2022 Writing Contest

Daniel spoke after the prayer, “Esther, you must stay here, in this chair in this exact spot, no matter what happens. Stay right there. Remember your promise. No matter what you see or think you see. No matter what you hear or think you hear. Stay there. In this place, you are safe.” Daniel, Michael, Levi and Eli had lost the kind expressions she had seen so many times before. There was determination and resolve on their faces. She felt a shiver go up her spine. “You are frightening me terribly. I will stay here, no matter how long it takes or what may happen.” “Thank you, Esther,” said Michael. “Just be brave, be strong and have faith.” As the four men left, they each solemnly bowed to Esther before they walked out the door. After the men left, Esther bowed her head and prayed to God for courage and strength for her and protection for the four men who were there to help and protect her. After sitting still for a few minutes, Esther had a thought. If she had her Bible that would, surely, add to her level of protection and strength. The thought went around and around in her head until she decided that it would only take a moment to stand, reach her Bible then sit back down. She had started to rise, when she heard Daniel’s voice in her head say “Promise.” Startled, she stayed where she was, praying, again, for courage and strength and faith. 7 Esther felt like she had been sitting for hours. She hadn’t heard much from outside of the cabin. Several times she had been tempted leave the chair but each time, she would hear a different voice reminding her of her promise. And each time, she would stay in the chair. She soon lost all track of time. Sometimes it felt like time seemed to fly by and that nothing was happening and at others, time was creeping and she could hear strange sounds, sounds of a battle, sounds of people dying, screams of unimaginable pain. At those moments she put her hands over her ears to try to block out the voices. At another time, she thought she saw her husband falling into the cabin, bloody and beaten, reaching out to her. She closed her eyes as tightly as she could. She began reciting any Bible verse she could remember, sing any hymns she could think of. Esther was exhausted, trying to remain in the chair when, at times she wanted to scream and run from the building. Several times she felt herself drifting into sleep. She would jerk awake, then started to pinch herself to stay awake. Esther kept reminding herself that Daniel and Michael and those other two men were depending on her to stay put. She had also become frightened by what she might see or hear in her dreams. Would the voices and the visions follow her into her dreams? She heard Daniel’s voice saying, “Esther, sleep now. It is safe.” In her overly tired and confused mind, she refused. “I can’t sleep. I promised not to.” The Michael’s voice responded, gently, “Sleep now, Esther. We are safe, you are safe, all is good. Sleep.” Almost in tears, Esther cried, “I want to sleep, I really do, but I promised Daniel and Michael. I have to stay awake.”