Chapter 13: Humber River
On December thirteenth, Mike didn’t go to school nor did he stay home. He just disappeared.
When Ms. Rond was taking attendance, Mike was not there to say, “Here”. She asked the class where Mike was, but no one knew so she just dropped the subject and just marked him absent. Ian was very worried about Mike. Usually he would call him when he was sick so he could pick up his homework for him. But Mike hadn’t called him that day.
All of first period Mike didn’t appear. While the class was walking to their next period, Ian felt he should stand up for Mike so he approached Cindy.
“I can’t believe you would do something like that!” Ian cried upfront.
“What are you talking about?” Cindy asked looking very confused at the boy who had just yelled at her.
“Your friends forced you to date Mike! You should have refused!”
“Listen eavesdropper,” said Rebecca butting in. “Mind your own business!”
But before Cindy’s friends could push him away, Ian said one last thing. “Mike’s heartbroken by what you did!” Then he left.
“Ignore that bastard,” said Rebecca. “He’s just trying to get some attention.”
But Cindy wasn’t so sure.
In second period, Cindy could not stop thinking about Mike. Obviously he or Ian had eavesdropped on her conversation. She couldn’t believe that by trying to prevent Mike from getting hurt, she had hurt him nonetheless. Wherever Mike was, she was to blame. What if something happened to him? she thought. It’s all my fault.
At lunch, Cindy saw Ian leaving the lunchroom in a hurry. “Where are you going?” she asked.
“To find Mike,” he replied as he opened the lunchroom door.
“Wait!” Cindy called after him. “I’m going with you.” She picked up her bright blue coat off the bench. Ian smiled.
After an hour, the two found him. Mike was standing on the Humber Bay Arch Bridge staring at the icy cold water below. The bridge had been built for pedestrians, though cyclists too rode on it. Today, however, no one was in sight. Mike looked up at the white curved structure, preparing to jump over the wires and into the choppy water below. In the summer, Mike would have wanted to drown. But in winter, he wanted to freeze to death. He observed the scattering of jagged rocks along the shoreline and wasn’t sure if any of them would meet him at the bottom. He was hoping hypothermia would envelope him quickly like a freezing blanket so if he did hit the rocks, it wouldn’t be too long before he wouldn’t feel them anyway. He wasn’t sure though how long it would take for darkness to sweep over him. He hoped he wouldn’t suffer for too long.
Mike saw Cindy and Ian running towards him, but he still jumped. Ian ran and jumped in after him, keeping his body as straight as possible, preparing for the worst. When the two hit the water it wasn’t just pain they felt but a sudden numbness in their body. Hypothermia was approaching quickly. Mike was floating on the break of the surface and he was already unconscious. Cindy ran down to the shoreline and stood on the island of rocks trying to get as close to the water as possible without falling in. Ian tried to front crawl towards her but it was rather difficult. He only had one free hand as the other was holding Mike’s frozen body. The numbness was rushing up his body fast. He knew that his arms would start failing him soon. He was stronger than Mike and hadn’t gone as deep into the water. His strength helped him not receive total numbness as rapidly. The fact that he was moving also helped his body produce a little heat. Mike had just stayed still when he hit the water.
Just a few more minutes, Ian said to himself as he paddled with his free hand. The numbness was already climbing up his arm and it was already turning a light blue. He reached Cindy but collapsed on the rocky surface. She hauled Mike and Ian out of the water. The chilly breeze rushed over the three of them as the freezing water crashed into the rocky surface repeatedly.
Ian was drenched and shivering madly. Cindy took off her coat and draped it around Ian’s quivering body. She tried to warm him up by rubbing his arms up and down. Ian tried rubbing his legs to bring back circulation; he needed to get out of his wet clothes right away. As he rubbed repeatedly, some of the colour came back to his arms and legs. His legs were turning from a darkish blue to a light purple. Cindy realized that she would have to resuscitate Mike since Ian was incapable. She completed the whole safety procedure to try to avoid breathing into Mike’s mouth. First she checked her area: there were no hazards to be seen. She banged on the ground, but Mike didn’t stir, not even a twitch. She took his pulse, which he thankfully had. And instead of pinching Mike’s nose and breathing in his mouth, Cindy pressed down on his chest with both hands instead. Water came spraying out of his mouth, hitting her directly in the face but Mike didn’t wake up. She pressed her lips against Mike’s, pinched his nose, and sent as much oxygen as she could with one breath. She placed her hands on top of each other on his chest, pumped them up and down thirty times, and repeated the cycle. She knew that to do this properly she would have to break some of Mike’s ribs; it’s what she had learned in her C.P.R. training. After Cindy gave her third breath though, Mike woke up.
This must be heaven, thought Mike as he stared up into Cindy’s twinkling bright blue eyes, because Cindy’s about to kiss me.
“You O.K.?” asked Cindy.
“Yeah, I’m f-f-f-fine. How l-l-l-long have I b-b-been out?” Mike asked through shivering teeth.
“A while,” replied Cindy. “Right when you jumped off the bridge, you lost consciousness.” She raised a hand to pull Mike back up on his feet. Mike took her hand, but was a little wobbly when he stood. He could still remember the feeling of jumping off the bridge: his stomach lurching and then when he had hit the water, pain and numbness rushing up his body. And then: darkness. Mike folded his arms as he kept shivering. He could see Ian was shaking even with Cindy’s coat covering him. Ian saw Mike rub his arms and knew he was trying to warm up his coldish blue body, so he handed him Cindy’s coat. Mike put it on over his soaked one and zipped it up all the way.
“Come with me and I’ll buy you both a hot chocolate from Second Cup,” Cindy offered as the boys trembled. Mike and Ian found it odd how cheerful Cindy sounded as she pulled Ian to his feet. Instead of just wobbling, Ian nearly collapsed on top of Cindy, but Cindy held him so he could gain his balance. When the three were standing upright, they went in search of a Second Cup.
Seven minutes later, they were walking into the Second Cup on Bloor Street West. When they entered, the café’s customers were shocked to see one boy dripping wet and shivering in a red sweater, another boy also sopping with water and shivering but wearing one baby blue coat, and a girl wearing a bright blue sweatshirt also shivering. But nobody said anything about the strange teenagers and just turned their heads. The employees, on the other hand, advised the three teens to sit down for a while and warm up as they handed them their medium-sized hot chocolates. Cindy, Mike, and Ian sat down for a while as they drank their soothing concoctions and after after minutes they stopped shivering. They left with their to-go cups half-full and thanked Second Cup as one of the employees mopped up the puddles the three of them had created.
When the three got back to school, the two boys felt much better as the colour had come back to their faces and the rest of their bodies.
When they arrived at the office, Ms. Charles asked, “Now, where were you three?”
“We went out to lunch,” Ian lied.
“Mhmm…” said Ms. Charles. “And I’m assuming it took two hours to eat lunch?” She drummed her bright red fingernails on the table to indicate impatience.
“Lost track of time,” finished Cindy quickly.
“I see,” said Ms. Charles looking suspicious. But she let them go anyway, still wondering about the two damp boys.
After their encounter, Mike handed Cindy her coat and thanked her. Cindy smiled as Ian led Mike to his locker.
“Here,” said Ian handing Mike a pair of jeans and a black sweater once his locker was opened. “You should put these on and get out of those damp clothes.”
“You always have extra clothes on you?” asked Mike curious.
“Not usually. But sometimes not everything fits in my bag so I stuff some of it in my locker instead. Those jeans I was actually gonna give away to Goodwill but forgot on my way home.”
“What about you?” Mike asked. He was concerned that Ian had nothing dry to wear.
“I think I’ve got another pair of jeans and a long sleeve shirt somewhere in here. There were two pairs going to Goodwill.” He soon found them under his gym uniform.
“I’ll give these back to you tomorrow,” said Mike as he headed for the boy’s washroom.
After school, the two boys walked home with their wet shirts and jeans in plastic bags in their backpacks.
“You still hurt about Cindy?” asked Ian as tiny snowflakes drifted down from the sky.
“Yeah,” replied Mike solemnly.
“I think she still likes you,” said Ian trying to cheer him up.
“If she ever liked me.”
“Hey, don’t feel so bad. Maybe she always liked you; it just wasn’t so clear.”
“Hey, why don’t we go out and get some pizza? An early dinner. Maybe that’ll cheer you up.”
“No problem, man. Always here to help.” Mike smiled at him as Ian patted him on the back.