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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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-
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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: 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.
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.