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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Prometheus’ Lantern Chapter 7

Need to catch up? Find previous chapters here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Chapter 7

     Night had long taken hold of the sky when Maya returned home. After leaving the animals in the forest, she had stopped to bring Ipolit news of Alexander. She never told him how she received the news she relayed to him and he never asked. He knew of course, that she met with him on occasion, along with many other strange and wonderful beings. Along with this knowledge came the understanding that, though he may be a friend, Ipolit would never be allowed in their presence. The fewer who knew exactly what took place beyond the city walls, the safer for all involved.
The result of her dalliance at the stables was a full moon shining near the horizon, preparing to go to bed itself. She walked in the moonlight, enjoying the glow it gave everything it touched. The Lantern of Night.
“Beautiful Selene, your work should be appreciated by more. You brighten the night sky and soften the shadows, bringing radiance where there is none.” Maya whispered the prayer, sending it with her gratitude up to the Moon Goddess. If she learned anything, it was not to take the work of any god or goddess for granted. They could be powerful allies, but just as destructive enemies.
The area around her glowed a bit brighter, illuminating the path before her. A root she nearly stumbled over was now clearly defined, allowing her to avoid it and a twisted ankle. Selene heard her prayer and responded with gratitude of her own.
Candles burned down to puddles of wax lining the windows and walkways of her home. On tiptoe, Maya moved through the main chamber towards her bedroom. She kept her eyes averted from the hateful statue dominating the far end of the hall. A benevolent depiction of Hera, misconstruing her as a loving and nurturing figure. Maya’s stomach knotted.
Slipping down a side corridor, Maya let out a sigh of relief. She was in her own section of the house now, safely past her mother. As she entered her room, she muffled a scream. On her bed sat the tall, proud figure of Thisbe.
“What are you doing in my chambers?”
“What were you doing out of them? If I’m not mistaken, the moon has nearly run its course and the sun waits for its entrance in the wings. An obedient daughter would be in bed asleep, her dreams coming to an end so she could wake soon. A good daughter would not be preparing to retire for the night already past.”
“My apologies, Mother. The time slipped past me.”
“What could have captivated you so that you stayed up through Selene’s watch?”
“Devotion and prayer.”
“To whom? You did not attend temple as I instructed. Nor were you begging forgiveness at the feet of our own household statue.”
“Do I need to be in the iconic presence of a god or goddess to pay them homage? Is there not a bit of them everywhere that will hear our prayers and carry them back to the gods?”
“It is not the proper method. Your continued absence at the temple causes rumors to spread. Soon, we will lose our favor in the eyes of the people.”
“Who cares what the people think? Should we not worry ourselves more about pleasing the gods? Are they not the ones who shape our fates?”
Thisbe rose, anger from her daughter’s words coursing through her body, making her stand straighter, fists clenched at her sides. “The elders of our community decide our fate as much as the gods. If they suspect we are no longer favored by Hera, we lose our status in the community. Would you like to become a maid or cook? A servant to another’s needs?”
“Aren’t we already? We do nothing for our own pleasure, but for the pleasure of those who control us, be it gods or men. A name in place of a title is all that separates us from Cook.”
“You are closer to his rank than you realize,” Thisbe hissed, crossing to Maya and grabbing her arm. “One more time you disobey me and I will sell you at market myself.”
“You wouldn’t dare,” Maya hissed back, her face almost touching her mother’s. “You put me on the market block and it will be proof to the town that we have fallen from Hera’s grace. They all think I’m Hera’s Chosen. Sell me at the market and your whole world will crash around you.” Thisbe let her grip on Maya go. A final glare at her daughter and she left the room.
Collapsing onto her bed, Maya gave herself over to Hypnos but not Morpheus. She needed sleep, not dreams to keep her tossing and turning for the little time she would be allowed. Even good dreams would only bring her despair and loss, for the dreams she wished she could stay in left her waking to an empty bed that would otherwise be occupied.