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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Sharp (03/07/13)

TITLE: Razor Tongue
By Ellen Carr


'Never cross Razor Tongue! She'll cut you down as good as look at you.'

That was the message passed around the office. Rachelle Tungston was the manager of a team of twenty. Smart, efficient and sure of herself, she didn't seem to mind being disliked. People whispered about her and avoided her when they could.

Rachelle oozed confidence. As Office Manager at B B Hester Investments she knew what was what and who was who. She ran a tight ship, keeping a close eye on things. Nothing escaped her scrutiny, except the whispers about her and the names she was called behind her back. 'Razor Tongue' was the favourite nickname, and with good reason.

Her strictly-regular team meetings were crisp and well-planned. She came prepared with agendas and lists. Tardiness was not tolerated and inefficiency was derided. She chose these meetings to point out mistakes and inefficiencies. Lowering her glasses on her nose, she would glare at her poor victim and let out a barrage of complaints - a client had been kept waiting, a deadline had been missed, or too much time was being wasted at the water cooler. Her sharp tongue would cut the person down in front of their colleagues. Her nickname fitted her well.

Warning whispers began to circulate. 'Razor Tongue's coming!' 'Watch out, or you'll get the sharp edge of her tongue.' A heavy atmosphere invaded the office. One never knew what might set her off on a tirade.

Then one day a different whisper went round the office, a cheerful whisper. 'Razor Tongue's going on leave for four weeks! Yippee!' The tone in the office lifted in anticipation, and when she was wasn't there next Monday morning there was a tangible feeling of relief. Her replacement was a cheery woman, one of the troops. People walked with lighter steps. Shoulders relaxed.

But the four weeks flew by and the dreaded 'Razor Tongue' returned from her leave. There she was, large as life, on Monday morning, yet there was something different about her. Everyone noticed, and the whispers began:

'Maybe she's fallen in love!' 'Could her holiday have changed her in some way?'

True to form, Rachelle called a meeting. With drooping shoulders and down-turned mouths the team assembled, steeling themselves for her onslaught, for her sharp-tongued tirades. But something was definitely different. She was smiling.

'I'm glad to be back,' she began. 'But before we get onto our agenda I have something I'd like to say to you all.'

A heavy silence fell over the room. People shifted uneasily in their chairs wondering what new complaint they would hear. Perhaps she wasn't happy with what her replacement had done in her absence. Maybe things hadn't progressed enough.

'I want to apologise to all of you for my sharp tongue.'

You could have heard a pin drop.

'I realised over my vacation that I have said unfair and unkind things to many of you since I've been in this position.' Mouths dropped open. They couldn't believe that they were hearing this.

'I've started reading the most famous book in the world - the Bible - and one thing I read was this, in the Epistle of James, ' no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.' I was convicted that it applied to me and the way I've been talking to people around here.'

The deathly silence persisted, but expressions on faces changed. Some looked puzzled, some sceptical. Rachelle continued:

'I know this will sound very weird to some of you, and I don't intend to start talking religion here. Just let me ask your forgiveness for the sharp-tongued things I have said in the past. I intend to change the way I speak to people. That's all I'll say on that, but if anyone wants to ask me more about it, please come and see me. Now, to our agenda for today.'

The stunned silence turned into respect as the meeting proceeded very differently to usual. Rachelle sought people's opinions and listened as they tentatively responded. No-one was cut down or derided. Yet everyone was cautious. This new Rachelle - was she for real?

Whispers abounded after the meeting. 'She's found God!' 'It won't last; just give her a week!' Just one person plucked up the courage to go and ask Rachelle what had happened to change her so much, and she heard the rest of the story, the story of Rachelle's new-found faith.

James 3:8 (NIV)

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This article has been read 699 times
Member Comments
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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/14/13
I think you did a great job on the story. Your characters are believable and the dialogue feels natural. You covered the topic and delivered a beautiful message. I truly enjoyed this.
C D Swanson 03/14/13
Fantastic message, and one that many will relate to. This was well done and well told. Thank you.

God bless~
Jack Taylor 03/16/13
Thanks for presenting a realistic scenario in this story. I understand the pressures of being in charge and how things can get tense with staff. Seeing the change in Rachelle gives hope to everyone that even the worst of us can be transformed when the word gets to the thoughts and intents of our heart.
Cheryl Harrison03/18/13
I enjoyed your story. I loved your MC's name -- Rachelle Tungston. Perfect.

I also appreciated the lesson within your story.

Good job! Keep writing.
Allen Povenmire 03/18/13
Having worked for a Rachelle or two, I was interested in this story from beginning to end. Perhaps this could have been even more powerful had we been with her while she read from James, and felt the conviction along side her. All in all, though, well done.
lynn gipson 03/18/13
Very interesting, great to read story. I was hooked from beginning to end, and what a glorious ending! Great JOb!

P.s. I have worked for a Rachel or two myself, wish they had found what Rachel did.
Bonnie Bowden 03/18/13
Very relatable. I have known a few people in church or work with this razor tongue syndrome. Interesting take on the topic from beginning to end.
Christina Banks 03/18/13
I like the lesson that you wove into this story. I've known a few Razor tongues myself, and I could relate with the office staff. You did well with this. I wonder if it would increase the impact of the story if you had a single point of view character that told the story. I do like the confusion that the change in Rachelle's behavior brought about.
Alicia Renkema03/18/13
The irony of this wonderfully told story is that the people talking about Rachel's razor-sharp-tongue were just as guilty as she with their gossip. I started to cry when she got back from her trip and it was evident that she had undergone a change. Those inner-heart changes are the best ones of all. It is too bad that so many people in life are quick to assume the worst.The Bible says that love thinks the best of someone and your special story remind me of that as well. Thanks so much for writing and sharing this little gem on the tongue.
Lillian Rhoades 03/19/13
Excellent job of staying on topic. A editor suggested to me that when I start an article with dialogue, "The reader is momentarily disoriented, not knowing who is speaking, or to whom."

Consider using more creative imagery to avoid common cliches. (tight ship, pin drop,etc.)

You've done a good job of showing how a "two-edged sword" can tame a sharp tongue.:-)
Linda Buskirk03/19/13
This was a great use of the topic. You accurately described a believable scenario. The only exception might be the use of the word "conviction" by someone who seems to be a new believer. It's certainly possible, and could depend on who led her to be reading those words in James. Perhaps that's for another chapter!
Myrna Noyes03/20/13
I especially enjoyed this story as I am reading and meditating on the Epistle of James this week. Today I read chapter 3 about the tongue! I have also been praying that God will cleanse my heart, mind, and tongue of impurity, dishonesty, or any kind of evil. With your descriptive words you painted an excellent "before" and "after" portrait of your MC! I was blessed by the positive ending! Good job! :)
Judith Gayle Smith03/20/13
You took me back to the workplace and the office politics. It reminded me of one gal I worked with who had a reputation for being distant, cold and angry. She was my Supervisor and I came to know and love her. I found that she was very reserved because she had a colosomy bag, was terribly uncomfortable and had lost her husband to cancer not long ago. One day she asked me if I had any idea why people shied away from her. I looked at her forbidding face, framed by sever black surrounds - prayed for the right words, and then suggested that the heavy black frames had to go. The following week she came in wearing the softest blue frames - and yes, the reaction was most favorable! She looked totally approachable, and the reaction garnered put smiles on her face, making her even more welcoming. I do miss her . . .
Judith Gayle Smith03/20/13
Oops! Colostomy bag. I ran on so long I forgot why I commented - what you have written is so frequently the case, the gossip, the tongue-wagging and the sharp tongue. I too love this area in James. Thank you for such a real and dynamic take on this subject.