She stood up to her ankles in the ford between Low Row and Feetham, and watched the water rush over the stones on the other side.
“Whose idea was this? My feet are freezin’!
“You need to live a little, Cass! You’d do better if you went in deeper”...Vicky shouted from her position, perfectly poised on one of the larger stones, where the river (it was a river now after almost a week of rain), was at its deepest.
“It’s alright for you! You’re used to this. I miss my hair straighteners and my lovely warm, comfy bed”!
“Wimp”! Vicky called back, as she jumped easily between stones, holding her arms and extending one leg in an arabesque as she landed.
“Wimp, I may be, but I’m not coming in any further...”
The water had pooled and risen up her calves.
Seeing that there was no one but her friend around, Cass hitched up her dress, and tucked it into her knickers.
She stepped a little closer to the middle, and stomped briefly on the ground. She could still feel it, reassuringly solid beneath her feet.
“Here. Watch this!” Vicky called over. Cass instinctively covered her eyes, but peered reluctantly through fingers, just in case she needed to tell the coroner what happened!
With that, Vicky turned and propelled herself into the air, almost like a pirouette, landing easily on the stone next but one.
Cass’s stomach flipped, “Could you stop it? You’re scaring me...We need to go. It’ll be dark before long.”
“Wuss”! Vicky retorted.
“Ere...” A man’s voice came out of nowhere, “You don’t want paddle int’ ford! It be the death a thee”
The girls looked over to see the shadow disappear almost as quickly as it had come.
“Oh no, it’s fine. We’re going now” Vicky replied, reluctantly stepping off her stone and making her way towards the edge.
“Where did he go?” Vicky looked around, but in fast fading light could see nothing but the shadow her friend, still waiting in the shallows of the ford.
Suddenly, the brightest light came down the hill, and was upon the ford without warning, - accompanied by the rush of water, and a sickening thud.
Vicky screamed as her eyes searched frantically for Cass.
There was nothing but headlights, seemingly frozen a short distance away.
She waded towards them, almost faster than her legs could carry her, occasionally slipping forward as the water pushed against her.
Calling for Cass again, Vicky was blinded by the beams and shivering as she reached the place near to where her friend had been standing.
She didn’t even look up at the face of the man who stood crying in front of her.
“Where is she...Where IS SHE?!
Vicky asked through sobs, already knowing and dreading the answer.
“I tried to stop...suddenly she was there and ...I couldn’t...she didn’t....The brakes”
Within minutes Vicky found herself sitting in the back of an ambulance, wrapped in blankets and tin foil. She watched hopelessly through tears, as the stretcher carrying Cass’s body passed the door.
For the rest of her life, she would never forget today. The blue lights of the ambulance reflecting in the water, the thud, and the sudden searing cold and the incredible guilt that held her heart
Neither would she ever know the identity of the shadow that had forewarned them, a little too late.
(Please excuse any formatting issues)!