Janice and her best friend, Betty, were 13 years young, the day the screaming ambulance took them away.
It was only a few minutes ago, their families, the McManns, and the Smithers, were having a picnic. The grown-ups sat on a table cloth and drank tea, while the children took turns jumping into the pond from a wonderful tire swing. They swam with delight in the cool water of the farm pond.
It had been a perfect day for a picnic. The women packed a buffet of sandwiches in a wicker picnic basket and spread a table cloth on the ground. The sun was shining brightly and there was just the right amount of breeze to keep everyone cool.
The two girls had been frolicking in the pond for an hour or so, when the unthinkable happened. Betty’s stomach started hurting. At first, she tried to ignore it, but then she had a cramp that bent her double. Her head bobbled under the water as her arms beat against the surface of the water, trying to find something to hold on to.
“Help me!” she screamed as she thrashed about, splashing water two or three feet into the air.
Janice heard her best friend’s terrified cries and started swimming towards her .
She yelled out to her, “Don’t panic, I’m coming to get you!”
Janice was a strong swimmer but, by the time she arrived, all she could see was Betty’s arm and hand above the water. Janice grabbed her friend’s hand and tried to pull her to safety. Betty struggled like a tiger trapped in a cage fighting for its life. In full blown panic, she grabbed Janice and shoved her underneath the smothering water and attempted to climb her like a ladder. She strained to get her face above the water to the air, she so urgently needed. Janice desperately struggled to get them both to safety but Betty gripped her so tightly, both sank into the shadowy depths of the pond.
The parents of both girls struggled to reach the drowning girls, but by the time they reached them and brought them to the surface, both were unconscious.
Four year old Virginia stood silently under the shade of the big oak tree observing, while the tire swing was gently swayed in the summer breeze, unaffected by the troubling scene. She watched as her parents frantically jumped in the water and heard her sister’s terrified call for help. Like a bad dream, she watched the horrible scene unfold as her mother and dad pulled the two lifeless bodies of their daughter and her friend from the murky depths of the farm pond. They dragged the girls to the bank and laid them in the grassy dirt. They tried desperately to resuscitate them, but it was too late.
No one paid any attention to the dark-haired little girl with the chubby legs who looked on in confusion with tears in her eyes and quivering lips. She didn’t understand why her sister didn’t get up out of the mud. She cried because everyone else was so distraught, because she was scared and didn’t know what was going on, and because she wanted her mother. She didn’t dare go to her though. Her mother was much too close to the water.
The ambulance came to took the girls away. Virginia watched it leave with its lights flashing and siren screaming. She wanted to scream too.