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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Breathe (08/19/10)

By Sara Harricharan


Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

My mind is a twisted mess. I am so afraid. These past three days have been an experience I cannot describe. It is as if my mind is suspended in a state of bliss and fear. I feel both emotions so strongly that I fear my heart might forget to beat.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

I have never felt this small before. But I can bear the weight of such heavy emotion. I can do this. I must. I have no other choice. This fear I am struggling with, I must surrender, yet the harder I try, the more I yearn to cling to it.

Perhaps because I know it.

I know this fear too well.

My hands are folded in my lap, but the handmaidens cannot see how tightly pressed together they are. I fear they would start shaking and give me away. Then I would completely fall apart before their eyes.

They have no obligation, save for I am royalty, but my request may have offended them. I did not think of them when I spoke such bold words. I was not even thinking of myself. I was only trying to escape the burning ache in my chest and the horrid throbbing in my head.

It hurts to think. It hurts so badly.
I do not want to think. I almost donít want to breathe. But I cannot give up now. I mustnít!

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

Three days since the horrible news was sprung upon the innocence I no longer claimed as mine. How naÔve I am! To think that because I was queen, that I could possibly be free from all trouble and worry? No. I was not that foolish. But I did not think that I would so willingly risk my life for the sake of my people.

For the sake of those dear to me. For the sake of my own life.

Death is so very real in this moment.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

Now is not the time to think of death. I must empty these disturbances from my heart and head. I must put aside my own selfish desires and draw on The One that has brought me so far. The One that has placed me in this dream-like story.

My handmaidens move quietly around me, gentle, but expert in their ministrations. They are preparing me to meet the king. Combing my hair with ox-bone comes as I sit in a haze of incense.

This is the kingís favorite scent.

My body is slathered from head to toe in the fragrances most appealing to his majesty. The colors of my robes and jewelry are his favorites as well. I did not even have to request this of these girls. They understand without explanation.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

I am blessed.

To be cared for in this way, I am truly blessed. I am holding my face still, head tilted back as they begin to mix the powdered colors in tiny clay pots. My face is the very last Ďthingí they will adorn.

I want to be held in strong arms. I want to cry all the tears Iíve kept bottled up these whole three days. I wan to run. But I stay, even as I fear I am slipping somehow, in my duty as queen. I have not failed yet, but I can see disaster looming.
No! I must not think this way!

Have I learned nothing from these past three days? Have I been so childish, immature and oblivious that I have gained nothing?

The prayers are beginning again.

My hands are calming, the pressure is fading. These are words and songs and praises I cannot call my own. They are the peace and future within me.

As the handmaidens dress me, one layer of my girlish self is deliberately stripped away.

I am growing up. I am no longer little Hadassah.

The preparations are completed and at a mere nod of my head, these precious girls draw closer to me. They join hands around me and we bow our heads. I whisper a prayer from the very depths of my heart.

I ask for courage I do not have, for strength I do not possess and a voice to speak His truth. May the outcome of this venture, be His will alone.

If I have been named Esther, Queen of Persia, for such a time as this, then by His grace alone, I will breathe.

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This article has been read 699 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Daniel Kane08/27/10
I liked this story. Tiny bit of red ink: The handmaidens didn't use 'comes' to brush her hair, they used 'combs'. Good job
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/27/10
You did a great job alternating between extreme fear and then a bit of peace. It helped draw me into the story and feel the same fears and joys that the MC was experiencing.
Sarah Heywood08/27/10
I liked this! I tend to think of the story of Queen Esther in a 3rd person way, since that's how it's written in the Bible. But having it in first person makes for a unique read and really drew me in. I liked how she was totally human in her fear, but also calmed by the knowledge of God, Who had brought her to this moment. Excellent!
Cheryl Harrison08/30/10
Good job. You painted a beautiful picture of the Queen. I am in the middle of a study on the book of Esther right now. I really enjoyed this.
Kimberly Russell08/30/10
I really liked how you showed her anxiety yet her knowledge that she must move ahead and do the thing she feared the most. Well done.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/02/10
Congratulations for placing in the top 15 of your level and in the top 40 overall.
Amanda Brogan09/03/10
Wow! I love how you drew us into the story! About the time she said that she would risk her life for her people it clicked in my brain, "Oh, it's Esther!" She's always been one of my favorite Bible characters, and you did a great job of portraying her feelings and thoughts.

Congrats on your placing in the top 15 and top 40!