#1 The Boy in the River

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The breeze was nippy as Mac and I rowed along the Northern River. It might've been April but the morning air was still as cold as ever, especially out on the water. I took a deep breath in through my nose and pulled back the oar, trying to stay in sync with Mac's long strokes. He always seemed to be one step ahead of me, so trying to keep up was difficult to say the least, especially considering that he was practically twice my size.

"Come on, James!" Mac called from his seat behind me in the back of the canoe, snickering at my heavy panting. "We are almost at the next marker, just a bit further!"

We had been up here countless times before. Each and every time it took my breath away. The river was swift and cold as it cut through the land that rose high to either side of the two man, red canoe. The fog hung low over the river as it was still early morning. The only sounds that could be heard was the gargling of the water and our heavy breathing. I always felt wary when coming out on to the water when it was this quiet out. Mac in the other hand seemed to be enjoying himself as he whistled a merry tune in the back of the canoe. It echoed off of the hills making it sound eerie.

I heaved the oar as we hit another calm spot in the river. There were always a lot of rocks and brush for the oar to get caught on out here. Mac and I had to put in the extra effort to try not to get stuck on anything. The sun was starting to shine down which warmed me up a bit, but not enough to relieve the chill in my bones. The sun had caused more of the morning fog to dissipate, making it easier to navigate the river. I paddled and paddled in my struggling attempt to keep up with this psychopath in the backseat. I grunted and pulled back on the oar. Even though it was cold, I was sweating from the effort and strain that I was putting my body through.

Mac was very muscular. I had told him that he should've joined the police force instead of becoming a grade school science teacher. He just laughed at me, and said that I didn't understand, which wasn't wrong but I would never let him know that. He was the smartest guy that I knew and he was wasting his talents on teaching people who are much younger than him and not as smart. Wait, that's probably why. I snorted a laugh and continued to trudge along at the painful pace that he was setting. I, myself, just barely scraped by in nursing school.

"Alright, we can dock over there by the brush," Mac announced, hopefully taking pity on my weary state. I sighed, loudly, in relief. I helped Mac direct us towards where the water would be at its most shallow and we could pull it up on the shore so that it wouldn't drift away from us, like it had the last time. Being taller, Mac jumped out of the canoe first and began to push the boat up the shore once the water had gotten too shallow for us to paddle in. I leaned over the side of the canoe in an attempt to get out and help him when something in the weeds caught my attention.

"Hey Mac, wait a second," I told him as I squinted my eyes to try to get a better look at the object. From where I was crouched the object looked mostly white but part of it was covered in some form of white cloth. I was concentrating so hard on trying to figure out what the object was that I nearly toppled out of the boat and into the cold water when I saw it move. "D-did y-you see that?"

"Yeah," Mac said as he started to walk towards the figured that was huddled up in the weeds near the shore of the river. Feeling childish for remaining behind in the boat, I got out too and followed right behind him, my feet sinking into the mud and freezing water. Almost immediately after stepping into the water I started shivering, it was way too cold for anything living to be out in this water, at least not by choice. "How strong is your stomach?" Mac whispered in my direction without turning his head away from whatever he was looking at.

"What are you talking about?" I asked him raising an eyebrow as I walked so that I was standing shoulder to shoulder with Mac. God, I wish that I didn't. The thing that I had seen that was huddled up in the weeds, was not an animal or a pile of trash that I thought that it might be, it was a young boy that looked to be about the age of 13. Even working as a nurse the sight of his badly beaten body was enough to make me nauseous.

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