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

By Debbie Roome



Hayley stretched luxuriously, each limb extended kitten like. It was early morning but she was full of energy. If only Mommy and Daddy would wake up. She looked longingly at the plastic swimming ring looped over the end of her bed. She’d helped Mommy choose it and loved the pattern of pink sea horses and yellow crabs. Daddy had made sure it was snug around her chest before taking her into the sea yesterday. How exciting it was as he lifted over the waves and let her hang on his shoulders as they whooshed back to shore. Holidays were such fun. They’d had ice cream and pizza on the beach and Daddy had shown her so many interesting things. Her favorites were the silvery fish flashing round rock pools, and the strong lifeguards who protected the swimmers.

She tossed the bed covers back. Time for another peep in the main bedroom. As she guessed, Mommy and Daddy were still fast asleep. A naughty thought had been growing in her mind and she entertained it again. The sea would be safe if she wore her swimming ring. Yesterday, there had been lots of other daddies swimming. Maybe one of them would help her. She padded to the front door and checked again that the keys were hanging in the lock. Mommy and Daddy had told her to never swim on her own, but she wanted to so badly.

Before she knew it, she was in her bathing suit and on the way down to the beach. It wasn’t sunny and warm like it had been yesterday. In fact, it was windy and a light drizzly rain fell in misty sheets. Hayley didn’t mind. The sea would make her wet anyway. It was a very short walk to the sand and she was glad she didn’t have to cross any roads.

The waves were bigger than she remembered and for the first time, a little bit of doubt niggled at her. It was so quiet and the other daddies weren’t on the beach. In fact there was no-one in sight. After thinking for a moment, she shrugged her way into the swimming ring. She wouldn’t go out deep. Just have a quick paddle and then go back for breakfast. The water felt deliciously cool around her ankles. Excited she whooped for joy and ran towards the sea, chasing the waves that were racing back to the depths.

The giant wave caught her by surprise. It was bigger than she was and so strong. It curled around her and sucked her off her feet, dragging her further and further out.
“Help! Help!” Oh why hadn’t she waited for Daddy? He'd told her the ocean could be dangerous. A jug full of water poured down her throat as she tried to call again. Coughing and spitting, Hayley paddled hard but the sea was like a monster that had her tightly coiled in its grip. The waves seemed to get bigger and bigger.

She’d almost lost hope when she heard a roar and a slapping sound. A pair of strong arms came up behind her and plucked her from the raging waters. Hayley found herself sitting in a rubber boat with a pair of concerned eyes watching her. She recognized his bright outfit as the lifeguard uniform.
“Were you swimming on your own?” the young man asked in a kind voice, as he turned the boat towards shore. Hayley nodded, suddenly wanting to cry.
“It’s very early to be out on your own.” he continued. “Do your parents know where you are?”
“No. They were sleeping and I wanted so much to swim in the sea.”
The young man patted her shoulder as tears mixed with salty sea water.
“You’re very fortunate I came to work earlier than usual.”
Hayley nodded, her teeth chattering. “Thank you Mr Lifeguard. Thank you for coming to save me.”
He smiled as the boat struck the beach. “That’s what I’m here for.” He helped her on to the sand and draped a thick towel around her shoulders. “Now let’s go find your parents.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Phyllis Inniss11/19/06
I shudder to think what could have happened to Hayley had the lifeguard not been earlier than usual. Well written and interesting to read.
Marilee Alvey11/20/06
Anyone with children can identify with the many emotions this story conveys: a child's innocence, a child's disobedience, the fear of being asleep and having something like that happen, the helplessness you feel when this sort of thing happens, the unending gratitude that someone was on their post, and the nagging thought of what it would have been like for the parents: their shock, despair, etc. Good job of stirring up emotions! This is the making of a parental nightmare!
Teresa Lee Rainey11/21/06
As a parent, this had me really anxious for a good ending! Great story telling :^)