Esther, Version Three (Maybe)

by Kass

Written for daegaer as part of Purimgifts 2012.

Maybe I remember my parents. Sometimes I think I do. I hear a woman's voice in dreams, singing to me as though from a great distance. I hear a man's laughter.

Maybe Mordechai was a model surrogate father. And maybe he wasn't. I wasn't paying much attention. He taught me to read, for which I am endlessly grateful. I spent most of my childhood with the few scrolls and tablets to which we had access. Reading and rereading. Learning the stories of my people. Learning to recite psalms, as Uncle Mordechai recited them day after day.

Maybe he and I were married, not father and daughter. Some of your stories tell you so, and you have no way of knowing whether or not they are true. Maybe I was his child bride. Maybe he packed me off to the house of Achashverosh as Avraham released his wife into the harem of Pharaoh. And maybe not.

Maybe I spent four years hiding from the courtiers of Achashverosh who scoured the countryside for pretty girls to bring before the king. Maybe I hid in a cave and studied Talmud. Maybe a madman appeared one day with a peculiar blue box and whisked me to places I had never imagined. Or maybe that was a vision, or a dream. Maybe I volunteered for the beauty pageant, absurd as it was, and went to Achashverosh's palace willingly.

Maybe I was a woman grown when I entered the harem. Maybe I was 40. Maybe I was 74.

Maybe I spent a full year being beautified by the eunuchs of the king. My skin smoothed with scented oils, my fingernails and toenails painted each week, my body adorned with the finest cosmetics the harem had to offer. Or maybe I refused all of these artifices and appeared before the king in a plain homespun shift, just as I am, and my beauty overwhelmed him even so.

Maybe I was stunning. Maybe I had sallow olive skin. Maybe I could dance.

Maybe I miscarried when I heard that Mordechai had been roaming the city in sackcloth and ashes. Maybe I was barren. Maybe I bore the king a son, and together we named him Cyrus.

Maybe I liked the king. Maybe he and I spent long nights drinking together and cavorting among the pillows of the royal bed. Maybe I thought he was a drunken buffoon, but had the good sense not to say so.

Maybe, after saving my people from destruction, I asked the king to take me to Persepolis, and spent the rest of my days reading the texts in his vast library there.

Maybe I died the day my destiny was complete.

Maybe I never died, but was whisked up to heaven like Eliahu in a whirlwind. Maybe I visit every Purim celebration and taste a nibble of your rice-flour poppyseed cookies, your orejas de haman, your kreplach and sambusak, your hadgi badah, your mamoul, your hamentaschen. Maybe you will never know.

Maybe I am writing this story about myself and whispering it in the ear of the fangirl who will upload it to the AO3 in my honor, in my memory, that the merit of my deeds should accrue to all who read these words.

Maybe my soul continues its journey of gilgul, the wheel of transformation. Generation after generation I return and walk the earth, insatiable for knowledge, thirsty for stories. Maybe I am you.


I did not make this image, but I thought it was neat, so I am sharing it with you! Happy Purim!

The End