Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Family Home (05/29/08)
TITLE: Fleeting Respite
By Joanne Sher
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The place wasn't huge. In fact, it was quite small, considering where she'd grown up. At least it was generally tidy, and she did her best to make it inviting for herself and her husband, especially to the nose. Whether it was the scent of a loaf of bread or a bouquet of flowers, Michal had learned young how welcoming a pleasant smell could be.
"Strive to be pleasing both in vision and aroma, girls," her mother Ahinoam had told Michal and her older sister Merab repeatedly. "It's a sure way to capture a man's interest, and to keep him devoted."
Since her marriage, Michal had strived to make their modest house a place of refuge for her husband. He certainly needed it, with his responsibilities in the wars against the Philistines, as well as his duties to Michal's father the king.
The animosity between these important men in her life was troubling. Ever since she and David had wed, her father's attitude toward her husband had grown increasingly sour.
David had confided in her not a week ago. "He sees me as a threat, Michal. I don't know how much longer I will be able to remain in his view."
Michal had nodded and bit her lip. She had had enough experience with her temperamental father to know David was right. <I>All I can do is make our little home a place of respite for him for as long as I am able. I need to be sure he doesn't dread coming here, when he is running from everything, and everyone, else in his life. </I>
Michal brushed the top of a life-sized wooden statue in the bedroom with her hand and turned the figure slightly to the right. It now faced the corner of the bed, where she sat and faced the walkway between the bedroom and the kitchen.
"Rivkah? Is the evening meal almost ready?"
Hearing no response, she scrunched up her face and then smiled. <I>She must have gone to market. I suspect she'll be back soon.</I>
Michal stood and straightened the bedcover. "I may have to choose between them at some point," she mumbled. '"I hate that."
The sound of footsteps in the adjacent room brought Michal back to the present. She walked toward the kitchen area, where Rivkah stood with flour and a few leeks.
"Will dinner be ready in time?"
"Yes, madam." Rivkah gulped, her eyes lowered. "I have distressing news."
"Tell me, Rivkah." Michal's voice was urgent.
"The king's cook was in the square. He said the king is angry with your master David."
Michal raised her eyebrows. "This is new information?"
"Madam, this sounded much more serious. The cook overheard the king speaking to his men, ordering them to watch David's house and kill him in the morning."
As Rivkah finished speaking, Michal looked up to find a ruddy and flushed David entering the kitchen. He pecked Michal on the cheek and headed toward the bedroom.
"Your father had another of his rages this afternoon. What I do to deserve them, I know not. He was a handbreadth from killing me." David peeked his head around the corner of the bedroom back into the kitchen. "I'm going to have a sleep, then, Michal, I'm afraid I'll need to go into hiding --possibly as soon as tomorrow."
Michal entered the bedroom and took David's hands in hers. "Apparently my father has already sent men to watch the house." She stared into his eyes. "If you don't run for your life tonight, tomorrow you'll be killed.*"
David sighed, embracing his wife. "The sooner I leave, the better, I suppose."
She nodded. "And I wouldn't leave the way you came. Wait until the sun sets, then sneak out the window."
David looked up. "Just know, dear Michal, that I may never feel as welcome anywhere again as I have here."
Michal watched David sneak away into the darkness. Glancing off to the right, she spotted a few of her father's men watching the front door. It was clear they saw nothing. She sighed and headed for the bedroom.
<I>They will come looking for him soon enough. I need to delay them. He needs as much of a head start as possible.</I>
Michal surveyed the room. When her eyes fixed on the statue in the corner, they brightened.
"That's it." She placed the statue in David's place on the bed and tucked it in.
*1 Samuel 19:11b
Based on 1 Samuel 19:9-17
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