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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Flowers (10/03/05)

TITLE: Flowers for Beth
By Julianne Jones
10/07/05


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Light from candelabrum reflected off polished surfaces; flowers, their fragrance heady in the evening air, graced tables in every room; fairy lights strung through trees lit up the landscaped garden; and hundreds of potted chrysanthemums competed with lilies growing wild along the stream’s banks.

Beth allowed a smile to tug at her mouth. As a student she’d daydreamed about the people living in the big houses with gardens overlooking the stream. That David had been able to afford this house felt like a dream.

Her husband approached and placed an arm around her shoulders.

“Happy?”

“Oh yes.”

“Good house-warming party.”

“Mmm.”

She’d had little time to enjoy the party, flitting from the caterers in the kitchen to her guests in the downstairs rooms then outside to the deck and lawn. Replenishing their glasses, offering trays of food, she’d watched in delight as their son Josh had gone from one person to another enjoying the attention lavished upon him.

Suddenly she realised that she hadn’t seen Josh in her latest round of serving guests.

“Where's Josh?”

“He’s probably outside. Amy arrived a short while ago – you know how he adores her.”

She did know. Still …

“I didn’t see him when I was outside.”

David lent and placed a kiss on her forehead.

“If it makes you feel any better, I’ll check.”

Beth nodded and smiled at her husband.

“Thanks.”

*********


Mummy loves flowers. If I could just reach out –

Flowers everywhere. Flowers that sprung up as he walked on them or bent to pick one.

Mummy would love this. I don’t want to go back – No!

*********


Beth sat in the small waiting room, staring at the limp flowers in the chipped vase sitting amongst torn year-old magazines. She remembered little of the past hour: Amy’s scream; David lifting his son in his arms; someone dialling the ambulance; the guests helpless and horrified; flashing lights and sirens; someone handing her into a car; arriving at the emergency department. It was all a blur.

She glanced up when the door opened then moved along the cracked-leather couch to make room for Josh’s babysitter.

“Any news?”

Beth shook her head.

“Where’s David?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t seen him since he got into the ambulance. I guess he’s in there helping.”

Amy digested this in silence then took Beth’s hands in her own.

“Would you like me to pray?”

“I don’t know. … I’m not much for praying. … I guess it can’t hurt.”

Amy bowed her head and prayed but Beth heard little of what she said. Instead her heart was pleading with a God she had until now ignored.

Please God, save my boy. If You’re real, let him live. And if You do …

“Beth?”

Beth opened her eyes and looked into the face of the surgeon who was both friend and colleague to David. Now his face was drawn and grey and he looked older than his years.

Beth stifled a moan.

“Josh – is he …”

“We don’t know how long Joshua was in the water. It will be weeks before we know the extent of the damage.”

Weeks. Beth grasped at the lifeline.

“You mean he’s not – he’s still alive?”

“He’s alive. In a few minutes you can see him.” He looked around. “Where’s David?”

”I thought he was with you.”

The doctor shook his head. “I haven’t seen him since the ambulance brought Joshua in.”

Beth rose to her feet. “I’ll find him.”

*********


Beth pushed open a door, surprised to see someone kneeling, head bowed, hands clenched together. She glanced at the cross at the front, then back at the figure on the floor.

“David?” As far as she knew, her husband had never had time for God.

David looked up at her approach. “He’s gone then?”

“No. They don’t know the extent of the damage, but he’s alive.”

“Thank God.”

For a few minutes there was silence, then David spoke.

“Tonight I gave my life to God and told Him - regardless of whether Josh lived or died - I would go wherever He sends me. Even to India”

He glanced at Beth.

“It could mean selling the house. Giving up everything you’ve ever wanted. I’ll understand if you hate me.”

There was silence for several moments. Then -

“Are there flowers in India?”

David smiled. “You and your flowers. Yes, there are flowers in India.”

Slowly Beth reached out her hand.

“Then let’s go tell Josh together.”


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This article has been read 1022 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Ward10/11/05
Really well written, dialogue was great. I'm trying not to cry, so glad Josh has a chance...
:) Karen
Jan Ackerson 10/11/05
A very good story that effectively leads the reader through several mood changes. Well done! For me, the suddent introduction of going to India didn't seem to fit in with the rest of the story. I wonder if it would be more effective if you just ended it with David's conversion, and his determination to stay with God no matter what happens to Josh.
Suzanne R10/13/05
How sad ... so glad that at least there ended with some hope ... although I wish you'd made everything all right ... that's me talking and not a literary critique! You beautifully brought out how we can lose sight of what is important in life. Good on you.
Anita Neuman10/13/05
Oooh, excellent examples of "Show, don't tell". Amateurs would've introduced the dad as "Dr. David" and described Josh's fall into the river. Good for you! Although I was a little confused with the India jump as well.
Brandi Roberts10/13/05
Awesome story - much agreed with the previous comments! Thanks for sharing!
Garnet Miller 10/13/05
Good story. I'm glad Josh didn't die, but was impressed also that you didn't restore him whole in that instant. This is a more true to life ending to the situation.
Melanie Kerr 10/13/05
It reminds me that it is in times of crisis that people are more likely to think of God.
Shari Armstrong 10/13/05
This gave me chills (maybe because of my own Joshua?). Very touching.
Donnah Cole10/13/05
Very good story...nice flow of events. You really "showed" the reader the events, did not tell us. I do agree with Jan's comments, however, about the India decision. I think the ending would have been just as powerful showing the dad's conversion and commitment to follow Christ regardless of what the future holds. Overall, great job!
Cassie Memmer10/13/05
Nice story. I too agree with the India thing, but wonder if an addition here might help. Perhaps he may have struggled previously with going there or somewhere else just to satisfy his desire to help the less fortunate? I'm brand new at this, so probably should be quiet. Good writing. :o)
Lynda Lee Schab 10/14/05
Good development of story. It flowed well but I also agree about the India thing (sorry, I know you're tired of hearing that :-)). Your entry had a "real feel" to it. Realistic dialogue, as well as situation.
Well done!
Blessings, Lynda
Tammy Johnson10/14/05
Very nicely written. Thank you.
Denise Stanford10/15/05
This is very well written and was working well until you added a new focus right at the end (India). It's been said I don't think you needed it. I think 'whatever happens' would have been enough still you must have done really well with the rest of it for this to matter!
Val Clark10/16/05
I have no problems with the mention of India at the end. It lightens the atmosphere and shows the depth of the relationship of the couple as they share an in joke in a dark moment. It also brings us back to the theme. Heart wrenching story, well told.
Deborah Porter 10/17/05
Julianne, I just wanted to pop in quickly and let you know that you actually ranked 9th in the Level 2 list, so be encouraged. You already know where the story slipped (yep, it was that India bit) but you are still rating strongly with the judges and still doing well. Be encouraged. With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)
B Brenton10/17/05
This could be a great story if only it were longer Jules! Just not explaining enough about India, but it was still good stuff. :)