For Such a Time

Myrtle and her felines-in-waiting were on the second last day of their fast. No food or drink for three days. This, of course, took a bit of coaxing on the part of Morty. Myrtle was concerned about him. He was like a father to her so it seemed so out of character for him to pull out his fur and openly weep in the courtyard (which is just the heavily-gated back yard for cats who like to relax outdoors) as she had heard from another friend. Myrtle sent one of her neutered eunuchs, Noober, to meet Morty and ask what was up. They relayed information as a runner back-and-forth between the two parties. According to Noober, the conversation went something like this:

MORTY

What’s up?

NOOBER

You’re crying and pulling out your fur. Myrtle sent me here to ask you why.

MORTY 

Haman wrote a decree condemning all the Jews to death. Tell her to do something. We’re going to die. 

NOOBER

I say okay, run back and tell her what he said.

MYRTLE

Well, what am I supposed to do about it? We haven’t been together — like, together-together for over a month. I’m no queen. I’m just another girl. And how can just another girl go into the King’s presence without an invitation. Morty knows this but please remind him that anyone who goes to the king while he is in deep contemplation without a proper invitation from the king himself will die unless he extends The-Stuffed-Mouse-and-Fancy-Feather-on-a-Special-Rod to them. Please go tell Morty I said that. 

NOOBER

So I run back and tell him that. 

MORTY

Tell her I said this. And say it word-for-word verbatim (whisper, whisper, whisper) Got it?

NOOBER

Got it. So I go back up there and — 

MYRTLE

–What did he say?

NOOBER

Just give me a sec. I’m outta — I’m outta breath… He said if you remain silent and don’t do anything, God will still offer deliverance for the Jews but he will do it through someone else. You, however, will not be spared. Neither will your family or their legacy. He said, who knows? Maybe you became queen for such a time as this?… 

(to us, the readers) And almost immediately after I said it, Myrtle got down on her hands and knees and started praying.

***

It’s not that Zirk didn’t want to see Myrtle. He did. Very much so. 

It’s just they had a little row the last time they saw each other. Not a big row. Just little one. Over a silly, trivial thing. It started when she asked for the catnip to sprinkle over her fish pate. Something about her tone that he didn’t like that. Made him feel little. And it’s true. She did use a tone with him but only because he was late again for supper and so she felt like he deserved a tone or two. 

Rather than talking about it, they just sat around the supper table asking each other for things with angry subtext until they both hurt each others feelings by saying something and nothing at all. Following that, he went to sleep in his Royal Chambers and hadn’t seen her since. 

Again, it’s not that Zirk didn’t want to see her. He did. Very much so. 

It’s just that he didn’t want to lose his temper again like the way he did with Vashti and so, it was better not to say anything at all. He didn’t know when to re-connect again, nor did he know how to reach out to a woman after you make a mistake (they don’t teach you how to humble yourself in King School). And so he sat in front of the fireplace, missing her terribly. 

***

During her fast, Myrtle was trying desperately not to think of the king. This time was meant to be dedicated to God and God alone. However, every time she sat down to pray and plead her case on behalf her people, thoughts of Zirk flooded her mind. Angry, bitter and mean thoughts. It’s-all-his-fault kind of thoughts. How can I go to him after we just had a fight? It’s counter-intuitive. HE’S THE ONE WHO MADE THE MISTAKE IN THE FIRST PLACE. He comes late all the time and I hate– 

And just as the thought left her brain, a new one intercepted it. A piece of advice Heggy once gave her:

Leaders don’t always do the right thing. Sometimes they do hurtful things. Those things are not a reflection on you or how loveable you are. Your job as the queen — though incredibly difficult–  is to honour King Zirk in spite of himself. Let God take care of the rest. 

Myrtle knew then that she hadn’t honoured him at all at their last supper together. She did have a valid reason to be mad but she hurt him, too and she’s not proud of that. This is when she resolved to do better the next time. This time, she would hold not one but two feasts. She was going to make it up to King Zirk and she was going to honour him twice as much as she did before.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is all speculation, by the way. There is no evidence to prove that their marriage was on the rocks. I just took some creative liberties. Might have to take it out later…

She arrived at the king’s court (which is just a nice little spot on the patio) and sat by the entrance with the sliding glass doors. With bated breath, she waited. 

When the King saw her, he played it off cool. Like it was no big deal. Like he didn’t miss her at all. However, deep down inside, his heart actually stopped beating. He never told anyone this but when his queen arrived, he died for a moment, only a moment. In doing so, it allowed the very next breath he took to be a new one with a new beginning, in a new moment with new life.

He was startled (as most people who just had a near-death moment usually are) and forgot what his job was. So he said, “What’s up?” but then remembered that he has to extend his special golden cat toy on a rod towards his visitor. So he did that but he fumbled twice and it took him a good couple of tries to actually extend it appropriately the way a proper king would. But when he finally got it, he kinda breathed and boyishly smile. 

This time the queen bowed low and invited the king and Haman to her first banquet. The king agreed.  She said, I’ll see you there. And he said, it’s a date. Except for Haman but he probably won’t stay for long. 

And they both smiled idiotically, before the queen left to get ready.

“HAMAN!!” hissed King Zirk, “Hurry up! I’ve got a date with my wife and I can’t mess it up this time.”