The Light through the Darkness

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Sarah tries to get over a major life changing event and finds a job as a lifeguard. The first sight of one of the other guards has her head turned and getting to know him is way easier than she anticipated. How far will that go and with a major incident a work, what will happen to Sarah after she witnesses a little girl face down in the pool on her watch.

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1. the light through the darkness

Everything started the day I walked through those pool gates and saw him sitting on the lifeguard chair. My soon to be boss was showing me the ropes of the place, but all I could see was him. All I could pay attention to was his eyes covered by his shining green sunglasses staring out at the few people in the pool.

“So, Sarah what do you think of the place? Can I officially put you on the schedule?”

My boss Matt is only two years older than me and I completely dozed off during his presentation of the job. I just got my lifeguard certification and the country club near my house was my first stop. I called him up and he immediately gave me an interview the next day.

“Oh, yeah I really like it. I think you got yourself a new employee.”

He turned around to face me with a big smile on his face. He showed me to his office which was more like a shed with a desk and three chairs to get all my information and add me into the group chat. I was officially a country club lifeguard with seven other guards and my first shift as the next morning at 8.

Matt showed me out with my new lifeguard shirt, so ready to start the next day. My ride home is short and once i roll into my driveway, my mom is ready to greet me on the step, wanting to know everything that happened.

“Hey, honey how was it? Was the boss nice? Did you make a good impression with your dress? Did you get the job and meet the other guards?”

The questions kept coming and I could barely get out of my car into the house without answering them.

“It was fine. The boss is 19 years old and very chill. He hired me and my first day is tomorrow morning. I didn’t meet any of the other guards yet but I will tomorrow.”

I didn’t meet any of the guards, but I know who I want to get to know. I ran to my room trying to contain my excitement and write everything down. Summer finally came around and I was going to get over everything that happened last year, pushing it all behind me. I spent hours trapped in my room anticipating everything that would happen the next morning and reviewed all of the saves just to be sure I knew them. I fell asleep at 9:30 with my journal on my lap missing dinner.

It was the following morning and I opened my eyes to the sun rays shining through the window, lighting up my room and pointing to my clock that read 7:50.

“Shoot! I have work in ten minutes!”

I can't believe I overslept! I literally jumped out of my bed and threw my sports bra on with the red lifeguard shirt and my black soccer shorts. I grabbed my flip flops and ran out the door with my water, sunscreen and sunglasses. The whole car ride over I kept looking at my clock, watching the minutes come closer to 8with so many thoughts running through my head. How could I be so careless to show up late on the first day! What if he fires me? The other guards are going to mark me as the girl who doesn’t care about when she gets there. The are never going to like me now. I finally roll up to the parking lot and park where all the other employees park. My heart was beating out of my chest, but finally calmed down when I saw another guard in a red shirt walking to the front gate. It gave me some comfort that I wasn’t going to be scolded for being late. Walking through the front door, my boss was taking out the vacuums in the pool with a large coffee by his feet. The other guard went into the office to put his stuff down so I followed him to do the same.

“Mornin Sarah, can you give me a hand with these things?”

I place my stuff down on a lounge chair and go and figure out how to get the vacuum out of the pool. I run to grab the skimmer and pull the vacuum towards the wall where Matt grabbed it and pulled it out.

“Sarah, you are a genius. I knew you were going to be an asset to our team when I hired you.”

Matt grabbed his coffee and walked with me to the breakroom to get my clock in number and explain how it works. The other guard was not there and completely disappeared other than his bag on the floor.

“Ok, so this is your clock in and clock out number. Simple to use, just go to the snack bar or the clubhouse computer and hit the clock in/out button and punch in you number before and after your shift to get paid.”

“Where is the snack bar entrance?”

“Umm.. oh hold up. Michael?”

He calls to the other guard passing the office door and it was him. The guard I couldn’t stop staring at yesterday. Now I can see his whole face without the glasses and I am more impressed than yesterday. His eyes are bright green and I can’t get over how cute he is, even when his brown hair is blown all over the place from the ocean wind.

“What up Matt?”

“Can you be the bomb and show Sarah where to clock in?”

“No problem.”

“You are the best!”

Michael gives me the kindest smile and leads me to the snack bar.

“I’m Michael by the way.”

“Sarah. When did you start working here?”

“Actually Matt and I got a job here two years ago together. We were both on the same highschool swim team and decided to get a job here since it was close to our school. He was my ride until I got my licence. He actually became manager this year since the big man upstairs,also known as the manager of all the managers couldn’t find anyone else to take our old managers spot.”

Michael showed me to the small snack bar to clock in on the computer and we headed back to the pool deck. There were only two people on deck and about to head into the pool. Michael and I went to the middle chair and continued our conversation as we watched the mom play with her little boy.

“So Sarah, tell me about you. What are you like?”

“Well, I am going to be a senior this year. I play soccer and I’m on the rowing team for my school. I have a younger brother and sister. Um… I was never a competitive swimmer and I want to do a 5K some time before school starts again.”

We talked our whole shift and it was very successful since no one drowned. MIchael was really kind and smart. Our two replacement guards came in and we headed home. Our cars were right next to each other and that's when we said goodbye.

“I’ll see you later Sarah.”

“You too Michael. It was a great first day.”

“And hopefully many more to come if I didn’t scare you away.”

His smile is contagious and once I get in my car it doesn’t go away. We worked together for almost the whole summer and talked about anything and everything. He was the kind of guy every girl wishes they had in their life. There was one night when Michael me and one of the other guards I became really close with, Ella, talked about disney movies and songs from the early 2000s we were obsessed with as kids. We went from disney movies to classic christmas movies and how the claymations never get old. It has been a month working on the job and when August rolled around, everyone knew that school was right around the corner. It was a friday night shift with both Ella and Michael. Matt headed home early and Michael was in charge if anything went wrong since he was the head lifeguard. Ella and I were on the chair talking about the most embarrassing scenario.

“Ok, so what if you and Michael were married? You two are going to be the couple that goes to disney together every year with your kids!”

“Ok ella, I see how it is. I can picture both of us talking about the latest disney movie we watched drinking wine in the hot tub out back once the kids are asleep. There will be two or three of them.”

We were laughing our heads off until I looked up to see someone in the deep end face down. I immediately stopped laughing to get Ella’s attention and the little girl still hasn’t moved.

“Ella 911, walkie Mike, get backboard!”

My heart is racing out of my chest as I grab the lifeguard tube and jump in the water to rescue her. I perform the move to get the girl on the tube with her face out of the water and her back resting on the tube. I swim back to the side of the wall where Ella has the backboard to get her out of the water. She pulls her up and I climb out of the water. I start compressions on her and I see Michael out of the corner of my eye with the AED in hand. Ella was on the phone with 911 as Mike and I tried to bring the girl back to life. She was not breathing and had no pulse. Mike and I did everything we could to get her breathing and as soon as she started coughing up water I heard the sirens pull up. I let go of a breath I didn’t know I was holding and Mike held the girl up, helping her get her breath back. She was breathing heavy and Mike held her close to warm her up. I was out of breath and all I could see was the look on Michael's face which was three shades whiter than usual. He was just as scared as I was but didn’t show any of it. I for one was ready to go cry in the corner. A stretcher came through the gates along with the paramedics they took her to the hospital to make sure everything was alright. The crowd that apparently formed around us simmered away back to their books and food as Mike and Ella started putting away everything we took out. I sat on the ground for a couple more seconds to catch my breath and try and figure out what just happened.

“I’ll go and fill out an incident report, but Sarah or Ella I might need your help in telling me what exactly happened.”

“Ok no problem.”

Ella and Mike headed into the office leaving me on the chair. I think everyone was scared of going back in the water after that, because for the rest of the night, there was no one in the pool. Ella headed home after filling out her side of the story and what happened and the pool deck was cleared of people, leaving me and Michael alone. I told him everything that happened, except the part about him and I being married and it matched up with Ellas side of the story perfectly.

“Ok, I think that should be everything. We just need to clean up the pool deck a little and then we can get out of here.”

I nod at him and walk out of the office to watch the rest of the sunset over the water. The only thought that went through my head is that I really hope that girl is alright. I watch the sky turn every color of red, orange and yellow as the sun walls behind the horizon. Michael appears to my side, leaning on the fence with me.

“Are you alright.”

I sight and tell him that I will be fine. We both just stand there in silence not wanting to say anything else. I was just glad that I had him next to me.

“Hey Sarah, I want you to know that you did everything you were supposed to do today. We saved her life and you were amazing.”

“I know, I just feel that if I was watching her, that wouldn’t have happened. I should have seen her struggling in the water before she became unconscious and make a close call like that.”

I was ready to start crying as I got all of that off my chest, but the touch of Michael's hand on my shoulder made me calm down. He was staring right through my blue eyes and I could feel what he was trying to say but couldn’t. His hand remained on my shoulder as we both turned to watch the rest of the sun go down.

“Do… do you want to go get an ice cream?”

I smile at his question and say “that would be great.”

We close up the pool and he drives me over to an ice cream shop right around the corner. We get in the car and his highschool musical playlist comes on. His face turned supper red as he tried to change the station. I couldn’t help laughing at his reaction, but placed my hand on his to stop him from changing it. Instead I turned his hand to crank up the music and started singing along. The embarrassment on his face faded away as he joined in with me. It was the best three minutes in the car I have had in a while and it made me forget about everything that has happened. We pulled up to the ice cream shop and he was such a gentleman, he opened my door for me and paid for my ice cream even though I insisted him not to. We sat outside in a picnic table in silence just eating out ice cream and enjoying being together outside of work. He made me laugh so hard at the stupidest things and once we finished our ice cream, I told him to drive to my neighborhood and go to the beach near my house. I took his hand and dragged him to the sand and sat under the stars. Mike turns on his side to face me as he plays with my hair.

“Tell me something you never told anyone.”

I had to think about it. What is something I never told anyone? I rolled onto my back and stared at the stars and it finally came to me. He saw the smile appear on my face and urged me to tell him.

“Ok. Ok. I never told anyone this and you have to swear you never will either.”

“I promise. Now tell me!” his reaction was like a little kid’s anticipation of his parents about to tell him where the surprise car ride destination is.

“Fine! I have a secret tattoo on my hip of a star.”

His face was in shock and he smiled that smile I can never get enough of. He inched closer to me and asked me what it means. I told him nothing, but he didn’t believe me.

“Come on Sarah. For the time I have known you, I would have never pictured you as someone to a have a secret tattoo for no reason. You are not that reckless, so what's the meaning behind it?”

I flopped back on my back and don't know whether to tell him or not. I let out a sight and decided to tell him. I needed to tell someone and if I told my mom she would kill me for not letting her know and I can’t tell my best friend either no matter how much I wanted to.

“I got it last summer to remind me that there is always light in the darkest parts of your life. I just need to look hard enough. Even if I can’t see the light, I know it is always there just like the stars. I went through a really hard time last year and that's when I got it.”

I could feel the tears start coming again and I thought I cried enough for her, but I guess not. That same knot came into my throat, forcing me to cry. I can’t though. I can’t cry in front of him. I didn’t want to look at Michael in the eyes even though I could feel them on me. I stared at the stars in the sky, clearly visible as his hand crept under my neck pulling me into his shoulder. Cuddling close to him felt great even though I thought I could handle this on my own.

“Do you want to tell me what happened?”

I shook my head and he didn’t push it. He just held me close and didn't say anything. He let me cry on his shoulder even though he has no idea why. He was just there for me when I needed him and that’s one reason I liked him. I felt myself calm down and close my eyes to rest. The sound of the waves were crashing in front of us putting me to sleep.

Michael realized I was asleep and grabbed my phone to call my parents. He sounded like a polite gentleman and he only told them that we had a rough day at work and I needed someone to talk to about it. By the look of the bright headlights shining on the water Michael knew my mom came to check on us. They were whispering to not wake me up and Mike tried his hardest to not move either.

“Hi Mrs. Ryan, I’m sorry we are meeting like this, but Sarah had a rough day at work and just needed a friend to get some stuff off of her chest. When she fell asleep I didn’t know what to do because I knew you would have been worried if she didn’t come home.”

“That’s quite all right Michael. I’m glad you called and I’m glad she has you. I don't know if she told you, but last summer her best friend died on the soccer field due to a tumor. She has been devastated because of it. When she got this job, she was finally happy again. I thought it was because she was finally making new friends but I guess it was more than that. Just bring her home in the morning. Good night.”

My mom walked away and Michael pulled me closer to him and as his hand was running through my hair, he finally went to sleep.

Lying there in Michael’s arms, I knew that he was the star that was meant to come into my life and guide me through the night. He was my light through the darkness and he was always there for me, and he still is as we watch our two kids Daniel and Hannah grow up and talk about our favorite disney movies in the hot tub while drinking our glass of red wine.

The end

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