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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Happy (07/12/07)

TITLE: Conversations in a Lifeboat
By Kristen Hester


The family of four sat quietly in the lifeboat at as they bobbed up and down in the ocean. They had yelled, cried, and prayed but it seemingly had done nothing to improve their circumstances. Now each silently pondered the bleakness of their situation.

Six hours earlier Ted Waters had paid a man who called himself Captain Bob $900 to take his family on a three-hour snorkeling expedition. An hour into the trip Captain Bob had pulled a gun on them, taken their valuables, and forced them into a battered lifeboat. Then Bob had motored away without looking back.

Once the Waters recovered from their shock, they experienced a variety of emotions. Ted Waters was angry at himself for hiring and trusting Captain Bob. Linda Waters was frightened for her children. Sixteen-year-old Kelsey, a hopeless romantic, daydreamed of floating in the ocean with her current crush rather than her family. Twelve-year-old Timothy was terrified of sharks but was pretending to be brave.

“I’m hungry,” whined Timothy for the tenth time in an hour.

Kelsey looked at her brother in disgust. “Duh. We’re all hungry, pea brain. We’re going die in the middle of the ocean. By the time our bodies are found, we’ll be ugly, withered corpses.”

“Cheer up, sis. Maybe we’ll be eaten by sharks first.” Timothy cautiously scanned the horizon for dorsal fins as he hummed the Jaws theme.

Linda looked anxiously at her husband and mouthed, “Do something.”

“We need a diversion,” Ted announced as he wiped his sweaty brow with the back of his hand and then winced in pain from the sunburn.

“Great idea, Dad. I’m sure singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat is going to help us forget we’re slowly starving to death,” Kelsey said as she adjusted her position to ensure an even tan. “Another great family vacation.”

“How about we each share a happy memory? You go first, Ted.” Linda’s voice was upbeat, but Ted didn’t miss her pleading expression.

Kelsey rolled her eyes. “We’ve heard the story of when Mr. Cox announced you were the new bank president a thousand times, Dad.”

“Actually, I was thinking about that day in Colorado when the two of you let me ski with you.”

Kelsey and Timothy exchanged confused glances. “But we took a wrong turn and ended up on a black diamond slope. You had to take off your skis and scoot down the mountain on your back side,” Kelsey said.

“And we laughed at you all the way down,” Timothy added.

“I know, but you stayed with me. I liked that we all had a good laugh together, even if it was at my expense.” The kids found themselves smiling at the memory.

“That was pretty cool,” Timothy said. “My happy memory is my baseball game against the Braves.”

Linda was puzzled. “You lost that game.”

“Yeah, but I got two sweet hits and . . . ” he hesitated and looked down. “Dad was there.”

There was an awkward silence. Ted put his hand on Timothy’s shoulder. “I should have made it to more of your games. I’ll do better.”

“If we’re not shark bait first,” Timothy said with an uneasy grin.

“Stop that talk.” Linda nodded at Kelsey. “Your turn.”

“My happy memory was when mom and I spent the day shopping for my homecoming dress.”

“What?” Linda was surprised. “We spent all day looking for that dress and you didn’t even like it that much.”

“I had fun looking. We had lunch and took our time. It felt like we were friends.”

“Oh Kelsey, that means a lot.” Linda put her arm around her daughter. Suddenly her eyes got big and a smile spread across her sunburned face. “But I think this moment is going to be my happiest memory.”

“What?” The others cried in unison.

Kelsey winked at her brother. “Mom will do anything for some quality family time.”

“It has been nice. But the real reason this will be my happiest memory has to do with that.” Linda pointed toward an approaching boat.

They all jumped up, almost capsizing their small craft. In the distance they could just make out the words U.S. Coast Guard on the side of the ship. They waved their arms and screamed with energy they didn’t know they had.

An officer on the deck with loud speaker microphone in hand said, “We see you and are approaching for rescue.”

The Waters family would forevermore name that moment as their happiest memory.

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This article has been read 1234 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Pam Carlson-Hetland07/19/07
You are a good story teller. This is a fun read. Very realistic dialogue especially from the teenagers. A nice reminder that our happiest moments come from important relationships.
Virginia Gorg07/19/07
Quality family time is so important and you captured the essence of it in these few words. Nicely done with good dialogue and good use of words. One of my favorite articles this week. :)
Joanne Sher 07/23/07
Great dialogue and characterization. Enjoyed this very much!
Lynda Lee Schab 07/23/07
LOVE THIS! Everything from the title to the message about finding the "happy" in even the worst circumstances. Story-telling at its best. Well done!
Betty Castleberry07/23/07
Well, sheesh. I'm such a sap. You just about had me in tears. This was good!
Loved the family interaction. Well done.
Joy Faire Stewart07/23/07
It's the small things in life with those we love that brings happiness... that's what you have shown. I also enjoyed the humor. Excellent storytelling.
Marilee Alvey07/23/07
I loved the realistic dialogue. You made an excellent point about happy memories. So often, the ones that the family "survives" make it to the top of the list. I remember the Thanksgiving that my mom had to call Roto Rooter right after the meal while we all mopped up. She was distraught, but I told her that would be the one Thanksgiving that would stand out in our minds, the time we pulled together. It's so true! Point well taken! You're a gifted writer.
Dee Yoder 07/23/07
Wow, I really enjoyed your entry! This has all the right ingredients to make a great story. I like the characters and the "happy' ending. Very good!
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/23/07
I really did enjoy your family story. Your message of family togetherness was just right, and so wss the rescue.
Lynda Schultz 07/23/07
Great story — an unusual approach to happy. Good dialogue too!
Loren T. Lowery07/25/07
This one made me smile. I'm glad it had a happy ending because happiness permeated the entire story! Unique setting and a Great job.
Benjamin Graber07/25/07
Kristen, I really like this one; it is such a fun story showing the value of happy memories together.
One thought for critique: I was confused by the part where you said that Timothy and Kelsey exchanged confused glances, and yet Kelsey immediately related something about the experience...
Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed this one!
Elizabeth Baize07/25/07
What a creative approach to the topic -- take your characters out in a lifeboat and leave them there for awhile! Your characters were very real, and you really brought out an important point through their "happy" memories. Great Job!
Sara Harricharan 07/25/07
LOL! This is too funny! The dialouge is perfect. I could see the expressions and hear them talking back and forth. I love how you painted each memory so different than what the others expected, the ski slope instead of the job promotion, the dress, the ball game. Loved this! ^_^
Sherrie Jackson07/25/07
I love Tim's memory of the game and his Dad's presence. Very sweetly written!
David Butler07/25/07
I really liked this. Sometimes God allows a crisis to lift a family above the humdrum and day-to-day frictions and bring us all closer together. Thankfully the Waters were a healthy family.
I liked the realistic way you portrayed the characters, too.
A big tick from me - for what it's worth.
Seema Bagai 07/26/07
Another wonderful piece, Kristen. Congratulations!
Joy Faire Stewart07/26/07
Congratulations on your 1st Place win! Fantastic writing.
Joy Faire Stewart07/26/07
Congratulations also on your EC winner!
Julie Arduini07/26/07
What a gift you have, congratulations on your win. Your story telling ability is amazing. I have a feeling you won't be in advanced long. Congrats again!
Marilee Alvey07/26/07
Nicely done, Kristen! 9th place in Editor's Choice! Wahoo! You will be up in Master's very soon with your talent. I can't wait to see what you write next!
Sara Harricharan 07/26/07
Elizabeth Baize07/26/07
Kristin, CONGRATULATIONS!! I'm so excited for you on your 1st place and your EC win!!
terri tiffany07/26/07
This was so good and fun to read! Your characters were real - good dialogue - and a fun ending!! Congrats!
Dee Yoder 07/26/07
Woo-hoo, Kristen! Congratulations on this winning entry!!!
Jacquelyn Horne07/26/07
This was really good. Well written. No wonder it was a winner.
Loren T. Lowery07/26/07
Kristen - way to go! This is so nice to see, not only for the story, but for the way it was told. Great writing, great talent. Keep it up and congratulations once again.
Sheri Gordon07/26/07
Congratulations on your EC. I really enjoyed reading this story. What a great lesson. You had me hooked from the beginning -- very realistic dialogue. Good job.
Leigh MacKelvey07/26/07
Happy , Happy to you for your #1 and your E.C. Does this one land you in Masters? I told you it wouldn't be a long stay for you!
Venice Kichura07/26/07
Congrats, Kristen on a well-deserved 1st place win!!
You have loads of talent!
Mo 07/26/07
Yes, you'll be in Masters soon for sure! Congrats!
Lisa Holloway07/26/07
You seem to have a knack for realistic dialigue and for making ordinary moments part of an adventure. Congratulations on your EC! (At this rate, you'll be Masters in no time. ;) )
Donna Howard07/27/07
Terrific story, Kristen. I really enjoyed reading it, and sensed that you enjoyed writing it. Congratulations on your first place win and placing in EC. Keep up the good work.