I haven’t told a story from real life lately so here we go (one from the archives).
The Extra Cookie
Backstory: Growing up, I was the paranoid middle kid to whom adults listened with a generous chunk of salt. (I don’t blame ’em.)
(Paranoia Example. After learning about black holes in science club in first grade, I planned out how my family would survive with no sun if our sun was swallowed or affected. We’d need a sustainable food source, a light source, a place to grow things underground so people won’t steal our food ’cause everyone will be looking for food, etc. With my limited understanding of physics, I obsessed for a few weeks until I forgot about it. Told no one.)
Also. Back then my little brothers liked to race Fischer Price tricycles (the kind you pedal) around the pool, with Gabriel (5-years-old) in front and Anton (3-years-old) behind. Gabriel rode safely but sometimes Anton leaned into one particular turn on the far side (trying to be super fast) so a rear wheel would reach slightly over the water. With most of his weight on the outside, he always zipped on by without a problem.
I told our mom about it (that he needs to be watched more closely because he’s cutting the corner more and more and he’s gonna fall in); she agreed in passing.
Christmas evening with the sun sinking low and dinner already over, Anton grabbed his blue bike and hustled outside. I (9-years-old) looked around at the adults but no one moved (or noticed?).
I think I told our mom. “Anton’s going outside with his bike.” I got the usual response: “He’ll be fine.”
So I took our family poodle and went outside anyway. I hung out by the porch with the dog (I was always with the dog) and eye balled my brother every time he hit that one corner (He pedaled around and around and…).
Then the wheel reached too far, the bike tipped, and the 3-year-old and his bike went in (it was only a moment, but he floated face down with black curls suspended on the surface).
(I was in that water so fast.) Racing to the edge, I jumped clear of the pool’s five steps, splashed in near him so my feet hit the bottom and pushed off, grabbing his armpits and shoving him straight up over my head because I could barely stand there in the shallow end.
On my toes, I looked up to find his fine curls plastered around his cherub face and squinting eyes as he sputtered on pool water (surprised, not scared). Seeing he was okay, I hopped over to the steps and set him down. He crawled out with me right behind him, both of us sopping wet in full Christmas dinner outfits (I think he had navy blue pants and a little vest or something. And shoes). The bike sank like a rock.
(It might have been a cold Christmas in Florida that year, but I honestly don’t remember the water temp. Didn’t much matter. The pool could’ve been full of lava – I still would’ve gone in.) On the porch, I knocked on the glass door. “Anton fell in the pool. Can you get us towels?”
That Christmas was the first time our mom baked cookies called “corn flake crunches,” each had half of a maraschino cherry on top. Not sweet or fancy, but yummy. I was the only kid who got two.