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

TITLE: A Lesson in Life...Guarding
By Shari Armstrong


“This is lame.” He dropped the cooler in the sand.

“What’s is?” She spread out a towel, sat and started putting on lotion.

“Being here. Don’t know why Mom and Dad insisted we come to the beach as a family." He glared at their parents, going back to the car. “The guys are camping this weekend. I’d much rather hang with them.”

“Jeremy, you know Dad’s been working hard. He finally took a vacation and wanted to spend time with us. Relax. You might surprise yourself.”

“Whatever, Shannon. You can’t tell me you wouldn’t rather be somewhere else?”

“Not really.” She looked around, hooding her eyes with her hand. “Sun, surf, sand and cute lifeguards. What could be better?”

He looked back at the car, and saw their mom waving for him to come back. “Just about anything.” He headed back, grumbling.

After they had finished unloading the car and said grace, they were all lounging, laughing and eating a light picnic.

Shannon leaned over, “See? It’s not so bad.”

“What’s not?” Mom reached for her drink.

“Jeremy’s was grumbling about not getting to go camping.”

"Oh?” Dad leaned back on one arm. “Well, maybe we could go camping after we leave the beach. There’s a small campground just about an hour from here. It wouldn’t take long to pack up the gear.”

Jeremy swallowed a bite of sandwich. “That’s not the…. Oh, never mind.”

“I’m going to get some ice cream. Anybody want some?” Shannon grabbed some money from her backpack.

“No, thanks, dear.” Mom opened up her lounge chair. “I think I’m going to do some reading.”

Their Dad shook his head. “I’m going to dive in. Join me, Jeremy? Looks like we might even have some waves for body surfing today.”

“Maybe in a bit. I want to finish my lunch.”

”Ok.” Their dad jogged off to the water’s edge.

Shannon stood in line waiting to get her ice cream. Three girls, a little younger than Shannon, giggled in line behind her. She turned and smiled.

“You’re boyfriend’s cute.”

Shannon laughed. “He’s not my boyfriend, he’s my twin brother.”

One girl’s smile widened. “Oh? Maybe the two of you would like to join us for some volleyball?”

"I’ll ask him.” Shannon placed her order and paid for her ice cream. She waved at the girls as she caught a drip melting down the side of her cone.

By the time Shannon got back, their mom dozed, with book in hand and her brother was at the water’s edge.

She watched him wade out and then make a shallow dive, swimming out toward the bigger waves. She scanned the water and spotted their Dad a few yards off to Jeremy’s right. She enjoyed her ice cream and the view, glancing over at the lifeguard nearest them through her dark sunglasses, trying not to be too obvious.


The lifeguard grabbed his binoculars scanning the water, and climbed down, headed for the water.

Her mother sat up, dropping her book. “That sounded like your father. Do you see him?”

She scanned the water. “No. But there’s Jeremy.” She ran to the water’s edge. She cupped her hands to her mouth. “Jeremy, do you see Dad?”

Jeremy didn’t respond, instead he dove under the water. She watched as the lifeguard swam out to where Jeremy had gone under. She held her breath as she watched her brother come up, waved at the lifeguard, and dove again.

Time stood still for Shannon and their mom as they watched and waited, praying.

Soon, three heads popped back up above the surface. The lifeguard towed a body to shore and Jeremy swam along side, helping.

Shannon and their mom reached the trio just as the lifeguard was laying their dad on the sand. He glanced at Jeremy, “Do you know CPR?”

Jeremy nodded.

”Start chest compressions.”

Jeremy nodded again, began pushing on his father’s chest, ignoring the small crowd that gathered around them. They heard a groan and the lifeguard motioned for Jeremy to stop, as he rolled their father over and he began spitting out the water.

“He’ll be fine. A bit sore for a while, but he’ll be fine.” He put a hand on Jeremy’s shoulder. “Good work, kid. If you hadn’t gotten that seaweed untangled before I got there, we might not have gotten him back in time. Ever consider becoming a lifeguard?”

Jeremy shook his head, “No, I hadn’t.”

"You should.”

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Member Comments
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Amy Michelle Wiley 11/18/06
Good story. The ending seemed to be missing some emotional intensity, but I like the casual beginning. Good point, too! :-)
Jan Ackerson 11/20/06
This is skillful writing, and you captured the family dynamics perfectly. I'd have liked to see a bit more irony or conflict, perhaps. You did a great job with the setting--sounds, smells, sights...very nice.
Donna Haug11/20/06
I agree. I liked the details of the cone dripping and mom dozing. Some more details like that at the climax would be nice.
Joanne Sher 11/20/06
I just love all the detail throughout this piece. You did a great job of setting the scene. A little more drama at the end would have made this wonderful piece even better!
Jen Davis11/20/06
The dialogue between the family members is realistic and helps set the mood of the story. What I liked most about this story was the fact that Jeremy did not want to be there, and yet had he not been there the outcome could have ended in tragedy.
Allison Egley 11/21/06
I agree that there should have been a bit more of an emotional "punch" at the end, but that can be hard in the word count. I liked the somewhat hidden message and turn in his attitude.
Marilyn Schnepp 11/22/06
Several boo-boo's with the "S's" - but otherwise an entertaining read.
Donna Powers 11/22/06
Good story. You carried me through so I wanted to read it til the end. I enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing.
Sally Hanan11/22/06
Like everyone else says, this was entertaining in that most readers could identify with what was going on in the intro. I'm trying to think of how this could pack the punch others say it needs, and I think it has to do with the amount of time you spent describibig Jeremy's attitude, when the story was really about his life-saving abilities.With that, I'd suggest scrapping most of the first bunch of paragraphs, only keeping the gems, and then focusing more on the drowning part. That way you'd have a lot of room at the end to show how Jeremey responds to the lifeguard's praise.