"AUTUMN!" Peter screamed at the top of his lungs. The desperation was audible, and written all over his face.
As if it were a response, two struggling silhouettes appeared at the railing. Peter's rising hopes brought him to his feet. One of the combatants was suddenly thrown over the railing. Unless one of the crewmen had decided to wear skirts, it was Autumn.
As a reflex, Autumn screamed. Despite that, she pulled into high dive postion. This is going to hurt my hands, she thought calmly. She was right. Once she was under, Autumn fought to surface again. She hadn't taken a deep enough breath before diving, and she'd gone much deeper than she'd expected. But she made it back above water in time. Now all she had to do was swim back to the life boat . . . and then what?! She couldn't climb in! She might tip it, and even if she didn't, Autumn probably couldn't pull herself into the boat. What was she going to do?
Later, she decided. First I have to get there.
"Can't we row closer?"
"Sorry, Peter, we can't. I'm sure she'll make it out to the boat."
"Yeah," said Micky. "She was on swim team in high school, and the first two years of college."
"Why'd she quit?"
"Um. . . ." Micky racked his brain, trying to remember the reason. "She broke her neck diving one dayŚ"
"Broke her neck?!"
"No, wait, it was only a strain. But she couldn't finish the season, and decided not to bother after that."
"Oh, so it's not like she forgot how."
"Not hardly," gasped someone in the water. Everyone turned to face the source of the voice.
"Autumn!" Peter exclaimed.
"What, did you guys think I was on the swim team because I was slow?"
"Of course not."
"It's not important." Autumn suddenly disappeared beneath the waves.
"Autumn?" Peter called
"What?" she returned, now from the other side of the boat.
"What was that all about?"
"Just getting bored over there. We do happen to have a problem, though."
"Getting in your lovely little craft there."
"You couldn't just climb in?"
"Not without tipping it."
"I could try and pull you in."
"I'm wearing several pounds of wet clothes. And we'd probably still tip it."
"What if we," said Rachel, indicating everyone in the boat except Peter, "all got on this side, and you pulled her over on that side."
"It sounds so crazy that it just might work," Autumn remarked. "Just don't capsize before I get in."
Rachel, Micky, Mike, Kattina, Davy and Coralia moved carefully to the other side of the boat as Peter stood.
"Ready?" asked Peter.
"Ready," said Autumn, offering him her hands. He got a firm grasp on them before continuing.
"Okay, now what?"
"It's easiest," said Autumn, "to push me down below the water and then pull me up."
"Okay. One, two, three!" On three, Peter pushed Autumn below the water.
"Peter, stop, the boat's rocking!" cried Rachel. But he was already pulling Autumn out of the water. In fact, he already had Autumn out of the water, and she had her arms wrapped around him. And the boat was flipping over.
on to Goin' Down Part Eight
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