TITLE: Boat Against the Current
Sailing toward the Mississippi, 11-year-old Gwyn and her friends suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives. Gwyn was thrown off and is now trapped under the water.
I saw a bright light. I knew it was coming for me.
God? Santa Claus?
I realized – I wasn't ready to go yet.
A shadow passed over the light. A hand came through the water.
It was a very large hand. Different from Wilbur's. It reached for me with authority. It was strong, calloused, a farmer's hand.
I could hear the voice even under the water. It was not a request.
"Take my hand," the voice said. "Guinevere St. Clair, take my hand!"
My eyes focused in on the hand. There was a missing finger.
I took the hand. It yanked me up hard, the hood of my coat tearing as I was hauled out of the water. The hand dragged me across the rocks, my sopping socks and heels hitting the jagged and smooth stones.
I was cradled like a baby, hair and water wiped from my eyes. A large mouth opened and closed above me. Veins bulged on a forehead, cracking open a long red and purple scar. I was stiff, unresponsive, catatonic. My brain, face, and body felt numb and tight. But when Bitty threw herself on me, a warm relief came. She was safe. Micah grabbed my hand, sobbing, hot tears falling like sizzling embers on my cheeks.
The light shifted toward the river.
I turned my head. It was Jimmy I last remember seeing. Floating dead on the water, on the other side of the protective rocks, as the current carried him away from us. Micah clutched my hand and sobbed harder.