Write a short story using the words: child, courageous, World War I.
My grandfather always said “To be truly courageous you must be truly terrified.”
I know what he means now.
I quickly rip off my coat, shoes and gloves and chuck my mobile phone onto the frosty grass. Then I take a deep breath and dive in.
I am going to die. It is freezing. I have never been so cold in my life. My lungs scream and I swim quickly to the surface, coughing and spluttering. I look around quickly, trying to get my bearings. Where is he?
Ah- a ripple of water over there. I swim as quickly as my sodden and shocked body will allow me to.
One quick breath and I dive beneath the surface again.
I open my eyes. It’s muddy and I can’t see far. There he is. I force my icy arms to swim towards him while every instinct is telling me to escape this frozen hell while I still can.
I grab hold of an arm and drag him to the surface. I gasp for air and can’t stop coughing. I turn round to check: yes, he’s still there. I swim to the edge of the lake. Why am I so slow? My arms and legs seem to have given up on me. I just want to close my eyes and let myself fall….
Snap out of it! I tell myself. There is the grass – just out of reach. If only I can keep going… just keep moving forward. I turn around again to check. He is turning blue and his eyes are firmly shut. Oh my goodness. What if he dies? What if I die?
No! I can’t give up, I must get us out.
My breathing is shallow and I can’t feel my arms. They are numb – it’s like they are made of lead, and not mine at all. Still I struggle for that patch of white grass. I must keep going.
I hear a shout. I wonder where it comes from. Was it the telly? Just I just nod off? No, wait – I’m not at home. I’m in a lake, trying to get to the grass. I can’t think straight.
Strong arms heave me up, out of the water. I hear loud talking. A dog barks. I black out.
I wake up with someone pushing down on my chest. I cough.
“Well done, we thought we were going to lose you.”
“I’m cold.” My teeth chatter.
I look around and realise that I am lying on the ground, underneath a beautiful weeping willow. Someone puts a blanket on me, but it feels like there is ice in my bones.
Suddenly I remember the boy.
“Is the child ok?” I ask.
“Yes he’s fine. You saved his life. The ambulances are on their way.”
“Ok,” I go back to sleep.
I dream that I am lying in a muddy trench. The noise of artillery fire is deafening.
“Take that you stinking Hun.”
A soldier standing near me shoots at an unseen enemy outside the trench. He crouches down next to me.
“That looks bad. I’ll call the medic.”
I look down and see that I have been shot in the leg. I black out.
I wake again, this time in a hospital bed.
“Welcome back Miss Stevens. How are you feeling?” Smiles a nurse.
“Um… ok.” I mutter.
My chest hurts but I seem to have finally warmed up.
“You were mumbling something about being shot?”
“Was I? Must have been a bad dream. How is the boy?” I ask.
“Oh, Keiren, yes he’s fine- thanks to you. You were very brave, jumping into that freezing water to save him.”
“Well, I’m glad he’s ok.”
“It’s lucky there was someone walking their dog who knows CPR. Apparently they spotted you struggling in the water and pulled you both out. Oh look, you have a visitor.”
It’s my Mum, carrying a huge box of chocolates.
“How are you darling?” She kisses my forehead gently.
“I hear you’re quite the hero.”
“I couldn’t just leave him to drown. I saw him fall in and had to do something.”
“I brought you some chocolates. Is there anything else you need? Some PJs? Books? I’ll pop to yours later and pick it up for you.”
“Thanks Mum. Oh, do you know if Granddad fought in the War?”
“Hmm? No, he was a child then. But his Dad, my Grandfather, he fought in World War I. Went to the Somme. Horrific really- he was apparently never the same afterwards. Got shot and nearly died. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, just wondering. Something made me think of it.”
“I remember that he hated when people called him a hero. Said he was terrified the whole time. He used to say…”
“To be truly courageous you must be truly terrified.”
“Yes, that’s right.” She squeezed my hand. “Now, which chocolate do you want?”