Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Lifeguard (11/09/06)
TITLE: All the Wrong Reasons
By Stephen Paynter
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I suppose I’d better begin eighteen months ago when I was at the beach with Alyson. Now Alyson was the typical “girl next door”. You know ... a little bit tomboyish when playing with the gang, rather shy at school, a bit of a wallflower ... but I suppose in those days ... my best friend. I ... well I’m almost ashamed to tell you what I was like in those days ... quiet ... bookish ... a little bit too into all things nerdish. I didn’t get out much, so my skin was a pasty white. I was also rather weedy. I don’t think I’d even seen the inside of a gym, or been to the municipal pool.
Anyway, this day I was walking along with Alyson chatting about nothing in particular, all the while scanning the tourist attractions as they lay bronzing in the sun. I was distracted by one particular strawberry blonde when I stumbled over this guy’s foot. It was a total mistake but this guy ... muscled all over ... was more than a little irritated. Well, not to dwell too much on an unpleasant memory ... he, er, stuffed me headfirst into a bin. Even with Alyson’s help, I guess I wasn’t all that dignified getting out. Most of the beach was watching, and to my chagrin the strawberry blonde was even laughing.
I was seething with embarrassment and anger. However, as horrible as that moment was, it was totally the kick that I needed to do something with my life. I swore I’d get revenge. So I set about a systematic overhaul. I started pumping weights. I swam every evening - soon building up to 1500m a session. If I’m totally honest, the swimming idea wasn’t originally part of the plan. It only came about because I soon realised that there was more ... er, talent ... to see at the pool than in the gym.
Of course, I totally blew off Alyson and the rest of the gang. There wasn’t room in my life for them and my scheme. I had a goal. I was going to become somebody. I was going to become a lifeguard - and nobody ... and I mean nobody ... was going to stuff me into a litter bin again!
I slowly became the marvellous specimen of manhood I am now. Bronzed. Muscled. Self-assured. And, of course, a lifeguard. Now let me tell you the worse thing about being a lifeguard is having to drag your eyes from the beach to scan the sea every now and then. It’s a total pain, and I’m big enough to admit that sometimes I forget for long periods of time.
Clearly, my life is now great. I even have a whole gaggle of strawberry blondes who like to catch my eye. I therefore find it a little embarrassing to admit that sometimes I miss my friendly walks with Alyson. Alyson won’t give me the time of day anymore. I really don’t understand her.
Now comes the suspenseful climax to my story. As you probably remember, last weekend was a scorcher. Everyone was down at the beach, and I was on duty. Now I happened to glance up and notice Alyson there with some boy. I suddenly felt sick. I guess the burger I’d eaten didn’t agree with me. For some reason ... definitely serendipity ... I couldn’t take my eyes off Alyson. That was how it came about that I noticed when she disappeared under the waves and did not come up again.
Hero that I am, I was across the burning sand in moments, and plunging into the breakers. I found Alyson and carried her to the shore. There I performed mouth to mouth, she spluttered, and started to breathe again.
I expected her to be eternally grateful. She did say thanks, but it was this nerdish looking boy she was with that she let cuddle and comfort her.
For some reason I can’t quite explain I felt worse than when I’d been stuffed in that bin. The only question is, what kind of makeover should I arrange this time?
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