Writer's Wednesday!

WW Elementals Finale Part 3– Soul and Saviors

Screams. Deep, throaty, bellowing groans in discord with the silence of the graves. That was what the goddess wished to hear as she approached the crypt. This spark in her deadened soul, this wisp of something…an emotion? An impulse? 

A fire in the eyes of the devil.

  A bitterness on the tongue of a critic.

A harsh word on the ears of the deaf.

What would someone call that? Not a feeling, the goddess decided. She was not wistful for the sound of screams, not hopeful. She was inconvenienced. Inconvenienced by an impulse–the hard metal heart rotting in her chest was incapable of the experience “hope.” So, perhaps, Artemis was experiencing distraction. Irritation. 

Niggling at her gut, the annoyance disguised as hope for her Huntsman collected her soul together again. As a goddess, it was simple to fracture herself into various forms and disperse them throughout the Earth and heavens at the drop of a hat. But it required the lack of emotion–no, distractions, she reminded herself–that she could not currently obtain. 

It was a cosmic lift from her mind: the weight of all the monitored realities condensing into one form, a merging rather like mixing the ingredients of a pastry; after all, it is easier to carry a single cake than all the flour, eggs, and milk that went into it.

Whole again, the goddess moved with renewed vigor, cautious to monitor her speed lest she overshoot the crypt by a mile at sonic pace. It felt awkward to run again; she hadn’t truly run at a human speed since she ruled the Hunters of Artemis, back when tracking down boar and overconfident cougars was the task of all tasks. 

Finally at the cusp of the leering concrete structure, she took a moment to examine it with cold, calculating eyes leering in the anxious light. It was a beautiful tomb: carved with the intricacies and care of craftsmen from a time before. A time of refined workmanship and gentle, deliberate chiselings and chips. 

Not like today. Cheap plastic. Mass produced goods. Hasty assembly lines–the festering mortal laxity disgusted her. She was born from the cosmos into a world of art. Beauty. Grace. And–consequently–meticulous hours of work behind each vase and script.

But craftsmanship passed with the years and without note, of little matter to an immortal and even less to a human. The true reason why she trudged through this graveyard was infinitely greater than the tomb.

What lay within. Who lay within: the cause of this annoying distraction of hope. Because despite herself, a shrapnel shred of her iron heart held fondness for him.

Orion. Orion, who once upon a millenia she had loved against her will and against her better judgement. Orion, who was destined to be a mortal, who’s scorpion sting should have seeped toxicity through his arteries and stolen his breath. Orion–for which the goddess had rewritten the stars themself.

She allowed this annoyance to broil in the silence, regarding the stone with daggers in her eyes and shoulders defiantly broadened, despising the silence. Her name did not reverberate from within. No prayers echoed dimly through the crack in the door. This wasn’t good…not at all. There should be screams; that fact, and that fact alone, decided it.

The goddess charged violently at the door, lashing a bolt of crisp white light crackling towards the cement. From the silence the burst of power rattled the air into a frenzied hum. Her gossamer hair lifted and spiked from its sheen, frazzled by the static and the door exploded at once. 

Shards of stone and rock thrashed violently against her skin, assaulting the paleness and careening off like a pebble on a bulletproof window. The atmosphere thrummed with the blast as a cloud of suffocating dust billowed from the decimated crypt.

Unmarked, clothes artfully disheveled and hair frizzed, Artemis stumbled forward through the clouds of soot and sucked in a breath. Panic overtook her glass eyes: the rubble was immense. Cradling her thin hands close to her chest, an unexpected regret fizzled through her fingertips in the place of the power she had come to know. Tightness seized her chest. Too much. Too much, I used too much, what if…? 

“No,” she breathed, eyes roving the debris, the annoyance of hope rearing strong in her gut. Shiny, platinum hair. Strong hands. Cloth. An arrowhead. Something, anything, to show her she hadn’t…but what if… 

What if I killed him? What if he was suffering? What if my flicker of effort crushed him, what if? What if Orion is dead? It shouldn’t matter to her. Another feeble-minded mercenary, blindly following orders on the chance that Artemis will show them love…wasn’t that all he was?

The goddess, clutching her arms against her heart, scrambled to comb the rubble. She flung aside rocks with the frenzy of a starving hyena stumbling upon a fresh kill. Minutes screamed by and thousands of shards spiked the earth where she had thrust them from the debris. No sign of him. Drawing back in fright, the goddess examined her work in terror. 

“What am I doing?!” she sobbed to the hazy clouds of ash, to the sky, to the unhearing wind. Dread pooled in her gut.The sky was darkening.  Pressure squeezed her brain. Shivers trembled down her spine: what is happening to me?

Artemis had no time to ponder the question when her vision scattered in a crack of light. Lightning burst from the sky, forking a fiery tongue down directly into her aching chest and bursting her conscious thought into shrapnel. Thunder rumbled in the sky, a crescendo like a bowling ball hurtling down the lane. They stepped forward, emerging from the haze like phantoms floating on the fog.

Four girls wrapped in glittering light, angels gliding through the dim cemetery with elegant strides like a young queen at her coronation. Another burst of lighting struck the goddess. She fell back, back arching with the electricity, fighting to condense her being back into this moment. A girl rose her hand and flame emerged, climbing the silk strands of Artemis’ hair and licking down her simple, threadbare clothes. Rain came pounding in then, icy cold and blistering heat ravaging her skin in a torrent, the charge still buzzing along her body.

The Elements overpowered her one by one, pummeling her figure with bolts of energy and wind and gasps of fire so sweltering her skin burned red. Moon dust choking her lungs, stuffing the delicate trachea full of toxicity and smoke. Lightning sizzling her arms. Fire drowning her eyes. Sea spray whipping down on her head like gravel lashed from a truck tire. 

Artemis clawed at the earth, reaching for a stone to throw, something to cease this pain, a pain like she’d never felt in all her existence.

Instead, her groping hand found skin. Skin. 

The world came back into focus. All the fragmented particles of her essence raced back together in a surge, solidifying in a burst of raw emotion so intense she rocked on her side and screamed. The barrage stopped at once. The four girls were thrown back like rag dolls in the path of a tormenting toddler, thrust on stone mausoleums, bones cracking against graves. 

All the millennia of her life suddenly focused, each minuscule moment notable or worthless jamming themselves into her mind, and suddenly Artemis felt like a human. Frazzled, lying in a pile of rubble and soot, desperately clinging to the hand of her long lost love.

Orion. 

Orion. A romantic love, perhaps, or a friendly one, or maybe not love at all so much as a mutual liking…but whatever they had, she suddenly could think of no happier moment in all her life as when she felt her fingers on his.

Paying no attention to the moaning Elementals behind her, she sat up and drew the warm skin of his hand against her face, gently cradling it against her cheek. A pulse fluttered weakly through the veins there, throbbing in time with her flooded head. All the memories, all the years flurried through her brain, a great burst of humanity ravaging her soul. And there was a soul. She felt it now, festering inside her, thrumming and glowing as bright as Selene’s moon.

Dusting the debris from his body, Artemis pulled him close, golden hair splayed across her lap like a sunburst. Willing a morsel of her mind to focus, the power burst eagerly to her fingers and streamed into his broken body, knitting tissues and mending bones. The years of hunting experience coalesced into a healing energy, one she wasn’t sure she had ever used–not on the dying leper during the plagues or the wounded huntress she had taught since youth. Never would she have thought to try. Never, except for him.

When she was certain Orion had healed, she delicately lowered his head onto the stone, brushing the ash from his lids. Turning her head to face the four powerful girls, she was met with a pair of beseeching midnight eyes.

“Selene,” she whispered. The teen girl stood not far from the goddess, legs twisted at disturbing angles and fingers trembling. 

“Artemis.” The words were cold, doubtlessly intended to ring with strength but quaking with weakness instead. Kenna the fire girl, Daria of water, and Talia of storm gathered themselves and stood, each bloody with the impact of the cosmic blast. 

Stumbling forward, each flashed each other meaningful looks, striding to Selene’s sides and linking arms with her. A row of four girls, meant to be five, full of enough power to rock the universe from its foundation.

There they stood, eyes trained on one lone goddess, the huntress, the eternal maiden. A sense of cumulation permeated the scene, a sense that every instant in their lives, as unique and different as they may be, had been building to this moment. This hour. This minute. This very instant in time.

 The final fight was about to begin.


Writer's Wednesday!

WW-Elementals–Silver and Screams

Ambulance image from Parkway East hospital

Shock registered in his eyes. A smirk threatened my lips, even in the face of torture in a blood-soaked alley. Mouth twitching, I began to sneer…then I stopped. My speech had been impressive: beckoning on my gruesome fate, stating that I would never leave this alley alive, the alley where an innocent young girl named Daria died for the Artemisian agenda. A girl with the power to manipulate the sea: it was a power wasted, barely used before she was brutally kidnapped and mortally wounded. 

My name is Selene, goddess of the moon and starlight. I was one of five Elementals: myself (starlight), Talia Thorn (storm), Zara Nightlock (earth), Daria (sea), and Kenna King, embers and fire. 

We were humans with godly powers, a new race of hybrids with the combined powers to overthrow the Olympian gods and goddesses: the ones out of myth, the ones that shook the Earth, blazed through forests, and crushed ships in fits of rage and petty quarrels. We were united, if only for a few minutes. But just as soon as we’d been united, we’d been torn apart: Daria shot, Zara chasing after an illusion of her late sister, Talia and Kenna fleeing from Artemis’ mercenaries. 

It was foolish of me to smile, to take satisfaction in the fact that I was a sitting duck, waiting to die, staring down the shaft of an arrow. The man–boy?–standing above me was in no way menacing, too fragile a gaze to even seem dangerous at all, though his nocked bow said otherwise. Large green eyes and a smatter of freckles all scrunched up, nose twitching with nerves, arrow jittering left and right with his severely shaking arms. 

Something about the glint in his eyes screamed surprise, perhaps even downright terror. At me? Holding a dead body in my arms, face streaked with tears, starburst necklace torn from my throat? Arrogant of me to think that, but my lips began to quirk. I thought, for a split second, that his unwillingness to release the arrow was because of what I’d said, how he would have to defy Artemis’s orders and kill me if I were to leave Daria alone in that alley.

A second later, when I followed his gaze, all satisfaction plummeted from my chest.
Daria was alive.

Inexplicably, her eyelids snapped open and shut, blinking in the darkness of the alcove. A shuddered breath rose and fell on my lap, her bloodsoaked chest expanding with a breath of air. Daria was alive. And her eyes were the brightest gold I’d ever seen.

I’m ashamed of what I did next. But I did it anyway. Instead of feeling relief…I felt horror. I reeled back, slamming my head against the wall. I slid her off my lap frantically, with half the sense to gently place her head so it didn’t crack on the concrete. 

She sat up. Fresh and dried blood had intermingled in an artful pattern on her back, like an abstract painting that would fetch millions in a modern art museum–a painting with random splashes of grotesque brown and dripping crimson, a splattered canvas that looked like nothing that ever existed and everything in the world all at once. Her gaze fell briefly on me, golden eyes disturbingly bright, hair falling limply around her large shoulders, the shoulders of a swimmer. 

Less than a second passed, enough for me to feel uncomfortable at the fact that somewhere under that bloodsoaked suit, Daria’s heart was pulsing and thrumming with life when moments before it had been irrevocably stalled.

Wavering on her feet, Daria stood, movements wobbly and uncertain, joints audibly groaning like a reanimated corpse from a horror movie. I saw her stare flicker to the mercenary, eyes glittering, the unnatural gold so unlike her original irises that it was as though they had been touched by the angels themselves. For the red-headed boy, that one glance was enough. 

He shot.

But he didn’t shoot Daria. 

He shot me.

Daria leapt forward, careening towards me to block the arrow. Colors blurred: I barely registered the gleaming silver tip until it embedded itself in my chest, a devastating slice as flesh was torn by metal. 

All at once, events cascaded, transcending time in a fuzz of action. Daria grabbed my hand, a blur of motion. I willed my feet to move. Held my chest with one hand and her fingers in the other. My arm grasped, a thin, sticklike hand; the boy! His grip was strong but Daria tore me free, viciously dragging me from the alley. My legs felt numb. My chest throbbed. I knew what to do. I had done the same with Daria. I grasped the shaft of the arrow tight. Fletchings tickling my tensed wrist, I yanked as hard as I could.

Pain shot through me, a train hurtling off the tracks. A morbid sound: of flesh tearing open, of capillaries bursting under impact. Daria gasped as I let the arrow fall, faltering to rip cloth from my shirt. Footsteps behind us. Running steps. Boots. 

“Where are we going?” 

“Busy road, the busiest we can find. I won’t let you die because of me!” Her voice was hoarse, emotions unexpectedly raw and heartfelt. What’s wrong with her eyes? Why is she here? Where am I? My heart pounded through my ribcage. The questions all blurred together. I couldn’t keep my thoughts straight: my throat was itchy with the urge to scream. All I could manage was a gasp of agreement…we needed to find help. 

The next street we turned down was the one. Daria knew it. She glanced over her shoulder, a split second move that would only cost us time. He was right on top of us. I pressed the cloth harder to my chest, blood seeping through the fabric, sticky on my fingers. 

“No, Selene, don’t go–”

He was right behind us. No time. I pulled Daria through to the street, through to the busy thoroughfare crowded with people, when it struck me why she had paused. The people weren’t congregated on the sidewalk. They were all clustered, bees to their native hive, in the road. 

This was bad. Daria had wanted to find a small group of people, or even an individual that would quietly drive us to the nearest hospital. What we had gotten was a mob. My thoughts faded in and out, dizziness sent my mind toppling back and forth between answerless questions and impossible scenarios. The boy reached out to grab my arm, a million possible actions rolled through my head: block his grip, kick his shins, lash out with my fists, throw myself into the street and beg for help. Anyone of those would do. I prepared myself, tensing my wrists for a strike…

I screamed. Motionless, I didn’t have the sensibility to attack the mercenary, defend myself, tend to my own wounds or Daria’s mysteriously healing ones. Do I wish I wouldn’t have defaulted to the damsel-in-distress wail? Maybe, maybe not. But the reality is that I didn’t spring into action. I planted my feet. Tensed my wrists. And screamed. 

Immediately all eyes snapped to us, the droves of people prying their eyes from whatever was in the road. Looking back, I can see that I probably made the right choice; in the eyes of those people Daria and I were two helpless girls, mortally wounded, obviously aggressed by the wide-eyed boy with a bizarre hunting bow. A moment passed. I wondered what they would do, how long the hunter would wait before he struck us down under the suspicious eyes of the public, how Daria had dragged herself from the grip of death and how I could do the same. 

The people charged. Flocks of faces rushed toward me, a blur of diverse eyes and faces and freckles and not. Hands gripped my arm. I was led into the crowd. Daria disappeared in the buzz. A man’s yelp. A head of fiery red hair dropped to the ground, swarmed by fists. Shop. Blazed through the door, items crashing to the floor, a table newly cleared. Hoisted up. Beads of sweat. 

“Daria!” I thrashed against the hands. I was held firm, pinned on the table. Red first aid kit. Bandaids spilled. Aspirin clashed to the tile. Gauze pressed to my chest, pain like glass shards ripping my heart. I couldn’t see. The world started to blur. Eyes wouldn’t focus. Hair tickled my clavicle, a worker bending to examine the wound.

“Bloedgroep? Bloedgroep?” I blinked, squeezing my eyes tight. It sounded like  “blood group,” should I respond? Would human medical treatment even work on me? It was hard to tell what memories were real and what memories were shown to me in a slideshow by my mother to give the illusion that I’d always lived in Ohio. Had I ever truly been injured before my life plunged into this insanity?

The mass of people pressed gauze to my wound, dialed numbers furiously on their phones, asked me questions in Afrikaans that I had no clue how to answer. Through the cacophony of noise I heard a voice,

“Selene, what’s your blood type?” I froze. My arms fell from where they were thrashing. I knew that voice. It was a voice that had been embarrassed in the desert, torn with emotion, a voice that now sounded pleasant, with a soft British accent and a steady rhythm. Talia? 

“A-negative?” I could just barely recall my mother…well, not my mother…Melissa? Telling me that I had a rare blood type, one that didn’t really match up with my mother and father’s. No wonder. They weren’t my family at all, just some greedy farmers with a freaky desire to control something beyond themselves. How could I never have asked them about it? My blood type, my affinity for the night where they were morning people, my obviously different appearance, resembling neither one of my “parents” in any way. 

“Selene? Come back to me! Come on!” I snapped open my eyes again. They felt like they had immense weights pressing down on them, trying to drag me into unconsciousness. Above me, through a curtain of loose-hanging blond hair, Talia wriggled her fingers. 

Little droplets of water splashed on my nose. I blinked harder, the shock of cold water stinging my skin. I felt her other hand on my wrist, then I convulsed. A sharp pain stung my skin! Throwing my hips off the table, I yelped. A bolt of electricity! Did she just…shock me? A fizzling warmth climbed through my body, activating every nerve, buzzing and thrumming with power.

The fog hanging over my thoughts began to recede, alternating shocks of cold water dribbling down my nose and electricity fizzing in my veins. Alertness began to return as the jolts of energy spiked in my blood. 

“Where’s Daria?” I felt another shock, Talia’s eyes intently focused on the crowds of people unrolling gauze and conversing with authorities. I felt myself lifted off the table. Canvas under my dress. A stretcher. “Talia! Talia!!!” My throat ripped with the words.
“Shhhh…” Talia ducked close to my ear, waddling alongside the stretcher. The world swayed, a jangle of bells as we passed through the door frame, chest stubbornly throbbing from the wound. 

“Kenna’s with her, she’ll go to the same hospital as you. Try to use your power if you can…I think it helps heal you,” she paused, climbing in alongside me as I was lifted into the ambulance. After the doors shut, she hastily added, “I don’t know for sure though.” Like if my power didn’t do anything to help, she would feel guilty. As though I would feel betrayed if her advice didn’t work. 

I would’ve smirked at that. But my head pounded. My eyes stung from the harsh fluorescents. Blasts of noise seemed to blare from every orifice it could: sirens, heart monitors, voices, wheels, even the buzz of the filaments in the overhead lights. I barely grasped what Talia was talking about when she continued, 

 “But you have to try. Keep it contained, close, maybe restrict it to your fist. You already stand out enough with…” she gestured vaguely to my silver dress, wet with blood, sea spray, and vomit from rough days on the ship. “Lord knows you don’t need any of the suspicion that inevitably comes with the usual…you know, harnessing starlight, summoning beams, drawing an aura of pure silver or gold around you like an angel, the like.” I registered the words, dimly. Her shocks were wearing off, the raindrops had become calming rather than startling.

My head lolled to the side; even her soft whispers had begun to grate my ears. I wanted so badly to fall asleep, drift through the yawning doorway and into the darkness. They must be feeding me a sedative through the IV…so that was what the prick was from? But I let the light flow to my limp palm. Visualizing the stars through the ceiling, beyond the clouds and daylight, beyond the atmosphere, beyond our Earth. Blazing somewhere high in the heavens, glittering, burning, yearning for my call. I was ready to receive it. But there was one thing I had to do first. One question looming in my mind.

“Talia?” She was at my side immediately.

“Yes?”

“What were all those people gathered around?” I saw something flash in her eyes. Her arms tensed, she stepped back slightly, knitting her brows. With a sigh, she gripped my hand and said,

“It was Zara. She was struck and…” she took in a deep breath, a shuddering breath, a sad breath. “She let go and I, I–Zara’s gone, Selene.” I stared at her, blankly, unable to register her words. Daria had been gone too, but the way she said it, “she let go…”

Sensing my hesitancy, Talia sighed.

“The doctors will do everything they can for you and Daria. But Zara didn’t have a chance. She’s dead, Selene. And she’s not coming back.”


Writer's Wednesday!

Writer’s Wednesday! Star Crossed

Orion Constellation

Beady black eyes stared into his soul with a fiery calm that could only come from murder. It stared at me, unblinking, and within seconds he felt the lethal pinch of its pincers piercing the paper-thin skin of his cheek. Fire itched along his nerves determinedly as a rapid-spreading virus. This is the end. 

Pain ricocheted through his nerves, pounding his body with heat flashes that shook him to his core: one moment a burning flush that slicked his body with sweat and the next a bone-chilling cold wracking his body with shivers.

Another pinch on his neck, biting and quick as a hastily delivered injection. No…. He groaned, hacking at the viscous blood that welled in the back of his throat. No… Artemis… Prayers brushed past his lips like poison-laced feathers, begging some higher god or goddess (as though his whole life hadn’t revolved around loving one). Sand swirled in flurries, falling into his slightly parted lips, making his throat gritty with dried, sandy blood. Beady black eyes reappeared in his peripherals. The scorpion is back. Its eyes were glinting murderously in the setting sun as it raised its stinger high. Orion simply tensed his throat, waiting for the inevitable, lethal pinch that would put an end to his pathetic human life forever.

But it never came. As if in some faraway dream, Orion heard the slosh of desert sand. Like an angel wreathed in the heavenly sunlight, she appeared in his vision, towering over his body. Coughing and spluttering up blood, his lips mouthed her name but all that came out was a gurgling croak. Shadows flickered across his face as the flowing white silk of her toga billowed in the breeze. She raised her boot-clad foot ominously, yellow-hazel eyes glinting with an emotion he couldn’t quite place. He tensed, squeezing his eyes shut and waiting for the final blow, the imminent pain…

Crunch. It was a sickeningly slow sound. Orion’s eyes snapped open to see Artemis’s boot splattered with an oozy black goop, the crumbled shell of the scorpion scattered across the sand in broken pieces like a smashed bottle; Artemis’s lips quirked into a tiny grin, tossing her shining auburn curls over her shoulder. He could have sworn that she had a glowing silver aura pulsating around her, painting her moonbeam pale skin in glittering light. An avenging angel. After all I had done, she saved me.

Kicking away the scorpion remains, the goddess crouched beside him in the sand, placing a silver cup to his lips. The liquid was cool and sweet like vanilla soda, the deep golden hue of the liquid seeming to hide glimmering secrets. Ambrosia. The drink of the gods. 

Night was rapidly creeping over the rolling dunes, the crimson-gold painted sky receding into black. A brilliant crescent moon hung lonely in the starless oblivion above. Orion’s eyelids drooped, a drowsy smile playing across his lips as he stared out into the dusk, Artemis warm beside him; she smelled faintly of jasmine and pine, tinged with the beachy scent of sand. 

“I love you,” he whispered into the dark. They were words he wouldn’t remember saying for the remainder of his immortal life. Orion thought he could hear a sad sigh over the perpetual noise of wind whistling in the sand.

“I love you too,” Artemis paused, seeming lost in thought. Pursing her lips, she looked tenderly down at the pale huntsman, the red sting marks dotting his right cheek like… a constellation. Eyes drooping lower, he saw her hold a hand to the sky, bright pinpricks of stars appearing where she dragged her fingers. He would awake tomorrow morning with hardly a memory of the scorpion that almost killed him, forever sealed into the fate of being Artemis’s mercenary.

The beautiful maiden goddess let her hand fall, surveying her creation, written across the sky in stars. A new constellation, one that would be marveled at for millenia to come. Orion: The Hunter. Running a reverent hand over his forehead, she closed his eyes. As he was drifting off into a warm, vanilla-sugar sleep, he heard her whisper,

“Sic itur ad astra.”

Thus you shall go to the stars. 

*************************

Drawing his bow, he let an arrow fly skyward, watching it disappear into the clouds. Sic itur ad astra. The thought leapt across his mind randomly, as it always seemed to when he thought of her. Throwing a hand up to his cheek, he felt the raised skin of the faded white scar as though on some level he could feel her touch there if he concentrated hard enough. 

“Why did you do that? We have to find them now or she’ll- she’ll…” The young mercenary trailed away, voice quavering. Orion narrowed his eyes at his pathetic quaking, bounding ahead once again. The young man came up beside him, panting.

“We’re going the wrong way! They went that way!”

“Yes, they did.” The words were icy and emotionless on his tongue with an edge of superiority that came from millenia of murder and doing what he did best: hunting. I have no need to explain myself. I answer only to Artemis. My one and only love. The last thought was quiet, nervous, as though even in his own mind Orion was afraid she would hear it.

“The Mistress will- she’ll-” The Huntsman shouldered the scrawny man hard, breaking stride to slam him against the alley wall. He recoiled back. Red hair mussed. Fresh blood dripping in satisfying streaks from the new scrapes. Emerald eyes frenzied and fearful; Orion looked like a golden god of war reflected in his panicked stare.

“Kill us? Toss you away like street scum? Yes. She will.” Frustration bubbled in his throat, searing hot and threatening to boil over in a torrent of white-hot words. “Stop your incessant sputtering. Artemis,” he saw the mercenary’s eyes widen at her name (no man was ever to speak her heavenly name, not even her own assassins), “has no mercy. No love to give your pathetic, yearning heart.” Orion cringed, eyes squinting with the pain of that venomous word. Driving a boot into the young man’s gut, he laughed at the groan echoing off the bricks.

“Artemis will kill you without hesitation if you fail. There was ever only one exception, a long time ago…” his thoughts drifted to a lethal sting, stars painted across the sky, the waves of her auburn hair gleaming under the lonely moon. No. No. No. Snapping back to the crumpled mercenary, his throat raw with emotion,

“That was a lifetime ago. It will never happen again. The arrow to the sky was a message of distress, directly to Artemis. Alerting her to watch over us, track our progress and dole out punishments for those whose services are lacking. As for going the wrong way? We aren’t.” He pointed to the opening of the alley just in time for the staggering gaggle of girls to slink past. Eyes burning with passion, Orion yanked the young mercenary to his feet and took off without missing a beat. 

🌱Zara

Watching someone die is a lot different than what I had imagined. And trust me, I’d imagined it a million different times, a million different ways ever since Inara had taken off that night. 

You always think it will be dramatic. Gasping breaths, whispered last words, reverent hands reaching for the sky only to fall down halfway. In reality, death is a more of a creeping phantom than a grand grim reaper. 

I winced as the viscous blood gushed between my fingers, repeating to myself over and over, It’s not her. It’s not her. It’s not her. The glassy blue eyes staring up into space were not the sparkling emerald of my sister’s. Yet the setting was the same, the bumpy roads of Kommetjie that haunted my dreams, the roads where I envisioned her dying every night. It had been years since she had taken off into the night, headed for the bustling little town she had fallen in love with, heart soaring and head filled with dreams of a bakery of her own and a townhouse on Main Street. I never heard from her again.

“Zara!” Kenna hissed, yanking my arm. I fumbled with Daria’s limp body as we took a hard right into the alley. At the end of the musty little corridor, silhouetted against the bricks was a figure that made my heart skip a beat. Cascading black hair, ebony skin, lean, muscled arms. Inara. It’s her. Every ounce of logic disproved this: the police had launched a full-scale search combing every inch of the area. But hope bloomed with the deadly strength of a poisonous flower… sweet and with dangerous potential. Hastily handing off Daria’s body to Kenna, I sprinted down the alley, watching as the figure slunk around the corner. 

“Inara!”

🌙Artemis

This was painfully easy. Changing forms usually wasn’t my forte, per se, but today the facade was utterly flawless. The Earth girl’s voice yelled her sister’s name after me as I ducked around the corner, loping down the street and drawing her further and further away from the pack. 

“Inara! Come back! It’s me!” My lips quirked up. Poor girl. She has no idea… her sister has been dead for a long time. I almost felt bad… well, no, I didn’t. The chase was on. Zara Nightlock had no idea that the trophy she was chasing was not solid gold. Just a cheap plastic fake laced with deadly intentions.


Writer's Wednesday!

Writer’s Wednesday! The Huntsman

Artemis and Orion, Greek Myth

*Note- this is a continuation of the Elemental series (find the first edition in the archives page)! A new perspective has been added to spice it up. Hope you enjoy! For all my Twitter users, remember to hit the Life and Lemons logo in the corner to visit the actual site (if you aren’t already on it). Happy reading!

This is the end. His heart pounded, a deep, thundering pulse that he could feel in his fingers all the way down to his toes. Dread was a panther, a shadow lingering just out of sight, following him as he watched the little boat speed off down the glass-like water, leaving an ominous trail of ripples in its wake.  He could see her eyes in the water, hazel turning a jaundiced yellow with fury. His fine-tuned ears heard her violin-song voice in each sputter of the engine- a melodic, slightly husky sound that he had loved for so long. A voice had been (and always would be) disappointed in him no matter how many sins he committed for her. 

Somewhere in his shattered heart he knew he should hate Artemis. She had made him his mercenary out of punishment for a crime long ago, made him do unspeakable things: fight, battle, kill, sin for her. Always for her. Always. 

But even as regrets swirled like a whirlpool in his heavy heart, watching the captives jet across the waves, surveying the burned shreds of their bonds on the boat… Orion still loved her. Always her. Always. No matter how many times he heard her voice lower in disgust when he entered her sight, no matter how many innocents he had hunted or how many times she had turned away from him, he would always love her. The sound of her laugh, the flecked amber of her eyes, the gentle curl of her auburn braid against the nape of her neck. 

Orion was the hunter, she was the huntress. It was simple- written in the stars, but never to be. Artemis had lost some of her humanity over the centuries; he had seen the spark of mercy fade from her eyes since the first time he had met her… yet still his adoration never faltered. She was the maiden goddess, and he was a man; sometimes forbidden love isn’t passionate, but rather something cold, red-hot like smoking dry ice. Artemis had ordered that they not kill any captives, but he didn’t care if this decision sealed his fate- Orion would do anything to serve her. His love (that was pure and sweet as a flute serenade long ago) had become something raw and twisted. But it had never faltered. Never. He wouldn’t fail her now.

Orion sucked in a breath, drawing an arrow from his ancient leather quiver. Other mercenaries shouted at him, fumbling with the wheel to pursue the young goddesses, the ship diving bravely ahead through the furious waves. Men were tossed from side to side on the deck, the ocean bending under the Sea girl’s blood-stained fingers. Orion never moved an inch. With a misplaced faith burning hot in his heart, the hunter slid the string back, the deadly silver tip glinting as the arrow itched to fly. Aiming. Her muscled, black-clad back in sights. The softest twang, the quickest motion, the strongest desire. Always. For. Her. He closed his eyes and let the arrow fly.

Blood on Water, Image courtesy of “The Central Trend”

🌊Daria

For the longest second, I felt nothing but the sea spray on my face and the tickle of wind in my flying hair. We were doing it. Miraculously, I hadn’t bled out on deck. Selene had smiled when I had asked her why that was, replying in the simple, regal way she always did, “The sea is right below deck, is it not? I don’t see a reason why it wouldn’t want to heal you.” My swimsuit that I practically lived in for all my life was torn, bloodstained, battered- but now it was finally drying in the whipping wind. Running on adrenaline, I was strong enough to mess with the sea and the sailboat in pursuit, sending Artemis’s mercenaries toppling. Sea salt barraged my nose, my new friends beside me, hope on the horizon in the form of… the actual Cape of Good Hope. 

For the longest second, it was paradise. Then it wasn’t. A sharp, precise prick on my back. It felt like a needle for a fraction of a second, piercing the edge of my skin. But then it just kept going. And going. I could feel veins snapping, my bones cracking. I’ve been shot. I’ve been shot. Distantly, Kenna screamed. My vision blurred as I felt the now-familiar wet gush of blood down my back. I toppled forward. The crystal clear water blossomed with red. Zara shrieked, the dark girl veering the boat wildly. We careened around a corner, zooming past the Cape of Good Hope. 

Through the smudged-watercolor haze, I saw Selene’s pale face above me. Strands of her glittery black hair tickled my cheeks like the brush of an angel’s wing. Somewhere in the sea of pain, I let go of my hold of the water. Talia’s blonde-framed face crumpled as she stared off into the distance. I could only imagine the sailboat surging ahead, hope fleeting away with the flap of a hummingbird’s wings. 

“Daria? We’re going to Kommetjie now! Hold on!” I nodded weakly, but I was already sinking deep into the black depths. Kenna said something, but it was far away like a voice speaking above the water when I was way far under. Garbled. Quiet. Hopeless. Hold on. 

Warm blood seeped down my back in gushing bursts. The metallic scent of blood smelled like vanilla and cinnamon as memories of birthdays and Christmas Days past flitted across my mind’s eye. Instead of feeling sad, or happy, there was a strange nothingness. There was something calming about letting yourself sink when you should be trying to swim. 

✨Selene

I watched helplessly as the life started to drain from her eyes. “Daria?” The word was taut as a fraying tightrope, desperation sinking its malicious jaws into my voice. “We’re going to Kommetjie now! Hold on!” Even as she gave a weak nod, I saw her slipping, body starting to go limp. The blood-slicked arrow protruded angrily from her back, just missing the heart. Daria had already been weak from the previous injury. There was no way she would survive without divine intervention or serious doctors. Kommetjie was the closest town, the closest hope. And Artemis’s mercenaries were hot on our tail, inching closer each second. 

“Gun it, Zara!” The girl nodded, engine roaring even faster, sputtering pathetically. It wasn’t made for this. Kenna splashed water onto Daria’s lifeless figure as best as the rippling current would allow, splattering all of us with wet droplets. Talia motioned for her to stop, scrunching her brow in concentration and clenching her fists. There was a storm coming, I knew. Talia may be meek at times, but her power was unrivaled. Panic flared her nostrils, thunderous black clouds clumping the sky into a dark mass. A column of rain lightly sprinkled down on Daria, but I could see the sheets of hail pounding the mercenaries on the horizon. 

The small boat’s engine sputtered again, screaming like a banshee on a cold winter night. But we were still too slow. The sailboat was gaining, fueled by the storm’s wind. Struggling to manage the rain, hail, and wind, Talia squinted her eyes in effort, pushing her hand out and shifting the wind with it. Kenna clamored to the back of the boat, surveying the struggling sailboat for the sniper. I saw him before she did. 

 I pointed. Kenna’s face fell. A muscular, towering man with a crown of golden hair stood on the bow, unperturbed by the rocky sea and howling winds. For a brief second, I made eye contact. Before I could blink, his bow was up.
“Get down!” I screamed. A silver blur whizzed through the air, shearing a strand of hair from my head. Zara shrieked, ducking at the last second as another arrow rocketed towards her. He fired rounds of them with lightning-fast motions. There was hard fury in his stare, a devotion that sent each arrow pummeling through the sky with purpose. I wasn’t sure if he was bloodthirsty, dumb, or completely insane. With each shot his lips quirked up into a smirk, watching the arrows graze us: Talia’s arm, Zara’s leg, my hair- and with each barrage of silver blurs flying through the air, he looked up to the dark sky, lips moving like a silent prayer.

Dodging and ducking in a trance of movement, my eyes kept wandering over to Daria’s slack face, the trickle of blood down her back, the lethal silver arrow embedded in her back. All we could do was protect Talia… and have faith in the storm.

**************************

🌊 Daria

Faraway I heard screams of pain. Selene’s voice saying my name. Wind roaring, a struggling engine. A groan that held effort, a groan of someone trying to hold on. I clawed at life, reaching blindly in the blackness for an angel’s touch. Prayers flowed like a river in my head, but I couldn’t move my lips to let them free. Life was above the surface of the water. The mercenaries’ yells. The whizz of an arrow. A steady drip somewhere on my body. Kenna’s rough whisper, “We’re here.”

They’re in Kommetjie. Hold on. Hold on. I could feel death gripping me. Sensations were growing softer as my will started to melt away. The pressure of the arrow in my back was like an echo, detached. Rain tapping on my back in a cold pitter-patter was the only little bliss on my body. It didn’t matter. I could feel myself leaving my body behind, sinking deep underwater. Death coerced me down with each feeble attempt to kick upwards. I didn’t quite let go. I couldn’t quite release my grip.

Every book I’ve ever read, every movie I’d ever seen depicted this exact moment as one of panic. Clawing desperately, fighting to stay alive, veins tingling with emotion and sensation! But I just felt detached, like my spirit was calm as my earth body panicked. I went numb to the world, losing all sensation of my body. There was only darkness. And yet, I didn’t quite let go. Why? Because hope fluttered in the dusky world, a dancing flame lighting the black. I followed the light, and didn’t look back.

Orion

Orion nodded to his fellow mercenary to dock the boat, a young-looking man with bright green eyes and a shock of red hair. He looked jubilant and young, about early twenties with an unwrinkled face. He looked happy and youthful. Of course, looks could be deceiving. Orion himself, the huntsman, had been around for hundreds of thousands of years but didn’t look a day over thirty. He still remembered, somewhat wistfully, how life had been as a human before he had met Artemis. Hunting in the woods, laying in the meadow at sunset watching the blaze of red and yellow brushstrokes fade into dusk, naming each constellation in the night sky without a clue that one day he would become one of them… it didn’t matter now. His love had changed him forever, altered everything he had ever known, thrown all his morals away like dust to the wind, carried away with each silvery word from her lips. 

“We’re docked!” the young man called. Orion wondered what Artemis had done to him to make him indebted to her. Was he in love with her too? The thought made him cringe… both out of jealousy and at the fact that technically, he laid no claim to her heart. No one did, of course. But it still hurt.

Orion blindly pushed down the pain. It was swept away by a wave of devotion, the dog-like desire to never fail her taking over everything else. He gracefully hopped off the bow with the light footedness of a panther prowling the jungle. He could see the black-haired girl turning the corner at a run, disappearing into the tangled streets of Kommetjie, Cape Town with the bleeding young woman in tow. 

Even surveying the blood-spattered cement, Orion couldn’t find even a pang of sympathy in his heart. It had been broken every time he saw her face disappointed, every time she rejected him… every word that she spoke shattered him with hopeless longing. After a while, his heart had stayed shattered, never quite healing. He had never tried to fix it. In the end, he knew he would fall right back apart the next time he laid eyes on her, so what was the point mending a hurting heart? Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the blonde girl scamper off after them, straining to maintain the rapidly growing storm. The dark girl slipped around the corner too, pain written plainly across her face- both from the small arrow wound, and, he suspected, from a deeper emotional hurt buried beneath.

He smiled in spite of the grim sight, drawing his bow and bouncing off after them down the sidewalk. A twisted emotion resembling happiness rose inside him, one that only came from the fresh blood of a new hunt and the rush of a chase. He may be broken-hearted, merciless, foolishly in love, but more than anything, Orion was a huntsman. It was time to hunt.


Writer's Wednesday!

Writer’s Wednesday! 🌠Without a Trace

“Without a trace.” These were the words that rang in the ears of the people, that sliced on the wind with whispers and ruffled the wise willows (who seemed to droop lower and lower with each time her name was spoken.) Pictures plastered the windows. Amber alerts screeching their discordant call into the night air. One name spat like a curse, one woman sobbing it, the whole world buzzing about it. One name that swept through the school hallways like a tornado, leaving silence and tension in its wake. One name that rolled through the rural Ohio town like a ghostly fog creeping over the fields.“Mira. Casse.” 

It was the last thing Melissa Casse would hear before it happened. It was a night like every other before it, deathly silent except the whisper of the wind and the chatter of crickets roaming the moonlit fields. Selene’s captor stood in the light of the open window, looking out across the glittering grasses.


“Mira. Casse.” A detached voice whispered into the night, a voice that had plagued her nightmares, haunting every waking moment. A second later, a silver blur screamed down from the clouds. The frail blonde woman felt a prick on her chest, a burst of pain like a bee sting amplified a hundred times. She shrieked, placing her pale fingers to her chest, feeling the wetness there. 

Blood. The silver glinted in the light as she yanked it out of her chest, crimson spurting onto the wood floor in gushing drops. Rattling moans escaped her chest, the pain starting to jab at her. Eyes wide, her knees buckled.

“Melissa? Honey, are you okay? Let me in!” His voice was rough with worry, each muscle of his sun-weathered skin taut as a tightrope. She could imagine him outside the door-  his head in his hands, dark hair ruffled wildly, dark shadows lurking under his eyes like a brand of the many sleepless nights. 

“Melissa, please. Please, don’t do this. What’s wrong? Let me in!” Silence clung to the air for a second, shattered almost instantaneously by a screeching sob. Pure pain, the rawest heartbreak, the hottest fire, the iciest cold- bottled up into an ear splitting scream. James pounded the wood. Crack. Crack. Crack. CRACK. Not enough. Not enough. Melissa cried out again, thrashing as her heart pounded brokenly. Panic surged in white-hot waves, crashing through her veins. 

She had to get to the window, had to lock the latch and get away from this place as soon as possible. Mira. Casse. Artemis’s chilly laugh echoed on the night as though mocking her futile attempts to move. Crimson blossomed over her white nightgown as she covered her ears, slicking her pale fingertips with blood like Sleeping Beauty with a lot of curiosity but no prince. Melissa dragged herself an inch closer, the little metal latch glinting in the moonlight. 

Sharp, stabbing pain rocketed through her, vision blurring into a foggy haze with each little movement. Everything was blurry now. Swishing white curtains like vengeful phantoms. Stars in the sky shone painfully bright like torchlights bobbing in a dank black cave. Her cotton nightgown stained with red, creeping over the fabric like weeds in an untended garden. The silver arrow protruding from her chest was like an exclamation mark misplaced at the end of a grim sentence.

Crack. Crack. CRACK. CRACK. “Melissa, I’m coming, hold on!” Blackness began to creep in around the edges. The frail blonde woman slammed the window shut, stinging pins and needles pricking her skin. Just as she reached for the latch, so tantalizingly close, the window flew open with a gust of wind, knocking her back onto the floor. THUD. Pain crackled through her skull, a spark bursting in a blazing inferno.

Standing there, wreathed in moonlight, was Artemis in all her glory. Auburn hair loose around her shoulders, hazel eyes burning with fury like hot embers in her pale face. Her stark white toga fluttered in the breeze as she reached for her quiver. Melissa tensed, braced for another shot, but nothing came. Artemis plucked a broken chain from the leather bag, tossing it at the blood-stained woman. Mira’s star necklace. 

“What have you done to her?” Melissa sobbed, blonde strands of hair whipping in the wind that picked up with each passing second. The goddess’s face was cold, emotionless, missing any humanity. The glint of mercy and love she had seen and nurtured in Selene wasn’t there in Artemis. Washed away with the countless centuries… or perhaps it had never been there at all. 

“Nothing, Mrs. Casse. Nothing at all… yet. Perhaps you should ask her what she did to me.” Venom overflowed from the icy words, a fury so cold and deep it burned away the melodic, silvery sweetness of her voice. “You changed her, Melissa. Turned her weak-willed and sensitive. I could have fixed her, could have hardened her with the passing centuries. If that had been all the damage you’d done. But it wasn’t, was it?” 

Mrs. Casse moaned, visions of Mira’s sparkling midnight blue eyes dancing across her mind’s eye, memories of family breakfasts, looking lovingly on as her “daughter” scampered onto the high school bus in jeans and flannel, completely oblivious that she had lived in golden gowns for most of her life until Melissa had taken her away. Crickets’ chirps cried in the golden fields, interrupting the still night air. 

“It wasn’t was it?” Artemis asked vehemently, trembling from head to toe. Her silver heels jittered on the floor, an uneven, jittery tap like a soundtrack of insanity. The mellifluous, crooning voice of the huntress was gone, scorched away like green grass burning to a crisp under a desert sun. Melissa groaned, the arrow throbbing in her chest just a fraction of an inch from her heart.

 “Was it? Was it?” Artemis shrieked, her heels tapping more violently with each passing second, her pale face flushing a furious pink. Crack. CRACK. CRACK. CRACK. The wood of the door splintered, beginning to give way. She could see a glimpse of her husband’s sweat-beaded face through the cracks, bronze cheeks flushed red with effort, eyes wide with desperation. Melissa whispered a silent prayer that he would have the strength. Hope rose in her chest like a phoenix unfurling its mighty wings. 

“No. It wasn’t the only thing I did. But I’m glad for the things I did. You made her cold, heartless, almost beyond saving. I loved her, I helped her, I tried to give her humanity and mercy-” 

“Ha!” Artemis’s lips curled into a twisted grin. “Mercy is for the weak. You did the damage that I couldn’t repair. Not only did you steal her from me, wipe her memory, pit her against me, you did the worst thing of all. You made her human.” Before you could blink, Artemis drew her silver bow and flicked her finger. Melissa felt a sharp prick of pain and saw her husband’s tortured face looming above her. Artemis was gone, disappeared without a trace. The last thing she felt was the sticky blood on her fingertips where the second silver arrow had directly pierced her heart. Mira. Casse. 

*****************

I jolted awake, gasping for air. My heart throbbed, pulsating with a sharp pain that felt like something lodged directly in my chest. Clutching my throat, I ran a hand over the star shaped scar where my necklace had sat for so many years. 

“Where are we?” I asked, glancing around the deck. Daria’s puddles of sticky crimson blood had dried by now, leaving ominous brown stains clinging the the wood like an omen of disaster; the cloying metallic scent still clung to the air, intermingling with the tangy sea salt breeze. 

“From what I’ve heard, we’re nearing the Cape of Good Hope. There’s buzz that they came to Africa to hunt down Earth, but are concerned by a new article that was released about us.” Daria paused, widening her eyes in a shockingly good imitation of innocence as one of the mercenaries stalked by. Grumbling along, he barely gave a second glance to us. Obviously the crew didn’t seem to think we were much of a threat (with the enchanted bonds and lack of substantial food). They’re probably right, I thought with frustration, staring helplessly at Artemis’s burly mercenaries conversing on the bow. 

“Crescent Cunningham, a news reporter from Manchester-” Kenna’s head shot up like a bullet, tendrils of dark brown hair swirling around her shoulders like Medusa’s snakes.  

“Manchester?” The word flew out of her mouth like a dart, so fast it was almost hard to tell if it was a question. Something about the feral look in her eyes made me cringe back, as though shrinking myself down could save me from Kenna’s glare. I had never seen her coal black eyes burn so bright. The ropes around her wrists hissed, sizzling violently like an egg slammed to the sidewalk on a hot day.

“Yes,” Daria cleared her throat anxiously. “She’s from the Manchester Post. It’s something about our disappearance. She thinks we’re witches.” Her voice fell to a whisper on the last word, face crumpling as she put a hand to her anklet. It was adorned with a little golden cross. This power she was given must seem very unholy to her… The thought that our gift was unnatural sent shivers down my spine. It would take years for her to come to terms with it, let alone the fact that the Olympians existed, just barely out of sight her whole life. I pushed the thought aside. This was no place to console her. 

Kenna drew her knees to her chest, lip trembling with fury or grief- I couldn’t tell. Her bonds hissed angrily, charring black with each second. Out of the blue, it hit me. My heart pounded as I took in her knitted brows and tense shoulders. This just might work.

“Your school probably thinks you’re an arsonist. Don’t you think? They hear the accounts of you murdering a man, exploding in a ball of fire. An article about you on the run with other delinquents? They must think that you finally snapped,” I said lightly, sprinkling in some snark on a few words like an exclamation mark punctuating an angry sentence. Murdering. Delinquents. Snapped. Daria looked at me in alarm, mouthing a silent warning. I ignored her, smiling as Kenna clenched her fists, dark eyes scrunching at the corners. 

“Manchester, your hometown. Imagine how shocked they were, how disgusted they were to hear about you. A witch. I bet your brother can’t even walk through the hall without whispers and laughs trailing in his wake. Will, was it?” Guilt twinged in my heart as the words hung in the air, my heart strings plucking a discordant twang. It was working. Her coal eyes smoldered with intensity, furious tears dripping down her tan cheeks. Frayed black strands of rope were falling away slowly, hissing like an angry cat. Daria glanced at the charred threads then back at me, understanding lighting her eyes. 

“Stop. Now.” Kenna hissed through clenched teeth. I conjured up my most venomous smirk, suppressing the disgust and guilt that roiled in my gut. You have to do this. We have a chance. My lips were stretched so wide my cheeks stung; I felt like the Cheshire Cat lurking smugly in the dark woods.

“Oh, wait. I forgot something, didn’t I? Don’t you think Charles would be upset too?” Her eyes glowed hot. The rope curled away, threads blackening quicker and quicker with each word. The smile that curled my lips felt wrong, twisted, demonic. It was necessary. I tried to think of happy things as I braced myself for the next sentence, but all I could think about was how merciless I sounded. How… inhuman. Like Artemis. I steeled myself with an achy breath. 

“Ah, but he can’t be, can he.” My smile was pained, teeth gritted as I forced out the words. “Because you killed him.” A single, silent second passed, a second that felt like an eternity. Then she exploded. Fire burst from her fingertips, ravaging her bonds in a foul swoop of flame! Kenna lurched for me, a blur of flying hair and clenched fists. Charred ropes fell from her wrists.

“It was an accident and you know it! You sick, twisted, lying-” She screamed, too consumed in fury to finish.Within seconds I was pinned to the ground, Daria frantically holding Kenna back as she threw herself forward. Fire licked my skin, searing pain rocketing across my arms. Then it all stopped. Kenna froze in place, her furious face smoothing as she looked out across the horizon. I sat up and followed her gaze. There it was. The Cape of Good Hope in all its glory. But more than that? Storm and Earth racing towards our ship in a boat. Today was the day we would escape.


Writer's Wednesday!

Writer’s Wednesday!🌙 Starlight Edition.

Image from Shutterstock

How was I supposed to know? That with all the royalty and golden light would come such pain? That the shining silver stilettos and marble pillars that stretch their stony fingers to the sky are only there to distract me from the real cost. My ignorance.

Ignorance is not always a bad thing. No one is proud to have it, but when they lose it they want it back, crave that sweet bliss of not knowing. Not knowing pain. Suffering. Heartbreak. Sometimes I wish I could return to my ignorant, memory-wiped human form. Mira Casse, a starry-eyed high-school girl that loved the night sky and knew nothing of raw, pure pain.

Sure, I’d had a break up, had my heart cracked a little, never quite broken and always, somehow, held together even when others fell apart. Running my fingers along the silver arms of my throne, I etched the delicate engravings with my palm, tracing patterns against the cold metal.

Standing up, I strode gracefully over to the mirror that hung in midair, suspended by some invisible force and surrounded by a swirling vortex of in gold and deep purple hues that made the onyx frame gleam in contrast. I stared at my reflection, wondering what was wrong with me. How could some small, dark part of me yearn for humanity? Crave the blissful ignorance when I had riches unknown to a small, farm girl? Immortality? Royalty? Everlasting beauty?

Staring into the mirror, my reflection seemed flawless, though I hadn’t slept at all during my time on Olympus after the first night and my hair hadn’t been combed since who knows how long. The intricate, twisting double braids that Artemis had done at least a week ago still hung loose around my shoulders, somehow still seeming stylishly messy instead of looking like a rat’s nest.

My skin was ivory pale, yet my cheeks now seemed to perpetually have a rosy glow that radiated vibrance and life, the natural pinkish tone imitating the high-quality blushes girls would have spent a fortune on at my high school.

Everlasting beauty… never aging… The thoughts were a maelstrom in my head, and a deep, unsettling apprehension clenched my gut as I realized the reflection that stared at me in the mirror would be the same in a century. Two. Three. Forever and ever, the youth and vibrance never leaving, my dark midnight blue eyes would twinkle the exact same way.

“Hey, Selene. You look like you’re having a mid-life crisis,” I jumped at Artemis’s voice, spinning around to see her giggling at the absurdity of her comment. Life went on forever, for her. She’d never fathomed the idea of death, of letting go of immortality. Seeing the sorrow and thought on my face, she frowned, her musical, tinkling laughter ceasing abruptly.

“What’s wron-”

“How old are you?” I interjected, voice breaking in the middle of the sentence. Even my new, graceful goddess qualities couldn’t save me from the weight of immortality. Knitting her brows, her thin pink lips sagged into a contemplative frown.

“I- hm. Um, probably like, a million years old, give or take a millenia. Why?” I laughed, assuming she was joking by her casual tone. Glancing behind me, I looked her straight in the eyes, expecting to see laughter in their clear hazel depths. But she was serious. Dead serious.

Pain ricocheted through my body, every nerve convulsing with agony. Artemis looked like a teenager, youthful and vivacious, just like I was sure I would look in a thousand year’s time. My sheen of wavy black hair would never gray, the smooth pale skin of my face and cheeks would never wrinkle with the passing years. Immortal. Everlasting. Sure, it would sound great to most people. But it would never end, I would never pass on and find peace and rest in death.

My face contorted in pain, a heavy unease settling in the perfume-thick air. Suddenly the sweet jasmine scent that clung to the air no longer seemed calming or luscious. It smelled like a prison, cloying and grotesquely honeyed.

Artemis moved to set a concerned hand on my shoulder, and I let the warmth of her dainty fingers leach through my skin. When I looked at her, I had always seen a friend. A beautiful, confident huntress, but still a friend. Now? She seemed like a shell of a person, the glow of humanity missing from her clear hazel eyes.

Slapping her hand away, I flung off my strappy heels, letting them slam into the cool marble floor with a thud. They would only slow me down. My feet slapped the cold, hard stone of the floor as I leapt down the steps. Relishing in the soft cottony clouds against my toes, I sprinted off into the night. Intense deja-vu struck me as I sprang from cloud to cloud, feeling so much like the dream when I had first crossed over into the heavens for the first time in my life.

Wind whipped in my hair, and I found some twisted satisfaction in the fact that my perpetually perfect hair was now mussed and tangled. A smile spread across my lips, the pain that had plagued my thoughts dissipating into a soft euphoria. Wonders and worries whirled in my mind, but I shoved them all down, focusing all my attention on the warm summer breeze in my hair. Now was not the time for what-ifs, for thoughts of the future.

Maybe I would return. Maybe I wouldn’t. As I jetted across the sky, I felt like a shooting star burning through the night, free and wild and passionate. As my smile grew wider and wider, I noticed the moon’s glow growing brighter along with it, beaming down on the clouds with their silvery light.

I had always felt out-of-place, ostracized no matter where I was. And maybe I didn’t belong in Olympus or down on Earth. But I certainly felt at peace right here. Perhaps I wasn’t Mira Casse or even Selene. What I do know is that the stars grow brighter every time I’m near, and the moon waxes and wanes with my moods. Perhaps I’m not a human or a goddess. Never part of the Earth or the heavens, simply a shooting star burning through the night. Passionate. Shining. Beautiful.


Writer's Wednesday!

Writer’s Wednesday! Selene’s return

 Aoooh…a wolf sang into the soft summer air. I sat at the makeshift fire, watching the golden flames dance and leap, cutting through the dark void of the night. I let out a long, sweet sigh. The moon was full and brimming with silvery light; light that took over the night, illuminating every branch and making the leaves glimmer emerald in the dusk.

 It was… unnaturally full. I had been out here for months upon months and never ever had I seen such a perfect night. It was like something out of a fairytale, with the stars glimmering like crystals in the sky, and the onyx canvas of the night streaked with color.

A glowing light danced through the clouds, a shooting star jetting through the night. It was an odd shape for a star, looking like a human figure outlined in starlight.  As it shone through the clouds, I thought that it almost looked like it was leaping from cloud to cloud.

As I watched the brilliant spectacle, I wondered if somewhere out there, my mom was watching the same sky, thinking about me. Through the enchantment, I felt a sharp stab of bitterness deep down in my gut. Not likely. Maybe for another other mother, but not Mae. Not Mae.

Brutal memories flashed across my mind, slicing into the peaceful night. Peeking out from behind my mother, her blocking my view and screaming in terror. A horrible, gut-wrenching scream echoing through the house. The god-awful stench drifting up and filling my nose. The stench of death. Mae rushing over to my father’s limp, unmoving figure. Slumped against the couch with a needle protruding from his arm. Shrieking into the phone, tears leaking from her eyes and coalescing as they dripped down her pale cheeks.

A haze of sirens and ambulances, screams and hospitals. My mother’s kind blue eyes shattering like glass when she heard the news from the doctors. Husband. Dead. Overdose. A blank film glazing over her eyes, cold and emotionless. Numb.

Squeezing my eyes shut, I shook my head. No. You can’t do this again, Kate, can’t go down that rabbit hole again. With a gasping breath, the memories fell away, down into the dark black depths of my soul, where it swirled and writhed like a beast yanking me down and groping blindly for a handhold. A memory. A person. Anything-

Boom! I was yanked from the reverie as the sky exploded with light. The moon glowed like a beacon, shining so bright it could be mistaken for the sun.  Tiny specks of stars bursted like supernovas, and the whole world fell away. The soft crackle of the flames was instantaneously quenched, the chatter of far away crickets fading away until all that was left was the sky.

Seconds passed. A minute. And with one final searing blast of light, the sky swirled and the stars twirled and danced, rearranging the night sky. As quickly as it had come, it went away, the dusky darkness returned, speckled with glowing constellations and streaked with colors. A mini aurora-borealis shone pink, green, and purple is the night.

Warmth spread through my body, soft and sweet, like honey dripping over the body. I smiled up at the moon. I could barely believe my ears when a musical voice drifted through the night, one that I was sure everyone in the world could hear.

“Welcome home, Selene, goddess of the moon and night. The night sky will never be the same.”

**********************

“No. No. NO!” A frail blonde woman dashed up the stairs, throwing open the bedroom door with a giant slam! She, too, from all the way in California, had heard the voice. That awful, silvery voice, sugary sweet yet powerful at the same time. A flash of light so bright it burst open the night sky.

No, no, no. Artemis… Melissa Casse’s thoughts soured at the name. She had dreaded this moment for years, the dark what if? situation that lingered in the back of your mind, the one that you tried to push away but kept dragging you back every time.

Stalking into the bedroom, she threw back the silken sheets with a dramatic flourish, pale hands trembling slightly. The lump in the bed that she had prayed was Mira… Melissa let out a weak whimper, thin lips quivering. A pillow. A pathetic pillow.

The frail blonde woman let out a low, guttural growl that tore her throat. To any normal person, this would seem like a kidnapping. But Melissa knew. Selene had finally been taken away from her.

Dashing down the hallway, images flashed across her mind.

The first time she’d seen the young goddess soar from the heavens to Earth, a young high-school age girl with a round, pale face and wavy black hair. A brilliant white pegasus stood at her side, chomping away at the dew-speckled grass. What the…? Is that a- a- horse? With wings?!? Explanations churned in her mind, but she had always been rather simple minded. Anything that wasn’t written in a textbook might as well have been fictional.

And when the young girl turned, Melissa saw her face and instantly froze.

In that moment, nothing else mattered. Selene. Her breath caught in her throat. She’d studied Greek myth all her life, and Melissa knew immediately that she was in the presence of one of the most beautiful, powerful entities in the world.

Everything about her shimmered in the moonlight, from the shine of her hair to the sparkling blue of her eyes. The decision was not a conscious one. I need her. Selene is mine. Something about possessing a divine entity, having complete control over such a beautiful person… in that moment, Melissa craved it more than anything.

You know when you see something so perfect, so heavenly, you just yearn for it? The frail blonde woman out in the field felt it, her heart leaping with an utter need for the girl, to call her a loving name, to braid her flowing locks and see the sparkle in her midnight blue eyes.

Call it what you wish, the simple farmer woman suddenly became a fugitive among the heavens, forever hiding out and protecting her precious “daughter”…

Her vision was a blur as she bolted down the stairs, her satin slippers slamming the carpet. Adrenaline and panic sang in her veins, the door loomed ahead. Melissa twirled the lock, flinging open the door and kicking off her shoes.

The emerald grass tickled her feet, droplets of dew dripping from the stems and splashing her bare toes, sending shivers up her spine. She ran and ran until she reached the field where Selene had stood, so many years ago, shimmering in the bright moonlight.

Pain wracked her chest, slamming her tiny body so hard she fell to her knees, the cotton fabric of the nightgown soaking through to her skin. Melissa’s stomach lurched with desire so intense it could burn down the field until all that was left was a heap of charred grass.

The stars blazed above, shining a brilliant gold. Every detail reminded her of Selene, her sweet moonbeam. Onyx black like her shining hair, stars shimmering like the passionate twinkle in her eyes, the faint, barely there silver aura that swirled around her like moonlight.

The frail, simple woman with a simple wish lay on the ground, tears dripping like liquid diamonds down her pale face. She would never be the same. Alas, once you love an angel like Selene, there is no recovery. A wound made by a divine goddess was one that never healed.

High above in the heavens, Selene was sleeping peacefully. And down on Earth, her captor was heartbroken. Melissa’s precious daughter would never return.