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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Beginning and End (04/16/09)

TITLE: A Pile of Papers, A Sore Throat, and A Prayer
By Leah Nichols


“Mom....she's here now.” Expounding details, the young man paced from one end of the hall to another. “Yeah....Yeah....Okay....Yes, you can see us in a bit.”

Mary laughed quietly to herself as she noted the exasperation reflecting in his face.

“Yes, Mom....No....Mom - ” Letting out a frustrated sigh, he stopped in the middle of his pacing. “Mom! I gotta go....Okay. I love you too.”

As he retreated from the hallway, Mary turned her eyes back to the documents on the desk in front of her. Only thirty minutes to finish. Rubbing her temple, she pondered the events of the last hour, grateful for the notes someone had jotted down for her on a paper towel.

“You almost done?” Becky's gentle voice broke through her thoughts.

Mary's eyes lit up when she saw the large cup of iced water offered her by her friend. “Thank you! Yes, just a few more things to write down.”

“Looks like a mess of papers there!”

“Yeah, but it shouldn't take long if I stay focused. My goal is to get out of here on time today.”

Becky shook her head. “I don't know how you do it, girl. I know I can't work for twelve hours straight!”

“Ah, but the end is in sight. And that makes it worth it all.” Mary took a quick sip of water, then turned back to her work.

* * * * *

Jane squinted in the harsh fluorescent light. Strange noises echoed in the cavernous room, and voices called to one another in muffled tones. Where am I? Where is my husband? She tried to recall the last moment in her memory. A bed. Shouting. Someone telling me to just hold on, to breathe....

Closing her eyes, she remembered a face staring directly into her eyes, calmly telling her, “It's going to be okay. Just hold on. Breathe.”

Mary! That was her name. “Mary?” Her voice cracked and her throat burned with her attempt at speech.

Feeling a gentle pat on her right shoulder, she turned her eyes to see a smiling older gentleman, his surgical attire clearly distinguishing him as a doctor of sorts. “Jane, can you hear me alright?”

“Where's Mary?” The searing pain in her throat prevented her from saying anything further.

He patted her shoulder again. “Mary is here too. Don't worry – everything is finished. You're okay.”

That's it....it's over? I don't even remember what happened! Jane closed her eyes, exhausted from the effort to speak.

A sharp pain gripped her stomach, and she instinctively moved her hands down to hold it. Before she could protest, several pairs of arms grabbed her body as they moved to slide her from the table to a waiting bed. She sank into the mattress, grateful for its softness.

Matt will know what happened. He'll tell me.... Her thoughts faded as she drifted into a dreamless sleep.

* * * * *

Matt sat in the room, worry filling his mind. Burying his face into his hands, he prayed. Please, God, don't let this be the end! Keep her safe from all danger....

Minutes ago they had rushed from the room, taking his wife into an operating room, barring him from following. “You can't go with her,” the nurse had stated matter-of-factly. “They're going to knock her out, and no one except staff can be with her.”

“But what's going on? I don't understand what's happening!” He struggled to listen as the nurse rattled off about a 'prolonged deceleration' and a 'prolapsed cord', something about cutting off oxygen, and that the other nurse – Mary – had to get on the bed with her to help prevent 'anoxia'.

“Just wait here,” she had told him. “It won't be long.”

God, am I ready for this? All the doubts that had been building in his mind for six months assailed him now. I can't do this without You. Please, give me wisdom –

The sound of squeaky wheels broke his thoughts. He looked up to see another nurse with a broad smile entering the room. This is it!

“Are you ready to meet your daughter?” she asked.

He stood and walked to the doorway. Soft brown eyes gazed up at his as he lifted the pink bundle from the crib. “Hello, Evelyn.”

He sighed deeply. “Thank you, God. But I'm thinking I will still need You around, cause this is only the beginning!”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 04/24/09
Very dramatic and intense. I had a bit of trouble figuring out the connection between the first "vignette" and the other two, but it could just be me. was she a nurse filling out paperwork? It is POSSIBLE I know who wrote this. I love the last line!
Jan Ackerson 04/28/09
Really cool title, and I like the "three vignettes" structure.

I was confused, too, by the connection between the three stories, until I read it a few times. I think starting with dialogue led to the confusion--I needed you to set the scene first.

I hope my daughter gets a nurse very much like you when she delivers!
Chely Roach04/28/09
Okay...I have read this several times, and I think I get it(with Jan's help, lol). It was so very intense and fast paced, and left me wanting more (in a good way). Nice job!
Joshua Janoski04/30/09
I too got confused at the first part of the story, but after a second read, it made more sense, because I had the information from the second and third parts.

I really liked the format of this, and I think your nurse stories are some of your best works. Maybe it's because you have a bit of experience in this area perhaps? :)