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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: River (08/31/06)

TITLE: A River Runs Through It
By Lynda Lee Schab


Yesterday I loved water. I loved drinking it, swimming in it, bathing…

Today, I hate water. I don’t want to drink it, swim in it, or – to my family’s dismay – bathe in it. Right now, I am very angry at the water.

It had been raining goats and sheep (cats and dogs doesn’t quite describe the torrential rain we’ve had) for days. The rain was so heavily on my mind that I dreamt about it this morning. I was dreaming of the sound rain drops make as they hit the ground. Pit-pat-pit-pat-split-splat-split-splat. The drops eventually created a pool, then a river. I felt myself smiling in my sleep at the soothing swoosh-swoosh sound the river made as it flowed along.

Then I woke up. It was no dream. The swoosh-swoosh was coming from the basement.

Grabbing my robe, I anxiously made my way down the basement steps. I saw the water before I reached the bottom. It wasn’t just a small trickle stream; it was a full, gushing, river, with white water rapids! I glanced at the picture on the wall of the trip to Niagara Falls we’d taken last year. The resemblance was uncanny.

First, I did what I did best: I freaked out. I cried and whined and screamed, "Jaaaames!" When I remembered that my husband could sleep through a rock concert taking place in his bedroom, I called for my fifteen year old son, Josh, instead. Within seconds he appeared at the top of the stairs, bed-headed and sleepy-eyed.

“Woah!” His eyes grew wide and I commanded him to grab some buckets, Tupperware bowls, butter tubs, whatever he could find to start bailing.

“And after that, go wake your father!” I yelled hysterically over the roaring waves.

He took off and reappeared moments later with three large plastic cereal bowls. “This is all I could find!” He threw them down the stairs. I caught one but the other two swiped the side of my head, landed in the rapids and floated away. I turned back toward him to berate my son but he was gone, hopefully to wake his father.

I stood there, ridiculously bailing water with a cereal bowl, dumping it into a nearby trash can.

I heard someone behind me. “Cool! Can I go get my speedboat? This is so much cooler than the bathtub!”

It was my ten-year-old son, Max.

“I can’t believe you just asked me that!” I screamed. “Where is your father?”

“I think he’s going to the bathroom,” said Max, wading into the water, soaking his flannel pajama bottoms.

“Going to the bathroom!? I think this is a little more important than going to the bathroom!”

Josh reappeared with a flashlight. “Dad and I are going to see where the leak is coming from so we can stop it,” he said, puffing out his chest, important-like.

Finally, my calm, take-a-bathroom-break-in-the-middle-of-a-catastrophe husband slowly made his way down the stairs.

He raised his eyebrows. “Houston? We have a problem,” he chuckled.

I narrowed my eyes at him and thrust the cereal bowl in his chest. This was no time for jokes! He shrugged his shoulders, as if to say, “What did I do?”

To my relief, James and Josh found the leak and plugged it up tight. We called and had the water sucked up professionally – cereal bowls just weren’t cutting it.

Now, a damp, musty smell permeates the basement. Of course, that might beat than the way I smell, since I refused to bathe today. The carpet needs to be replaced, the leak (and my sanity) needs to be permanently repaired, and I will be investing in some bigger bowls in case bailing water is ever necessary again.

Tomorrow I will probably go back to liking water. I will drink it, swim in it and bathe again (my family shouts, “Yeah!”).

I have come to the conclusion that rivers are great for white-water rafting, photographers, and trout fishing. Rivers are not so great for running through basements. But I did learn a lesson through all of this. Next time (God forbid), my goal is to remain calm. Freaking out did little to help the situation and a lot to make me ugly (the no bathing part helped too).

My dear husband’s approach was much more appropriate, as annoying as it was at the time. I’ve learned that although the river in my basement was anything but peaceful, that didn’t mean my heart couldn’t be.

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This article has been read 1151 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Fenny West09/07/06
You are a great story- teller. What an amazinfg insight as to how good inspirational stories ca emerge out of day-to-day occurence. Great use of onomatopoeia.
Your dialogues took me to the scene of the action and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Well done!
Lynda Schultz 09/07/06
I've never had a basement, but I've certainly had lots of broken water pipes, so I "felt your pain" as they say. Great job.
Beth Muehlhausen09/07/06
Very effective descriptions! Cute characters...bedhead and all. :-)

I guess I picture a river having a current, so can't quite picture a river in a basement! More like a pond or well or something. Trivial point, but hey, it came to mind so there you go!!

Liked the way you wrapped things up at the end with a strong lesson.
Suzanne R09/09/06
Wow - what a great story-teller you are!

I can see the river - rushing down the stairs - hitting the basement was kind of like hitting the ocean, right?

Love the humorous touches throughout.
Joanne Sher 09/10/06
Oh, Lynda - I hope you forgive me for laughing hysterically at your misfortune! You are QUITE the storyteller - I think I will laugh every time I have cereal for the rest of my life! You did an amazing job of sharing your tale and giving us the lesson without being overbearing. Loved the humor throughout - and the whole piece!
Lynda Lee Schab 09/10/06
Authors note: Believe me, I'm very glad my account seems so real but I should have left the disclaimer I did last week: this piece is totally and completely fictional :-)
Jan Ackerson 09/10/06
This is so funny! You have a wonderful, wry voice--just the sort of humor that really appeals to me. The only thing that bothers me a bit is the title--something more original to this story would give it more justice. All in all, one of my favorites this week.
Marilyn Schnepp 09/10/06
Wow! Now THIS is what I call a MASTER storyteller! A real Pro! This is what I came up here to Level 4 to read! I was becoming discouraged and was about to return back downstairs to the regulars - but your entry has renewed my faith in the upper echelon! Great story, great writing, great job! Thank you!

Enjoyable, entertaining, delightfully funny, perfection personified and I loved it! Thanks again!
Venice Kichura09/10/06
This was masterfully told!
Enjoyed this very much!
Donna Haug09/10/06
ha! raining goats and sheep! My basement just flooded a couple of weeks ago - hot water heater sprung a leak ... and the mandatory drain happens to be in the den next door ... under the carpet!!! Sigh! Nothing a shop vac, open windows and a dehumidifier can't deal with!!! Nice light reading.
Donna Powers 09/10/06
amusing and well written! I enjoyed the story, though I could relate to the "freaking out" part. (That's my usual reaction to any crisis). A very good piece.
william price09/10/06
I love reading stories when writers are on top of their game, so to speak. Excellent job. I'm glad I took the time. You made it well worth it, as you always do, Lynda. God bless.
Joanne Malley09/11/06
Now this is a typical Lynda story! Fun, fun, fun...I envisioned you through the whole fiasco...and what a sight it was! LOL Glad you didn't really wade in your basement. Great job! :)
Jen Davis09/12/06
What a fun story! I love your humor. This piece is very real to life which makes it an exceptional work of fiction. Great job!
Cheryl Harrison09/13/06
I love the humor in this line: "I have come to the conclusion that rivers are great for white-water rafting, photographers, and trout fishing. Rivers are not so great for running through basements." Good Job!