Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: TRAVELER (01/28/16)
- TITLE: The Lifeboat
By Belinda Peoples
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I blink, so I may survey the world around me, but all I see clearly is my ten fingers and toes. A brilliant light hangs somewhere in the distance ahead. By it I see mysterious shapes all the colours of the rainbow.
The trickling water intrigues me. I feel a strong desire to find out where it goes. On weak hands and knees I slowly crawl, relying on the water’s cool presence to guide me.
I’m led to where the water pools. There is a boat here, just big enough for me. I feel that I should climb in, but before I do, strong hands grasp my small frame. They lift me gently and securely into the boat.
A deep voice of incomparable kindness says “This is my boat. It is strong and trustworthy. It will carry you to the end of the river. You need only do two things; stay in the boat and keep your eyes only on the light and whatever it falls on.”
“I will.” I say.
I look obediently ahead towards the light and feel a new strength enter me. My eyes are now focused and discerning. For the first time I see the beauty and wonder illuminated by the brilliance of the light I’m heading towards. I see places in shadow, places the light does not touch. A sense of foreboding warns me not to heed my inner curiosity about what might be found there.
For a while, the boat carries me safely. What started as a gentle, narrow brook has become a deep, fast-flowing river. The boat seems to be as sturdy as the voice said it would be, so I feel no fear of the river’s size.
I see others around me now, also in boats. They enter the river from other narrow streams quite like mine. They’re headed in the same direction, in boats identical to mine. As we float along the river, I can just make out a change in the water ahead. Big boulders of rock are submerged in the water. They appear to be making the flow of the river rough and unpredictable.
“Dangerous waters ahead” warns a sleek voice, with what sounds like an air of authority.
I look down to see where the voice is coming from. Its owner is an eel in the river. He hides in the shadows behind my boat. Looking in his eyes I feel fear grip me about the possible dangers ahead.
“The only way to avoid the rapids is to jump out of your boat and swim for the shore” the eel hisses. “Do it quickly, before you get any closer! I know these waters better than anyone. Your boat can’t be trusted!”
Panic starts to rise within. The light has become dim, obscured by spray rising from the rapids. Looking around me, some with panic-stricken faces jump from their boats. Others shout to each other. Using a paddle they’ve found in the boat, they come close to each other. They lock arms and look ahead, prepared bravely to face the rapids together.
Some shout to me, but I choose not to listen. My boat suddenly seems very small, or I’ve grown extraordinarily big. My doubt in the boat overwhelms me. I jump into the water.
The force of the water is much stronger than I reckoned. I will never possess the strength I need to swim to the shore. I struggle to keep my head above the water. The fierce flow pulls me under. I am blind. I can’t even see the eel, but I know he is close. The harsh cackle of his laugh fills my ears as he amuses himself with my stupidity.
Drowning, I remember the instructions from the deep, kind voice. I remember the strength of his hands. I deserve to die, I failed to obey. I earnestly desire a second chance, but my lungs fail me and I pass out.
I wake to the gentle sound of trickling water. Opening my eyes, I find myself, feeling like a drowned rat, back in my boat.
“We’ve passed the rapids.” says the voice of incomparable kindness. “Grace and Mercy have saved you.”
“I’m sorry.” I humbly reply. “Thank you, Lord.”
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