My Secret Savior
by Jennifer Michelle Norris
Elise hadn’t always believed in angels. Not always. For most of her childhood, she figured they were rubbish. Stories told to children so they could sleep easy with the thought of guardians beside their beds. It wasn’t until one summer day she really began to believe, and never again doubted their silent existence.
She’d been with her friends, swimming at the community pool. She refused to leave the four-foot deep section knowing she couldn’t swim, and that it was dangerous. Her friends left it though. Her friends could dive under water, and do flips. Her friends could do hand stands, and dives off the high board. Her friends could do anything they wanted, anywhere in the pool.
To them, the four-foot deep section and—by consequence—Elise, were boring. Children don’t often react kindly to boring things and people.
Elise spent most of the day staring at the deep end where everyone was diving and playing. She watched them jump, flip, swim and slide for almost an hour. Still, she never moved from her four feet of water. Children with water wings floated around her, half her age and still completely fearless.
“The human body was made to float.” Her science teacher had once said. “Human buoyancy.”
“Swimming is an instinct.” Her mother had told her. “You’ll learn eventually.”
“There are always life guards.” Her friends had laughed. “Why so scared, Elise? Why so scared?”
Elise’s green eyes glittered as she watched the water shift around her. It caressed her skin softly, harmlessly. She smiled, dragging her fingers through it; laying her hand on top of it. It softly flooded over her skin, and to her surprise, it remained perfectly unharmed. Her hand.
Perhaps I can do this. She thought, glancing up. Bravely, she took a step forward. The water rose an inch on her, but only an inch.
“Come on Elise!” Her best friend, Camille, laughed. “There’s nothing to be scared of!”
“Yeah, except for drowning.” Amanda teased, pretending to choke. “Help! Help! Drowning!”
Elise frowned. “I will not drown.”
“Not in that water you won’t!”
“I could come over there…if I wanted to.” Elise whispered.
“But you don’t! Because you’re a scared-y cat!”
“I am not scared.”
“Come Elise!” Camille said again.
Elise took a deep breath. Go into the deep area? Go into the water where she couldn’t stand? If she fell…if she were dragged under…what would happen? Would anyone notice? Would anyone help? Some small voice in her mind reasoned it was risky, but another, much louder voice, shouted life wasn’t worth living if you didn’t live it with risk.
“I can’t swim.” She told Camille. “I…I can’t….”
“Don’t worry about it!” Camille laughed, wading over to her and shaking her head. “Come on, it’s always easier when you jump off the side.”
“What?” Elise stepped back. “I can’t. I-I can’t!”
“Yeah, sure you can.” Camille insisted. “Just close your eyes, hold your breath and jump. Then just wait till you float back up, and grab onto the side! It’s easy.”
“Come on Elise, we’ll show you.” Amanda said wickedly, grabbing Elise’s arm and dragging her out of the pool. Elise resisted, but Amanda was strong. Besides that, all the other girls had joined in now. They were all determined to get her in the deep end.
“But I can’t swim!” Elise said, alarmed.
“Don’t have to swim.” Amanda said. “Just grab the side! Come on you little wimp!”
“Yeah! You baby!”
“Elise is scared! Elise is scared!”
“If you don’t jump like the rest of us.” Amanda said bravely, standing by the side of the pool with crossed arms. “Then you can’t be our friend.”
“Why not?” Elise wondered innocently. “What difference is it?”
“We’re brave. You’re not. Now jump!”
Elise studied the water. “I can’t.”
“We’ll see about that.”
And Amanda pushed her. Elise felt the cold sting of the water before the sting of it hitting her lungs as she gasped. She struggled, but she couldn’t find up. She didn’t know down. She wasn’t floating. She was sinking. She tried screaming. Began coughing. No one was helping her. No one had seen her fall.
No one saw Amanda push her.
I’m going to die. Elise thought sadly as the water floated around her in its deceptively harmless way. The sting in her lungs reminded her that it was anything but.
But then…then hands touched her. Grabbed her. Someone was dragging her through the water, back to the top. Someone was dragging her up.
She broke the surface coughing and choking, spitting out water. No one was looking at her. No one noticed anything. No one ran to help her.
But her savior didn’t leave her there. He dragged her out of the pool and laid her on the side. Bleary eyed and still coughing, she looked up. The sun was high in the sky, and her savior was backlit by its rays. He wore a black cloak, and didn’t look wet at all. He was perfectly dry. Perfectly calm. He smiled at her, and brushed her cheek. Are you okay?
Elise blinked and cough again. I’ve died.
No. You’re fine.
I saved you.
He didn’t answer. His smile widened and he shook his hair a little. He was dry. Elise stared in shock. Who was he? What was he?
You saved me. She thought. He nodded. But…but why? How did you know I was drowning?
I saw the other girl push you.
And you jumped in because you knew I couldn’t swim?
No. I never jumped in.
And I saved you not because you were drowning, He brushed her cheek again. But because you deserved to be saved.
“Thank you.” Elise whispered before turning to her mother, who was walking towards her. “You saved me.”
“Elise who are you talking to?”
“My guardian ang—”
But he was gone. And Elise smiled knowing…it was their little secret.
I'm an eighth grader who heard about this contest through a writing site I'm very active on.
I compete in almost any and every writing contest I can, which I love. Even when I don't win.
This picture was inspiring and fun to work with. I hope to see more like it in future times.
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'Ghost of the Powder Room'