Timmy's father sat in a chair outside the hospital room. Timmy walked up to him and sat down beside him. His father looked about as nervous as he was. He held out his hand and his father took it.

"Your mother kicked me out because I was starting to break things. She said it would be better for me to relax out here."

Timmy nodded and swung his legs back and forth, "Dad, what's going to happen when this is all over?"

His father sighed, "Well, the ship's going down soon."

"We're going home." The wide eyes that punctuated the look made his father feel bad about the news he would have to break.

"Home, but it won't be the same. Timmy, they sent us up here so they could protect us. They need our wisdom, our stories, to help rebuild."

"Rebuild what?"

His father sighed, "Timmy do you know why this ship was Christened, U.S.S. Marshall?"

Timmy shook his head and his father continued, "After World War II, the allied forces were faced with a similar situation that resulted from the First World War, the countries of the axis powers were broken. In fact, it was that economic climate in post World War I Germany that led to the rise of the Nazi Party. But we learned from our mistakes. Instead of capitalizing on axis failure, as they did in after the first war, they agreed to help rebuild the countries. That was called the Marshall Plan."

"Fast-forward a bit," he father continued starkly, "When it became apparent that the way we were dealing with things around here wasn't working, some of us decided we needed to change our approach. Officially, this is just some old cargo ship and its got no name. But us up here, we christened it. Because we know what out duty is, and what we're capable of. You, Timmy, were chosen as one of the people that would help save the world, remember?"

Timmy frowned, "Save the world? How are we going to do that? Those guys down there have guns and bombs and nukes. All we've got is words."

"Words are powerful things. The wounds of war have been healed by the right words. Before the Marshall Plan and the end of the war, in a basement, beneath Nazi occupied Germany, a Jewish man gave a gift of words to a girl. It was in a little book called The Word Shaker."

His father sat back in his chair, "When one man sees the power of words he decides he wants to rule the world with them. He plants the seeds of words and spreads his black propaganda around the world. He hires word shakers to climb high into the trees and shake the words down so they rain upon the people and contaminate them. But one girl resists the words. She befriends a man who is hated by her own country and together they grow the seed of a new tree. The girl plants the tree and it grows taller and higher then any of the other trees. The man who sought to rule the world was angry and went to cut down the tree with an axe. But the tree was too strong and the girl climbed high above the reach of the axe. Her friend returned to the tree and climbed up and they met atop its branches. Finally the tree fell, crushing many of the smaller trees and creating a path through them. Together the girl and her friend followed the path above the forest of evil trees and many followed them."

His father put an arm around his son's shoulders. "Words on their own have no power. There's no magic combination that said in some special order will do anything you want. The power comes from the meaning behind them. What you intend to use them to do. They can be used for destruction and evil, and in the right hands, they can wreak havoc. But our words are different. They are words of healing. When this ship returns home, we are going to get off and we are going to start the healing. The people will be in shock, but we will sit with them, and tell them our stories of love and war, sorrow and joy, and hopefully they will tell us stories of their own. We'll sow the seeds of hope, and we'll grow our own trees. And together, we will heal them, not with our words, but with what they mean."

He pat his son on the back, "And that means you're going to need to be able to tell your story. Can you do that?"

Timmy nodded again, thinking back to what the artist had told him, "I may need a little practice."

His father smiled and ran a hand through his hair, "We'll get you all the practice you need. Now let's go see your mom."

The two stood, side by side, and walked into the hospital room behind them. Timmy's mother lay on a bed, sweaty and exhausted and being tended to by a nurse.

And in her arms was nestled a baby girl.

The two males gasped and ran over to mom. She smiled weakly, "She's beautiful. Isn't she?"

Timmy was speechless as he looked on at his baby sister. "Do you want to hold her?" His mother asked abruptly.

Timmy held out his hands and his mother placed the tiny child in his arms. He held the baby close and he could feel her breath coming in and out. Suddenly, she began to cry.

Timmy was baffled; he looked desperately from mother to father, "What do I do?" He asked.

They shrugged, "Try rocking her."

He did and to no avail. Timmy rocked her, bounced her, patted her back, and still the baby cried on and on. Comically, it seemed hard to believe that a newborn child has enough stamina to cry for this long. "Maybe you ought to hand her back to your mother," his dad began.

"Wait," Timmy said, "Let me try this one thing."

Timmy searched deep inside himself and found the voice. He harnessed it, letting it flow out of him like a melody. As the words slid smoothly from his lips he knew he had finally got it right.

"Once there was a boy who lived in a desolate town that had no trees or animals, only factories and smoke. One day, the boy stumbled upon the lair of the being known as the Once-ler. The Once-ler told him about how the town was once filled with trees and animals and it was colorful and bright. But the Once-ler began to cut down the trees to create his new invention, Thneeds. The Lorax appeared to speak for the trees who had no tongues, but the Once-ler ignored him and kept on chopping. Soon all the trees were gone and then so were the animals and the Lorax. The town turned desolate and the Once-ler realized his mistake. He realized he was responsible for the way the town was, and there was nothing he could do to fix it. Unless…"

"Catch! calls the Once-ler. He lets something fall.
It's a Truffula Seed. It's the last one of all!
You're in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.
And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax and all of his friends may come back." [1]

Timmy didn't know when in the story the baby had stopped crying, but by the end, she had closed her eyes and was sleeping peacefully in his arms. His mother and father mimed clapping, making sure to keep very quiet. Timmy laid the baby down in her new bed.

He turned to his parents, "I like her, what's her name?" He asked.

They smiled and said in unison, "Hope."

Timmy thought about the men and women who had occupied the ship with him for the duration of his stay. He saw the look of elation in Peety's eyes when he received the news that the ship was returning home, and the look of desperation in Professor Kirk's eyes when he realized this meant another pointless war. He saw the burning creativity in the artist's eyes as his brush swept across the canvass, wanting to share what his hands and his mouth were capable of with the new world. He saw the compassion in the priest's eyes as he sat with Timmy while his mother struggled in labor.

There was a sharp rumble as the craft reentered the Earth's atmosphere, but the baby, Hope, slept soundly through it.

"We thought it was a pretty name," his mother offered.

"Yeah," Timmy breathed, "Hope is a beautiful thing."


[1] The Lorax, Dr. Seuss