An exhausted grunt passes Simon’s lips and dirty water sprays in his face. “Hold on!” he tries to shout, but his voice is lost in the sounds and screams around him.

Parker gasps for breath. His fingernails dig into Simon’s wrist as he struggles to secure a grip on his friend. Another burst of floodwater rushes into Simon’s mouth, and he coughs. Dirt and vomit come back out.

Simon adjusts his soaked feet on the roof tile and takes a spluttery breath. His left hand grips the flimsy tree branch and right grips Parker. “Count of three,” he chokes out. “‘Kay?”

Parker starts to answer, but his reply is cut off by the sound of grinding metal. He whips around just as Simon sees it. A car door is spinning wildly in the water–and coming their way.

“C’mon!” Simon shouts, followed by a voice crack. “One…two…” He tenses his muscles and forces all of his energy into his right arm. “…THREE!” He jerks his arm up and pulls Parker up onto the roof. “Look out!” he cries, but he’s too late. The car door rams into the side of the house, shaking the two boys, before steering off and disappearing below the frothing water.

Simon lets go of Parker’s wrist and collapses onto the roof. “We…we did it.”

“Simon…” There’s a pain in Parker’s voice.

He turns to his friend. Parker is holding his calf and moaning. Simon’s heart shivers when he sees blood dripping down his leg.

“Oh man, we gotta get you to a hospital,” he says. What should he do? Wrap the leg? Clean it out first?

“Easier” –grunt– “said than done.”

“Here,” Simon says, and he rips off his shirt. “Don’t know how much this’ll help, but…” As he wraps the torn leg, Parker cries out. Simon can see tears on his cheeks. “It’s gonna be alright, buddy. We’re safe now.” He uses his shoelace to tie up the make-shift bandage and lies back, unable to exert any more energy. Closing his eyes, he groans amidst the sound of rushing, dangerous water. It’s all too much. He passes out before he can process anything more.


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