Jennie Simmons screamed as her five year old son, seemingly in slow motion, toppled from the side of the quay into the churning waters of the harbour. It was clarity of sight that she had never experienced before and hoped she would never again. Timmy had been distracted by seagull landing close to steal a dropped chip. He had let go of his balloon (Oh God! Why had she bought a balloon?) which had floated up out of reach.
He’d followed it, of course, stepping too close to the edge so that his next step took him plunging into the water.
She raced over, still screaming his name and feeling that she was doomed to slow motion. Other people were reacting to her screams but getting in her way rather than helping. All Jennie could do was point at the turbulent waves and the scrap of wool that had been Timmy’s hat.
Onlookers wore horror as a shroud, scanning the waves for any sign of the mite as Jennie pushed past them, desperate for a sign of her son. “Timmy! Timmy!” she screamed again.
Jeannie spun around to the sight of him sat on a bench eating an ice-cream, sans hat but with his balloon, the one she’d seen float away, tied firmly to one wrist.
She dashed over and shook him. “What have I told you? You never, ever go near the edge!”
Timmy began to cry and onlookers turned away, cheated of the spectacle of a newsworthy drama. “You’re dry!” she said. “But… I saw you fall in.”
“That man saved me.” Timmy pointed to a dark skinned man in a grey suit. “An’ he got me my balloon an’ an ice-cream.”
Jeannie smiled at the man. “Thank you,” she said. “You must be an angel.”
The man glanced upward as if he expected to see a cloud of his namesakes. “Not exactly,” he said. “It was nothing really.”
© Rachel Green 2007