Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Beach (07/04/05)
TITLE: THE LIFEGUARD (ii)
By Lynda Lee Schab
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The boundaries were clearly laid out. In the water, white buoys marked the drop-off points, warning swimmers of the danger beyond. He was always deeply saddened by the number of people who chose to ignore those signs and cross the boundaries. He'd saved more lives than he cared to remember. Yet he remembered every one.
The lifeguard saw numerous bikini-clad girls, with barely more than dental floss covering their bodies. He shook his head. Didn't they realize what a target they were making themselves into for perverted men and sexually charged teenagers? These girls were ignoring invisible boundaries but boundaries that were just as important. He'd discovered more than his share of naked girls beyond the sand dunes, to where they had been coaxed, then taken advantage of. It sickened him to think that some lessons were never learned. He hoped he wouldn't have to do any saving of that sort today.
The lifeguard watched as mothers became too engrossed in their romance novels to pay attention to their children. Once in a while he would see the mother look up, then scour the hundreds of bodies in the water for a glimpse of her child. Panic would set in and she might get up and frantically call his name, and when she finally spotted him, instead of relief, she would get angry, scolding and berating the child for not remaining within sight. But four-year-old children don't tend to think about whether or not they are within sight of their parents. They have a naïve security in the fact that their parents are keeping track of them. Why didn't they understand that boundaries should be set and maintained by the parent, and not the child? Then again, no matter how closely you watched them, children had minds of their own. The lifeguard knew this firsthand.
How far outside of the boundaries people went determined whether they lived or died. Sometimes the lifeguard would give several warnings, trying to convince them of the danger that lied outside of those lines. But still people chose to scoff at him and rebel. And when they crossed too far, and the inevitable happened, most blamed the lifeguard. They would shout, "where were you?" or, "it's all your fault!" or, "you weren't paying attention!" He was used to it but it still hurt. In a way, he understood their need to place blame on someone for their loved one's stupidity. After all, no one liked to admit that the senseless tragedy could have been prevented altogether had they chosen to abide by the rules and stay within the boundaries so clearly defined. But it broke his heart that he was the one they blamed, especially when he was also the one who grieved most over each and every loss.
But he wouldn't give up. He wouldn't quit his job as lifeguard for anything in the world. He could have gotten frustrated that people just wouldn't listen. He could have stayed silent and simply not given warnings at all, sitting by while the people destroyed themselves. But that wasn't his nature. He would keep warning. Keep diving in to save those in need of help. Keep dragging people out of the deep water, out from behind the sand dunes, out of danger. Not because it was his job, but because he loved them.
He simply loved them.
He would guard each life with all he had. He would be on duty and keep rescuing until the predestined day came for him to stop. One day there would be no need for saving. But until then…until the end of time…
He would be the lifeguard.
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