Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Conversation (face to face) (10/07/10)
TITLE: Breakfast with Esther
By Theresa Santy
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“What on earth is going on?” snapped Raquel, crabby from not yet having her morning coffee.
A gorgeous dark woman wearing a flowing crimson gown replied, “I am Esther.”
“Esther? As in the second wife of Xerxes, the king who ruled all that land stretching from India to Cush?”
“Why are you here?”
The queen waved her hand and revealed a modest dining table set for a royal breakfast. There were mounds of bread giving off fresh-baked steam. Loose leafed tea was served in goblets of gold in mixed shapes and sizes. The setting flourished with rich shades of purple, red, and brown from platters of fruits and nuts, and other unidentifiable extravagances.
Raquel took a seat, “I’m starving, so yes, I would love to join you. By the way, you look fabulous for someone who’s been dead for over two thousand years.”
The queen smiled, “You look equally fabulous.”
“Pshh! I’m morning breath in a bathrobe. How can I compare to you, a stunning queen in her royal robe?”
“I did not fall out of bed looking like this and I have a storehouse full of soaps and precious ointments to prove it. Don’t you know that I exhausted all of my servants this morning trying to decide what to wear?”
Still, the queen suggested they swap shoes so neither woman would feel out of place. The eunuch Hegai appeared and removed Raquel’s dingy bunny slippers and placed them on the queen. Then he put the jewel-encrusted royal slippers on the feet of Raquel. Both women were excited to learn they wore the same size, but felt uncomfortable in the other woman’s shoes. They each pretended otherwise and carried on with their visit.
Raquel lowered her voice to a conspiring tone, “What’s that guy wearing, anyway?”
“Oh, Hegai? Yeah, I love him to death, but honestly I don’t know what motivates him to dress like that.”
And the women laughed so that they nearly choked on their food.
Suddenly, Raquel was solemn. “I have a confession. I’m fiercely independent, often to the point of self-destruction. I’m a lot like Vashti, your husband’s first wife who was dethroned because of her disobedience.”
The queen looked directly at the housewife, “What do you seek?”
“You are amazing. You’re delightful, humble, wise, and patient, but you’ve never been a doormat. I’ve always wanted to be like you. If I could harness a portion of your wisdom, then maybe I would struggle less.”
“The secret to freedom is letting go of the reigns.”
“Do you remember when Haman convinced Xerxes to seal an edict to annihilate all the Jews?”
“My cousin-father Mordecai (long story) asked me to plead with Xerxes for mercy for the Jews. This was distressing and I nearly refused Mordecai’s request. At that time no one knew of my Jewish heritage. I thought silence would keep me safe. But Mordecai believed I had come to royal position for this very purpose: to save a nation. Mordecai insisted that deliverance would come for my people whether I chose to be a part of it or not. It was then that I realized I was fighting against a predetermined series of events, chosen especially for me.
“You could have been killed for approaching the king uninvited.”
“Yes. I was terrified, but I had to take the risk. I stood to save my people if I acted and lose everything I stood still.”
“Oh my gosh, then when you approached Xerxes and he raised his scepter to give you immunity…”
“I still don’t understand why you’re here.”
The queen motioned toward the other end of the table, “I want you to meet your daughter.”
There sat a little girl with auburn hair cascading down the length of her back and Raquel was confused, “I don’t have any children.”
“She’s beautiful. Can she see me?”
“Yes. You are her example of womanhood and she’s eager to know how you intend to live your life.”
Nine and a half months later Raquel still had scars on her feet from the queen’s abrasive shoes. But she could not take her eyes off the thriving newborn resting in her arms. The housewife remembered her breakfast with Esther and gently kissed her baby girl.
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