The Adventures of Fawn Rising: A Mostly True Story (Version #1 of 2)

Note: This particular story happens when Fawn is a wee girl, before she learns how to swim from her national record-breaking swimmer father, a self-taught intellectual who lived in Paris during the 1930’s. 

 

Exhausted from her life in the trees the little girl falls fast asleep. She dreams. Her small dog, Marshall, dances around the bed begging to be picked up.

In her dreams, hair flies out from under broken red goggles. Her clothing shows rips and tears from tree-climbing. She wears a cape made from a worn tablecloth.

Fawn’s world at ten years old is rich. She imagines she is able to save the world from high above the seaside neighborhood.

Upon waking the next day, Fawn dresses and goes to the beach to assist her ballet teacher, Madame Bertozzi, who takes her son, Baby Gianni, into the water. The two of them hold Baby Gianni between them on a tiny blue float.

The sun dances on the reflecting water like pieces of shiny jewelry while birds sing in search of their breakfast. For awhile, Fawn briefly forgets about saving the neighborhood.

Gentle swells of waves form and Fawn takes a deep breath, filling her lungs with the fresh ocean air.

As each swell comes, the ballet teacher, the young girl, and the laughing baby with the tiny blue float, lazily ride the short quiet journey over the small swells of water.

With each small wave, Fawn’s feet lift off the bottom of the ocean and then lightly touch back down.

Suddenly and without warning a ground swell becomes an enormous wave and crashes down on the threesome.

Fawn’s head jerks backwards knocking her off her feet and forcing her body to twist upside-down.

Her head bounces off the ocean floor. She turns around and around under the water.

She cannot breathe or see, and the saltwater burns her eyes. The undertow pulls like giant arms around her body. It will not release her.

When Fawn finally gets her feet under her, she stands. She turns to see a very pale Madame Bertozzi, screaming and crying, reaching her arms out to the sea as blood streams down her face.

Fawn cannot understand a word Madame Bertozzi cries. Then, losing consciousness, Madame Bertozzi sinks to her knees as a small crowd of onlookers run into the water to help her.

Fawn’s head aches. Her stomach boils up into her throat. People on the beach are jumping and yelling, sirens are sounding, and people are running.

Lifeguards and beach police surge toward Madame Bertozzi.

Fawn looks toward the sea, and there, right there! . . . is the tiny blue float bobbing further and further out to sea . . . with no Baby Gianni.

Aching for her Papa to come rescue them all, Fawn realizes she does not know how to swim. Still, she takes a deep breath and dives headfirst into the dark waters. She reaches and reaches and kicks and kicks.

Holding her breath deep down under the sea, she can see nothing but darkness below and sunlight above.

Feeling as though she may explode Fawn keeps searching under the water for Baby Gianni. Her heart beats the seconds inside her aching head as she surfaces for air only to dive again under the sea.

The waters churn with lifeguards and police boats. There is more yelling, sirens, police radios, and now, the sound of emergency helicopters.

Suddenly her arms brush against something! Fawn lunges toward a whiteness in the water, wraps her arms around it, and pushes with all her might off the floor of the ocean.

Bursting out of the water like a cannon-shot comes Fawn. She is clutching Baby Gianni!

Oh, glory! Running toward the children, the lifeguards form a human net with their arms.They cradle and carry the gasping little girl and lifeless baby to shore.

There is silence as the crowd looks at Baby Gianni, blue and lifeless in the little girl’s arms.

Fawn looks down at Madame Bertozzi’s body lying so still. Still holding Baby Gianni, she lets out a sob, burying her wet face in the tiny baby.

She squeezes him hard as the medics work to peel her clenched arms from around him.

All of a sudden, everyone freezes. Baby Gianni picks up his head, burps up sea water, chortles, and pulls Fawn’s hair and goggles.

Fawn hugs and hugs Baby Gianni. Madame Bertozzi hears her baby’s laughter and jumps up reaching for her son. The three dance and hug, jumping for joy while laughing.

The teams of lifeguards, police, pilots, and onlookers begin cheering and dancing with the little girl in broken goggles and tablecloth cape, holding the laughing baby boy.

Exhausted from her day at the beach, Fawn goes to bed with elaborate plans to slip away. Tomorrow she will wear her goggles and cape as she saves her family and plays with her little black dog.

Tonight, she rolls over, pulls Marshall up close, and buries her face in the sweet-smelling black fur.