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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Gifts (of the Spirit or service) (11/22/07)

TITLE: Phoebe-the-Wise
By Dee Yoder


“Man, did you see who you’re scheduled to swim rats with today?” my colleague, and locker companion asks with a laugh.

“Nope. Haven’t looked at the schedule. I presume I’m going to be setting up my mouse study in Repro,” I mutter while I pull on my scrubs.

“You presume wrongly, Nerd-man. You have to help Phoebe-the-Wise run behaviorals on her F1 babies.”


“Sarah’s gone on vacation, my man.”

“What’s she running? Startle Response? Eye Exams?”

“Eye exams-you wish!”

I snort, “Not with Phoebe, I don’t. Lights on or lights off, she’s not one to mess with.”

“Yeah, know whatcha mean,” Perry says as he launches his dirty lab coat into the wash pile. “Christian. No chance for-“

“Gotta go.”

For some reason, though I don’t know Phoebe Wise that well, I don’t want Perry talking bad about her. I’ve only worked with her a few times before, but she caught my attention. Quiet. A little shy, but really smart. Hard worker. She’s never let me down any of the times she’s taken my studies on my weekends off.

I check the schedule to see which room the behaviorals are in. Well, looks like we’ll be swimming the F1 generation today. I hate that behavioral. Boring and long. Some of the rats are quick studies, but some can take the whole sixty seconds and still not swim their way to the end of the maze. Sixty seconds doesn’t seem like a lot of time until you multiply it by fifty critters.

“Hi Ben,” Phoebe says with a smile when I enter the room.

“Gotta swim ‘em, huh?”

“Yeah. The pups are so big already; I think most of them are smart, though.”

“Are these Group Ones?”

“Nope. Swam those guys yesterday. These are the Twos, and they seem to be pretty normal.”

I like Group Ones best. Defective genes rarely affect the control animals, but the higher groups could have potential delay deformities. With Group Twos whose parents have defective genes we could end up with more animals not being able to figure out the maze, which means a longer amount of time in this room.

“I’m ready, Ben”

“Okay. Go ahead and drop the first guy.” I set the timer.

Phoebe leans over the tank and gently releases the first male into the water. He swims in a circle for a second and then takes off around the perimeter of the maze. Phoebe has nice hair that lies along the back of her neck like a scarf. I watch her eyes follow the pup around the maze. Her smile is still in place, and she chuckles gently as she records the rat’s swift progress.



“Why are you a Christian?”

My question startles her, and she delays answering me while she retrieves the pup from the water.

“I needed peace, Ben,” she finally answers.

Her eyes meet mine, and I get the feeling she’s reading my mind.

“Peace. Huh. Well, I know how lack of peace feels,” I say with a laugh.

“You do?”

“Yeah. Peace and my mom with her schizophrenia do not mix.”

She doesn’t reply right away, but when I glance up, she says suddenly, “Do you want me to pray for you, Ben?”

Now how did she know I was thinking that? She’s looking at me with such genuine concern that I feel tears gathering at the edge of my eyelids. Whoa. Time to get back to work. Get a grip, Ben.

“Forget it, Phoebe. I was just being nosey.”

We finish the rats in less than three hours, and I head out the door to my next assignment.
Phoebe catches my eye just before I close the door to her study, and her gentle smile makes me stop.


“Yes, Ben?”

“I guess it wouldn’t hurt to have you say a prayer or two. For my Mom, I mean.”

“For you, too?”

I don’t answer her, but she stays put in front of me. Again, my throat aches suddenly with a sad kind of longing, and Phoebe seems to know it, too. She pats my arm before heading back to her study.

“I’ll be praying, Ben.”

I nod mutely and turn to leave. One last time I glance back at Phoebe, and even her shoulders seem set with purpose and strength. “What makes Phoebe-the-Wise so wise?” I ask myself. “Is it some kind of spiritual gift that only Christians have?” I don’t know, but I plan to find out. Someday.

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This article has been read 1195 times
Member Comments
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Laury Hubrich 11/29/07
This is a nice testimony to the power of living your life for the Lord so that others can come to know Christ. Thank you for sharing!
Jan Ackerson 11/29/07
This is some awesome piece of writing--you made the lab experiment with the rats into a very interesting read! Your characterization is absolutely superb, and I like the fact that you didn't wrap it up all neatly, but trusted your readers' intelligence to supply the ending.
Verna Cole Mitchell 11/29/07
It takes some gifted writing to make lab rats interesting, but you pullied it off superbly. This is a great story.
Yvonne Blake 12/03/07
Very interesting setting! I'd never think of use a lab. Good dialogue.
william price12/03/07
Mice. I won't say cute. BUT very excellent writing. I love great characterization and dialogue and you aced them both. God bless.
LauraLee Shaw12/03/07
I love the title. This is extremely well written. Enjoyed it!
Betty Castleberry12/03/07
This is wonderfully written. You must have some knowledge of lab rats and experiments.
If you don't, you faked it very well. ;0)
I throughly enjoyed this professionally done piece.
Shelley Ledfors 12/03/07
Wow. I am very impressed by this story. It is so real and engaging and has a wonderful message as well. --I also appreciate how you take the time to make comments on so many stories!
Patty Wysong12/03/07
Super job! Who would've thought lab experiments could be so interresting?! This was really engaging--great job! Hugs!
Joy Faire Stewart12/03/07
I enjoyed the idea of a lab for the story. It is very unique and the message is perfect. Excellent writing!
Marita Vandertogt12/04/07
I was wondering when gifts was going to enter the story and then it did, beautifully and gently at the end. Very nicely done. By the way, Phoebe's caring nature and strength of character really came through.
Temple Miller12/04/07
I love how you demonstrate emotions with sensory details. Great story.
Joanne Sher 12/04/07
I was completely engaged from beginning to end - great characterization, dialog, EVERYTHING. Enjoyed this very much!
Sheri Gordon12/04/07
This is really good. I loved learning about the rat testing -- very interesting. The dialogue was very realistic. I like the open-ended ending. Very good writing, and good job with the topic.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge12/04/07
You led the reader right to where you want him... there isn't anyway he won't stick around for the lifestyle evangelism message! Great writing.
Sara Harricharan 12/05/07
LOVE the dialouge in this piece! I give you points for creativity! This was sort of haunting in the end, it was just the right note to end on! Great, awesome writing! This is one of my faves this week!
TJ Nickel12/05/07
An experience (setting) I know nothing about and yet I was there through each description putting it together and liking that I didn't understand it all. Great ending too. The MC has a humanity to him that works great with that ending.
LaNaye Perkins12/05/07
I love how you shed light on how the Spirit opens our understanding to what someone is going through. Even when they don't say a word about their circumstances. This was one of my favorites this week. Well done my friend.
Beth LaBuff 12/06/07
Great writing! The setting was so unique. I learned something. :)