Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Happy (07/12/07)
TITLE: Conversations in a Lifeboat
By Kristen Hester
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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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