The Pig’s Final Swim (Part 5)

 Henry’s vision was a little blurry, and it took a minute to refocus. He looked out upon the rising, rushing water, and saw something like a big black frog floating his way, a few feet out from where he stood. As it neared, Henry realised it was not a frog. He leapt into the water, which was now halfway up his body, and scooped the soggy creature up with his snout. “I’ve got you,” he squealed, and waded back to shore. He set the kitten on the grass.

    The young creature looked like a scrunched up wet rag. It lay there, flat and still. Henry nudged the kitten with his snout; still it lay there. He rolled it halfway over with his trotter, but it just flopped back on its side again.

 “Looks like you found the kittens. Henry!” called the big pig.

 The others laughed and snorted.

 “I thought you wanted to help the kittens, Henry,” mocked one of the sows, “not drown them!”

 As the other pigs jeered, Henry looked out again at the water. His urgent gaze moved upstream from where he had seen the dead kitten being swept away, all the way up to the avocado trees. From a low branch on one of the trees, something small and black fell and splashed in the water. Henry leapt and raced along the water’s edge and then sprang into the rising tide.

    He tried leaping above the water as he did before, but it was no use; the water was now up to his shoulders, and the current against him was too strong. After pushing and kicking and paddling, Henry found the best way—the only way—to move ahead was to let his forward half float while pushing off the ground with his back legs. His eyes widened as it occurred to him he was walking on two feet like a bird. He shook the thought from his head, narrowed his eyes and forged ahead. As he neared the avocado trees, he heard a soft but desperate meow. He looked about and saw a kitten floating toward him, struggling to keep its head above water. Henry grunted and pushed as hard as he could with his powerful back legs. With three mighty leaps, he moved himself ten feet to the left and into the path of the lost kitten just before the current would have swept it past. Henry opened his mouth wide and trapped the terrified creature. It latched onto his snout, then scrambled up and clung him, right in front of his eyes. Henry spluttered out a mouthful of water, then cried, “I can’t see. Climb onto my head.” The kitten crept awkwardly up onto Henry’s head; he winced as the it dug its claws into his skin. Light flashed in the sky. “Where are the other kittens?” called Henry. Thunder cracked.

 “The tree,” said the kitten in a trembling voice. “They’re in the tree.”

 “Okay, hold on tight,” said Henry, pumping his little hind legs beneath the water.

© 2021 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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