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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Trees (12/05/05)

TITLE: Life-Giving Words
By Julianne Jones


“You’d never believe what he said when he found out. Honestly! Anyone would think I’d committed a crime or something.”

Julia concentrated on her patient, ignoring the verbal diarrhoea spewing out of her colleague’s mouth. “Kayla, we’re just going to give you a sponge bath and check those pressure sores.”

“Then he had the nerve to tell me …”

“I’m going to roll you onto your side now Kayla, so I can wash your back. Here we go.”

“Okay I lied. But it’s not like it hurt anyone or anything.”

“Kayla, I’ll change your sheet, then we’ll change your position.” Julia deftly whipped the soiled sheet out and replaced it with a fresh one before completing the task.

“All done. I’ll clean up these things then I’ll open the curtains. There’s a huge tree outside your window with a mother bird and three young. I watched her feeding them yesterday. They were such greedy things.”

She gathered up the bowls and soiled linen and turned to open the curtains surrounding the bed. “I’ll come and sit with you during visiting hours and write up my ward reports. And tomorrow we’ll see about washing your hair.”

“I don’t know why you bother talking to her all the time,” Angie said. “It’s not like she can hear you or anything.”

Julia refrained from replying until after she’d deposited the items in the utility room. “How can you be sure? Hearing is the last sense to go – perhaps she can hear us.”

“She’s in a coma.”

Julia soaped her hands over the washbasin. “I know.”

“It’s a waste of time.”

Julia dried her hands before turning to face Angie. “Words can bring healing: physically, emotionally, spiritually. Kayla needs to hear those words even if she can’t respond.”

“You’re weird Julia. You’re more interested in someone who doesn’t even know we exist than in the real live people around you. You’re not even interested in me and my problems.”

Julia tried not to show her disgust. “Angie your problems are your own making. You sleep with a guy you like, pretend you’re pregnant to him, and when he finds out you lied he drops you like a hot potato. Then you blame him. I don’t understand why you can’t just be open and honest with men.”

“Get real! No guy is going to willingly put a ring on a girl’s finger unless she’s pregnant. It’s the only way.”

Julia pushed the door of the utility room open and thought of her own fiance and the commitment they’d made to each other to wait for marriage.

“That’s where you’re wrong, Angie. There is another way.”


“Enjoy your break?”

“Mmm,” Julia picked up the patients’ files from the nurses’ station and started flicking through them. Although she’d enjoyed her days off, it was good to be back in the wards.

“You’ve been caring for Kayla Anderson haven’t you?” the head sister asked.

Julia raised her head. “Yes. Why?”

“She arrested three nights ago.”

Julia closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Oh no.”

“She’s in ICU. I thought you’d want to know.”


“She should return to the ward in a day or two. By the way, I’ve assigned Angie Smith to work with you.”

Julia nodded and offered up a quick prayer. It was going to be a long day.


“Hi, Kayla, nice to see you again.” It had been almost a week since Kayla had returned to the ward and there’d been no change in her condition. Hope for recovery was quickly fading.

Julia glanced out the window. “The birds are growing so big now. I don’t know how they all fit in the nest. It won’t be long and they’ll be spreading their wings and flying.”

“It’s an acacia tree, Kayla.”

Julia looked at Angie in surprise. She’d noticed that Angie no longer discussed her own problems in front of patients but this was the first time she’d made an effort to talk to Kayla.

Julia straightened the items on the bedside cabinet. “There. All done. I’m off now for two days. Angie will look after you while I’m gone. See you when I get back.”


Julia mumbled and rolled over. 1:05. Who would be ringing at this hour? Fear clutched at her heart as she lifted the receiver.

“It’s Angie." She was crying. "Kayla’s awake! She’s asking for you!”


The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.
Proverbs 15:4 (NIV).

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This article has been read 1189 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Steve Clark12/12/05
A beautiful story with far-reaching inspiration. Thank you.
Judy Anderson12/12/05
This is a great reminder that as Christians our tongues can bring life or death so easily. This is beautiful!
Melanie Smith-Taylor12/13/05
This is awesome! I wish there were a sequel so I can see if I am right about the patient recovering and going on to live a fruitful life...at least that's how I am choosing to see it. Thanks for a heart-warming story!
Suzanne R12/14/05
Beautiful! I love the way you tied in trees - both the physical and the metaphorical. EXCELLENT work!
Beth Muehlhausen12/14/05
Nicely done! Allusions to healing and growth and maturity are well developed.
Karen Ward12/17/05
Excellent verse you chose. Given the word count I think you fit it all in really well. Dialogue was great. Well done! :) Karen
Val Clark12/19/05
Great dialogue really made this piece live for me. Yeggy.