Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted by the new "head" of Friday Fiction, Karlene at Homespun Expressions. Make sure that you head over to her blog and link up with your own fiction. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!), head over to Karlene's blog and check out the links there.
I was looking through my previous submissions for Friday Fiction and was completely surprised that I had never posted this particular old challenge entry. This was the piece that first convinced me I had enough "ideas" in me to write a novel-length fiction manuscript. Once I get "Ailing Body, Nourished Soul" off my desk, I plan to get started on an expansion of this one as my next project (I've also written a few other challenge entries on this topic. Those of you who know me probably already know what this is about).
"I've been told the king will return soon." Rivka knelt beside her mistress. "May I help you wash and dress for him?"
Michal nodded silently and sat in a nearby chair. Rivka removed Michal's sandals and gently placed her left foot in the water. Using a cloth, she gently rubbed the dirt and dust from the top of her feet and between her toes.
"When do they say he will return?" Michal stared off into the distance.
Rivka rubbed Michal's heel with the cloth. "Messengers say he and the ark are on their way back to the city now. Within the hour, they said."
"I suppose I should look like a proper queen, then, if he is bringing back the ark." The corners of Michal's mouth turned up slightly.
The mistress' countenance was impossible to read. Michal was often a mystery to her, despite many years in her service. It was certainly not Rivka's place to ask this king's wife, this daughter of a king, to share her heart, however. They had chatted some when they were younger, but since her marriage to David, Michal had become too absorbed in her own life to chat with a servant.
Rivka dried Michal's left foot and reached for the right, easing it into the water.
Michal grinned, staring toward her chamber's entrance. "Perhaps he will be in good spirits when he arrives. Perhaps there will be a banquet." She glanced toward Rivka. "My purple gown: is it presentable?"
"Miss?" Rivka eased Michal's heel onto the bottom of the basin and looked up.
"My purple gown. I will wear it for his arrival. Is it ready? I must look dignified - royal - for him."
Rivka nodded. "Of course, miss. I will help you with it as soon as I am done washing, if it so pleases you."
Michal tossed her head. "It pleases me."
"Right away." Rivka rubbed her mistress' heel, then placed her foot on a towel and caressed it dry. She then took the basin toward the window, looked down to check for passers-by, and emptied it.
She set the basin down, then walked to Michal's wardrobe and opened it, revealing a closet full of clothing.
Rivka flipped through them slowly, glancing at each one in turn.
She was wearing this blue one when the king came to marry her. I still remember how much she glowed. I don't think I have seen her eyes as filled with love as they were that day.
Rivka fingered a light green gown, with a swooping neckline. Paltiel loved this one. I remember her often wearing it when she had angered him. He never could stay upset at her for long. Rivka giggled at the thought.
Michal cleared her throat. "My gown, Rivka."
"So sorry, miss." Rivka removed the purple gown, flowing and regal, from the wardrobe and dressed her mistress quickly.
"I hear the trumpets, miss. The king must be close." Rivka stepped out of Michal's way, as she went to the window. Rivka stood behind her.
Michal gasped. "He's disrobed! The king is practically naked, dancing like a fool with those slave girls. What a disgrace!"
"He's dancing for the Lord, miss. God wishes us to praise Him with dancing and song."
Michal looked at Rivka with daggered eyes. "Get out. You will NEVER speak to me like that again."
Rivka, head bowed low, exited the chamber, waiting to the side of the entryway, seething. She was so overcome she did not notice the king entering her mistress' chamber. Rivka put her ear to the wall.
"How the King of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would."*
Rivka sighed. If my mistress knew what a blessing the ark returning was, she would be dancing as well.
"It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord's people Israel - I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by those slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in high honor."*
As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. 2 Samuel 6:16