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It was a bright sunny day in June, and thirteen year old Mattie Juniper was playing in the yard. “I’m hot!” she said, collapsing on the ground. Even though she was wearing shorts and a tank top, she was sweltering. “I wish I could go swimming,” she said to Tabo, their Rottweiler, who had come bounding in a few moments earlier. Mattie loved to swim, not the competition kind like in the Olympics, which both her mom and dad loved, but the relaxing, for fun kind. Her parents wanted her to be an Olympic swimmer, but what she really wanted to be was a lifeguard. Mattie would love to dive into the waves to help someone every time they needed help. She went back to wishing that she could go swimming. She couldn’t go swimming until three o’clock because everyone was going together, including her two bratty brothers, Brian and Todd. They were always ruining her concentration. For some reason they thought it was fun to annoy her. I wonder what time it is? Mattie thought, going inside to take a look at the clock. “Only two, darn!” she said, wishing for the millionth time that time would speed up. Just then her mom came in and said, “Everyone seems to be ready ahead of schedule, so we’re going now instead of at three.”
“Yes!” Mattie said, running to get her towel, swimsuit, and
goggles, already planning what she was going to do at the pool. She loved her swimsuit. It was hot pink with blue and purple butterflies on it. She looked at it for a moment then rolled it into her towel. Once she had everything she ran out to the car. This is going to be an exciting day! She thought as she plopped into the back seat. “Pool here we come!” she said.
Here we are, Mattie thought, as they pulled into the parking lot. The pool was in the center of a large concrete area surrounded by dressing rooms. The water looked like it was inviting her in. She couldn’t wait to get dressed and start diving. She was practicing so that she’d be able to come up from under someone, instead of going on the top of the water. Which in her opinion, was a waste of energy. She got out of the car, and saw someone she knew walking toward her. “Hey Lisa!” she yelled. Lisa was a lifeguard at the beach, besides being Mattie’s best friend.
“How is it going with your diving?” Lisa said, as she got close.
“Good, but I’m having problems getting my feet behind me.” Mattie answered.
“I could help you.” Lisa offered.
“Sure!” Mattie said, running to the changing rooms. “Just as soon as I get changed!”
“Whew, swimming is tiring.” Mattie said. They were home and Mattie had taken a shower, now she was lying down on her bed. Her room was on the top floor, and painted like blue waves with lots of swimming stuff everywhere. Her mom always said that she was a swimming fanatic. Mattie figured that she was right.
“Dinner’s ready.” her mom said, poking her head into the room.
“Ok, I’ll be right down.” Mattie replied, rolling onto her side. Her mom left. Mattie went back to thinking about her diving, or as her parents called it, using her noggin. She had been thinking about her diving because with Lisa’s help she had been able to do a great dive, but something else was bugging her. “That’s it!” she exclaimed, “Lisa said that she had a surprise for me next week. I wonder what it’ll be.” Then she heard her mom yelling up the stairs,
“Coming!” she replied. Oh well, she would just have to wait. For now, a nice warm dinner!
A week had passed, and now Mattie was again wondering what Lisa’s surprise was. Well, she’d find out in a minute. She was getting out of the car when she saw Lisa. “Hey Lisa, I’m here!” Mattie yelled. She ran over.
“Hey Mattie.” Lisa said. She seemed like she was trying not to just blurt something out. Lisa paused then asked, “Do you remember how you told me once how you wanted to be a lifeguard?”
“Yes.” Mattie answered.
“Well, I’ve arranged for you to be a lifeguard for the summer.”
“Yes!” Mattie exclaimed. “Thank you so much!”
“No problem, now lets go work on those dives, I’ll tell you everything while we practice.” Lisa replied casually.
They were home after a couple of hours at the pool, and, as before, Mattie was laying on her bed thinking. Lisa had said that she could start tomorrow, and Mattie was excited to see what she was going to do. Would she have to train or would she go out on the beach immediately? Would she work with Lisa? Lisa wasn’t sure on those points, so she was trying to figure it out on her own. She was still thinking when she heard a thump. “ Brian...Todd...if that’s you, you’d better stop before I come out and tickle you.” Her brothers hated to be tickled. Outside her bedroom door she heard some giggles and running feet. Yep, it was her brothers. They could be so annoying. Earlier they had made her fall in when they ran around to the other side of the pool and yelled like banshees as she was starting to dive. Oh well, at least they won’t be there at the beach when she started tomorrow.
The next morning at breakfast she asked her mom if she could drop her off at the beach. She had told them last night about the arrangement. Although, she reminded herself, not after a little bit of argument on my parent’s part.
Her mom was saying, “Of course, in fact, we were thinking that the whole family could come for the first day.”
The whole time her mom was talking Mattie was thinking, uh-oh, her brothers would ruin everything. She needed to say something. She just needed to tell her mom about what happened at the pool yesterday and ask if her brothers could go over to Grandma’s for the day. Her brothers were in the next room so it was safe.
“Uh, Mom, I don’t know about Brian and Todd, they scared me yesterday when I was diving and made me fall in. Do you think they could spend the day at Grandma’s? They love going over there.” Mattie said.
“Maybe, but we wanted the whole family to be there, yet it’s not nice of them to scare you at the pool. All right, Brian and Todd can spend the day at Grandma’s, but next week we’ll all come,” her mom decided.
Whew, Mattie thought, they won’t ruin it today.
“Yay, we’re here!” Mattie said. The beach was as yellow as ever and the waves looked like liquid sapphire. Lisa was out in the water practicing. Mattie got out of the car and started running.
“Mattie, wait until we’re ready too!” her dad yelled after her. But she was already half way to Lisa. Lisa saw her coming and got out of the water.
“Hey Mattie, ready for your first day?” Lisa asked.
“You bet I am!” Mattie said excitedly.
“Well, let’s get going.” Lisa said, starting to walk away. Mattie ran to catch up with her. “You’ll have to learn CPR and first aid before Diana lets you go out on the beach. Diana is the supervisor. She’s really fun.” Lisa said.
“It’s a good thing I’ve spent most of my time reading a lot about lifeguards!” Mattie said. They both laughed at that.
“Race ya!” Lisa said, starting to run.
“Oh no you don’t!” Mattie said, running after her.
It was farther than she thought to the pool. Mattie was panting from the run, but Lisa wasn’t even breathing hard. “I guess swimming constantly makes for easy running.” Mattie panted.
“I guess so.” Lisa laughed. They walked into the cool building, which Mattie welcomed. A tall lady was coming towards them. “That’s Diana.” Lisa whispered.
“Hello Mattie, I’ve been expecting you.” Diana said cheerfully as she got closer. “Are you ready for your first day?”
“Yep!” Mattie replied.
“Well, get changed and we’ll start!” Diana said.
Ok, just keep cool, Mattie told herself. She was at the edge of the pool getting ready to dive. It pretty much looked like the public pool except that it was tons bigger. Diana had already had her swim across the pool; swim underwater, and now to dive. Diana had said that this was prep for later. I’m glad Lisa and I practiced a lot, she thought. She bent down and started to dive. She did it perfectly!
“Wonderful Mattie!” Diana said enthusiastically. “You did great!”
This is going well, Mattie thought. What a good first day!
Mattie had been expecting to go out on the beach immediately after the first day, but evidently Diana thought otherwise. For the next three weeks she had Mattie do CPR and learn all sorts of other stuff. “Will I be able to go out on the beach this time?” she asked Diana every day. And, every day Diana said, “Not yet.” Mattie was getting impatient.
Finally, Diana said “Ok Mattie, I want you to go out with Lisa today.”
“Cool! Will I get to go with her every week?” Mattie asked.
“Yes, but you can’t go on your own for a couple of weeks. Going with Lisa is a test to see if you are able to be on your own,” Diana replied.
“Ok.” Mattie said.
Not much happened that day or the next week after. Then on the end of the second week Lisa and Mattie spotted a boy in the deep water who, apparently couldn’t swim well. Both of them dove into the water to help him. Lisa got there first and got him to shore, but Mattie was glad to have helped. Diana had apparently been watching because she said that Mattie could go on her own the next day, if she passed a test to be a certified lifeguard. “Yes!” Mattie had exclaimed after the news. “This is going to be fantastic!”
“Ok, here I go.” Mattie said.
“You’ll do great.” Lisa replied.
Mattie walked off to look around. It was the next day and Mattie had passed her test. She was going on her own for the first time. She had walked along the beach for only a short while when she saw a girl struggling in the water. Oh no! She thought as she rushed out into the waves. She dived under water and came up under the girl who was nearly exhausted. Mattie reached out, she had her! Mattie swam hard for the shore, keeping the girl above water. Finally, she reached the edge of the water. Mattie was tired, but proud of herself. She had saved the girl on her first day alone! The girl was all right, just a little shaken, so she headed down the beach where Lisa was waiting.
“Awesome, you did it!” Lisa cheered, as Mattie got close.
“That was incredible!” Mattie exclaimed.
“That was good,” Lisa agreed, “I forgot to tell you earlier that Diana wants you to be a lifeguard every summer from now on. Do you want to?”
“You bet!” Mattie agreed. Her mom and dad pulled into the parking lot and called for her. “Gotta go.” Mattie said.
“Ok, see you later.” Lisa replied.
Mattie ran and got into the car she was exhausted, but happy. “This is going to be the best summer ever!”