The 2nd annual UBC Medicine Art As Adjuvant Writing Competition concluded this year with the reading of the winning pieces at the Coffee House on April 8. Dr. Monica Kidd, a Calgary-based published author and doc, and Kristy Williams, UBC Med grad 2014 and co-founder of Arts As Adjuvant, took on the difficult task of selecting the winners from a pool of beautiful written pieces. Prizes were possible due to the continuing support of the BC Medical Journal and funding from the UBC Med Wellness Initiative Network. Arts in Medicine would like to recognize Pretty Verma for organizing such a wonderful contest.
The grand prize of a gift card and publication in the BC Medical Journal is:
The Girl and the Snake
by Patricia Caddy
She tumbled and tumbled; down, down, down.
There was a bang, and then nothing.
Instantly, she slept.
In and out, in and out. Her breath kept perfect, metered time. The grown-ups, having seen the
fall, wailed as they scooped her up in arms. They ran the way that children run, not looking at
At the hospital, her little veins were mined for clues and secrets. Wires watched her beating, lion
heart. Computers looked inside her bones and there, there! They found her story. The girl was
almost perfect, head to toe. The tumble, though, had shaken loose a snake of vein inside her
head, behind her blue-green eyes.
Her purple blood- made red with every gentle, numbered breath- was fast escaping, thanks to
that shaken snake. It spilled into her bustling skull, chock-full of 2-year-old wonder, adventure,
Her mother kissed her curls and made a sound, out in the hallway. The man in the mask cut her
hair so short. Down we descended, not unlike she did, to a place where there had never been
light. When we arrived we saw many colours. Violet and grey, scarlet and blue, creamy white
and golden yellow. We let the colours wash away, and gasped at what was left behind. A jewel.
The seat of her wild, joyous mind. Her brain, folded like coral. Immaculate. Gorgeous.
We worked as fast as our hands could go, as carefully as anyone, ever, to keep what was
perfect perfect. We put her back together as best we could, and after our job was done, we
made armour out of the slack in our faces. We grew lumps in our throats stopping hot, fat tears.
I asked the surgeon to please change his scrubs. Her mom made another sound, out of sight, in
We all crossed our fingers. Some crossed their toes. Our hearts thumped like rabbits inside of
our chests and above everything else, we hoped. For the snake to sleep. For her eyes to open.
For so much and so little, we hoped and we hoped. And all the while, the little girl laid there.
Breathing in, and breathing out, and who knows for sure? Maybe dreaming.