In a soft hushed whisper, "I can't,
Walker, I just can't." She tries to push away from him, drops her
eyes, not wanting him to see the terror in them, but he tightens his arms
and pulls her up tight against his chest.
He murmurs into her ear, "Alex, I know this is going to be hard for you, but honey, there's no other way." As she buries her face into his neck, he feels her trembling and wishes to God that he didn't have to put her through this. But with Jessie…
Mumbling against his throat, "What if I can't, Walker. What if I don't make it? What if I panic?"
He loosens his arms and gently leans her back, kissing her softly on the forehead, "Honey, I have all the faith in the world in you. I know you can do it." He tilts her face up then and looks deeply into her eyes. "Just remember, I love you."
"When should I go?"
He hears the quiver in her voice, pulls her back down against him, "While it's still light, honey. It will be easier on you, then." He kisses her lips softly, "The longer you think about it, the harder it will be."
She lays her head against his chest, and snuggles as close as she can without aggravating his injury and glances at Jessie, asleep, lying across his chest. She pulls him close in an almost panic grip, kisses him tenderly then turns and steps into the water.
They had been on vacation, the first with Jessie. She was almost two and they thought she was old enough to enjoy a trip to the large zoo at Galveston. It was a glorious two weeks of sight seeing. Jessie had been completely fascinated with the animals and the birds, especially the monkeys. She had begged to go see them every day and had been so enthralled with them, that Walker and Alex had gotten her a stuffed gorilla and a large poster showing all the different species of them.
On the way back to Dallas, Alex's car had blown a tire as they had traveled through the hills. Walker had pulled over to the side of the road as far as possible to be away from traffic while he changed it. Alex and Jessie were sitting under a scrawny tree trying to stay cool when Alex saw a large opening in the side of the hill. After Walker had finished, he joined them in the shade and Alex mentioned the cave. They stopped at the entrance, deciding not to go in since they had Jessie with them, but when a rabbit went hopping back into the cave, Jessie went running after it, screaming with the excitement of the chase thereby not hearing her parents telling her to stop.
Walker and Alex had followed after her to catch her before she got lost, but the screaming had vibrated loose some precariously balanced rocks and as they started shaking, Walker had grabbed Jessie, pushed her into Alex's arms then shoved them out of the way.
When the noise and dust had settled, Alex stood up with Jessie in her arms, and began looking around for Walker. She found him half buried under the boulders, unconscious. She sat Jessie down on the ground and began pulling the rocks off of him. She looked up once to see Jessie helping. Alex could hear him moaning as she tossed the rocks away from him, but didn't take the time to assess his injuries until he was completely free. After checking to make sure his arms weren't broken, she grabbed him by the shirt collar and pulled him away from the boulders afraid they might do more falling. She finally stopped, placing him next to a small pond of water and began checking him for broken bones. As she began running her hands over his legs, he groaned loudly and began flailing his arms about.
"Walker, don't. It's all right. Shh…" As he settled down, she tore her sleeve off, soaked it in the water and began wiping his face.
"Alex…" he moaned. "Jessie…?"
"She's all right, honey. Just lie still while I check you over, okay."
"It's my leg, I think … it's broken."
"I know … let me get it stabilized, okay?" With nothing in the cave but rocks and several short sticks, she removed his shirt, cut it into strips and managed to make some splints for his leg. The splints wouldn't take to much jostling, but they should hold temporarily, anyway.
After she had Walker taken care of and resting comfortably, she picked up Jessie and sat down beside him. Jessie reached over and put her arms around her Daddy's neck and fell asleep lying across his chest. Alex laid her head next to his, and murmured, "Walker, how are going to get out of here?"
"I don't know, hon, I don't know." He tightened his arm around her, bringing her close. He lay still for a long time thinking about their predicament. When he felt Alex relax against him, he knew she had fallen asleep, too. Far into the night his mind worked frantically trying to come up with a way to get his wife and child out of this cave, but with his leg broken, he knew that whatever chance they had to get out would fall to Alex. He finally fell asleep from exhaustion.
He woke up when Jessie began stirring in his arms. As he sat up his eyes fell on the pool of water and the illumination along one edge of it. He glanced around the cave, trying to figure out what was causing the strange light in the water. He was still bewildered at the sight when Alex sat up and saw the perplexed look on his face. "Walker, what is it?"
"Alex, the pond! Do you see the light…?" Then it hits him. The light in the water means that the sun is shining on the water on the other side! To get out, all they had to do was swim under water to the other side. His smile faded as he realized that Alex would have to swim underwater to save them. He looked at Alex and saw her staring at him. He pulled her into his arms, dreading what he was going to have to ask of her. It was going to take everything she had to go into that water. When she had almost drowned in that tank of water, she had developed a deep fear of going under water. Not all water, but anywhere that it was deep, she would go into an unreasonable panic.
Walker watches as she steps into the water, never looking back. When she disappears under the water, he draws in his breath, shuts his eyes and sends a prayer to the man upstairs. He tightens his arm around Jessie, "Mommy…"
"It's alright, baby. Mommy will be back in a little while, you just rest, okay?"
He starts feeling warm and knows that he is getting a fever and there is a strong possibility that he would pass out. He turns Jessie around in his arms "Honey, if I fall asleep, I want you to say right here by my side, okay? And hold my hand. Will you do that for Daddy?" She nods and he is glad that Alex had left before the fever had started. As he waits, fighting to stay awake, he is almost in a panic wondering what is happening. His eyes start drooping and the last thing he remembers is praying that he is right about the pond. He jerks awake when he hears Jessie screaming. As he looks up there is suddenly a big eruption from the pond. As he watches, he sees Alex come up out of the water with a large smile on her face. He smiles when he sees her then promptly passes out.
When he wakes again, Alex is standing by the side of his bed. She leans over and kisses him lightly on the lips, and murmurs, "Hi Cowboy."
"Are you and Jessie…?"
"Yes, we're both fine. But I think you're going to be laid up for awhile."
He follows her eyes as the move down his body, then moans when he sees his right leg in a cast from ankle to mid thigh and left leg wrapped in Ace bandage from ankle to knee. I take it they both weren't broken?"
"No, honey, just the right one is broken, the left ankle is badly bruised, but you're still going to be out of commission for awhile." She leans over him and kisses him deeply before pulling away and looking very serious into his eyes. "As you probably know I've conquered my fear of water. You and Jessie were the biggest catalyst that brought that about. I knew your lives depended on me getting through to the other side. The thought of you two is what kept me going when I was so scared that all I wanted to do was go back. When I finally broke out of the water and saw the car, I was never so happy in my life."
"I knew you could do it honey. You just had to have the right reason."
She smiles as she looks at him with love in her eyes, "You and Jessie were my reason."