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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Lifeguard (11/09/06)

TITLE: Trial Program


The sand was soothingly warm. A gentle breeze kissed her face. With a sleepy yawn Faith watched seabirds glide silently over a distant wave. A solitary, early morning board rider paddled out across the sandbar in search of the best. Sunbeams danced on the surface around him. A shipping tanker seemed to glide across the smooth far-away horizon while the sound of waves crashing ashore filled the air.

It was Faith’s first day on the job as a lifeguard. Max the head lifeguard, slouched high on the lookout tower; binoculars swinging from the arm of his deck chair. Faith was happy to stretch her long legs on the beach below. She watched a young mother dressed in red chase her small child around a sandcastle they sculpted in the wet sand. The little one was wearing matching bright yellow shirt and briefs. Faith blinked drowsily shifting her slender body into the shade of the tower.

“Help, someone please help!”

The scream jerked Faith to attention. Max almost fell off the tower as he took the steps two at a time. Faith’s gaze fell on the young woman in the red bathing suit screaming hysterically at a small yellow object bobbing in the waves. A quick assessment alerted Faith to a cross-current. Seizing a short coiled rope, about half an inch in thickness, she raced down the beach and plunged into the breakers.


She turned momentarily and saw Max dragging the life-raft behind him. Her strong legs kicked through the waves swimming against the pull of the flow. Tolerating aching limbs, her eyes remained focused on the tiny head that kept disappearing below the surface. It felt like an eternity of great effort. Her eyes and throat stung from the salt. Training had not prepared her for the fear she saw before her. Closing the distance Faith could see the little boy’s eyes wide with fright and gasping for breath. His lips were tinged with a thin blue band. “Only a few more yards, hang on little one.” She held one end of the rope tightly between her teeth causing the rope to trail behind but as she advanced forward it gave her full use of her tiring limbs. Short wheezing sounds escaped her lungs as she convinced herself to breathe.

“That’s it Faith. Let him take the rope.” Max spoke clear and precisely as he approached from behind.

The small child gripped the rope briefly then lunged forward wrapping his little arms around her neck. Gasping from the pressure the lifeguard twisted awkwardly. The sea attempted to consume them with its every rise and fall. Faith swam with determination to the nearby raft.

Max reached over the side and picked the boy up by his shirt sleeve. Faith began to tread water for a few minutes while Max rubbed and patted the little one’s back. He gave a choking cough and vomited seawater all over Max before she headed to the beach. The surfer appeared unexpectedly forcing her to submerge below the board as it threatened to intercept her.

By the time Faith reached the dry sand she was exhausted but relieved the child was safe. Taking a mental note to lecture the surfer later, she gave a few hoarse coughs before returning to meet Max and help pull the raft ashore. The boy’s mother raced to retrieve her baby from Max’s arms.

“Thankyou, he was so quick. I only turn my back for a moment to get the towels.”

“Don’t thank me, thank Faith our newest lifeguard. It’s a trial program and I think she past with flying colors.” Max grinned.

Faith barked at hearing her name and shook violently spraying salty water over everyone. Max and the woman laughed. The child struggled from his mothers embrace and wrapped his arms once more around his rescuer’s neck.

“Say thankyou to Faith, Ethan.”

“Good doggy.”

“Woof woof.” Faith replied with excitement and licked the little boy’s face until he giggled with delight.

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This article has been read 1080 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Valora Otis11/17/06
Beautiful imagry. A nice escape for me while living in the cold here in Minnesota. A couple of words that could be changed out, but pretty minor and didn't distract me as a reader. The ending was WOW! Totally unexpected and delightful. A high score from me for creativity. Well done.
Amy Michelle Wiley 11/18/06
Woah, cool twist! I totally didn't see that coming. There were a few minor spots of unnecessary information (like the size of the rope), but otherwise this was great!
Jesus Puppy 11/18/06
Wooohooo us dogs have our days.. I loved the twist in this one. Good job.
Debbie Sickler11/19/06
This was great. I loved the way you kept the secret of Faith being a dog right until the end.

We already talked about the grammar mistakes earlier, so my only comment to add, would be about saying Faith made a mental note to lecture the suffer later. It was a nice sentence as you read, but once you find out she's a dog, it no longer makes sense. A dog wouldn't be able to lecture anyone.

Other than that, I think you did a great job with good descriptive writing in the opening to paint the picture well and the twist at the end was perfect.

I'd love to see what you could pull off if you took an hour. :)
Jan Ackerson 11/20/06
Are there really lifeguard dogs? What a wonderful program! And if you just made it up--someone should look into it!

I loved it all up to the "woof woof." It's a personal preference, but I try to avoid words that innacurately represent sounds. Better to say "Faith yipped with excitement..." or some such.

Great build-up of suspense, and fun surprise ending.
Laurie Glass 11/20/06
I love surprises and you surprised me at the end with this one. Good job. :)
Donna Haug11/20/06
Oh my! LOL What a great twist. I love that! No hint what so ever. Terrific story.
Betty Castleberry11/20/06
I *love* a good dog story. This was a fun read, and I'm going to read it again!
Edy T Johnson 11/21/06
You stinker! Here I was thinking this was a teenage girl lifeguard, and so when I discovered she was a DOG, naturally I had to go back and read your story a second time. But, I think I caught you: Faith made a mental note to lecture the surfer? How would that work? I suppose barking would do it, but only if nipping the act in the bud.

Anyway, very good writing, pulling the reader into the heart of your story.
Phyllis Inniss11/21/06
I agree with the other reviewers. I enjoyed the article and liked the surprise ending.
Joanne Sher 11/21/06
LOVED the ending - and, like everyone else, I had NO idea it was coming! Great description throughout.
Allison Egley 11/21/06
Hehe I too loved the surprised ending. I think the surfer bit was unneeded, but that's about it. I loved how you made Faith so realistic.
Sandra Petersen 11/22/06
In the first paragraph you took me away with your descriptions. I felt like I was there.

Okay, I should have read all the way to the end because now I can compliment you on the neat twist you gave the ending. I actually thought Faith was a young woman, even at the first bark. (Takes me a little to catch on, you know.) What a surprise to find that Faith was a lifeguard dog.

There were a few typos here and there but this was a fine story well-told.
Trina Courtenay11/22/06
Okay I must admit you got me! I mean really got me. Maybe it's the blonde hair dye soaking into my brain but I didn't get the twist until I read the other comments. lol Honestly, I just thought Ethan was light headed or something. How funny is that? Oh my1 Here I am showing you all my true colors! hehe Anyway, this is another great entry, holding my interest all the way and making me laugh at meself. Way to Write!
Marilee Alvey11/22/06
HOOKED IN! Way to go! Creative and innovative. You have lovely descriptions, a skill I lack, thus value all the more. However, I would be careful to hook the reader quickly in the first couple of sentences to keep them reading. Don't omit any of the lovely description: it creates a wonderful, relaxed mood to contrast with the hectic events that follow. First, however, you must catch the reader's interest. Sadly, we Americans have learned to expect instant gratification, so if a reader isn't hooked in the first two sentences, he or she may toss an incredible read. Congratulations on a really skillful story. You'll be moving up soon, so I'll just wave goodbye to you now!
Bonnie Derksen11/23/06
Wowee! I am so impressed, Chrissy. Very well done. Loved the excellent descriptive paragraph at the beginning, and other than the "lecture" that was mentioned before, I reread the story with Faith as a dog and it worked...real well. This is a great heartwarming story to close my day off with.
Blessings on your pen, girlfriend.
Val Clark11/24/06
You did very well for a story that only took 20 mins to write! Great description, gripping story and you had me fooled until the end as well.