The Immersion

10 August, 2011 at 15:56 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , )

“Come on! It’ll be fun!”

The small girl looked up at her father doubtfully. “But it’s very cold.” she said.

“You’ll soon warm up.”

She frowned with concentration and looked at the wooden contraption outside of the kitchen door. It was bright red. She liked the way the bright red looked against the white of the ground so she nodded decisively.

“Yes.” she said. “Let’s go.”

He pulled the cord of the old-fashioned heater so they’d come back to a warm house and then he pulled on her boots and bundled her out of the door into the small wooden toboggan. She fitted perfectly and rested her booted feet upon the tops of the runners. He picked up the washing line that he’d fixed to the front and began to pull her down the drive. The day before’s labour was made perfectly worth while by the sudden laugh of delight that bounced over the fallen snow.

The hill was a little further away than he would have liked and her cheeks were almost as red as the homemade toboggan by the time they got there. She clapped her hands together to warm them up and then turned to face the hill.

“Ok,” he said. “Out of there, we need to push it up the hill.”

Her eyes were very wide as she looked up at what was to him a small hill but to one of her small stature must have looked immense. She got out of the toboggan and began to push it up the hill determinedly, he pulled on the washing line. Once they were up the hill he put her back on the toboggan and paused, several other children and parents were there on the hill running and laughing and sledging but she was clearly the youngest. Perhaps he should have waited another year. The hill looked a lot bigger from up here compared to his suddenly small daughter.

“Daddy? Are you going to push me?”

The wide brown eyes looked up at him. He made sure she had the washing line tight in her hands and then, rather than pushing he let go of the toboggan and watched it make it’s way slowly down the snow-covered hill. It speeded up as it went before coming to a gentle stop on the flat at the bottom of the hill. He raced down to it, his heart pounding.

His daughter looked back up at him with her eyes shining.

“Daddy! Daddy! I want to go again! That was fun!”

It was the fifth trip back up the hill of her begging him to push her harder so she could go faster that decided him. The other children with their lighter plastic sledges were whizzing down much faster than she was in the wooden red toboggan, she wanted to go faster and he could see how much she was enjoying it. When she was settled at the top of the hill, her hands gripping the washing line tightly, he dropped his reservations and pushed the little red toboggan – hard. He watched as she sped down the hill, the weight of the wood pulling her faster and faster. The little red toboggan was going so fast that it didn’t come to a halt on the flat as it had before but kept going towards the woodland beyond, ringed with a barbed wire fence. The other parents looked up at his shout as he began to run down the hill.

He saw his daughter lie down flat on the toboggan and go under the barbed wire, her movement only made the sled go faster through the trees. He was aware of the shouts of other parents as he clambered over the fence and his heart almost stopped when he realised that they were shouting about the iced over pond which lay ahead.

The toboggan made it to the pond before him, smashing the ice immediately before it and running it in cracks across the whole of the ice sheet. It had stopped however with one runner embedded beneath the ice and the other still on the frozen mud at the edge. His small daughter had clambered out from the toboggan and stood, washing line in hand, spattered in mud and drenched in sweat.
She looked at him very gravely as he approached and sneezed.

“Daddy can we go home now?” she asked, and sneezed again.

He picked up the toboggan out of the pond. “I think your immune system says we have to go home.”

She sneezed again.

“Definitely.” he said.

Much later, after her hot bath, when she was in her flannel pyjamas and fluffy towelling dressing-gown he asked her whether she had enjoyed her day. She sat curled up next to the radiator and considered his question.

“I enjoyed parts of it.” she said, a serious frown creasing her face.

“What was your favourite thing?” he asked.

She wrinkled her brow in concentration and eventually said with deliberation.

“The immersion heater.”



  1. Sheilagh Lee said,

    I love the end sentence though it makes me wonder is this child very intelligent or an alien?

    • luvlymish said,

      Neither – she’s just heard her parents say the word in the context of a hot bath often enough.

  2. Jae Rose said,

    You plunge us right in here..a wonderfully told story..Jae

    • luvlymish said,

      Thankyou very much.

  3. Mike Patrick said,

    A fun story. My dad once pulled me on a sled with the car. The car stopped, the sled didn’t–until I was wedged underneath.

    • luvlymish said,

      That sounds like so much fun…until the sledge didn’t stop!

  4. Christopher said,

    Thank you for a well wrought tale of a toboggan that reminded me of the bike my dad got me when I was in third grade. It was what he could find for virtually nothing and he fixed it up. We were very poor. I had to stand up to pedal because it was far too big for me. I took that bike to a neighboring town for swimming lessons that summer, in itself a remarkable statement considering today’s realities. My parents let me go in third grade summer on a bike on busy city streets from Berkeley to Oakland for swimming lessons alone. We thought nothing of this. What else would we do? They trusted me to not get lost and the city to care enough for me that I was safe. I was not the only kid doing it like that either. In the other direction was the Saturday matinee movie theater. I went there alone too.

    • luvlymish said,

      The distances my parents let me go on my first bike were astounding considering the safety concerns today. I’m very glad you liked my story.

  5. Shauna said,

    A delightful story! Would love to see this one illustrated. Good job!

    • luvlymish said,

      Thanks. I’m always a little leary of illustrating my work, I might think about it though.

  6. Old Egg said,

    Great tale, well told. It took me back to the days when my brother and I had a home made toboggan we called Meteor. Luckily we never got it going fast enough to go through the fence into the pond at the bottom of the hill!

    • luvlymish said,

      Great name for a toboggan!

  7. Sharp Little Pencil said,

    Mish, this is a sweet story. All of us are getting those memories of childhood, so your comments are also a sweet thread!

    We had an old aluminum saucer. My sister went out at night to make a treacherous course, molded down the hill and then sprinkled with water to form ice. Man, we flew like the devil… and usually ended up in the creek, just as drenched as your little girl! Thanks for the trip… Amy

  8. luvlymish said,

    Glad to have led you somewhere enjoyable! I had forgotten making ice paths – we used to do it at school until we were banned as it was too dangerous!

  9. Joseph Gilmore said,

    Nicely done. Good writing.

    • luvlymish said,


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