So I am on the road again this week. Atlanta, Cleveland, Upland, Chicago. In the chaos of travel, I wrote the assignment below. I am a perfectionist. I am very dissatisfied with both my pieces this week. I just need to get over it.
Prompt: Write about a single event from four different perspectives.
I hear horses’ hooves pounding behind us. Fear ripples through the ranks. I look back. Far in the distance, dust rises. “Chariots,” whispers the shepherd behind me. Chariots. I instinctively cling closer to my baby, Anna. What fools we are to believe that Pharaoh will let his entire slave force walk away free—carrying Egypt’s gold away to boot. It was all too easy this morning. I knocked Ziphala’s door. Thirteen years I worked for that woman. “Take it!” She told me and shoved the priceless vase into my hands. “Take it and go.” I felt so rich. But what does a golden vase matter in the face of death? “Run!” the universal conclusion. But to where? The sea looms before us, the mountains imprison us, and the chariots cut off our retreat. Is this the end? My toes feel the sandy beach beneath me. Panic rises in my throat. But wait—suddenly wind rushes, cold spray whips across my face. I blink in disbelief. Before me, before us, the sea begins to split.
I sense the fear of the people as chariots thunder in the distance. I hear them murmuring death is close at hand. How can they forget the miracles of the morning? “Forward!” I shout encouragement. And they rush forward, frantically onto the beach. The wolf pack seems to close in. But I remember. Ten miraculous disasters devastated Egypt. Would God rescue people only to turn and kill them? And still, the chariots thunder on. Then He speaks as the waves lap methodically at my ankles. Obedient, I raise my staff. A strong gust nearly knocks me forward and water runs away, slowly opening up a path before me. I feel the thrill of the impossible as I watch the sea split open.
Hooves beat the ground beneath me. Trumpets blast. And suddenly, I see them. Furry wells up within, driving me forward and I see more than fleeing swarms. I see a face—the face of my son. White as death. Cold as stone. I hear Ziphala’s screams. Nothing we could do would bring him back. With one more year of training in the priesthood, he might have led services at the temple. And this is their fault. All their fault. My horse seems to sense my cold hatred for this people and their ruthless God. We rush toward them lightning fast. And the rhythm of his hoofs throbs “Dead. Dead. Dead.” Thoughts haze as smoke blankets us. What’s happening? I stretch out my arms in confusion. Eyes sting and water, and yet I glimpse—but no, my eyes play tricks. Absurd! For an instant, I thought I saw the sea split open.
What fools! They’ve cornered themselves the beach. I direct my generals to drive them forward into the water. My slaves want to leave, so I will force them forward till they drown. My instructions, “Kill up to half.” I will plunge them into regret. I stop at the ridge and motion my generals forward. I will wait and witness this glorious destruction from above. And when the sea runs red with their blood, I will be satisfied. Suddenly, shouts call me out of cruel contemplation and back to reality. Fire and smoke sear a line across the sand, cutting off my chariots. But from my place on the ridge, I can see past this fire. And the rage rises in my stomach as I watch the sea split open before them.