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"I can't find my orange puck!" Her plaintive call drifted through the thickening flurry.
"It's over there." Jason waved to the far end of the pond where a flash of orange peeked through the swirl of flakes. "Hurry up, Pumpkin." He loaded the net and sticks in the back of the truck and dug around in the cargo area for their boots.
A deep, loud cracking sound reverberated across the ravine, quickly followed by Mishayla's scream.
At first, Christina thought a gun had gone off. Instinctively, she flinched and looked wildly around for her daughter. The noise of splashing confirmed her next fear. She spun toward the noise and bolted across the pond with quick, sure strides.
Jason's urgent voice cut through the thudding panic in her head. "Get down!" he commanded. "Get on your stomach before you break through!" She threw herself on her stomach and crawled closer to the hole in the ice.
"I don't see her!" She plunged her arms into the black, icy water and without hesitation, swung her skates over the edge and slid into the hole.
Jason's voice was high and urgent as he yelled, "Chrissie, no!" She took a deep breath anyway and submerged her body. Her skate blades sank in the muddy bottom of the pond--it must have been about shoulder deep for her but too deep for Mishayla.
The water quickly penetrated her clothing and was so cold her skin felt as if it was on fire. An incredible urge to gasp took hold but she fought it. She opened her eyes as wide as she could in the gloom, waving her arms slowly in front of her. Something hard hit her fingers--Mishayla's helmet--then something soft--her jacket. Freezing fingers refused to close, so she enclosed her arms aroundher daughter, gathering her close to her body. She bent her protesting knees and pushed upward. Her head abruptly made contact with the underside of the ice. She winced and cried out. When she opened her eyes again, she saw the bubbles from her silent shout race to the surface and spread out against the ice. She must have misjudged her position. Running out of air, she followed the crawling bubbles with her fingers until she found the opening. A hand grasped her wrist and pulled.
She broke through the surface, gasping with the cold. Her blurry, ice-encrusted vision slowly cleared until she saw Jason's panic-stricken face looking at her.