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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Lifeguard (11/09/06)

TITLE: Serendipity
By Joanne Sher


How long had she been sitting there? Five minutes? Three hours? She wasn’t sure. All she really knew was that this was the place where everything had changed.

Jessalyn picked up the beach blanket she was sitting on and wrapped it around her shoulders for warmth. The sights, at least, hadn’t changed. The beautiful view into the ocean was the same. Behind her, she knew, was a snack hut, where she and Andrea always picked up a lemonade before finding their favorite spot to sit – right by the lifeguard stand.


“Annie, he’s HERE!” Jessalyn bounced toward her twin sister, pointing enthusiastically to the lifeguard.

“Jess, chill out, would ya? He’ll see you!”

Jessalyn controlled her outward enthusiasm but still snuck glances every few minutes. He was definitely gorgeous. She could stare at him forever – and today, she had decided, she would talk to him.

Glancing his way, she figured this was the perfect chance. He was alone - and he didn’t have a drink. Jessalyn grabbed the extra lemonade she’d purchased and signaled to her sister.

“Here I go. Wish me luck.”

“You know I do. I’m gonna take a dip. It’s getting hot.”

Jessalyn nodded, heading toward the lifeguard stand, two lemonades in tow.

“Hi. You look thirsty. Want some lemonade?”

The lifeguard turned toward her. “Thanks! Hey, I’m Darrin. I’ve seen you and your sister around here a lot.”

“Yeah, we’re here a lot – live down the street. I’m Jessalyn, but people call me Jess.”

Darrin smiled broadly. “Jessalyn’s a pretty name; it suits you.”

“Thanks.” Jessalyn blushed crimson.

Darrin looked out onto the horizon.

“Oh man – I gotta go!”

Darrin raced out into the ocean. Jessalyn and the rest of the beachgoers watched as he swam purposefully toward someone who appeared trapped in the current.

“Oh my gosh. It’s Andrea!” Jessalyn, paralyzed with fear, could only stare with dread as she watched Darrin straining to reach her sister. From where she stood, it looked like a hopeless struggle.

I caused this. It’s my fault. If I hadn’t been talking to Darrin, he would have been out there sooner!

Overcome, Jessalyn collapsed in a heap and bawled tears of grief, guilt and hopelessness. It wasn’t until a good three minutes had passed that she noticed applause around her. Lifting her eyes hesitantly, she saw Darrin carrying Andrea toward her.

Her sister looked pale and beat up a bit, but she was definitely breathing. Darrin placed her on Jessalyn’s beach towel.

“Oh, Annie, are you okay?”

Andrea nodded, smiling up at Darrin, who was checking for wounds.

“She had quite an experience, but I got to her just in time. You should get her to the ER so they can check her out, but I’m sure she’ll be fine.”

Darrin looked straight into Jessalyn’s eyes and smiled.

“Thanks so much, Darrin,” Jessalyn bubbled. “I never could have forgiven myself if you hadn’t gotten to her in time.”

Darrin looked genuinely surprised.

“Oh, it wasn’t YOUR fault, Jessalyn. God was in control. He took care of it!”

Jessalyn looked at Darrin, baffled. Darrin smiled and looked at his watch.

“Hey – I’m off right now. Need a ride to the hospital?”

They both nodded. They went to his car and the girls sat in the back seat.

“You know, Andrea, you really shouldn’t swim alone,” Darrin playfully scolded.

“I know – now!” Andrea smiled.

“Seriously, how are you feeling, Andrea?”

“I’m okay, thanks to you. God sure answered my prayers.”

“God always does, you know.”

Jessalyn leaned in to her sister and whispered, “You prayed? I thought you didn’t buy into that stuff.”

“I do now,” Andrea said resolutely. “It all clicked out there, when I thought I was gonna die. I have to be sure I know where I’m going, and where you’re going.”

As he pulled into a parking space at the hospital parking lot, Darrin turned his head, looked at them and smiled.

“Well, girls, I think I can help you with that too!”


Jessalyn watched as the last vestiges of the sun disappeared beyond the horizon. Walking back to her car, she waved goodbye. She was heading overseas tomorrow to share the Gospel with the lost. Only God knew how long she would be there, or if she’d ever see this beach again.

This place would always be special to her. She had almost lost her sister that day, but what Jessalyn gained that sunny summer afternoon was infinitely more valuable.

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This article has been read 1290 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Paynter11/17/06
I like this journey, especially because it caught me out - I thought I knew where it was going but I was wrong! One little point stretched my sceptical credibility - I think I'd have believed Jess's feelings of guilt a bit more if they'd been chatting for a few minutes; as it was, I felt her sister would hardly have got to the sea, let alone had time to drown without being noticed. Otherwise, great piece.
Trina Courtenay11/18/06
Your title made me read your entry and it lived up to it's name. Awesome entry.
Jan Ackerson 11/20/06
Super title--I've always liked that word. Great story, too--although I would have ended it two sentences sooner. Otherwise, a fresh and realistic youthful drama.
Jen Davis11/20/06
I liked how you introduced the story and then flashed back to the event where everything changed. You did a good job of pulling the reader into the story. This piece was also written with great emotion. Good job!
Betty Castleberry11/20/06
The conversation between the two girls when they first reach the beach and discover that "he's HERE!" is very believable. Sounds just like something teen age girls would say.
I enjoyed your piece. Nicely done.
Allison Egley 11/21/06
Oh this was good. I agree just a bit with the point that there should have been more time passing between the conversation and her sister needing help, but I realize that's hard to do in the given word count. I especially loved how this near tragedy ended up being such a triumph.
Lynda Lee Schab 11/22/06
Smooth, easy writing, entertaining and sweet. Loved the Christian lifeguard - what a catch! I hoped for a footnote that Darrin and Jess got together. :-) (I'm a hopeless romantic) Nicely done.
Donna Powers 11/22/06
A good story and it was very believable. I'm glad that the ending was positive. Thanks so much for sharing this
Sara Harricharan 11/22/06
Great job, a light read, with a clear message. I loved the interaction between the Characters, especially Jess and Darrin. :)
Marie Fieldman11/22/06
Good message, and I liked the details.
Val Clark11/24/06
A very well written entry. Not what I expected. Glad it wasn't a romance. yeggy