Tuesday, January 24, 2006

For the Creative Writing Workshop

First home commission: Create a character Now, the point of this exercise is to create a character in context, so that readers will empathize with him. Here it is:
My king slept. My murderous pursuer, who repaid my fealty with violence and persecution, snored. Saul did not look regal or treacherous now. Could this be the man that hounded me?

Abishai looked at me. He glanced at the spear in his hand, then at the back of my slumbering sovereign.

I could end the persecution. I could take my place upon the throne for which the Judge anointed me. Why should I not? If I killed Saul now, I removed a usurper to the throne.

I didn’t need Abishai; my own trembling hand held a spear. Saul would not be the first man I killed, or the last. I needed only one thrust.

But I hesitated. I remembered the first man I killed. The giant had walked out in front of the Philistine lines that day. He challenged Israel to send out a champion against him in single combat. No one answered.

I watched Goliath humiliate my king and scorn our nation—El’s own people! My heart burned; my right hand trembled. I would repay that Philistine for his dishonor of my God, king and country. I faced Goliath as Israel’s Champion. And the Lord worked through my own foolishness to deliver us from the Philistines’ oppression. I brought Goliath down with a stone and took his head with his own sword. The Israelites celebrated my victory, to my king’s shame.
His torment of me soon followed.

I could free myself from it with just one thrust. But I wouldn’t do it. Why had I stood against Goliath that day, if not to defend the honor of my God, country and king? Could I uphold their honor by taking my king’s life? Whether or not the Judge anointed me, he had anointed Saul first. Was I to act as my God’s own hand and deliver my king to Sheol?

No, I could no more take my king’s life than I could my own. The Lord would decide when I would reign. My king would die upon the sword, but not mine.

I caught Abishai’s eye, glanced at the king’s spear impaled near his head, and glanced away. He caught my meaning and grabbed it. We left my sleeping sovereign, to face the uncertain future my mercy had sown.