Today my mother, stepdad, my sister and her kids canoed down the Hiwassee river in Tennessee. They had gorgeous weather and a great time. So in the theme of their day I decided on an excerpt from chapter five. Except Bronwyn isn't having as great a canoe ride.... enjoy.....
Bronwyn looked into the sky; it had grown unusually dark. That part of her nightmare was real. A chill had fallen in the air, causing the wind to increase; it bounced the canoe about the water. Bronwyn shivered at the sudden change of temperature. Only a few hours ago, the lake had been a peaceful paradise. Now it was a sinister snare of deception. The trees that before had stood erect, pointing happily to the sapphire sky, now bent over, cowering in fear before the breath of the storm. The sky that had provided a playground for whippoorwill, warblers, larks, water thrush and an occasional hawk was now devoid of any fowl. The vexed howl of the wind replaced the delightful songs of the birds.
It seemed to Bronwyn as if all nature cowered in fear of the arrival of some hideous creature. She sensed an overpowering feeling of doom as if there were some foreboding secret of which all of nature was aware. She shivered uncontrollably from the iciness of the wind and the eeriness that penetrated her soul. Thunder sounded in the distance as smoky black clouds rolled violently across the sky. Bronwyn attempted to maneuver the canoe to the dock. The muscles in her arms burned and her hands cramped from the tightness of her clutch on the oar. All of Bronwyn’s efforts to slice the water with the paddle met in futility, as the tumultuous waves tossed the oar to the surface as if it were nothing more than a wooden spoon. The rain smacked the lake in a downpour. The heavy wind blew the torrential rain into her face impairing her vision and making it impossible for her to see. Her heart raced within her chest.
She knew her circumstances were not good. Bronwyn considered her situation. She guessed she was close to shore, yet uncertain as to how close. With the increasing wind, she could feel her tiny canoe pushed further back into the lake and the consuming waves. She contemplated abandoning the boat altogether, and possibly swimming to shore. She was a decent swimmer, and could perhaps move her body against the fierce waves, more easily than she could maneuver the canoe with a worthless paddle. However, as fatigued as she was becoming, she feared running out of strength and then having no place of rest. Bronwyn decided to continue her paddling and get as close to shore as possible before taking the eminent plunge into the angry waters.
A streak of lightning zigzagged across the lake directly in front of her. She realized her situation was growing dimmer by every second. She placed her drenched arm across her forehead, shielding her eyes in an attempt to get a visual assessment of her distance from shore.
Her heart leaped with excitement. She was closer than she realized! She eyed several trees growing out of the water, many of their branches extended farther out over the lake. Bronwyn tossed her oar aside, and reached out to grab a branch, to pull herself closer to shore. Her sudden movement, combined with the unevenness of the water and the overpowering waves, toppled her canoe, tossing her into the angry lake. The consuming waters rushed over her, the waves much stronger than she had anticipated.
Now disoriented Bronwyn tried to position herself toward the shore. However, the wind, waves and the torrential downpour teamed up against her. She desperately needed a focal point. If only she could get a quick glimpse of the shoreline, she could swim there with all her might. She dare not waste her last bit of strength until she was certain of her bearings. Swimming in the wrong direction would cast her deeper into the lake, resulting in inevitable death. Bronwyn’s legs burned beneath her. Exhaustion was setting in. She feared she could not tread the water much longer, yet certain if she stopped she would surely be overtaken by the monstrous waves.
The sky was almost dark now. Little light left. Dismal gray surrounded her on every side. She strained her eyes for one small glimpse of shoreline. Just one glimmer of hope and she would exude all her strength to make it there.
Another bolt of lightning hit nearby. The flash provided just enough light to point her way to shore. Bronwyn’s heart beat with excitement. With the last bit of strength she forced her way, fighting against the powerful waters. Each wave that rose high above her pushed her back, keeping her from the shore.
Bronwyn swam, determined. This is not how my life is going to end! Thoughts of her friends and family receiving the dismal news of her death invaded her mind. She pondered how the news would affect Ryan. She wondered if he would feel any remorse. More than likely, he would be delighted. With her death, he would be free to use the screenplay he was so desperately trying to steal from her. Her simmering anger gave her an added bit of strength and new momentum. She tossed him from her mind. He would not be her last thought.
Another wave washed over her, filling her mouth with water. She coughed, strangled by the sudden rush of fluid. The rain’s intensity increased, pouring over her along with the crashing waves. She was losing her last bit of strength at an alarming rate. She lowered her legs, to see if she could touch bottom. Nothing.
Her heart ached. She wanted to cry. Her strength was completely gone. Her heart pounded so hard it seemed to be marching from her chest directly into her throat, choking her, suffocating her. God help me! Please God, I’m not ready to die, not now, not alone, not here, not this way. Please don’t let this happen to me, Help me please. Her heart pursed into itself a desperate prayer.
Bronwyn felt a small tap on her back. She whirled around. The canoe! Although it had capsized, it was amazingly still afloat! If she could manage to hang on to it, she might have a chance to drift to safety. She reached for the canoe. The enormous waves pushed it toward her at the same time causing it to violently crash into her head.
The sudden rush of pain choked the breath out of her. Bronwyn gasped… all was growing dark and quiet. She felt her body go limp. With all her strength ebbing away, she attempted to grab the canoe. Her hand had no power to grip; it only slapped at the side of the boat before sliding down across the hull and into the water. All was dark, save for a bright piercing light that blinded her eyes as the swirling waters took possession of her body.
There was no rain, no thunder, no howling wind. No final thoughts. Only a bright light followed by a quiet cold darkness.