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

TITLE: Maggie's Choice
By Julianne Jones


The light on the answer phone was blinking as Maggie let the door slam behind her and staggered blindly to the nearest chair. Automatically she pushed the button and her husband’s voice filled the room.

“Hi, honey, I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to make it this afternoon. I’m sorry - I so much wanted to be there. But there’s been an emergency and I’ve been called in. It doesn’t look good. Gotta go but I’ll see you when I get home.”

Maggie gave an ironic laugh as the message finished and her hands formed a protective cradle for the gentle swelling beneath her ribs. Her husband was out guarding the safety and lives of others while a life they had created was in peril.

A soft moan escaped her lips as she tried not to dwell on the events of the past hour. She didn’t want to think about them – wouldn’t think about them - but the doctor’s words refused to be silent.

“The scan shows the baby has severe physical deformities. I would recommend the pregnancy be terminated. I’m sorry Maggie, but it would be for the best.”

It wasn’t completely unexpected. She had passed her fortieth birthday several months ago and knew the risks of conceiving at her age. They’d almost given up hope of a child of their own. Years of infertility had been forgotten when she finally conceived but had sadly ended in miscarriage. As had the next - and the next. Even now at almost twenty weeks, a part of her still refused to believe that this pregnancy would be different to all the rest.

Still in shock she had managed to ask: “Best? How?”

“For everyone concerned. Get it over and done with – put it behind you and get on with your life. In a few months you could try again. I can see no point in continuing with the pregnancy. The baby is only going to die anyway.”

She had protested. “How can you be so sure?”

Maggie’s mind had become numb as the doctor had pointed to the scan and listed all the potential health problems with the baby. He’d then concluded:

“This baby will not survive outside the womb. In fact, this baby will likely die well before birth. Why go through with it? Why put yourself through that?”

Yes why? Maggie asked herself then gasped in wonder as she felt the first gentle flutterings of the baby within her womb. Tears made tracks down her cheeks. Her baby was moving. Her baby was alive!

It was a little girl. A daughter. The scan had also shown them that.

“But I saw her heart beating.” Maggie had protested. “She’s alive.”

“She’s only alive because your body’s keeping her alive. Without you she would die.”

“Then I will give her life. For as long as God allows, I will give her life.”

The doctor had sighed then. “Maggie, go home and talk with your husband. I’ll make an appointment to see both of you next week then we can decide what to do. I’m sure you’ll see this more clearly once you’ve spoken with your husband.”

Maggie now shook her head to clear away the doctor’s words. “I will give you life,” she whispered to the baby as she felt her once more move. “For as long as I’m allowed, I will give you life. And I’ll do more than that. I will guard you and protect you and even give my life for you if needs be.”

She struggled to regain her composure as she heard her husband’s car in the drive. Within minutes he had entered the room, his hair still wet from his duties as a lifeguard on one of their most treacherous beaches. How could she tell him that a life-and-death situation was about to be played out in their living room?

“Maggie? What’s wrong?”

She wasn’t surprised that she couldn’t hide her pain from him. He’d always been able to read her moods. And he must share some of her concerns although he’d never said a word.

“Is it the baby? What did the doctor say?”

Maggie held her hand out to her husband. “I’d like you to meet our daughter.” Once again the tears started coursing down her cheeks. “The doctor says she won’t live. But I will give her life. I will guard her life with my own.”

And as she saw understanding flood his face she felt peace.

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Marilyn Schnepp 11/16/06
I didn't get it the first read - then went back to see her husband's name and then I got the message...and it brought tears. Great job of writing.
Marilyn Schnepp 11/16/06
Oops, sorry. This comment was meant for Stranger in Red...the next entry. Sorry.
Goofed up.
Jan Ackerson 11/21/06
Moving and poignant. Great job.
Allison Egley 11/21/06
Oh, I love this. It is very touching. I love the line about her giving her child life as long as she is able. I want to read more now! Great job.
Suzanne R11/21/06
What a unique take on the topic of 'lifeguard'! This is beautifully written. As you know, good friends went through exactly the same thing a year ago (although the dad wasn't a lifeguard)so it particularly hit home.
Joanne Sher 11/22/06
So very, VERY vivid and moving and heartbreaking! I cried for this one - and I don't shed tears here easily. Wonderful storytelling.
Val Clark11/24/06
Very unique and creative take on the topic. Grabbed my attention from beginning to end. Well done. Yeggy
Valora Otis11/24/06
Now, this had me choked up. Very well done. I do believe women guard the lives of their children in this way. You made the subject jump off the page so beautifully. Bless you for sharing your gift with us. Now I know your real name, friend.:-)