Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Vanity (11/15/18)
TITLE: The River
By Stephen Kimball
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I stepped carefully out onto the path that had been described as being so dangerous. I held a long stick, while my parents were still in view, just in case I found myself sinking in quick sand. To my surprise the ground seemed firm beneath my feet. Gingerly, I took a few slow steps forward, afraid one misstep onto a landmine and I would be blown to smithereens. After a while though, my fears subsided and I began to move with eagerness toward the sounds of the masses.
I came upon a crowd frolicking and bathing in a natural spring, where water flowed from an unseen source deep beneath the surface. Myriads of people filled the oasis, some of them turning to me, urging me to join them – they looked happy. At the farthest end of the spring I noticed that many of the revelers were on small rafts, following the current downstream, around a bend and out of sight.
I jumped in and joined them without hesitation. I made my way to where they were giving out the rafts and off I went, just following the crowd, not really mindful of where the current would lead me. It was a slow and easy ride at first but after floating a little while I could see, up ahead, that our little stream emptied into a much larger river. As the two merged into one, the water became a nasty shade of brown and the current began to take us much more rapidly. There were fallen trees and rocks to avoid but I was moving too fast to have any real control. I was lucky to be able to stay on the raft; some of my new friends didn’t fare as well.
The river was wide and I had been caught up in the flow out in the middle until, thankfully, my raft bounced off a tree stump in just the right way that I was diverted into a smaller channel where the current slowed. My parents, who had been trying to keep up with me all along, were on the riverbank pleading with me to get out of the water and come home to safety. They threw me a lifeline and I feigned an attempt to catch it. I had made up my mind; I was on this ride to stay. It had been tough, for sure, but thrilling at the same time. I gave a faint smile and wave to them as my raft drifted back toward the rapid current of the river. Little did I know, that was the last time our paths would cross.
I rode the current for miles until the fun turned into weariness. I was dirty and burned and I was done with it when I noticed a weather beaten sign at the water’s edge hand painted in blood red:
“TURN AROUND - DEADLY WATERFALL AHEAD!”
But there was no going back at this point. I noticed for the first time, at that moment, the sound of the rushing water ahead and I began to panic. I tried to turn the raft around but the elements finally got the best of me and separated me from my raft. I swam as hard as I could toward the shore but it was too far and the current too strong. All my efforts were in vain.
“He who has ears, let them hear (Mat. 13:9).”
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