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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Teacher (10/26/06)

TITLE: Life Saving Grade
By Valora Otis


The roiling water sucked the canoe beneath the roots of a crouching deadfall in the distance. Kara had seen the silent giant lurking, ready to snatch at someone. To her horror she watched as it claimed it’s victim, Kara Lynn’s teacher, Mr. Givens.

“Janet, did you see that?”

“Yah, paddle faster, Kara!” The water swirled around the bow of the canoe. Paddles sliced through the boulder-churning water in rhythm with each other. The girls had mastered the technique in their White Water Aquatics class. At the moment Kara was wishing she didn’t remember what their teacher, Mr. Givens had told them the first day of class. It seemed kind of funny back then…

“Class, by the time I’m done with you, you’ll all be experts running the river, both with kayak and canoe.” Givens paused. A hush fell over his class. He seemed to measure each student for something unseen. “Grades are important in this class; if for any reason you have to save my life, you’ll get an automatic A.”

Kara would give her “A” away right then if she could see his bushy hair pop up from underneath that log. They were making good time, catching a cooperative current. She couldn’t hear the white water of the rapids roaring for the blood pounding in her head. Sweat poured down her back, tickling her skin as she began to pray. ”Father, please don’t let him drown!”

Janet, her best friend, said, “AMEN. Kara, we can do this. Remember what he taught us, you hold out your oar and let him grab on. I’ll paddle, and we’ll haul him to safety. Don’t stand up no matter what.”

Kara nodded. Just then that bushy wet head popped up and a hand grabbed at the air, going down again. He was caught in the current, making Kara’s heart leap for a split second. Janet back-paddled just in time to swing the back of the canoe around towards where they saw Givens. Kara held out her paddle just below the water line, praying all the while. Then suddenly it was like she’d caught the big one. She felt a huge tug and nearly fell into the water, but braced herself as Janet continued to paddle for her life.

“I think...I have…him. Go! Paddle harder, Janet.” Mr. Given’s head came up again with a hand gripping the paddle, Kara pulled him in and he grabbed the side of the canoe. Kara was free to use the paddle to get them to safety.

“Thank you God,” she heard him splutter beside her as they eased the canoe safely to shore. Helping Givens onto dry land, they were relieved to find that he only had a few scratches and a nasty bump on his head.

“Are you alright?” Kara sat next to him.

His brown eyes spoke volumes as he tried to find his voice. “I thought I was a dead man; that no one had seen me go under. A voice told me to “be still.” So I did and then I popped out the other side with the current. When I went under I hit my head, I think." He touched his head, "I’m so glad you girls saw me. Thanks.” He patted Kara’s hand.

Janet plopped in the mud beside the two, “Well, you know, I haven’t been doing so hot in your class lately, Mr. Givens. I saw you and thought, ‘gee, maybe today’s the day to get that ‘A’,” Janet smirked as she grinned at the big man. “It’s not every day that you can save your teacher.”

They all laughed out loud lying back on the muddy bank of that Idaho River. Relief and shock oozed from them into the mud.

“What a day.” Kara sighed. “I never want to do that again.”

“Ditto,” Janet and Mr. Givens said in unison.

“One thing,” Givens wheezed. “Part of the grade is making sure that the university’s canoe is in one piece.”

Kara moaned, “You never said anything about that. Come on, Janet, I guess we have a canoe to save. The job of “super coed” is never done.”

Givens gave them a weak salute. The girls had their canoe back in the water in no time.


“What?” Janet said flicking mud at Kara.

“Enough with the mud, girlfriend. After this, I’m sticking to lakes and swimming pools. No more white water for me. I guess having our prayers heard was pretty awesome though. Hey, there’s the canoe!”

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This article has been read 901 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Donna Haug11/02/06
Great build up of tension. The ending might need a little tweaking. I loved this line: "Relief and shock oozed from them into the mud." Great visual.
Val Clark11/02/06
Fast read. Really engaged me. Transitions to and from the flash back worked well. Loved Janet's sense of humour.
David Story11/03/06
Great story!
I was on the bank of the Idaho, watching the whole thing.
Ann FitzHenry11/04/06
Really fun story! Loved the title. Very realistic dialogue and description. My favorite line: She couldn’t hear the white water of the rapids roaring for the blood pounding in her head. I enjoyed this very much. Great work!
Jan Ackerson 11/06/06
Wow, an exhilarating read! Be careful of that pesky "it's"--with an apostrophe, it means "it is" (first paragraph). I enjoyed this, a unique read and full of suspense.
Joanne Sher 11/06/06
Great job of building up the suspense - I loved this! I might change the ending a bit - it seemed a bit "full" (not sure how else to say it!!), but otherwise this was a fantastic read!!
Donna Powers 11/07/06
A very enjoyable story. You kept me entertained until the end. Thanks for sharing this.
Marilee Alvey11/08/06
I can say something that it seems I haven't been able to say much this time around: GREAT TITLE! The story was enjoyable and, yes, I was right there in the boat! Good job!
Sara Harricharan 11/08/06
*Chuckle* This was fun to read and a definite twist from the regular classroom teacher, very descriptive words and phrases, like letting the relief and shock 'ooze' into the mud. Great job!
Laurie Glass 11/08/06
Great descriptions. You had me right there with your characters.
william price11/09/06
I really enjoyed this story. I've been white water rafting down both upper and lower gauley rivers in W. Vir.
Excellent job here. I liked a different take on TEACHER. Thanks for the fresh writing. God bless.
Sandra Petersen 11/09/06
Hey, Val! A true story? Wow, must have been frightening.

Loved your power punch verbs and descriptions. You have an easy-to-read writing style.
I could picture the action as I read.

The Lord bless your pen and your mind as you write for Him.