Erse rippled through the thin layer of her muslin sheets. Through squinted lashes, she pushed the cotton candy sleep from her eyes. Sluggish but with a hearty disposition, she tilted her small frame upright and swung her wiry legs over the edge of her bed. Erse slid toes first into her fur trimmed slippers and hopped to the floor.

She wandered towards the window, nightgown cascading behind her. As she passed the calico blanket alone in the corner and marbles strewn along the length of the mahogany wood thatched chest, she barely noticed the aftermath of the previous night’s frolicking with Valios, the clay horse, and her imagination.


Erse used the toy box under her window as a steppingstone and lifted herself up as she brushed the airy sheer drapes apart. She rested her elbows on the sill and leaned like a tree branch yielding to a carefree breeze. The moon sparkled and winked in the velvety darkness. Erse thought there was nothing more beautiful. Except maybe a daydream she mused. A knock at her bedroom door cracked the silence, a swift downturn in her demeanor followed.  


“Erse? Are you awake?”


Erse’s mother waited patiently on the other side of the wall. Although she was barely in her seventh Kronia orbit, her mom treated her like she was much older.


“Yes, Ma. I’m awake.”


Her mother mumbled something about a big day through the wooden barrier then her steps grew faint beyond the wall. Erse knew it was a big day. She’d been groomed for it since she was old enough to form memories.


The clatter of spoons veraciously scooping porridge from their porcelain bowls greeted Erse as she entered the kitchen. She gathered her gown and lolloped on to the chair at the table in the nook where most meal activity occurred. Girls weren’t allowed to eat with the tall people who claimed them as their protectorate until at least their eleventh Kronia orbit, but Erse was special. Very special.


“Eat, dear.” Erse’s mother placed a bowl in front of her. She complied. Erse introspectively contemplated every bite she took was a step closer, a minute faster to an ever increasingly dreaded--


“You need to finish quickly. We don’t want to be late.” Erse’s mother interrupted her bleak train of thought. Quietly, she placed the remaining bits in her unsteady mouth and scooted out of the kitchen.


Erse closed the door to her room and began the daily ritual that had been her routine for a while. Stationed in front of the looking glass, Erse braided the sides of her flaxen hair into a crown that adorned her head from ear to ear and clipped jeweled studs in the portion that fell down her back.


An ivory crepe gown with a gold rope situated around the waist area rested on her bed. It was a tad too big for her childish stature. Erse slipped it on and used the rope to pucker the sagging fabric in order to walk sufficiently in the oversized garment.


Erse’s mother tepidly wrapped on the door. “It’s time.”


Erse followed her outside to the waiting chariot. A lean legged courtier took her hand as she navigated the raised stool. Two quick steps upwards and Erse was swallowed into the carriage. Her mother glided easily into her seat and the ride began.


Erse’s annual Kronia orbit festival adhered to the traditional honorary celebration of Cronus. On the 12th day of Hekatombaion, the first month of the Attic calendar, an acknowledgement of her birthday occurred (roughly equivalent to the latter part of July to the first part of August as mortals would understand it).


Selene, Erse’s mother, was the goddess of the moons. Her pedigree as daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia, sister to the sun-god Helios, and goddess of the dawn, Eos, meant a shared universe with heavenly creatures who ruled chaotically, malevolently, and ostentatiously over eager, desperate beings.

The chariot lilted in a ping pong motion, under a spectacular maze of star lights, through the well-worn paths of Olympus. Selene spoke often in bedtime rhythms to Erse of the ascents in her moon chariot. Erse wondered if her mother’s nocturnal outings were anything like this one.

Mount Olympus loomed in the distance and grew closer with every wind gust whipped defiantly under the hoofs of moving mounts. The magnitude of Erse’s journey would soon come to an end in more ways than one.

Selene and Erse were greeted at the gate of clouds guarded by the Horae, the goddesses of the seasons. As the chariot came to a serene halt, Selene prepared Erse to disembark. With little feet enshrouded in gold laced sandals, Erse stepped down the same raised stool scurried by the same courtier. Hand in hand with Selene, she entered the hollowed grounds of the glorious structure at the top of the world.

Selene’s account of visits to the mount began to pour into Erse’s mind. On special occasions, Selene was invited to parlay favor with Zeus and the other main gods. She reported days and nights of reverie, merriment, all in resplendent, vivid detail.  A bacchanal of nectar flowed, and the sweetness of tender ambrosia mingled with the tales of immortality one sip, one bite at a time.

Erse’s eyes drank in every marbled crease, every sleek contour, every precious jewel that played with the senses. As she stood in the great open space, Erse wondered if her mother had held back intimate morsels or perpetuated secrets within these walls.

Eyes heavy but aware of the significance of this day, Erse rested her hand in her mother’s and waited. It was then that Erse knew it was incumbent upon her to embrace this. Whatever ‘this’ was. She gradually found her footing, held her posture erect, purposeful, and, with a gentle release of her mother’s hand, walked into the blissful surroundings of the Pantheon.

Meekly, Erse entered the majestic room, her gaze held deferentially. Her body moved without thought gracefully towards Zeus’ throne.  Out of her peripheral vision, each god and goddess who called Mount Olympus home appeared like a mirage in the desert.

On this, Erse’s eighth Kronia orbit, she would be entrusted to embark on a journey and descend to the Earth below and take her place there with the mortals for a time. Zeus ordained that Erse would fall from the heavens as delicate drops of dew. She would shelter every blade of grass, every leaf on a tree, all copious living beings would feel her protection. Because she was special. 

Erse’s emotions whirled through her, crashed like waves on the breaker. To leave her mother and all that she had known to this point in time, snatched at her heart. Earth was a foreign land to Erse. So hard to believe that it grew from the same ingredients as Olympus, Erse thought. Then she remembered her mother’s fabled moonlit rendezvouses. She too could harness her brave spirit, her young mind determined.

Due to her inexperience in the world below, Erse would be allowed to return when Helios entered the sky, same as her mother. And so, the cycle would begin after her festival was celebrated to its fullest, in the traditional honorary fashion.

Erse’s Kronia orbit, her birthday as mortals would understand it, was her rebirth.

August 09, 2019 17:59

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.