By Mary Vee
I had a bad morning. Plain and simple. The cooks made Grandfather's favorite meal, you know him as Pharaoh. It looked like charred mud-pies. I couldn't find my left sandal for the longest time. I didn't finish work from yesterday which means I have to do it today--on my day off. I wish I had--
"Where're you going, Moses? I thought we were going to--"
"I don't feel like it."
"Bad mood? I know how to cheer you up."
"I don't know." Moses turned toward the steps. "Anyway, you're suppose to be in Pharaoh training class."
"Somedays I hate all the work involved in becoming a Pharaoh. Classes, meetings, blah, blah blah. Don't get me wrong, Moses, you're part of the family too, but he doesn't watch every step you take and expect you to be perfect."
I sighed. "Yeah, but someday you'll be Pharaoh. What will I be?"
"My assistant. I--I'll make you in charge of something--whatever you want. Come on, Moses. Let's have some fun."
"I can't. Not now. I need to think."
I leapt down the stairs, two at a time. He doesn't understand. How can he? I'm a Hebrew living in a palace. He's Pharaoh's successor.
I sneaked passed a guard and headed for one of the sites where Hebrew slaves worked. I remember Pharaoh ordering yet another building to be constructed on the east side of the city. In the distance, taskmasters shouted, "Move faster. Pharaoh wants this building finished soon." Their whips cracked. I've heard it all before. Pharaoh said the Hebrews needed the projects to keep them busy.
Not too long ago Mother told me how I came to live in the palace. "You belong to the house of Pharaoh. You are my son, Moses," she said. "I found you in a basket in the river. I knew the gods had sent you to me." She always treated me like my brother. But deep inside I knew I was different. I was a Hebrew.
I crept closer to the work area. A taskmaster raised his whip. "You lazy Hebrew, get to work. Don't pretend you're ill." The whip sliced through the old man's back. He cried out in agony.
The old man glanced my way. He eyes drooped. He winced while picking up another brick. The whip slapped his back again and again. The old man fell to the ground. I'd never noticed the pain, the difficult work, the cruel taskmasters hurting these people. No--they are my people. I am Hebrew, too.
I stepped forward and looked around. The other taskmasters and slaves moved around the corner. Again I looked around me and saw no one. The soldier glanced my way and laughed. "Look at this slave, Moses. He isn't worthy to touch a brick." He swung his whip around his head and smacked the old man again.
Blood pounded in my head. How could he beat this man? I lunged at the taskmaster and killed him. No one seemed to notice, yet. Before anyone returned I dug a grave in the sand and buried him. My hands trembled. I couldn't decide if I had done something good or something bad.
The dinner tasted terrible and the evening music sounded like cats screeching. I went to bed early, everything would be new in the morning--right? After a few nightmares, the sun rose. I couldn't help but think about the Hebrew slaves, did they suffer, were they hungry?
I finished my morning duties then sneaked to the Hebrew work camp. Two Hebrew men separated from the other slaves and began to fight. How could they punch and scream at each other like that? They're Hebrews. "Hey, why are you fighting?"
One glared at me. "Who made you a prince and judge over us? Are you going to kill us like you killed the Egyptian?"
How did they know? What am I going to do? What if Pharaoh finds out? How can I escape?
Moses didn't grow up in a Hebrew family. He only knew Egyptian rules and customs. No one taught him God's ways. He knew the Hebrews worked as slaves and the taskmasters were cruel. Why did he become angry when the taskmaster hurt the old man? Why did he think he would be in trouble with Pharaoh? How will Moses escape?