The women stood in a tight cluster. Ripples of mingled fear and excitement spread through them, traveling on whimpered sobs and the tremble of clasped hands. For Hadassah the world spun in dizzying circles, suspended on a twisting thread of destiny.
A soldier turned. His eyes landed on hers. “You.” One word. One finger pointing--straight at her heart. Hadassah was chosen.
Her future had begun.
The envelope contained a single sheet of paper. For a moment Amanda hesitated, feeling the weight of the words which would reveal her destiny. She unfolded it, excited tension wrapping around her heart. She couldn’t breathe.
The words were there, in black and white: “It is our honor to inform you that you have been accepted into the Sign Language Interpretation Program.”
Her future had begun.
The keeper of the women looked over the women. “You will have one year of treatment, then you will each spend one night with the king. If he enjoys you, you will be called back again. If not, you will live your life in the harem.”
Hadassah fought the urge to scream, to yell that she was in the wrong place, to fall to her knees and plead. Her head raised, ever so slightly. “Protector of my people, I have kept myself pure in body and spirit all these years. Will You yet allow me to be sent to one who has had so many women before me, who will have so many after me? The king is not one of Your people. Why am I here?”
The teacher stood, looking over a semi-circle of students. “You will be required to attend all classes, including the sexual and drug terms class. No exceptions.”
Amanda stirred, echoes of her classmates’ introductions swirling in her head. “I’m not married, no partner. I’m queer.” “I’m Lisa, I live with my partner Ann.”
Her head raised, heart lifted silently. “Lord, You’ve kept my mind and tongue pure all my life. Are You sure this is where You want me?”
Hegai reached out a hand to pause Hadassah in the passageway. “I have brought you this.” He held out an ornate vial, delicate, kissed with the fragrance of early spring. “Drink it. It will give you strength and health.” The girl knew this was a special gift. She had found favor in the director’s eyes.
Karen swung into step beside Amanda. A friendship had begun to develop between them. The older woman smiled down at Amanda. “I just wanted to let you know, I really appreciate your faith. You’re not afraid to let it show, but yet you don’t make people like me feel uncomfortable or unaccepted around you. I admire that.”
The king rested his hand upon Hadassah’s cheek. “You are the most lovely young woman I have ever seen. I shall set a crown upon your head, and name you my queen.”
Hadassah felt a stirring deep within her, and peace flooded her soul. “You have given me favor, oh Lord, and even more, You have brought me love.”
Tears dampened the edges of Amanda’s lashes. “I’m really struggling with my signing.” She wiped at her cheek, raising her face toward her teacher.
The woman nodded. “Yes, you have that area you need to work on.” She smiled, brushing back a strand of silver hair. “But you really have it going for you because you are so strong in everything else. Keep working hard. You’ll get there.”
The parchment was worn and crumpled, stamped with death. Hadassah clutched it, the words of her uncle ringing in her head, “You must save our people. Go to the king. Perhaps you have been set in this place for such a time as this.”
Hadassah raised her chin. “I will go. I will follow my Lord. If I perish, I perish.”
Just yesterday Amanda had been told that only a tiny percentage of deaf people in the US had ever been told of Jesus. She stood, letting the facts sink in. Slowly, she raised her face to the sky. “Here I am, Lord. You’ve put me in a place, and even more, have lead me to love it. Am I here ‘for such a time as this’?
“Lead me, Father. I’m ready.”
Hadassah’s story is based loosely on the Biblical book of Esther. Amanda’s story is based loosely on the author’s experiences.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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