Effie Freer loved to take a shower. The tingle that the hot shafts of water gave her body was great; she would dance in the shower, singing to herself and have so much fun!
Which made it all the more strange that she hated the water of the swimming pool so much; it smelt and tasted horrible as she did seem to swallow rather a lot of it as she tried to swim.
Effie, on the other hand, loved a hot bubble bath soaking away the cares of her busy day, head covered in a bubble crown, wearing a bubble beard.
She hated learning to swim. The float went one way and her legs went another and her head was always under water as she seemed to always sink like a stone.
She loved it when her Dad sprayed her with water using the garden hose, sending her giggling to find a towel, before she returned to get sprayed again.
The noise and the echo at the swimming pool hurt her ears. She could never hear the teacher, just a bubbling babble.
Effie loved to splash and jump in the sea, being careful of course not to get her head under the surface, and then get fish and chips at the end of the day.
But learning to swim, Effie hated it.
“Kick your legs!”
“Keep that float up!”
“Point those toes!”
“Head up high!”
“Push those arms!”
“In and out, in and out!”
Effie wanted OUT.
The noise, the splashing, the taste, the constant commands to do this, to do that and all that happened was that her arms got tired, her eyes would sting and her legs would ache and she would swallow so much horrible nasty tasting water.
Every Friday she would try, “Got tummy ache mum.”
“Is it swimming today?” she would ask.
“Don’t know…” Effie would lie.
“Silly girl, just do your best.”
Failed again, swimming it was.
“One day you’ll be pleased.” Her mum would always say.
One day never, Effie thought.
Now it could be called a stroke of luck, but any other day it would have been a disaster. Effie fell off the bus, she cut her leg. It hurt a lot and Cinnamon took her to first aid where they patched it up, then sent her to the seats to watch the lesson. Phew thought Effie, but Ouch! Felt Effie. The top group were practising their life saving skills. In they would jump and out they would get. Cinnamon waved at Effie, straightened her costume and off she went. Legs astride, arms out wide, palms down, head up. She stayed on top of the water and did not sink. How did she do that thought Effie and watched carefully as she again jumped in and made a perfect entry. Cinnamon waved again, then pulled on her pyjamas, was she going to bed Effie giggled to herself? Then in she jumped again and swam to a girl who had her hand in the air. Effie watched as Cinnamon swam behind her and cupped her chin then swam back to the side with her. So very clever thought Effie then watched as the girl did the same for Cinnamon. How clever they all are thought Effie and shrugged her shoulders. She wished she didn’t hate swimming so much, but she did find it so difficult. She had to admit though; this had been her best swimming lesson ever as she limped to the bus with her best friend Cinnamon Fletcher.
Later that week she was off to the newsagent to pick up her Dads magazine. Her leg recovered, she ran to the shop. Stopping at every road she came to and looking carefully for traffic both ways, but racing off again. Over the canal; bridge and off to the Corner Shop. She thanked Mr Thomas and paid him the money and started back home. She waved and smiled at Mrs Evans who was walking her dog. She smiled and waved at Mrs Brown who was pushing her new baby in the pram. She tickled the baby’s chin and ran off again. She ran towards the bridge then suddenly heard.
“My cat, may cat, please help!” She could just see over the top of the bridge and a woman started to wave at her from the canal bank.
“My cat, help me…”
She saw the woman trying to reach the cat who was in its basket floating in the canal. She could not reach it. Effie looked back down the road. No sign of Mrs Brown or Mrs Evans. No one to be seen,
“Help me please I can’t swim!”
Me neither, thought Effie, but she ran down the side of the canal to where the woman stood.
“I fell over and dropped him in, what can we do?” the woman said crying.
We? thought Effie, what can we do? Effie looked for a stick or a rope or anything to drag the basket back, but there was nothing. What could she do to help?
Then Effie did what her mum later said was one of the most dangerous and stupid things she had ever done. She jumped in! She kicked her shoes off and jumped into the canal! Just like Cinnamon had done the other day at the pool. Legs astride, arms out wide, palms down, head up, and she didn’t sink. She blinked her eyes and calmly swam towards the basket. Off she went, kicking her legs and moving her arms, out and in, in and out, the perfect breaststroke. She took the basket and turned around so her back was to the canal bank, then holding tight, she kicked her legs up and down, up and down and moved back towards where the woman stood. The basket was grabbed and then Effie was grabbed and pulled out of the water. A coat was thrown around her shoulders and someone handed her the shoes she had kicked away. She was surrounded by people and buy loads of noise. Her back was patted and the woman was thanking her, over and over again. A soaking wet cat was pushed into her face and she sneezed so loudly, she thought she would wake the dead!
An ambulance arrived and took her to hospital for a check up. It had to be done, she had after all jumped into the canal!
Effie cried when she saw her Mum.
“I’m so sorry Mummy.”
“That was so dangerous Effie.”
She knew her Mum was cross as she never called her Effie, unless she was really mad at her. So as you can imagine, she never, ever called her Effie!
“You could have drowned!”
“But I swam mummy, I actually swam!”
“I swam and saved the cat!” she was so pleased with herself.
“I know my love. How clever, but don’t you ever…”
“I know Mummy, never again, but I can swim!” So pleased with herself, but feeling really guilty for scaring her mum.
The Doctor came in and gave her the all clear and off home they went. But of course, not before Effie had thanked the Nurse, and thanked the Doctor, for looking after her so well.
Effie was in the local newspaper
“LOCAL GIRL SAVES DROWNING CAT!” was the headline.
School made a fuss of her, but warned against doing the same and Effie admitted it had been a very silly thing to do. Luckily it had worked out right. She knew she would not do it again. But the most part of her was so pleased as she had proved to herself that she could actually swim!
Next Friday came quickly though, “Mum, I’ve got tummy ache.”
“I’ll write you a letter.”
Effie hugged her mum.
“But this will be the last time ever.” She warned.