Hola mis amigos! I hit 30,000 words 😮 on my dystopian Esther retelling on Thursday! I’m nearing halfway through, and I’m so excited.
I decided to celebrate by posting a snippet, which I haven’t done in a long time! I hope you guys enjoy! 🙂
Also, let me know in the comments if there are any milestones (big or small) that you’ve reached recently!
For context: “Followers” are Christians.
Once Esther was in the hallway of the saferooms, she let out a long breath. What a day. She followed Candyse down the stone hallway, lined from one end to the other with guards in their dark gray uniforms, to a metal-doored, locked room. This time, Esther had to scan her own palm and Candyse’s on the wall’s scanner to allow them to enter.
“This will be yours and King Xander’s bedroom until the lockdown is over,” Candyse said. “The servants brought down some of your things from your suite.” Esther scanned the room, which reminded her more of the servant’s quarters than a bedroom for royalty. Still nicer than Myrick’s apartment in the Outercity, though.
Her first night as a married woman. Spent with a king who hated Followers, in a saferoom beneath the White House after King Xander was nearly assassinated. Not spent with Abel, the man she loved with all of her heart, in their own little house far, far away from D.C. and the king.
Curse them. Curse everything.
Shaking, she said, “I’m going to be sick, Candyse.”
With concerned eyes, Candyse led her to the bathroom, where she lost her dinner. She sank down to the cold bathroom floor, trembling. Candyse sat down with her, not saying anything.
Once her stomach had settled, Esther attempted a weak smile. “Some magnificent queen I am, right? Throwing up in the toilet, lying on the floor in the bathroom.”
Candyse chuckled. She lowered her voice, her motherly, kind eyes shining. “Magnificent or not, if we had a king half as capable as you, this country wouldn’t be the mess that it is.”
Esther leaned her head against the wall, her heart feeling heavy.
“The king loves you, you know. You could really make an impact by making it known to him what you think should be done.” Candyse shifted so she was sitting cross-legged. “In all the years I’ve worked here, I’ve never seen the king ask his queen for her opinion.”
Esther stared at the tile floor, picking at the fabric in the red dress she still wore from the wedding reception.
“Esther,” Esther looked up at Candyse. “Are you afraid of something?”
Esther turned away. Yes. She was terrified. Terrified of her family’s secret being discovered. Terrified of her and the family and friends she had left suffering the same horrible death that her parents had in the church attack all those years ago. She could not let that happen again.
“Yes,” she whispered, so low she could barely hear it herself.
“Hm,” Candyse said, a short, I-thought-so sound, and Esther knew she wanted her to say more.
“Are there security cameras here?” she whispered.
“No, not in the bedrooms.”
Esther took a deep breath. “My family and I–we’re Followers.” Her eyes welled up with tears. “We’re not even allowed in this country. We were kicked out after the Second Civil War. We should be in prison. And things are just getting worse and worse. We may even be executed one day, if we’re found out. Me being here in D.C. endangers my family, much less being the queen of the entire United States.” She inhaled, slowing down. “My parents were killed in an attack on their church when I was young. I don’t want that to happen to my cousin and my sister. And Abel.” She let her head droop. “So yes, I’m afraid.”
Candyse sat in silence for a moment. “I’m sorry, Esther.”
“Are you a Follower?” Esther asked.
Candyse hesitated, then shook her head. “No. I have some Follower friends, though, and I respect their beliefs. And I certainly don’t support the way our country treats them.”
Esther nodded. “I just don’t want to be here. Abel and I are supposed to be finishing our schooling so we can get jobs and move away to somewhere that’s tolerant of Followers and start a family together.” She bit her lip. “We’ve dreamed of it for years. And we were so close. I just can’t help but imagine that one day–one day I’ll get out of here, and we’ll still have a chance at fulfilling that dream.”
“Maybe there’s a reason you’re still here. Here in the palace.”
Esther felt a familiar anger burn inside of her. “You sound like my cousin.”
“As I said, Esther, the king likes you. You could make a difference.”
“Maybe,” she answered.
Candyse smiled, then stood, throwing her long braid over her shoulder. “I’ll prepare your bath. Are you okay? I can call a medic. Do you want anything to eat or drink?”
Esther finally stood. “I’m okay. I am hungry though. Candyse,” her voice wavered slightly. “Thank you for being a friend to me. I appreciate you more than you know. You’ve been like–” she swallowed, “A mother to me.”
“It’s been an honor.”