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chapter 1

A Day to KayakBY nellieg3 | PUBLISHED 2/19/2014 | UPDATED 2/19/2014 | ALL DONE!

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A Day To Kayak

      The water rippled as the small kayak was shoved off the shore. Kayla felt her muscles working in a steady rhythm, and watched as the beach grew farther and farther away. Soon the little spit of rock and sand was far away, but she knew she could be back within a few minutes. That was the reason that kayaking was so great; the sun and the water were wonderful, and it was quiet and peaceful if there weren't too many jet boats, but the real part she loved was seeing how fluidly and quickly she could cut through the water. And this time was even better. It was her first solo kayaking trip, the result of four years of relentless begging. Finally, on her twelfth birthday, her parents had agreed, and she was determined to make the most of it. Last time, when she had been out with her uncle, she had gone out about a half mile; this time, she planned to go out a mile and a half, all the way to Crawfish Island.

               The lake, however, seemed to disagree, for about a mile in, it started to sprinkle. She knew she should probably turn back. Her dad had warned her about spring storms on the lake, and she knew firsthand how suddenly they could appear. But she kept going. I'll turn around if it starts to thunder, she promised herself. And, soon, enough, a bang of thunder roared across the lake. But by this time she could see Crawfish Island through the rain; she was almost there. Kayla hesitated when the second boom sounded, but she was only a few yards away. She could just touch the island and turn around.

              The wave shocked her. There weren't waves on the lake; it wasn't an ocean. Yet there was still one rocking her boat, making her lose her balance, toppling the kayak. For a moment she was underwater, then she found her feet on the ground. She crawled up onto the island, shivering, shaking, and wincing as the beach of stones cut into her knees. Her kayak had surfaced and somehow floated to the shore nearby. It had lost the paddle, but that was the least of her problems. The water she had fallen into had been ice cold. So ice cold that it made her lips blue and her teeth chatter. She knew that she would catch hypothermia and probably die if she didn't get warm soon.

       Kayla knew what she needed to do. Struggling to her feet, she walked over to the kayak, her shoes squelching and her clothes dripping water. Then she turned it upright and searched about for something to use as a paddle. She knew an island that had people living on it, just past this one. The water between them wasn't too deep, but even with her life jacket, if she went back into that chilling water, she might not ever get out of it. She scanned the beach, but though there were many long sticks, none of them were wide enough to be effective. She searched her memory for what other boats used to move. Kayaks and canoes used paddles. Sailboats used sails. Surfboards only worked on the ocean, where there were waves bigger than the one-footers caused by jet boats or the swelling of the lake. She sighed helplessly. The last time she had used a surfboard was last summer. Now she might never see one again. Her memory took her back to that day, and she remembered how she had gotten so sick of paddling around with her hands that she had used a stick of driftwood to push off of the bottom of the ocean, and pretended her board was a gondola. Of course, when the wave had come, she wasn't ready, and it had crashed into her. She smiled as she remembered how she had floundered about in the ocean until another wave had deposited her close to her surfboard, and she had clambered back onto it. Gazing out at the water, she wished a wave would appear right now and put her on the island she was trying to get to. But there were no waves. Kayla was stuck.

        Unless . . . As she had been remembering her surfing wipeout, an idea had begun to form in her head. She looked at the long sticks on the island, and seeing them completed her plan.

        Four broken sticks and a few minutes later, Kayla had a stick strong enough for what she had in mind. She slipped into the kayak, still shivering, and pushed off of the shore. Immediately she realized her mistake. She should have tried her idea closer to the island, where she could get back to land if it didn't work. Now, if it failed, she would be left in the lake with no way to get out. Taking a deep breath, she pushed the stick against the bottom of the lake. The kayak moved forward. She pushed again. Again, the kayak moved. She let out a sigh of relief, and pushed from the other side. Left. Right. Left. Right. It was almost like paddling. It was only once she was halfway that the trouble really began. The waves slapped her face, and combined with the rain, which had gotten even fiercer, she was almost completely blinded. She gritted her teeth and continued despite this, just going forward and hoping it was in the right direction. Then the unthinkable happened. She reached down with the paddle, and the bottom of the lake was not there. She reached farther. Nothing. Kayla swore every bad word she knew, and let the paddle slip out of her hands. Then she moved the kayak forward, agonizingly slowly, with her hands. They were numb within half a minute, but that didn't matter. Through the rain, waves, and dark, she was just able to make out the misty shadow of the island. Now the numbness was creeping up her arms. The kayak was only a little bit away, and a faint glow came from the house on the island. Closer. Closer. The kayak scraped against land. She staggered out, exhausted. Her energy was spent, and she was too tired to walk. All she wanted to do was lie down. Then her legs started wobbling, and there were two blurry islands. The islands became colorful streaks in the gray backdrop of rain. Suddenly, everything went black, and she lost the consciousness that she had been hanging onto by a thread. She was out cold. She didn't see the family come out of the house. She didn't feel herself being lifted up, and blankets wrapped around her. She didn't move as she was lowered into a bed. But later, when she woke up, she knew that she wouldn't be kayaking again for a long while.

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