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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Breathe (08/19/10)

TITLE: Drowning!
By Karen Laskowsky


My parents had gone fishing out on the boat for a couple hours after dinner and left my brother, sister and me with the babysitter they had brought along as a motherís helper on our family vacation. I was not supposed to be on the dock without my life jacket, but the babysitter was busy with my younger brother and sister, and I had forgotten to put it on.

My friend, Kim and I had been fishing for sunfish and bluegills with a hook and some bread. We caught one and we needed a bucket of water to put him in. I went into the boathouse where Kimís father, Mr. Eaton, was working on a boat motor. I found a bucket and took it out to the dock to scoop up some water.


The cold lake water enveloped me as I fell off the dock headfirst, outweighed by the bucket of water I was trying to pull up.

Surprised, I gasped involuntarily. The water rushed in and filled my lungs while I thrashed about, panicked and disoriented.

Still under water, my lungs rejected the water, making me cough. I felt the water expelled from my lungs, but more of it was sucked back in as my bodyís need for air caused me to go through the reflexive motions of breathing in that murky medium.

Desperate for air, my lungs burned and my chest ached. I opened my eyes and through the dark green, I saw an old tire, now nailed to the dock as a boat bumper.

I spluttered as my lungs expelled the water. I flailed with my arms and legs, unable to swim, as another intake of liquid filled my lungs.

In vain I reached for that tire.

Again, water out and water in.

Suddenly, I was above it all, observing the scene below me: the roiling water, beneath the surface, flashes of an arm or a leg and the light blue seersucker shorts set I was wearing. But I no longer felt the struggle I was watching. Kim was standing on the dock, pointing and screaming at the place where I had fallen in. Her father closed the gap from the boathouse to the place where the water churned in about five huge steps. He reached into the water.

Hands grasped first one small wrist and then the other as I came up out of the water.

Once again, I felt the burning sensation of lungs struggling for life-sustaining air.

Mr. Eatonís deft hands flipped me upside down. With one hand, he grasped my leg at the ankle, and with the other, he thumped me hard between my shoulders several times.

I coughed and vomited water and my dinner. And more water.

I was gasping and gulping. At last, a breath of air! My lungs still burned and my chest still hurt. At first it felt like I couldnít get enough air because there was still water in my lungs. I couldnít take the deep breaths that I wanted to take. For the rest of the night, I wheezed and continued to cough up water out of my lungs, until finally, it felt like I could take a deep enough breath. I was going to be alright.

That was forty-five years ago. I was four years old. I can still remember it like it happened yesterday. I guess God still has work for me to do.

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This article has been read 427 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sarah Heywood08/26/10
This happened to me as a youngster, too. My story wasn't quite as dramatic as your's was, but it seemed like I was flailing in the water forever before I was rescued. I remember that panicky feeling and then the sheer relief when adult arms lifted me out of the water. Good writing - you made the reader feel as thought they, themselves, were helpless in the water.
Ruth Brown08/26/10
Ooh, This was scary, and very realistic. You told the story so well. You defintely nailed the topic! Blessings, Ruth
Tina Leonard08/26/10
This was very enveloping, not sure if it actually happened to you or not, but your descriptions were spot on. My brother almost drowned when he was little and my Mom has been afraid of water ever since then. I wonder if this is an actual event if you still swim?
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/27/10
It's funny how those early traumatic memories stay with us for so long, being able to remember even the smallest details. I was mesmerized by your story and vivid descriptions.
Virgil Youngblood 08/30/10
An indelible memory, no doubt. It emphasis why children should be water-proofed, taught to swim,at an early age. It is something all parents with young children should do, and they can be taught to swim even before they learn to walk.
Nancy Bucca09/01/10
I enjoyed this because of the detailed explanation you gave of a drowning boy. What a vivid experience, and very well written!