Cindy, Mindy, and Bob; Spring Break
Cindy, Mindy, and Bob began as bedtime stories for my children many years ago. Over the years, Cindy, Mindy and Bob have grown, changed, died, been saved and revived. The three older kids personified Cindy, Mindy and Bob. Now they live in our three younger children, to continue teaching morals, values, and good old tradition.
Cindy, Mindy, and Bob were excited for spring break. The winter had been long and cold. The windiest they could remember. Groundhog day came, and with it, a promise for them of only six more weeks of winter. As the weeks progressed, and winter continued, the three siblings wanted nothing more than to play outside. Without layers of hats, coats, and gloves.
The first day of spring held a hint of warmth, and the great melt off began. It was a month until spring break, and the children could hardly contain themselves. As the earth reemerged from beneath it’s white blanket, Bob played outside every afternoon, insisting on just a light jacket, although the chill air really demanded much more.
Tired of sleds and ice skates, the children brought out bikes to ride on muddy streets, rollerblades to skim across half frozen sidewalks, trucks, jump ropes and various other springtime toys. They were bursting to be outside, as much as the new buds in the garden were bursting forth. Finally spring break arrived, just after Easter Sunday.
That first day, they were anxious to be off, exploring. The weekend weather had been chilly, but they remained undaunted.
“Mommy,” called Cindy, “ Can me and Mindy and Bob go for a hike?”
“Do you mean, ‘May Mindy, Bob and I go for a hike’?”, Mom corrected.
Cindy smiled sheepishly. “Yes. That’s what I meant. Anyway, may we go on a hike?”
Mommy was just as excited for spring break as her children. She wanted to work in the garden. She wanted to go running. She wanted to be outside. Their enthusiasm was infectious. “Yes, you may go on a hike, but you need to dress warmly, because it’s still chilly. And stay away from the ice ponds. They aren’t frozen anymore, and they are dangerous.”
Mommy began packing the kids a picnic, as they gathered jackets, shoes, and hats. Cindy didn’t want to wear a hat, but she knew she could put it in her pocket later. It was a striped stocking cap, which mommy had knit for Christmas. It hung down to the middle of Cindy’s back, with a large pom-pom dangling off the end. Usually she loved to wear it, but Cindy was ready for spring, just as much as the younger kids.
When mommy finished their lunch, they kissed her and eagerly headed out the door.
“Remember,” mommy admonished, “stay together and stay on the trail. I don’t want you going near the river, or the ice ponds. And be home before supper.”
The kids knew that supper would be ready promptly at six, so they had several hours of freedom and fun spread invitingly before them. They ran down the bike path, racing. Cindy ran fastest, but she stopped to stuff her cap into her pocket. She also carried the lunch cooler, so lagged a little behind. Mindy and Bob darted ahead, spotting wildlife on the path, as squirrels, rabbits and birds awakened to the warm breath of spring.
As they approached the ice ponds, their neighbor Ted stood near the path. He had a long stick in one hand, and he threw it out onto the ice. A skinny mongrel slumped nearby, and Ted nudged it with his foot.
“Go on, fetch, you stupid dog. What’s wrong with you anyway?”
The dog whimpered, but obeyed, and started wearily out toward the ice. Bob came running up to Ted.
“Hey Ted, did you get a new dog?”
The dog looked hopefully back at Bob, but Ted lunged menacingly toward it, and with its tail between its legs, it started after the stick. The stick rested on the edge of the ice, near the tattered remains of last year’s cattails. Slowly the meek animal picked up the stick and walked it back to Ted.
“No, dummy. That’s not my dog. I found it. I been giving it food, and now it likes me.”
Obediently the dog dropped the stick near Ted’s feet and waited patiently. Reaching into his pocket, Ted pulled out a smashed and dried out sandwich. He broke off a piece, fed it to the starved dog, then tossed the stick toward the mostly melted ice pond.
“Fetch, stupid. Do you want more food or not?”
As the dog started out again, Cindy caught up with the other kids. Ted, about her age, which was twelve, towered over Cindy. He stood tall and mean, thin as a stick himself and more ragged looking than the stray dog. Mindy watched quietly as the dog returned with the stick. As Ted turned his attention to their approaching sister, Mindy knelt and began softly petting the dog and murmuring under her breath.
“Good girl. Good girl. You like your belly rubbed? Good dog.” Mindy felt the dog’s ribs through its mangy fur as she continued stroking her white belly. The dogs black fur knotted and matted belied the fact that the dog may have been loved at one time. And now Mindy wanted to take it home. She looked imploringly at Cindy.
“If it’s not your dog, Ted, do you think we could have it?” Mindy didn’t look at Ted, but continued to stare at her sister. All children feared Ted.
“No. You can’t have it. I found it. I fed it. It is mine. And when I go home, I’ll run it off, and it can go back to living in the woods where I found it. That dog belongs to me, and I aim to keep it, even if I have to hide it. Now stop petting my dog.” Ted glared at Mindy, and frightened, she stepped away.
Picking up the stick, to make a point, Ted growled, “Watch this. This stupid dog will do whatever I tell it.” With that, he hurled the stick out toward the middle of the mostly melted pond.
“Fetch it, stupid. That’s the dog’s new name. Stupid.” Ted laughed loudly, and when the dog didn’t start after the stick, he lunged toward her shouting, “FETCH. FETCH. Fetch the stick, Stupid."
Wearily the dog eyed the ice, and gingerly started toward the stick.
Bob stepped closer to the pond. “ I don’t think it’s safe. Your dog could fall through the ice.”
“You could fall through the ice, because you’re stupid too. Dogs are smarter than people, and that dumb dog is a lot smarter than you. She won’t fall through the ice unless I tell her to. Maybe you should go out on the ice Bob, I dare you."
Bob took a step back, “No, my mom said to stay away from the ice."
Ted snarled, “Ohhh, little baby has to do what mama tells him.” Ted turned from Bob, to look at Cindy again. “Your brother is a pussy baby. What do you have in the cooler, Sin?”
Ted called her Sin because he knew she hated it. But she was afraid of him too. “It’s nothing. Just some sandwiches my mom made. Do you want one?”
“I don’t want one. I want all of them. Me and Stupid need to eat.”
Mindy piped up, “Don’t you mean Stupid and I?” She corrected him before she could stop herself.
“That’s what I said, dope. Now give me that cooler.”
Cindy held the cooler protectively against her body. Behind Ted, she saw the stray dog suddenly break through the ice. “Ted, your dog. It fell in the pond.”
Ted didn’t even turn around. He had one hand on the cooler as Bob ran past him, headed straight for the dog.
Mindy screamed, “No Bob, come back. It’s not safe. You’ll get in trouble if mom finds out.”
It was too late. Bob was out on the ice, running toward the dog, which paddled helplessly, head barely above the ice.
As Bob approached, the children heard a loud crack, followed by a splash. Bob’s head appeared briefly, then gone. Nothing. Just the frantic sound of splashing water.
Cindy hit Ted with the cooler, screaming, “Do something. This is all your fault. You have to save our brother. Mindy, go find help. Ted, do you have a cell phone?”
Ted stared stupidly for a moment, then ran up the path. Cindy thought he was going for help, but instead of approaching the cars in the parking lot of the trailhead, he continued running. She realized helplessly that he was running away.
Mindy ran for help. Cindy tried to remember what she knew about rescuing someone who had fallen through ice. She didn’t know much. Daddy did say to lay on the ice, to spread out your weight. Carefully she approached the pond. Fear gripped her body, making her legs feel like jelly. As she slid her feet across the melting ice, she began crying for her little brother. He could barely swim.
It seemed like hours since he had fallen in. Really, only a few seconds passed between the time Bob broke through the ice, and Cindy started out after him. As she got closer, she felt the ice breaking beneath her feet. Slowly, crying, she flattened her body across the ice. Cold water soaked her jeans and jacket, but she didn’t notice.
“Keep swimming Bob, I’m coming to help you.” As she approached the broken ice, Bob’s head emerged momentarily. He was gasping. Cindy reached her arm across the ice, but couldn’t get to her brother. The break was too close, and she feared that she would fall in too.
In the distance, Cindy heard the wail of sirens, and gave thanks that Mindy found help. Then she remembered her hat. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out the long, striped stocking cap. Holding the end, she tossed the pom-pom toward Bob.
“Bob, grab my hat. I’ll pull you out.” Bob latched onto the cap, and finally, his head was out of the water. Cindy tried to pull, but he was too heavy, and the hat too thin. “Just hold on Bob. We’ll get you out.”
Behind her, paramedics carefully slid across the ice. They reached the children within seconds, with ropes. Bob held tightly to Cindy’s cap, as one paramedic/cowboy lassoed a rope around his torso. With a mighty heave, they pulled Bob up out of the water.
Mindy stood on the shore, crying. “Don’t forget the dog,” she cried, “don’t forget Lady.”
Animal control arrived, along with mommy and daddy. The dogcatcher looked at Mindy, “Don’t worry, your dog will be ok. "
Mommy corrected, “Actually, I’m worried about my children. We don’t have a dog. Will our children be ok?”
One of the paramedics standing by assured her, “Yes ma’am, your kids will be ok. We are taking them to the hospital just to be safe. Your daughter’s quick thinking saved your boy. If she didn’t have that hat, he’d be gone by now. As for your dog, she will be fine too. She needs a warm blanket and some food, but she should be fine.”
Off the ice came one paramedic, carrying Cindy, wrapped in a blanket, crying and apologizing. “I’m sorry mommy, it’s all my fault. Ted tried to steal our lunch, and I didn’t see Bob go out on the ice.” She sobbed hysterically.
Mommy and daddy came close to comfort her, hug her, and reassure themselves that she was ok. “It’s nobody’s fault, “ soothed daddy, “we’re just glad you are ok. You’re a hero. You saved Bob.”
Next came the cowboy/paramedic. In one arm rested Bob, too cold to even cry. In the other arm, a lasso. Mommy ran up sobbing, “Thank you for saving my baby.”
“Your daughters are the real heroes ma’am. Their quick thinking is what saved this boy, and your dog. Both would have drowned if it weren’t for the girls.
Into the ambulance went Cindy and Bob. As one more paramedic came off the ice carrying a shivering dog wrapped in blankets, Mindy ran forward, “Oh Lady, Oh Lady. I’m glad you didn’t die.”
Mommy and daddy looked at each other, then at Mindy, holding the skinny wet mutt in her little arms. They realized that their family had gained a new member.