Slow breaths, slow calming breaths. This was what we all were doing while we were sitting on the snow covered grass, trying to focus on what could have happened just seconds before, on that cold day. We could have died; we could have never made it out and frozen to death.
It had started off as a fun filled day. We were in middle school and it was the middle of February. That winter had been exceptionally cold that year and all of the lakes and creeks had frozen over. My sister and I had gone to my friend Amber’s house for a sleep over.
"Where are your parents?" I asked
"My mom is at work and my dad is sleeping" she replied.
We did not want parents watching us anyway and started playing that we had broken legs. We had found some old crutches of her mom’s that she had used because of a hurt hip, but no longer needed. We were in that stage of some middle school kids lives when they play a form of house, but it was a more “grown-up” version of it. Amber had always been a fan of these kind of games and she was good at being creative and coming up with ideas to incorporate into the role playing. This specific time, we were playing that we were all sisters and each of us had a broken leg. We decided to go back to the trails behind her house and play that we were lost in the woods. Amber’s brother Daniel also came along with their dog, he was a very outdoorsy type of person, always doing something outside, and just came along for the fun of it.
We did not think about it at the time, but it probably would have been wise to leave a note or wake her dad and tell him where we were going, in case anything happened to us.
They have a small lake back next to their woods where they go fishing and swimming at in the summer. It was currently frozen over though because it had gotten to below 0 a couple of days before. We were not the brightest of middle-schoolers, and we thought it would be fun to play that we had to cross the lake, and there was no other way. We checked the lake by trying to break it with our crutches and when they didn’t break the ice and our weight seemed to hold, all of us girls went out and started crossing the lake. When we got to about the middle though, we heard Daniel yelling their dogs name, “Dakota!”. We looked over to see what he was yelling about and saw Dakota in the freezing cold water trying to escape. Daniel had thrown her a ball out on the lake over where a whole bunch of cattails were sticking out of it. They must have made it so the ice couldn’t freeze over as well as the other part of the lake, because she had broken through.
Amanda was the first to rush over to try to help their dog. She dropped her crutches and raced over to Dakota. The ice broke as soon as she got close though and it sent her into the cold depths as well. Amber and I soon followed her. We were all three then scrabbling about, trying to get out of the freezing water. Every time we got to the sides though, the ice would break more, making it so we would just go into the water again. I thought we would never get out, and our coats and winter boots were weighing us down.
“Oh no, we are going to drown!" Amber said.
Daniel, farther back on the ice where it hadn’t broken yet, grabbed one of crutches we had dropped and held it out for me to grab.
"Grab on!" he shouted. I did and with him pulling, I managed to get on top of the ice and out of the water. We continued to get Amanda and Amber out until we were all out, though still wet and freezing.We had all lost almost all of our boots in the water and had to walk in bare feet back to their house, shivering the whole way.