"I was only asking." Bern pouted.
"Soz, ha the seat's dry!"
"Just as well or I'd sit on you."
We sat and ate our now slightly rubbery pizza and luke warm cocoa watching the gurgling Ahr make its way towards the Rhein.
"You like it here Bern?"
“What? Right here?”
“You know what I mean, here like Germany, Dernau.”
“Well okay better than alright, I mean I'm glad I came, you're friends are pretty cool with stuff and you get to do some well kewl stuff.”
“I'm not sure that I'd want to stay forever but people seem more, I dunno accepting, less judgemental.”
“They think its normal for teenage girls to get preggers in England coz it gets into the papers here quite a bit.”
“I wish I wasn't, no that came out wrong. What I mean is…”
“Is that you're okay with being pregnant but wish you hadn't got pregnant?”
“Yeah, something like that.” She confirmed. “Anyway I like staying with you and Aunt Jen and your dad, your family is way cool.”
“Give over, anyone'd do the same.”
“What? Take in someone else's pregnant jailbird daughter? I don't think so, they weren't exactly queuing up when your mom offered.”
“I know not. I do miss Warsop though, not as much as I thought I would but I can't wait to see Mum and Dad again and despite everything I miss the girls too.”
“Me too.” I agreed.
“You fancy a bit of a walk?” I suggested a few minutes later.
“Could do I suppose, where to?”
“Well we could walk down the river to Bad and get the train from there.”
“Okay I guess, as long as it's not too far.”
“Dunno, a couple of kilometres maybe.”
“Come on then before I change my mind.”
The footpath had been cleared but the riverbanks were still white over, even some of the rocks in the river had snow on them. We ambled downstream stopping from time to time to watch the ducks and heron on the river. A couple of other people were out but after we'd walked for about ten minutes we found ourselves alone, no one in sight in any direction.
“Hey!” Bern's snowball hit me on the back of the head, “just you wait.”
I dropped my bag and stooped to make my own weapon.
‘Whuuumph!' a second missile just missed me.
I launched my own attack but I'm hopeless at chucking stuff with much accuracy so I missed the target.
“Ner, ner! Can't get me-ee!” Bern sent another lump of snow in an arc towards me; I just managed to dodge the incoming.
This means war! I set too with a vengeance, moving to a pile of cleared snow and continued by Bern bound barrage. On her part, Bern had moved across the riverbank for fresh supplies so my efforts started to land in the river, which must've surprised a few fish.
The battle raged for at least ten minutes.
“Enough!” Bern held up her hands, “my hands are freezing.”
It was too late to prevent my current effort from leaving the launch pad and for only about the second time in the onslaught I hit Bern, square in the face! Sugar! It knocked her off balance and in a sort of slow motion ballet she twisted about, lost her footing on the bank and fell face first into the icy waters of the river.
“Bern!” I screamed rushing towards her.
The river was fairly deep and fast flowing just here and whilst Bernie is a good swimmer she was now flapping about midstream and being carried downstream towards the weir under the next bridge.
“Hang on, I'll get you out!” I screamed.
A quick look round revealed no immediate help at hand but a bit further down was a lifebuoy, I took off like blue arsed fly, slipping and sliding on the snowy riverside.
“I'm coming Bern.”
She was still flapping about; her coat and stuff were hindering her self-help programme. Don't drown Bern, please!
I reached the buoyancy aid and managed to get it to the riverside, I was a few metres below Bern so I lobbed it into the water so she would get washed into it. The ploy worked and she managed to grab it as she passed me. I braced myself as best I could and despite nearly joining her at one point, got her to the riverside.
“Bern! You alright?”
She didn't reply although she was clearly breathing. I managed with some difficulty to get her out of the water, sugar she's going blue. I pulled out my phone and hit 112.
It seemed like forever before anyone came, I took my coat off and wrapped it round her before hugging her close, I heard somewhere it was a good way of warming someone up.
“Fraulein, are you okay?”
“Not me, Bernie.”
“This is Bernie?” The woman knelt down and started checking Bernie out.
“Uh huh, we were only playing about.”
“Get the tray Joachim! And blankets. What's your name love?”
“Like the actress?”
I vaguely nodded.
“Okay Drew, tell me what happened.”
“Please help her.” I begged.
“We will but it'll help if we know what happened so can you tell me?”
“W-we were having a Schneeballschlacht.”
“Okay go on.” She was checking Bernie's pulse.
“I finally landed one on her but she lost her balance and fell in the river.”
“Then what? Come on Jo!”
“I saw the float so I ran down here and threw it to her, please say she'll be okay?
“She's doing well, so you pulled her out of the water?”
“She stopped moving so I dragged her to the side and pulled her up.”
Maria looked at the slight girl shivering and gripping her friend's body tightly, she was petite, much smaller than her friend, how she'd dragged the bigger girl out of the water was anyone's guess.
“Bought time Jo.”
“Sorry Maria, lets get her into the bus.”
The woman pried Drew loose and between them lifted Bern onto the stretcher thing before wrapping the unconscious girl in blankets and heat pads.
“You did very well young lady, how long was she in the water?” the paramedic asked.
“Er I dunno, a couple of minutes, we were just playing snow balls and she fell in, please god let her be alright.”
“I'm sure she will be, come on lets get you both to the hospital.”
I didn't really know what was happening, I guess I was in shock myself but I sort of recall being in an ambulance with a blanket round me, a paramedic tending to Bern as we blue lighted to the emergency dept of the Ahrtal Hospital.
“Gaby? What are you doing here?” a woman I vaguely recognised as Gloria Pilsen enquired.
“What about her Gaby?”
“What about the river?”
“Where is she now?” Frau Pilsen asked.
“Stay here, I'll find out.”
As a midwife Gloria Pilsen new that the trauma could be dangerous to Bernie's baby, she hurried to find out what was happening.
I've no idea how long I was there on that chair shaking slightly from a combination of cold and sobbing. From time to time one of the nurses came to check on me and at some point I found myself clutching a cup of coffee.
“Gaby? Gaby love, we need to contact your parents do you know where we can find them?”
“Spain race.” I mumbled.
“They're in Spain?”
“Where's your Dad Gab?” Frau Pilsen tried again.
“The drinks factory?”
I nodded, “Bernie, where's Bernie?” I exclaimed.
“Shush shush, she's alright.”
“Can I see her?”
“Soon love, soon. They're just doing some tests and she needs to rest.”
“She's ok? She wasn't answering, she was so cold.”
I broke out my dwindling supply of tears again.
“Hey less of that, you saved her life pulling her out of the river.”
“But it was my fault she was in the river, I threw a snowball and she lost her balance and fell in the water!” I sniffed.
“So it was an accident, you still cold?”
I nodded again between further sobs.
“Let me see if I can get your Dad and find something to warm you up.”
Anna's mum wasn't gone long.
“Come on, let's get you warmed up.” She helped me to my feet and I shuffled to a cubicle where she helped me onto the cot.
“Lie down Gabs, the doctor'll be in in a minute, we'll soon have you right.”
It probably was only a couple of minutes before a woman doctor came and joined us. I don't really remember much but she checked me out and spoke to Frau Pilsen who for some reason was still there.
“Okay young lady, I'm just gonna give you something to let you relax and get some sleep.”
I felt a slight prick in my arm before the world went black.
To be continued....
Maddy Bell 24.02.09 © 2009