The blinding light is smothered by abrupt darkness, followed by sharp, full-bodied pain as he crashes into the hard earth. He pushes himself up to his hands and knees, takes in the gushes of blood erupting from his skin. He's covered in it; the flesh. Flesh that stretches over new bones and muscles, that's covered in the sticky sheen of sweat. He lifts a hand, rotates it until he's studying his palm. He spreads, bends his fingers and marvels at the joints he's never had. There's so much blood. He feels almost human.


He sits back on his haunches and takes a gasping breath, his first. The air filling his lungs is so foreign; clean and pure. The ground below him glows faintly with dying embers, smoldering grass. The knowledge of what he has become, where he is, where he crashed, registers in an instant. He jerks his head up and stares out at the horizon, the sky above.


Orion. He lets out a watery laugh. He can see them all. Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka. Maissa, Bella, and Betel. His beloved, Saiph. Himself.


The memory of their last moments flashes in the front of his mind; the slow combustion that overtook Betelgeuse, then Bellatrix and Meissa, one last glance to Saiph before the light and white-hot heat engulfed him too, forced him from his place in the Universe and into a free fall down. Down, down, down, in a rush of wind and fire and fear.


His mind is racing: How did I survive? How did I end up here? Where is Saiph?


Sharp pain in his back makes him hunch over with a wince. He peers over his shoulder and catches sight of the tip of the glossy white, feathered wings sprouting from the center of his back, and oh, he remembers learning this, that the Fallen were damned by Hera, not only to live as creatures among humans but cursed with wings that they'd be tempted to use only to find their way home. They would never make it, destined to fail. He stands, gives a hesitant flutter of his wings and feels more than anything, the desire for his place in the sky.


He doesn't want to find his way home. He needs to find Saiph, fears that time away from him, the faithfulness of his Soul, may kill him. If his fall from the Heavens didn't, then surely that would. He directs his eyes back to the sky above and fixes them on the Moon—bright and full—and his chest aches with how much he misses his home. He lets himself imagine Saiph standing beside him, cast in familiar shades of yellow and green, the incessant painful tugging in his chest absent in the presence of his beloved.


They had been together from the beginning of their existence; brought to their stations resting at Orion's feet when Zeus placed him among the Stars, a memorial after his death by Artemis' hand, Apollo's vengeful orchestration.


So few Stars are as lucky as they had been, to have found the other half of their shattered Soul in the place they were destined to be for eternity. A poetic tragedy turned blessed rarity. He closes his eyes and he can see them spending their days and nights, their lights growing brighter as they grew older, and love evolving into something boundless, infinite. Something that said Saiph was intrinsically his, and he, Saiph's. He didn't desire admiration for his station in the sky, knew that being with Saiph was the only place that held any worth at all.


An icy river stretches before him, a grove of bare birch trees behind him. With his eyes closed, he feels drawn into the trees. There is no path for him to follow and the underbrush cuts into his legs as he walks. Stones pierce the pads and arches of his feet, but the pull is stronger, sharper, the further he carries on. He breaks into a run when he spots it; a pale figure prone in a clearing, resting in a shallow crater in the dirt.


He drops hard to his knees, heedless of the branches and rocks below. Saiph is on his side, large wings curled protectively around his nude body. He hears the rush of blood in his ears and the rhythmic pounding of the unfamiliar heart against his rib cage. I cannot be damned alone. Please stay with me. I refuse to spend this new eternity without you.


He caresses Saiph's forehead, his temple, the fringe of silky white hair. In the center of his face sits an aquiline nose, sharp cheekbones above and full lips below. Agonizingly delicate. Eyes blink up at him and they're so dark, nearly black, and vacant. He's reminded painfully of home. Saiph lets out a pained cry and crawls to his knees, holds him tight in his arms, steadfast and sure around his waist.


Saiph's hands are trembling, cradling his cheeks as though he could disappear at any moment. His cheeks are streaked; drying blood and dirt separating from his skin in the wake of scorching tears, and he whispers, "Rigel." His earthly voice is beautiful, honey-thick, and Rigel has to close his eyes against the golden glow radiating from their flesh. Every atom in his body is humming, singing beneath Saiph's feather-light touches with the truth that his Soul is once again no longer fractured.


Rigel lowers himself to the ground and pulls Saiph to his side. Through the clearing in the trees, he stares up at the sky. Saiph is burning bright alongside Rigel as they are on Earth. Skin against skin. He glories in the way they fit together; two pieces of the same puzzle that can finally touch. The eternity they couldn't is a hazy memory now.


How had that ever been enough for them? Celestial bodies bound together with a painful absence of flesh or blood, voices or hands. They were Fallen but he could not bring himself to believe they had been condemned. When the Stars have faded, replaced by swathes of navy, orange, and pink, he finally lets his eyes close. 

May 01, 2020 23:36

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


Molly Douglas
22:39 May 06, 2020

I always enjoy a story with a Greek mythology bend (this prompted me to read more about Orion) and thought there were some nice poetic turns of phrase (e.g. "not only to live as creatures among humans but cursed with wings that they'd be tempted to use only to find their way home", "two pieces of the same puzzle that can finally touch. The eternity they couldn't is a hazy memory now." and "They were Fallen but he could not bring himself to believe they had been condemned." Well done!


Meg E.
23:15 May 06, 2020

thank you so much!! I absolutely love mythology too so I knew I had to add it in a story somewhere.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Bring your short stories to life

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