“Hi Jamie, it’s Helen. I know you’re still at work, but I don’t know what to do. The clouds are starting to build and Katie and Arf went off somewhere to do their exercises. I checked their usual place under that tree near the garden and they weren’t there. Oh Jamie…I’m the only one here and I don’t know what to do,” Helen said again.
“I’ll leave right now, Helen. I’ll head that way as soon as I pick Miss Bessie up at the General Store.”
“Please hurry, Jamie. Dina and Steve trusted me to take care of Katie. What if something happened to her? This storm scares me!”
“Don’t worry,” Jamie assured her. “Remember, she’s with Arf.”
***Katie and I had a great day at the river and time had gotten away from us. She threw the frisbee to me for the longest time, and I stayed close by her side as she practiced balancing. She stood without the two sticks she had been using as she learned to trust herself and did exercises to strengthen her muscles.
Later, we sat by the river and I pulled a blanket out of the back pocket of the wheelchair. While hanging on to my neck, Katie lowered herself down until she was sitting comfortably. We were ready for an afternoon snack. Katie took an apple from the basket and I found my second good bone for the day.
It wasn’t long before I sensed something in the air. The wind came up suddenly and I knew there was a bad storm brewing. I nudged Katie and gave her the signal to get back into her wheelchair. She was having so much fun watching a turtle in the water, that I had a hard time getting her attention.
I went around behind and nudged the chair closer to where she was sitting. I only took my eyes off her for a second. When I looked up, I saw her bending over the embankment. I barked, but it only startled her and she fell over the edge.
She was screaming and the choppy water was engulfing her. Katie can’t swim. She can’t help herself. I jumped into the water and tried to grab her. On the third try, I got a piece of her shirt. I had to be so careful dragging her back to safety. If her shirt tore and she got away from me, I was afraid the current would carry her off. She had her eyes closed tight.
The lightning storm was getting closer and the thunder was so loud. How would I get my Katie home safely? I was more worried and afraid than I have ever been.
Steve and Dina got home shortly after Jamie and Miss Bessie arrived. Brad was still on his mysterious trip and Mark was on his way from the bunkhouse. The wind had died down and the air heavy and hot… ominous of things to come.
Where were Katie and Arf?
“They can’t have gone that far,” Steve said. “Mark, you go look in the woods behind the house, Maybe they decided to have their picnic there. I’ll go look near the river.”
“Oh, no!”…Dina said. “It never dawned on me that they might be at the river!”
“Let’s take flashlights and walk up the road,” Jamie said to Dina. “Maybe they’re taking that way home and we’ll meet up with them.”
“My poor baby. She must be so frightened.” Dina felt like she had to do something. “Let’s go!” she said to Jaime.
“Don’t go far, girls,” Miss Bessie warned. “We don’t want to have to look for you, too!”
Arf and Katie finally made it to shore. Katie was exhausted. “I want to go home Arf,” she said. “My head hurts.” She was being so brave. Arf knew she was trying hard not to cry. He didn’t know if he could stand it if she did.
***I decided to take Katie to a little alcove in the embankment along the river. It was far enough away from the water to be safe and she wouldn’t be in danger of being struck by lightning.
It had warmed Brad’s heart to see how Barbie and Annie had taken to each other. He was waiting for the opportunity to tell his sister that he had been in touch with their brother, Tom. He wanted his family to be a family, but would his siblings ever forgive him when they discovered all he had kept from them?