Vashti peers into the mirror in her extremely lavish bedroom. A couple of hard knocks sound on the door. Vashti doesn’t take her eyes off the mirror.

VASHTI: Come in.

Guard #1 and Guard #2 walk in.

GUARD #1: We’re here to take you to your execution Your High- GUARD #2 elbows Guard #1.

GUARD #1:  I mean ma’am.

Vashti takes her eyes off the mirror and gives her full attention to Guard #1 and Guard #2.

VASHTI: Ok.

GUARD #2 (to Guard #1): Pay up.

GUARD #1: How was I supposed to know that she wasn’t gonna put up a fight?

VASHTI (frustrated): Please just take me away.

Guard #1 and Guard #2 Both take one of Vashti’s arms and walk out of her room into a hallway in the palace.

GUARD #1 (to Guard #2): There’s gotta be some reason she didn’t put up a fight.

GUARD #2 (to Guard #1): You can’t say that unless you know the whole story, and that’s going to be tough because she’s about to be executed for treason.

VASHTI: Hello, I’m right here. You could ask me.

GUARD #2: But then we wouldn’t be following orders.

VASHTI: Live on the wild side for once. Besides, with all the camel traffic going on today, the executioner shouldn’t get here for another half an hour.

GUARD #1: I wonder if that’ll be enough time for her to tell us her story.

VASHTI: Once again, I’m right here. Do you want to hear my side of the story or not?

GUARD #1 and GUARD #2 (a little too excitedly): Yes!

GUARD #2: I mean yeah, sure, whatever.

GUARD #1: What he said.

VASHTI: Would you mind releasing my arms? This could take a while.

Guard #1 and Guard #2 both release Vashti. They all sit down on a couch.

VASHTI: One day, Achashverosh hired a new adviser. He wasn’t one of those old stuffy ones with a monotonous voice that makes you want to fall asleep. He was young and charming. He had this spark in his eyes and I swear when he smiled he lit up the room.

GUARD #1: And you liked him. The queen has a crush!

VASHTI: Had a crush. How did you even get this job? You have no respect for authority figures and-

GUARD #1: You’re in no place to fire me right now so could you please continue the story?

VASHTI: His name was Memucan.

GUARD #2: Oh, I love that guy! He convinced the king to give me a raise.

VASHTI: You don’t have any respect for authority either. What is it with you two?

GUARD #2: If we had any more respect do you think we’d be disobeying the king right now and letting you tell us your side of the story?

VASHTI: I guess not. Anyway, on his first day on the job he actually said hello and introduced himself to me, which was… refreshing

FLASHBACK:

Vashti sits on the couch in her room. Memucan enters through her open door and stares at Vashti.

MEMUCAN: Wow, when the king said you were beautiful, he didn’t give you enough credit. VASHTI: And you are?

MEMUCAN: Memucan, the king’s new adviser, Your Highness. Would you mind giving me a tour?

PRESENT:

VASHTI: Like many of my conversations, we spoke about the king, but with Memucan it was different. With him, I didn’t feel like an object the way I did with most people the king brought in to meet me.

FLASHBACK:

Vashti and Memucan are sitting on the couch in Vashti’s room.

VASHTI: I can’t believe it’s midnight already.

MEMUCAN: It is, so I should get going.

VASHTI: Memucan, wait.

MEMUCAN: Yes, my queen?

VASHTI: Will you come back tomorrow?

MEMUCAN: Of course, my queen.

VASHTI: One more thing: you can call me Vashti.

MEMUCAN: Of course, my—Vashti. Good night.

PRESENT:

VASHTI: So he came back the next day, and the next, and the next, and I couldn’t help falling in love with him.

GUARD #2: Great, another forbidden love story. That’s exactly what the world needs right now. VASHTI: Can I please continue? One night, the king was away on business-

GUARD #1: Was that the night that I was-

VASHTI: You two really do have a problem with interrupting.

GUARD #1: She says, as she interrupts me.

VASHTI: From then on, I felt that Memuchan was the only person I could really trust, so I invited him to my room to talk.

FLASHBACK:

Vashti and Memucan are sitting together on the couch in Vashti’s room. Vashti is in the middle of telling Memucan a story.

VASHTI: So I told them that they should-

Vashti catches Memucan staring at her.

VASHTI: Why are you looking at me like that?

MEMUCAN: Because you’re beautiful, Vashti.

VASHTI: No one has ever told me that the way you do.

MEMUCAN: And how’s that?

VASHTI: Like you truly love me. Do you?

MEMUCAN: You’re the queen I-

VASHTI: I’m the queen. Tell me if you love me!

MEMUCAN: Vashti, don’t play that card.

VASHTI: I’m sorry, but do you? The way you look at me it’s just…

MEMUCAN: I do love you.

VASHTI: I love you too.

MEMUCAN: Don’t tell the king about this.

VASHTI: How dare you order a queen!

MEMUCAN (nervous): I’m sorry I-

Vashti laughs.

VASHTI: Gotcha!

MEMUCAN: I’m never going to get used to that.

VASHTI: I’m sorry. Let’s talk about something else.

MEMUCAN: Let’s run away together.

VASHTI: Are you insane?!

MEMUCAN: Come on, we can bribe the guard.

Guard #1 cracks the door open and pokes his head inside.

GUARD #1: I just heard that you wanted to bribe a guard. I wanted to let you know that I’m the perfect guard for the job.

VASHTI: Get out!

GUARD #1: I’m sorry, Your Highness.

Guard #1 closes the door.

MEMUCAN: You heard the guard: he takes bribes.

VASHTI: I’m sorry, Memucan, I can’t. Can you leave?

MEMUCAN: You’re going to regret this, Vashti.

VASHTI: Are you threatening me?

MEMUCAN: I’m a nice guy so I’ll-

VASHTI (angry): I asked you a question! Are you threatening me?!

MEMUCAN: Yes, Vashti.

VASHTI: Don’t call me Vashti ever again. Get out!

Vashti watches Memucan walk out of the room.

PRESENT:

GUARD #1: I can’t believe I made it into the story.

GUARD #2: Do I have a part too?

VASHTI: How am I supposed to know? All of you guards look the same. I might as well call you

(points to Guard #1) Guard #1 and you (points to Guard #2) Guard #2.

GUARD #2: We have names.

VASHTI: Back to the story: so over the next few days, I didn’t really see Memucan. I was kind of happy about that because I didn’t realize how much I liked being alone. Everything was fine until the king came back and announced another one of his parties, so I decided to host my own.

FLASHBACK:

Vashti is in her room decorating for a party.

ACHASHVEROSH: What are you doing?

VASHTI: I’m having my own party.

ACHASHVEROSH: If that’s what makes you happy, but I need you to make an appearance at my party.

VASHTI: What? Why?

ACHASHVEROSH: I was talking to Memucan, great guy by the way, and he said that if you made an appearance at my party, we would appear to be more of a united couple.

VASHTI: This was an arranged marriage. I don’t want to “appear to be a more united couple” because we aren’t one. You have no idea what I have done for us as a couple. Oh, and while we’re on the topic, I want you to fire him.

ACHASHVEROSH: He’s my adviser, and I will do whatever I want with him. You have no business in the matter.

VASHTI: Your loss. I’m not going to your party.

ACHASHVEROSH: You will do as you’re told.

VASHTI: You sound like your father more and more every day, and it sickens me. ACHASHVEROSH: Don’t speak to me that way. Tonight is the last night of the party, so you’ll come. It is your duty as my queen.

VASHTI: I never wanted to be your queen.

Achashverosh leaves. Vashti shakes her head in anger.

PRESENT:

GUARD #1: So did you go to the party?

GUARD #2 to GUARD #2: What do you think? Of course she didn’t!

VASHTI: Anyway, the king tried all night to get me to come down, but I was having fun protesting. Nothing was really happening at my party, but at least nothing was happening at his either.

FLASHBACK:

Vashti is having a party in her room. There are a few other women there along with a younger girl.  

GIRL: You really should listen to the king–he’s a great man.

VASHTI: Shut up, girl! GIRL: I have a name.

VASHTI: I’m going to call you “girl.”

GIRL: If I were queen-

VASHTI: Don’t you dare finish that sentence or I will send you to prison for treason.

GIRL: Just like the king will do to you when you don’t go to his party.

VASHTI: Oh, shut up already, girl!

PRESENT:

GUARD #1: So did you go to the party?

VASHTI: Wasn’t it obvious? I didn’t go.

GUARD #1: Too bad, that party was wild.

GUARD #2: The executioner will be here any minute, so we have to get on with this story.

VASHTI: Once the party ended, the king came into my room with no one other than Memucan.

FLASHBACK:

Vashti sits on the couch in her room with her arms crossed as Achashverosh and Memucan walk in.

VASHTI: What’s my punishment? Locked in my room for a month? A year? I’m practically locked in here anyway so-

ACHASHVEROSH: I suggested locking you up in here.

MEMUCAN: But then I pointed out that it seemed like you were locked up in here anyway, so I suggested that you should be executed.

Vashti sits up straighter.

VASHTI: Executed? But I’m-

ACHASHVEROSH: Not going to be queen for much longer.

VASHTI: This was my kingdom before it was yours. I made you king!

ACHASHVEROSH: I was already a prince when I met you.

VASHTI: I doubled the size of your kingdom!

ACHASHVEROSH: But I wasn’t the one who betrayed you.

VASHTI: What are you talking about?

ACHASHVEROSH: Haman told me all about how you came on to him.

VASHTI: Who’s Haman?

MEMUCAN: Me. I go by Haman now.

VASHTI: I don’t care what you’re name is. (To Achashverosh) He said “I love you” first.

MEMUCAN: Only because she ordered me to.

VASHTI: You were the one who wanted us to run away together.

ACHASHVEROSH: Haman said you were the one who wanted to run away with him, but he wouldn’t go with you.

VASHTI: You’re going to believe your adviser over your wife?

ACHASHVEROSH: Yes.

VASHTI: Why?

ACHASHVEROSH: Because you’ve been distant.

VASHTI: I’ve always been distant.

ACHASHVEROSH: More distant than usual.

VASHTI: Your solution is to kill me? What are you going to do when your next wife goes against your adviser? Are you going to kill her too?

ACHASHVEROSH: Um… the guards will be here in a few minutes to take you to your execution.

PRESENT:

VASHTI: And that’s how you two dummies got here.

GUARD #1: So where’s the happily ever after? Every story with a queen always has a happily ever after.

VASHTI: I think I get it now.

GUARD #1: What do you get?

VASHTI: The story’s not over yet, it’s just the beginning.

GUARD #2: What are you talking about?

VASHTI: Take me to the executioner!

GUARD #2: But-

VASHTI: That’s an order.

Guard #1 and Guard #2 each take one of Vashti’s arms and they walk away, towards the executioner.

THE END … OR IS IT

Evelyn Landy is a sophomore at Ramaz Upper School in Manhattan.