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 Chapter 25: Cracks

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Kell
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PostSubject: Chapter 25: Cracks   Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:31 pm

"Connor?"

I didn't respond.

"Connnnnnoooooor."

"Mmm, what?" I said, my eyes still closed.

"Wake up."

"Whyyyyy..." I groaned, not wanting my brother to bug me.

"I need your help."

"With what?"

"Just wake up, c'mon."

"Ugh," I grunted. Opening my eyes, I sat up & rubbed my eyes.

"All right, what is it?" I said, clearing my throat.

"C'mon," he said, getting up & walking out of the room. I stood up, yawned & threw on some pajamas. It was pretty chilly.

When I walked out of the room, I saw Chris standing in the middle of the hallway.

"What are you doing...?" I said cautiously.

"Can you go up into the attic & get our ice skates?"

I blinked at him.

"Our ice skates? Why?"

"'Cause Travis texted me, he wants us all to go skating on Barrel Pond."

"Chris, I don't wanna go skating," I rubbed my nose groggily.

"Well TRAVIS does."

"Travis can suck- never mind, look, text him back, tell him we'll go another time, k?"

"Well I wanna go."

"Then YOU go up & get the skates."

"I'm not tall enough to reach the attic door."

"Do I look like Yao Ming to you?"

"Either you get up & get our skates, or I'm telling Travis that you don't wanna spend time with him," he threatened.

"I never said that, I said-"

"ALL RIGHT," he said loudly, pulling his phone out.

I cocked my head.

"You wouldn't dare, he won't believe you anyway," I said to him. He looked back up at me.

"Try me."

For the next 10 minutes, it was intense staring contest. Him trying to beat me, me trying to beat him.

**********

"Hey! Here you are!" Travis called as I trudged through the thick snow to walk to the open pond. I had to walk through the woods for about 10 minutes to get to the open space. It was a fairly large pond with a bridge that connected the neighborhood to one of the city's parks. Actually, Barrel Pond was a river with an actual current, but the current was usually so slow on top, that people referred to it as a pond. Usually people would be out in the open, playing in the snow, having snowball fights, making snow angels...but today was just too cold & too dreary. Unfortunately my boyfriend & my brother seemed to not understand. And what made it worse...

"Hey, where's Chris?" he asked me.

"The kid suddenly changed his mind, decided to go hang out with Katelyn instead," I grumbled as I walked over to the edge of the land & dropped our skates on the ground next to a bench.

"Who's Katelyn?"

"A girl who Chris would rather hang out with than actually joining me doing something that HE woke me & wanted to do."

"Aww, I'm sorry babe," Travis said, walking over & giving me a warm kiss on the lips.

"Yeah. So I guess it's just us then."

"Good," he smiled. "Less people to embarrass myself in front of."

"What do you mean?"

"Well," he said, looking down to the ground. "I was...kinda hopin' you could teach me how t'skate?"

"You've NEVER skated on ice before?" I asked with wide eyes.

"Nope. Not many frozen ponds where I come from love."

"It's Oklahoma, not Bogota."

"Yeah but it's still not ever as cold as it is around here. So you'll show me how to skate?" he said with a hopeful look on his face.

"I would love to," I said with a kiss.

*****

After four hours of instruction, I could honestly say that Travis would never become a professional ice skater or hockey player. By now, however, he could easily stand up & move around, but not without the promise of falling down on the ice. But we had had fun, so that's all that really mattered to us. We were laughing, loving, living out on the open ice & even though I had woken up grumpy & not wanting to even step OUT into the arctic world, I was glad I had.

"So how's work?" I said, finally getting over my initial dislike of him working.

"It's goin' good. I actually had to call security a few days ago," he said with a cocky grin, as if he had won an award.

"Really? How come?"

"Well, this lady from Canada got angry at me because she missed her train & couldn't figure out what train to take."

"So she got mad at YOU?"

He nodded.

"Yeah. Freakin' Canadians," he shook his head. I laughed.

"Well, I'm glad you like working there. I know I didn't at first...but that's my bad."

"Aww, you just didn't wanna see me any less, I understand."

"I know but I HAVE been able to see you still, so I guess it hasn't been all that bad."

Travis tugged on my arms & drew me in closer to him. He cocked his head & leaned in to me. He placed a delicate kiss on my lips & held it there for a few wonderful moments. I pushed my lips against his as I felt his hand play at the hair on the back of my head.

"Wow," I said, once we'd pulled apart. "THAT was a nice kiss."

He shrugged with a smile. "What can I say? You're pretty cute."

I gave him a quick peck on the lips. He gave me a shocked look.

"I give you a nice, lovin' kiss & all I get is a peck?" he smiled.

"It's the thought that counts," I tapped his nose.

"Nu uh, UNACCEPTABLE," he said.

I stood there in disbelief with a smile on my face.

"All right then," I said. I started to move past him.

"What are you doin'?"

"Unacceptable huh? I'm offended," I said, sticking my nose up into the air as I made my way out farther onto the pond.

"I'm just kiddin'," he laughed.

"Nope. Too late. Now I'm all the way out here & you're gonna have to come out here & get me if you want me to forgive you."

"Nooooooo, I don't wanna do that," he giggled as I kept skating out. I was now a good 50 feet away from him.

"C'mon now!" I called.

"Come back here, I don't wanna go out there. I'm gonna fall & I won't have your amazin'ness to catch me," he said.

"Flattery won't help you. But thanks!"

"I don't wanna do this," he said.

"Too bad, you gotta come out here & save me now or else-"

Suddenly, without warning, the ice under my feet BLEW out from under me, causing me to plunge into the icy pond. The first thing I felt was the instant freeze of the water. It bit me from all sides & as I thrashed around underneath, I realized, very quickly, that since I didn't exactly plan on taking a breath, I didn't have much air to hold on to. I struggled to figure out which way was up & which way was down. I quickly tried to make my way to the surface but once I did, my heart sank as I realized that I couldn't find the sink hole!

I began to struggle as I pounded against the ice, anxiously trying to break through it. The chilling idea that I was going to drown to death, right here, had me panicking. I desperately hit, punched, clawed at the thicker ice above me. I moved around to different places, hoping to find either the hole or another weak spot but ti was no luck.

I could hear Travis screaming my name at the top of his lungs. I couldn't see where he was through the ice, I highly doubt he could see me. I was going to die. I knew that I was going to die. I began punching my ice as hard as I could with my fists but I accomplished nothing but pain. I was ALMOST praying the frigid temperature would kill me, because my chest began to contract & convulse as I struggled desperately to hold onto whatever air I had left in my lungs.

I pushed myself away from the frozen surface & looked around in the eerie water as far as I could see & that's when I saw Travis' arm sticking down through the sinkhole, waving itself wildly. I swam as fast as I could towards him but I knew that the current had dragged me too far to be able to get to him in time. I strained to use whatever energy I could, thrashing wildly to make it to him, but it was no use. Before I could do anything about it, I ran out of air & opened my mouth to breathe, only to be met with surge after surge of water that poured into my lungs. I began to immediately cough underwater but that only aided in me swallowing more water. I suddenly felt my throat constrict & my head go blurry as my body continued to float almost on its own closer to Travis' hand. My vision started to play vicious tricks on me & I began to fade in & out of consciousness as water began to fill my stomach.

I wasn't aware when I had somehow, lifelessly, reached Travis' arm. He reached down into the water with both hands & struggled to pull me up by my underarms. I was blacking out every other second, but I knew that once I was pulled out, he had me lay on my back.

"Connor!" he shouted.

Instinctively, I felt myself try to breathe again, but this time, as I did, I felt my throat constrict. I began to throw up, chug after chug of water being blown from my stomach. I jerked as I tried to get in a breath of AIR. Just as I thought I would never be able to get it all out, I felt one last chuck of water come up out of me. I immediately breathed in, feeling air rush into my lungs & chest. I instantly started heaving, my body convulsing violently as I coughed up any excess water all over myself.

After a moment, I could finally start to breathe somewhat normally. I started to shiver from the absolutely horrible pain of the cold air which was quickly beginning to freeze the water that I was drenched in.

"Oh my god Connor..." I heard Travis say quietly as he held me as close to him as possible. He lowered his face to mine & rested his forehead against mine. I shivered uncontrollably, my teeth chattering like crazy.

"Please tell me you're gonna be ok, please," Travis begged, seemingly to nobody in particular.

"I'm f-f-f-freezing..." I shook. I felt him wrap his arms around me as best he could but they did no good. I was too wet & too cold. I buried my face into his coat but that too was now wet & not helping. I felt freezing water drip down my face, & all around my body, my cold, wet clothes stuck to my body like glue.

"I know, just hang on, ok?" I could feel him shuffling around & all of a sudden, I felt my shirt being lifted off me. I lied there, on the snow covered frozen pond, soaking wet without a shirt on. However, it was then that I felt Travis put his own long sleeve shirt on me. He was now only in his coat, me in his shirt. I watched as Travis had a problematic expression on his face. Then, he made a decision that I couldn't believe. He unzipped his own jacket & put it on me.

"W-w-w-what are you d-d-d-doing?" I whispered, unable to speak any louder. Travis was now without a shirt on, having given both his shirt & coat to me.

"Shhh, c'mon, let's get you home," he said, with a tremor in his voice. I knew he was cold. I felt him start to grab a tight hold of me. As best I could to help him, he struggled to lift me up onto my feet, supporting me on his shoulder.

"Travis...you n-n-need something t-t-to wear..." I said as he started walking me back to the land. I forced myself to help the best I could, especially since we were both in our skates, & I could keep us up.

When we got back to land, we sat down on the bench where our stuff was. Travis reached for my skates & managed to take them off while I leaned on him, his other arm wrapped around me & vigorously rubbing my shoulder, trying to warm me up somewhat. Once my skates were off, he took off my socks, rolled up my pant legs & put my shoes on.

"C'mon," he said as he helped me stand up after he had put his own shoes back on.

"I'm s-s-s-soooo c-c-cold," I sighed.

"I know," he sniffled. I glanced at him.

"T-t-travis?"

He began to walk me through the woods, still without anything covering his torso. From the direction we were walking in, I knew he was taking me all the way back home. I was too weak, however, to protest.

*****

By the time we made it back to my house a good 15 minutes later, he was shivering just as badly as I was. We made it inside & walked into the living room. Travis sat me down on the couch & just kind of hovered over me. I looked up at him. His eyes were swollen & puffy & his skin...his skin no longer had the warm glow & soft feeling I knew when we were intimate. Instead, it was dark, hard & dry. I could see where skin was peeling on different parts of his chest & stomach. It hurt me to see.

He mumbled something.

"W-what?"

"I s-s-said I'll get you a blanket," he said. He then turned around & walked to a nearby closet & pulled out an old blanket of ours, walked back over to me & wrapped it around me.

"I think you s-s-should go p-p-put something on," I chattered.

He nodded, got up & left toward my room. I closed my eyes & rested my head against the couch, my body still shivering. My hair, once wet, was now frozen, like spikes poking up from my scalp. I coughed & wrapped the blanket tighter against me. By now, the clothes Travis had put on me were fairly damp & chilling me. Travis walked back & was now wearing one of my hoodies over him. I could tell he was still shivering like crazy. I opened the blanket with one arm & he sat down. I let him take the end of the blanket & wrap it around us. I snuggled into him & closed my eyes, feeling my body begin to finally thaw.

Travis, his head resting on mine, sighed deeply.

"I was so scared that..." he said quietly. I rested my hand on his leg under the blanket.

"I know...I was too," I said. I felt his arms wrap around me.

We stayed like that, holding each other for I don't know how long. Sure enough, we began to warm up. I felt...uncomfortable after a while however. I found it difficult to breathe. Nothing TOO bad, but bad enough where I must have been breathing unusually heavy because Travis asked me if I was ok.

"I...I don't know. It's harder to breathe."

"Do...do you want me to call an ambulance?" he said, worried.

"No, it's not that bad, it's just...it feels different."

"Connor, I think we should call somebody."

"No," I said again. I didn't want to make this a bigger deal than it was. "I'm telling you, it's not that bad. It's just...weird."

After a while longer of us just sitting there with each other, I could have sworn I heard Travis lightly sobbing.

"Travis? What's wrong?" I asked him.

He reached his hand up to pull my head closer to him.

"Nothin'," he sniffed. "Don't worry about it."

I stared off, just looking at the wall while we held each other. Something was on his mind. I wanted to know, but I was exhausted & not feeling well, so I didn't want to push it.

And that's precisely what I didn't do for the rest of the day.

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