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Rising Tide on Plum Island

Of course we do, dear little Gary! But we can’t stand here and do nothing. This can’t be happening to this precious family…I love you so much, Allan. You mustn’t leave us. You mustn’t! What am I going to do, dear God, what am I going to do?

The wind grew stronger. White caps formed on the horizon. In those frantic moments when my son’s life seemed to be inexorably slipping away, I glanced down the beach for a sign of life but there was neither a sound nor faint outline of a human being in the heavy mist. Lost in my own fog, I barely heard Lawrence say, “Mommy, we don’t need a tank. Why don’t we take off his shoe?”

I immediately came back to my senses.

“Great idea, Lawrence. Come on, let’s get to it, guys.”

I gathered the troops for a concentrated surge of energy and determination. I had to get their adrenaline flowing if I were to save my son’s life.

“Listen kids, there isn’t much time. Billy, you lie flat on the rocks and reach as far into the crack as you can without getting stuck yourself…stretch! Twins, you two hang on to Billy’s feet. Allan, make room for Billy. Leslie, support Allan. He’s very tired.”

Yes, tired and soaking wet, cold and frightened.

“I can’t move my leg, Mom. I can’t…I’m stuck!”

I looked up for a split second to see that the sky had turned ominously dark, the tide bearing down on us. It showed no mercy.

“Yes, you can, Allan You can!” I shouted in my anguish, mindful that time was not on our side. “Twist it until Billy’s arm can slip through. Just do it!”

Allan twisted with all his might. Billy plunged both hands into the icy water, and inched his fingers along the torn pants, his slim torso dangling over the rock. Each second seemed an eternity, each splash in our faces, a tsunami.

The twins kept repeating, “Got it, Billy?” Allan was crying, “I’m freezing, Mom.” And my heart was pounding furiously when Billy said, “Hey guys, I’m touching the sneaker.”

“Good going, Billy.” I said, and hugged his wet legs. “Listen…wrap your hand around it…got it?”


“Good…push the heel down as hard as you can.”

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