Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Lifeguard (11/09/06)
TITLE: But For a Dolphin...
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She watched the waves rolling in, frothy and carefree, like she once felt. Now she dragged her feet, and left scuff marks resembling the cumbersome tracks of a sea turtle. Slow, deliberate, it had but one thing on its mind. So did she.
The call of the ocean pulled her toward it, much the same way it did the turtles. Jilted by the one man she thought she would love for the rest of her life, she gravitated toward the only solution her devastated mind could come up with...to be forever one with the water, and never return.
“It will be easy,” she convinced herself, “quick and painless”.
She took one last look around at the deserted beach. Palm trees waved good-bye. Sea gulls circled overhead, bidding her a mournful farewell. The waves beckoned. She stepped into the warm water.
Wading out to the drop off, she mentally prepared herself for the swim ahead. She would just keep going until the ocean claimed her for its own. When she reached the end of the sandbar, though, she felt something bump her feet. Knowing there were no sharks in the area, she sank below the waves and carefully opened her eyes. Turning in circles, she scanned the clear water for the offender. A dolphin hovered just a few feet beyond her.
Fascinated, she watched the creature dart toward her, then break off and swim back to where it hovered.
“You're teasing me. Aren't you?” She thought. Surfacing for a breath of air, she rubbed her stinging eyes, and then floated, face down, watching the playful mammal. Just then a school of tropical fish scurried by. Beautiful colors kept her motionless. Others joined in, and her senses were quickened as she looked around at the wonders below her.
Lost in the aquatic seascape pulsing with life, she never thought of herself as being in danger, until a hand came around her waist. She screamed, taking in water. Sputtering and struggling, she flailed her arms, smacking a startled young man in the face.
“Hey!” The swimmer backed off, treading water. “I thought you were dead.”
Maggie coughed, and choked on the salt water assaulting her lungs. The young man reached for her again. “Are you okay?”
She shook her head, panic setting in. “No,” she gasped for air. “I.... can't... breathe.”
Strong hands lifted her up out of the water. Wrapping her arms around the stranger's neck, she felt him tilt backward. Propriety not withstanding, she laid on top of his muscular chest and caught her breath.
As soon as she relaxed, he started backstroking toward the beach. “Put your head down,” he told her softly, but with authority. She obeyed, compliant and subdued.
When they reached the sandbar, Maggie's rescuer kept his arm around her, and led her to his beach blanket. He handed her a towel and a water bottle. “Where are your things?” He asked, looking around.
She took a drink and choked. Coughing, she shook her head, until she could breathe again. “I...”
she looked at the young man, not knowing what to say. Tears spilled out of her already reddened eyes.
“I...I didn't come with any.”
The compassion of a stranger wrapping his arm around her shoulder, drew the story out in full disclosure. When she fell silent, he introduced himself.
“My name is Derrek. I'm a lifeguard over at the main beach. This is my favorite place to come to when I'm off duty.” He pulled her hair away from the side of her face. “ I like the quiet, away from the crowds. It gives me time to pray.” He picked up a bible, and gently introduced her to another "Lifeguard".
A month later, Maggie stood on the beach staring out at the spot where she had been “rescued”. Derrek came up behind and wrapped his arms around her.
“'You know,” she said softly, “if it hadn't been for that dolphin...”
He pulled her around to face him. “Dolphin?”
She nodded. “The one that got my attention, and diverted me from my suicidal swim.”
Derrek cupped her face in his hands. He looked at her with wonder. “Maggie, there aren't any dolphins in this area.”
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