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

TITLE: A Day in the Sun
By Jen Davis
11/15/06


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Julie spread her blanket out on the sand, selecting a quiet strip of beach away from all the activity, away from those who had congregated under the watchful eye of the lifeguard.

Exhausted, Julie lay down. Cradled by the soft bed of sand, she closed her eyes and soaked in the sun’s rays. The rhythmic sound of the ocean’s waves intermingled with the song of seagulls lulled her into a hypnotic sleep.

After some time another sound intruded upon nature’s soothing concerto. In the brief moments between the cries of the seagulls there was a different sort of cry.

Julie stood at the shoreline, remnants of waves spilling over her bare feet. The ocean called out to her. Straining to see between the swells of waves, she could barely make out a boat, capsized. Bodies dotted the ocean surface; arms flailed frantically; garbled screams cried out for help.

Julie screamed, but no one could hear her. She was alone on her desolate stretch of beach.

Down the coastline, Julie could see people along the beach. She ran toward them, calling out, her arms flapping like the seagulls above, desperately trying to catch their attention. Finally, one man saw Julie and ran toward her.

“What’s wrong?” He asked.

Julie pointed at the ocean, catching her breath. “People are drowning! They need our help! We have to help them!”

By then several others had come to see what was going on. They lined the shore, gasping as they watched the people at sea struggling to survive.

“Oh, how awful! The man said.

A woman began sobbing. “How horrible!”

“I hope someone will help them.” Julie heard another say.

We have to help them!” Julie couldn’t understand why they weren’t doing something.
They just stood by watching. “They’re drowning…They need our help.”

“But what can we do?” The man asked.

In the distance Julie could see a lifeguard perched on top of his elevated chair. She ran toward him.

He’ll do something.

Suddenly she felt extremely hot.

He’ll help them.

She was burning up.

***


Matt grabbed his binoculars, his eyes combing his stretch of beach. He hadn’t noticed the woman before lying on the sand. She was restlessly tossing back and forth.

How long has she been out in the sun?

Matt jumped from his chair, grabbed his first aid pack and headed down the coast.

Finally reaching her, he gently shook Julie and was immediately alarmed by the heat of her body. Her only movement was her eyelids which rapidly darted back and forth. “Miss, can you hear me? Are you okay?”

When she didn’t respond, Matt immediately dispatched for help then picked Julie up and carried her to a shaded area.

Several people along the beach had followed the lifeguard. “What can we do to help?”

“Get some water…wet towels…” Matt barked out orders. Using his thermometer, he was alarmed at her high temperature.

When Matt pressed a wet cloth across her forehead, she suddenly woke—startled and disoriented. “We …have to help them,” Julie’s words slurred.

“Who?”

She pointed toward the ocean. “There are people drowning.”

Matt looked out at the ocean. “There’s no one out there, Ma’am.”

Her eyes searched the sea. There was nothing there.

By the time the paramedics arrived her temperature had begun to come down. “She’s suffering from heat stroke.” Matt told them. Together, they lifted Julie onto a stretcher. Matt could hear her mumbling:

“So many people…

Drowning...”

***


Two days later Julie was released from the hospital and immediately drove to the beach. Grateful to find Matt on duty, she wanted to thank him.

“Actually, I have felt horrible,” he said. “I should have seen you before I did. I should have gotten to you sooner.”

“But that’s just it. As soon as you saw I was in need you did do something. My doctor said another hour in the sun and I might not have made it.”

She told him about her heat-induced nightmare. “It was so real. I’ll never forget what I saw. I felt their pain, their struggles.”

Matt noticed Julie could not take her eyes off the water. “Those images are still haunting you, aren’t they?”

Julie nodded and stared deeply across the ocean. “They are out there, you know? There are people drowning. And we have to do something.”

***


“…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25:40-TNIV)


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This article has been read 737 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 11/16/06
What a great way to share a message with subtlety and skill! You handled the POV switches deftly, and painted a very real picture of the scene at the beach. This works well on both levels--both as the story of a woman with heat stroke, and as a cautionary tale.
julie wood11/18/06
Beautiful story! I loved the vivid, detailed description and found the story itself haunting. The fact the main character was hallucinating the drowning from heatstroke really took me by surprise! Great twist, as well as a powerful allegorical message.
dub W11/20/06
Well told, a situation few of us consider. Thanks for sharing.
Allison Egley 11/21/06
Wow. There are so many powerful entries, this being one of them. At first, I couldn't figure out why the lifeguard could see the people drowning, but then I understood, and realized he DID see them. Great job.
Joanne Sher 11/21/06
Great description as always, Jen - and such a compelling message! Wonderful writing, friend.
david perez11/21/06
I appreciate the good story with the non-negative ending, the reminder that there are people out there needing saving, and that it is our responsibility to try. Good job.
Donna Emery11/22/06
Very well written. It was a call to action and it was eloquently expressed. Thanks for sharing this.
Val Clark11/22/06
I think you achieved what you were trying to - a subtle reminder to not sit on our behinds underpinned (the story, not our behinds) by a need to be watchful. Oh, and maybe, we are not alone. A good read. yeggy
Shanti Singh11/22/06
This was a beautiful story with a wonderful message. You are right -- we have to do something.
Mary Alice Bowles11/23/06
Jen:

This is a woderful story and such a good message. This is just the way I feel sometimes. Wow, some of the best writing I have ever read here on FaithWriters.