Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Sibling(s) (05/01/08)
TITLE: The Engagement of Lot's Daughters
By Tammy Bovee
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“How much?” asked Zoara, eyeing the price.
“It’s expensive, but look, the craftsmanship is rare even for Sodom.” Salome said, handing the necklace to her sister, “Here, help me.”
Salome lifted her long black hair so her sister could fasten the clasp. A breeze whispered into the merchant’s tent, tinkling through his wind chimes and sweeping over Salome’s hot back as the weight of the gold necklace fell against her neck. She dropped her hair from her hand and posed for her sister.
“The perfect necklace for my wedding!” exclaimed Salome in hushed excitement. “That is, if father ever gets to the tents of Uncle Abraham.”
“Step out from under the tent Salome,” whispered Zoara as she took her sisters’ soft hand and led her away. “Now, this is the test.”
Salome stepped back toward the tent. “No!” said Zoara, “Wait. If it’s worth the price we shall soon know.”
Suddenly the red-faced merchant peeked out from the tent. “Get back here with that necklace!”
Zoara giggled indulgently and nodded at her sister as she stepped back under the tent. Reaching around her neck for her bag she walked over to the merchants’ table and plunked down several large precious coins from her father’s mint. “We’ll take it!”
Recognizing the coins, the shop owner sweetened. “Anything for Lot’s daughters,” he said, admiring the necklace against Salome’s tanned skin and the way her turquoise dress set it off. “It does look nice on you!”
Salome ran her fingers across her necklace as she left. “Yes, I love it!” She turned, giving the merchant a parting glance.
The sisters quickly veiled themselves and stepped out into the crowded streets, lined with other merchants standing in front of their tents, urging shoppers to look at everything from clothing and richly colored rugs to chickens, stacked in wooden cages.
Zoara pulled her sister along, moving from tent to tent, picking out bracelets and charms, silk scarves and gold nose rings. The two ducked out of yet another tent, giggling.
It was Salome who noticed the setting sun. “Oh no, our curfew!”
Zoara’s black eyes sparked, “Salome, you know as I, that most the men in this city aren’t interested in women.”
Salome cringed, almost stepping on the snake charmer who sat below them, swaying rhythmically as he played his flute. The snake hissed and recoiled. Salome carefully backed away. As the music floated through the air the cobra slowly reemerged from a basket.
Zoara withdrew from her sister. Reaching into her purse she removed finger cymbals and attached them.
“What are you doing?” Salome asked as Zoara removed her veil, revealing her arms and neck. Zoara slipped her new bracelets high upon her arms and began to sway to the music, twirling, while her arms flowed fluidly.
“What do you think I’m doing?” replied Zoara smiling mischievously.
Salome folded her arms and looked away toward the terraces, rich with flowers, then up at the adobe houses, with their verandas overhung with bougainvillea. Her heart sank as she watched the sunset. The tar beneath her feet grew hot. She shifted. Suddenly a movement up on a veranda caught her eye. Two men slowly emerged from an embrace and stood on their porch. Looking Zoara’s direction, they began climbing down through the rocky terraces.
“Zoara” Salome whispered, trying to get her sisters attention.
The men kept coming.
“Zoara veil yourself! Let’s go!” cried Salome aloud. She picked up Zoara’s veil, throwing it around her sister as she grabbed Zoara’s arm.
“What are you doing?” hissed Zoara. “I’m sick of waiting for Father to go Uncle Abraham’s tents to find us husbands! Can’t you see? This is the only way we can have children!”
Salome fought the urge to vomit as she continued dragging her sister through the streets, toward home.
“Finally the lights of our Father Lot’s estate,” Salome exclaimed. “We have made it!” Salome continued dragging Zoara into their home, refusing to unlock the door even when the Sodomites arrived, knocking loudly. “We will let our father contend for us. Surely this will convince him to go to Uncle Abraham!”
When Lot finally came in from talking with the men, his daughters burst into the room. He looked first at Zoara, then at Salome, “Good news! You can stop harassing me about getting husbands for you! They have come to us!”
Salome ripped her necklace from her throat.
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