going to happen."
Ah, but as the wind increased, the small boat began to twist and turn, waves battered at them, overflowed the sides, the patch came loose, water once again began to fill the boat. More furious attempts at baling it out, trying once again, to stave off catastrophe.
The wind became more fierce, someone shouted out, "We're going to sink, or tip over! Someone has to do something."
Each of the occupant's eyes met those of another, as if to say, what can we do?
Suddenly, stillness. The storm had passed, close enough to create a momentary turbulence in the water, frightening to them. But all appeared to be well. More baling, another sticky patch. The boat seemed to be float evenly once again. More, sighs of relief. Calamity, averted.
Tired sighs were released. A small, sense of peace enveloped them. The talk turned to the end of the trip.Of how, they would eventually drift to shore. Of how, they once again survived near tragedy. Of how, things always come right in the end, don't they?
Then, a splashing, slapping, roaring music filled their ears. As one, they looked up, white foamy water, flashes of river boulder. A scream, a white knuckled grip on the sides of the boat. Panic. One began throwing his body from one side of the boat to the other, creating a whiplash of danger for all. Another, seemingly calm, eyed the rapid flow, the veils of water splashing over the huge boulders, "I knew this was going to happen. I told you so."
There were two standing on the shore, distant observers. They had seen the little boat, heading toward the narrowing channel, cries of warning unfalling, those ears attuned only to their little world, inside the little boat.
These two, standing vigil, had been waiting, hoping, watching, praying all would be well. One remained standing there upon the bank, unsure, retreating within. The other, dived into the water, hoping she had the strength to make it to the boat, strength enough to help those that appeared weaker than she.
Catastrophe struck. As if in slow motion, the two observers saw the boat wobble, rock, waver, before it turned slowly on its side, tipping the occupants out into the river, before being battered against the rocks in its path.
The watchers, one still on shore, one swimming, each felt helpless, as those within were now without. Those who had felt so safe in their little rowboat, having survived the occasional chaos thrown their way by the river.
Now, all, these former occupants of the little rowboat, were floundering, sputtering, sinking below the surface, and reappearing, all in a panic, each, individually, fighting for their very lives. But, two, were too young to fight for themselves.
The swimmer, continued, battling against the turbulent water. Time slowed, standing still.
Would she reach them in time, would it make a difference, would she be able to save those that are unable to save themselves?