‘Breathe,’ he whispered, time and time again. ‘Please …’
A wave of energy suddenly rose up from deep within him and surged through the entire length of his body, along his arms and into his fingertips. The girl’s body jolted and she coughed and spluttered green, slimy water down the front of her T-shirt. Her whole body convulsed as she desperately tried to gulp in air.
Jack moved her into the recovery position and held her firmly. ‘You’re going to be OK,’ he whispered, and her eyes flickered open. She started to cough violently and vomited more green, slimy water over his jacket. But he didn’t care; he was just relieved that she was breathing again. He sat her up and patted her back as she coughed.
When she eventually calmed down, she looked up at Jack through watery eyes. The dog licked her face and furiously wagged its tale. It started to bark again but this time it was a happy bark. Its mistress was safe.
‘What happened?’ she croaked.
‘I found you face down in the pond,’ said Jack. ‘When I pulled you out, you’d stopped breathing.’
The girl touched her forehead and winced. ‘My head is killing me.’
Jack noticed a huge, dark lump on her forehead. He guessed what had happened. ‘Were you running along the path?’
She nodded. ‘I always go for a run with Sonny in the evening.’
‘You must have hit your head on that branch that overhangs the path. You probably knocked yourself out and fell into the pond.’
‘So how did you bring me round?’ she asked.
‘I, er, I used heart massage and mouth to mouth,’ said Jack coyly.
The girl blushed slightly. ‘You saved my life. I would have died if you hadn’t come along.’
‘You need to thank your dog,’ said Jack. ‘It was his barking that brought me here.’
The dog was now sitting by her side, and licked her face again. ‘So I have you to thank, Sonny-boy.’ She looked at Jack. ‘And you …?’
‘I’m Becky. I don’t know how to thank you enough.’
Jack felt embarrassed. He hardly ever spoke to anyone other than Noah, and he most certainly had never spoken to a teenage girl before. She was drenched from head to foot and her long blond hair was matted in green slime but Jack thought she was beautiful.
‘I’d better get home,’ said Becky. ‘My mum will worry if I’m late.’
She tried to stand up but staggered backwards. Jack caught her arm and steadied her. ‘You’re still very weak after your ordeal. I think you should rest for a while.’
‘It’s starting to get dark,’ said Becky. ‘I have to get home.’
‘Well let me help you. Where do you live?’
‘I’ll come with you,’ said Jack as he held out his arm. ‘Hold on to me – just in case you feel dizzy again.’
Becky took hold of his arm and they set off very tentatively along the path towards the field on the edge of the forest. Sonny walked to heel by his mistress’s side.
‘I live on the far side of the field,’ said Becky. ‘Our cottage backs on to it.’
‘I don’t really know Grasslake that well,’ said Jack. ‘I rarely go there.’