He said that there was a man I’d like somewhere in the world, and that I just needed to be patient. There are all different types of men — gentle men, intellectual men — whatever it was I wanted, I’d figure it out and find it, and he’d help me however he could. He promised he’d never choose a husband for me. I believe him, but I still feel very lonely. I don’t think he could tell.
He said that yes, the princess of Imbrio was very pretty, but he was sure the reason I couldn’t stop staring at her when she visited our court was just because I admired how striking she looked in her gown and her gems. Before I could argue he was already talking about sending for my dressmaker and how, if I wanted, I could have a dress just like it — only mine could be pink or lilac, since he knows they’re my favorites. None of that would explain why I was suddenly wondering if the other princess thought I looked good in lilac. Or what she’d look like without the blue dress.
He said that lots of little girls like Queen Esther from the Purim story–I guess I’ll always be little to him–and that’s why she has a whole holiday devoted to her loyalty and courage. It wasn’t the same to him as what I’d feel some day about a man, and I’d gotten myself confused. He tried to “reassure” me that it was perfectly legitimate to daydream about things you don’t really want to do. I resisted the urge to hide behind my braids because I think I know what he means, but this isn’t that.
At least my ladies-in-waiting believed me. They may all be better friends with each other than they are with me, and they’re probably saying who-knows-what behind my back, but at least they listened. At least they saw me as I am.
(Character by Shira Glassman; drawing by Mina V.; inked/colored by Jane Dominguez. Read about Shulamit’s adventures in The Second Mango, available from Prizm Books and Amazon Kindle as eBooks, and in print pre-ordered from Wild Iris Books. )