Monday, April 29, 2013

TRULY (inspired by Persuasion) "History Never Repeats"

Chapter Twenty-six
History Never Repeats
The waves created an echo, the sound of screaming, like a round of singing that was harsh and out of tune…  Confessions of a Post-teenage Hermit
    At this point, Hailee came rushing into The Beach Shack, hugging her puppy to her chest, a leash wrapped around her wrist. She hovered at the door before she walked forward.   
   “Help, come quick! It’s Lia, she’s fallen off the pier; Ben dived in after her but we need to get help.”
    It was so early there was hardly anyone outside and no one on the beach. I spun around, and grabbed a first-aid box behind the counter. I was no expert but because I worked with small children I’d had to keep my first-aid certificate up to date. 
   “Hailee, dial 911,” I grabbed the kit and ran down to the beach with my sister Liz trailing behind me. The beach was deserted at this hour on an uncharacteristically chilly summer morning and there were no lifeguards in sight.
     I slid on my knees in the sand next to Ben who had dragged Lia from the ocean and was doing his best to resuscitate her.
     He looked at me, devastated, “I… I think she was trying to impress me. She crawled onto the rail and yelled out. Her hand slipped and she fell.”
     “Help me,” I said, “quickly.”
     We took turns performing CPR.
     He did as I asked. Ben had also been through this process in the military.
     I cleared Lia’s mouth with my hand again before we took turns doing rapid chest compressions. She was breathing but it was the gash on her head that bothered me. It was a miracle Ben had managed to retrieve her from the water. Ben looked almost as pale as Lia. I hadn’t forgotten he probably hadn’t had any sleep last night.
     “It’s not what you think,” he said between breaths, “I broke up with Serena, she had someone else anyway. I was never interested in her.”
     “It doesn’t matter now. Just let’s stay together with this until the paramedics arrive.”
    Suddenly Lia began turning blue.
    I showed Ben the exact spot where my hands met between Lia’s ribs and told him to press hard…
    “It’s alright, I remember,” Ben said, gratefully.
    “Did you remember to check her throat?”
     He cleared her airway again and breathed air into her mouth. We took it in turns to press and breathe and did our best to maintain the rhythm that kept my cousin alive until the paramedics came and did the rest.
     Hailee raced to our side with Liz and Tom after calling her parents. I rolled onto my back as the paramedics lifted Lia; Ben sat up and put his face into his arms.
    After twenty minutes of that, there were no words; we were exhausted. We just prayed we’d done enough to save my cousin.
    I looked at him.
    “What was she doing out here with you?”
    “She just jumped up to sit on the fence. Then she stood up and tried to balance on the ledge. She was telling me some stupid joke on the spur of the moment; she was laughing. It was crazy. I shouldn’t have encouraged her.”
     “You can’t blame yourself, Ben. She likes you. It’s obvious.” Who wouldn’t? I thought.
      Ben looked at me like I was an alien.
      “I think she’s going to be okay. She was breathing when they loaded her onto the stretcher. C’mon…”
       Ben looked at me intently trying to understand something, the moment we’d just shared.
       “You… you didn’t behave like that when we were together.”
       It was a slow and steady love, I wanted to say. The best and one that has never ended, I thought.
       Instead, I got up and brushed the sand off my jeans.
      “C’mon, I said, we need to get going. They’re taking her to Wentworth Central.”

      An hour later we learnt Lia would pull through, she was awake and okay. It had been a long hour and Ben never left my side.
    “The CPR helped to save her life,” I heard the nurse tell Ben who told Harley he’d never have managed it without me.
     “Jane was the best person to call for help. She is the most stable and the quickest thinking person in a crisis that I’ve ever known.”
      High praise indeed. 
      I was just glad that my cousin was alive and the expression of relief on Ben’s face was palpable.  I’d fallen asleep beside Lia’s bed and my sisters had taken me home. Melissa had even arrived after the children were in bed to pat my hand and tell me how great I was in a crisis. It was as if she was actually proud of me. 
     I was slumped in the front seat with a seatbelt wound tightly around me when Liz drove us home. Melissa snoozed in the back seat and we could hear her snoring during the drive to Bel Air. As we pulled into our driveway, even my father was waiting up to see us.
     “Dad wouldn’t go to sleep until he knew Lia was safe and you were home. He loves you, you know, he just expects more of you than the rest of us.”
      I shrugged.
     “You know, Ben didn’t leave Lia’s room all night…”
     “He must really like her,” I told Liz sleepily. 
     “Are you sure, Jane? I’ve never thought the best of him when I could think the worst, yet I’ve never seen a man more devoted to you.”
     I was speechless.