2022 Writing Contest

She felt a hand on her shoulder, firm but gentle. “Esther, it is Michael. You are released from your promise.” “No, I’m not!” Esther tried to jerk away from the hand. “You are trying to trick me again. I will not move. I promised!” Esther almost shouted. Then four strong but gentle hands rested on her shoulders and the voice she recognized as Eli’s said, “Esther, as our God lives and as His Son arose from the dead, all is well. You are released and you may sleep.” There was such authority and conviction in the voice that Esther, opened her eyes and looked up. She was surrounded by the four men. They all looked tired but triumphant. As she looked from one to the other each man gave her a gentle pat on her shoulders. Esther closed her eyes for a moment then opened them and looked intently at Michael and Daniel. “Will you sleep, or just rest?” she asked Michael. Michael smiled at her. “Yes, we will sleep. All of us will sleep, in shifts. Though I doubt it will be necessary, one of us will be on watch. Go. Sleep. We will talk more about all of this after you are well rested. He removed his hand from her shoulder and stepped back. Esther stood slowly, her first steps a little unsteady. Levi reached out and caught her by her elbow, steadying her. She nodded her head, in thanks, to Levi, then walked slowly into her bedroom. 8 When Esther opened her eyes, the sun was shining through her window. Morning. Relief. Then she looked again. The sun was in the late afternoon position. Esther sat up quickly and realized that, once again, she had fallen asleep in her clothes. She changed into another dress and made sure her hair was as neat and tidy as she could make it, then she opened the door and walked into the main room. There was no one on the house. Michael’s backpack was on the table, which meant, she hoped, that the men hadn’t left yet. She had so many questions. She smelt the coffee and found a pot full sitting on the stove. There was bacon and that never ending loaf of bread laying beside the stove. She cooked some bacon and toasted a piece of bread then poured herself a cup of coffee. As she finished eating she could hear voices and the sounds of wagons and horses. For a brief moment, fear gripped her, but then she remembered, vaguely, that her protectors had sworn by God that she was safe. Slowly she stood up and walked to the front door. Michael opened the door before she could. He smiled at her, an even bigger smile than she could remember seeing before. “You’re finally awake! I am so glad.” Taking her by the hand he said, “Come with me. We’ve got something for you.”