/   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
September/October 2007

Mailyn Fidler

If you had looked at us from above, we would have seemed like three ducks waddling out of our house and into the rain. My fat raincoat flapped at my legs, and my too big galoshes clomp-clomp-clomped on the wet pavement. I glanced nervously at my sister, who held clamped in her sturdy, pale hand a small plastic doll. My dad towered above us, like a tree in his heavy green coat and black cowboy hat.

After what seemed like forever, our sojourn down the driveway ended in a rushing river: the gutter. “Ready?” my dad asked, and we nodded. Although we tried to keep our faces solemn and stern for this grand event, tiny smiles peeped out from the quivering corners of our mouths. My sister opened her wet, slippery palm and dropped the doll slowly, almost reluctantly, into my dad’s outstretched hand. My dad’s body pivoted smoothly towards the gurgling gutter of water before us. Despite my efforts to restrain it, a small sound escaped my throat. “Are you sure you’re ready?” Dad asked again. Swallowing, I nodded. My dad uncurled his fingers, and dropped the doll—sploosh!—into the surging stream.

For a few expanded moments, the water taunted us by pulling the doll slowly, teasingly away from us. I held my breath and kept my hands clenched tightly by my stomach as I watched the doll ease painfully through the eddies.

Rescue saving the doll

My dad uncurled his fingers, and dropped the doll— sploosh! —into the surging stream

Then suddenly the rushing rivulet churned and swept the tiny figure away, down, down the street. The three of us broke into a run, galloping after it. With each step I took, a little of my anxiety for the doll disappeared. I flew down the sidewalk, drenched with the sky’s tears. I skidded round a bend in the road. My hair, saturated with fat raindrops, flew around my face in strings. The doll shot down the hill in front of us, carried along by the churning channel of water. I hurtled after it, half-skipping, half-running. I was elated, happy beyond belief. A laugh rose from deep inside me, rising up through my throat. As it burst forth, I choked on it. My elation turned to terror. The image wavered in front of me, convulsing with my unsteady steps. A rusty, encrimsoned grate greedily gobbled the sloshing streamlet—just a few yards away! “Daddy!” I screamed. “She’s going to go down the drain!”

Valiantly, my dad leapt forward, and brought his hand crashing down into the tumultuous waters. I squeezed my eyes shut.

A few moments later, all I could hear was the water cascading violently into the sewer. Cautiously, I opened my eyes. There, above the foaming jet of water, was my dad’s hand, dripping wet, suspended over the drain. And nestled among his slightly curled fingers, outlined against the pale, soft skin of his palm, lay the small plastic figure of a doll.

Rescue Mailyn Adler

Mailyn Adler, 13
Bloomington, Indiana

Rescue Ashley Whitesides

Ashley Whitesides, 13
Grand Junction, Colorado

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