Mark threw a stone into the iced over lake. There was a loud cracking sound followed by a few smaller ones. He moved closer to the edge, crunching over the frosted grass.
The other six children gathered around too and looked at what had happened to the smooth white surface. Large lines cut there jagged way across and small sections had broken away. Water bubbled slowly upwards and over the ice chucks.
‘It’s not safe to skate on,’ Mark declared.
The children groaned. They had hurried out of school, gone home to get their ice skates then rushed to the lake. Their were cheeks were flushed red with the cold and they were all eager to have some fun. Now their hopes had been dashed.
Mark dropped his shoulders and looked further out across the lake. Being the oldest he felt he should come up with an idea of what to do now. However, nothing came to him. He looked up at the already darkening sky.
‘Maybe tomorrow,’ he said in a quiet voice, ‘it looks like it might snow properly.’
‘Then we can skate?’ one of the youngest girls called out.
‘Maybe,’ Mark answered.
He turned away from the lake and led the children back to the bridge. From there they could see the large cracks the stone had made more fully. Water was now lapping around the tiny ice floats and making them bump together.
‘Everyone should go home,’ Mark spoke.
With loud mutterings, all the children turned and began heading off to their houses. Mark lingered. He looked over the bridge once more, watching the sky changing color. Giggling voices drew his attention away and he watched as two teenage girls appeared at the edge of the lake.
Without really knowing why, he ducked down and watched them putting on their ice skates. A part of him knew he should shout over that it wasn’t safe, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. The girls went on the ice and began skating and Mark spied on them, but even if they had noticed him they were too busy.
The girls’ scarfs and loose hair flew about as they spun. They laughter rose and fell. Mark recognised them from school, not that he had ever been as close to them as he was right now. He liked the red-head the best, Rose was her name, but her friend, Beth, with the darker hair was also pretty.
Mark heard a massive crack and before his eyes the girls disappeared. A large hole appeared in the middle of the lake and water was splashing up from it. Without thinking, he ran over the bridge and down on to the lake. The ice held his weight, but he was slipping everywhere.
He reached the hole, even though the ice was breaking up around him. He tried to reach out for the girls as they hands were reaching up from the water. He could hear them both struggling to breath and stay a float. He grabbed hold of one of them and tried to pull her out, but she was too heavy.
Fighting down panic that he would fall in too , he tried harder and managed to drag Rose out. She lay face down on the still cracking ice then tried to get up. Mark moved on to help her friend, but as he reached out for that hand, it slipped from his and down into the water.
‘Beth can’t swim!’ Rose cried.
Rose joined Mark and their hands both dipped into the freezing water in search of the other girl. Mark’s hand only meet water. From underneath them came more cracking sounds and instinct kicked in.
‘We have to get off!’ Mark yelled.
‘No! We can’t leave her!’ Rose gasped, water dripping off her.
‘We have no choice!’ Mark answered back.
He grabbed Rose and started pulling her away. She tried resist, but her ice skates made it easier for Mark to move her forward. They reached the bank as a handful of adults arrived and came to meet them.
‘There’s a girl still in there!’ Mark shouted and pointed across the lake.
The adults rushed into action, Mark turned his attention fully to Rose, who knelt on the snow crying and shaking. He helped wrap her in a blanket and get her to her feet.
As they were walked away by two adults, Mark looked back over his shoulder. The other adults were pulling the girl from the lake. He could see them trying to help her, but it was too late.
Story prompt from: https://scvincent.com/2016/12/01/thursday-photo-prompt-cracked-ice-writephoto/ with thanks.