She leaned onto her handles — the only place left where her fingers wouldn’t
have fallen off — and pedaled. She needed to get to the lake. Her parents
needed her there, and their parents needed her to check on them. Not that
they were much in need of rest. They had a second night in bed, but it wasn’t
a full 24-hour one. On this night, they’d be lucky if they could sleep at all.
There was no place on the lake to hide, and Sadie didn’t want to risk falling
and knocking her head. She pedaled as fast as she could.
When she hit the driveway, she slowed. She pedaled until she saw the lights
of the house. The garage door was up, but no cars were in it. There wasn’t
much she could do about that. She needed to get to the lake and check on her
parents. She pedaled even harder.
A few minutes later, she pedaled back. But something was wrong. She stopped
and dismounted. One of her shoes was missing. That made two things wrong.
There was no place to go to hide and there was no time to investigate the
garage. And she hadn’t gone in the whole 10 miles. She pedaled back home
with one shoe, and then pedaled back to the lake. When she walked out the
garage door, she looked around to get her bearings — no one was in the
yard except for the raccoons.
They were the first to make sound. Sadie leapt back onto the front porch.
It collapsed — she saw her mother running out of the front door. A moment
later, her father ran out. He didn’t say anything, just pulled her in and
clutched her. The next thing she knew, her face was wet. A second later,
Sadie saw the front door to the house collapsing in on her.
She cried quietly as her father stood holding her. Her mother stood two
feet away with a shocked look on her face. Her dad sat on the couch. He
looked up at her. For the first time, Sadie saw fear on his face. An eerie
fear: fear for her. Sadie held his gaze and waited for the inevitable.
“What is it?” Her dad asked.
Sadie didn’t answer.
“I want you to go back in and call your mother,” he said flatly.
Sadie nodded. She turned to walk back in. Her mother ran across the lawn
and flung open the kitchen door.
The house collapsed.
She jumped down and ran, but her feet weren’t quick enough. Her parents
were on the ground at her parents’ feet. Her mother’s feet flew up and hit
The fall to the ground brought Sadie back to herself. The pain in her head
was nothing compared to the pain radiating through her body. She could see
the redness of her face in the dark, but she only felt the pain radiating
through her body. The pain in her head hurt worse.
Sadie lay on the ground. Her father knelt beside her. She could feel the
blood rushing to her head, but she didn’t know what else to feel. Her
father knelt beside her and said nothing.
Sadie reached up to touch the back of her head. Her fingers sank into the
snow. She heard her father.
“Sadie,” he said.
Sadie rolled over and stared into the darkness.
“Sadie, no, I want it to be over.”
Sadie opened her eyes. Her father was kneeling beside her. He had her head
in his lap. Another stranger. Her father was crying. The tears were
shallow, and they poured down his face. The night was quiet except for the
distant crackle of the fire. Sadie couldn’t see anything out of the dark,
but she thought she saw something. She felt her father.
Sadie slowly lifted her head. The sight was shocking. Her father sat on the
ground next to her. Blood bubbled out of his head. Sadie turned her head.
Her eyes widened. Sadie was facing a man she had never seen before.
He was wearing a gray hoodie. He had blackish-blond hair. His eyes were
blue, and his face was handsome. Sadie wasn’t sure what to think. He
looked familiar — different, but familiar.
Sadie’s voice was muffled when she said, “You saved me.”
Tucker looked up. Sadie could see the moonlight in his eyes. His hand
rested on her head.
“Sadie, there was a guy out here. He saved you.”
“I know.” She could smell his hand on her. A faint sourness.
“He saved you.” He looked hard at her. Sadie couldn’t see her eyes through
the dark. She couldn’t see his. She didn’t feel the slightest urge to
turn. “The guy who saved you was your cousin,” he said. “I’m sorry,
“It’s not your fault,” she said. “The guy knew I was going to be in trouble.”
That made him stand. She saw his smile.
Tucker took a step forward and said, “I will be in trouble.” Then he
turned and walked off. He disappeared into the night. Sadie didn’t move.
Her father held her.
“It wasn’t you, Sadie.” Her father’s lips were trembling.
Sadie’s parents sat on the ground, with the fire casting flickering light
into their faces. They had both been so brave. They had both been so
frightened. What was real?
When her mother spoke, it wasn’t the voice of a parent. It was the voice
of a scared child.
“I’m so sorry, Sadie.”
“Tucker saved me.”
“Tucker saved you. And a guy from the lake just saved you.”
Sadie didn’t move. She couldn’t. She stared at her parents with wide,
hopeless eyes. The fire grew. The flames reflected in her parents’ eyes.
“So, tell me,” her mother said. “What was on that boat?”