The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Flee the Sun
by Scarlett R. Algee
Daphne is damned, she thinks, but she has a lot of time to think now.
Of course Apollo had pursued her. She’d been beautiful once, or so she’d been told, tall and green-eyed and chestnut-haired: more than fit to win the admiration of any mortal, man or woman, so why not the sun god? Think of it, her father had said, think of the honor he would give you, would give me, in children and grandchildren. You would rival any queen on earth. You would rival every goddess.
But Daphne had never wanted to be a queen, or a goddess, or bear the weight of children of any stripe. She found peace in the forest, with its littered floor and stately walls; she found contentment in the sweet grasses of the meadow, the little murmurs of the creeks, the small stony paths the crept up the sides of the mountain. She was satisfied alone, and alone she had meant to stay.
But Apollo had had other ideas.
He had found her wandering at the meadow’s edge, and something in his smiling perfect beauty had struck her as cold and alien. Then he had reached out, asking her to walk with him, and like the dove fleeing before the eagle, she had moved to escape.
She should, she sometimes tells herself, have known better.
Daphne had barely turned when Apollo had grabbed her hair, dragging her back, turning her around. The press of his hand against her cheek had made her skin crawl and her stomach knot; the jostle of his lips against hers had brought bile into her throat. And she had told herself, on some level, that she should let it be; that he was a god and she merely a prize; that there were worse things, perhaps, than children and grandchildren.
And then she had bitten her tongue and spat the blood in his beautiful face and run.
The sweet grass had bent under her feet with every plunging step, butterflies and blossoms crushing. Her lungs had burned as though she inhaled the sun itself, and perhaps she did, because he was behind her, implacable, never less than a lunge and grab away, no matter how she pushed herself; and so Daphne had prayed, oh gods, make me a thing he cannot have.
And someone had listened, because the earth had seized her feet.
Daphne had hit the ground headlong, screaming as her face slammed into the dirt and her ankles cracked, but some force beyond herself had pushed her upright again. Her legs had tingled and itched and then gone numb, and a glance down had shown her the rough bark crawling up her body, fusing her limbs, stealing sensation. Her arms and fingers, shoved skyward, had burst out in leaves and branches, her hair creaking into stiff extensions from which small yellow-green flowers broke and drifted and wilted in the wrathful heat of Apollo’s sun.
He had looked, for a moment, astonished.
Now Daphne’s branches sway in the breeze; her trunk groans beneath the winds of the oncoming storm. Her roots delve deep into the earth and drink. Birds nestle in her hair and sing.
But she looks sunward, ever sunward, and sometimes she thinks Apollo has won her after all.
Fiction © Copyright Scarlett R. Algee
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from author Scarlett R. Algee:
The Lift: Nine Stories of Transformation, Volume One
The hall is dark and the overhead light flickers. Sounds echo, and there’s a creaking and clanging that gets louder as you stand in the semi-dark. The elevator opens and you’re offered a ride. Step inside and ride it to the story chosen for your transformation. Don’t be afraid, for Victoria, the mysterious girl who operates The Lift, waits to guide you. Set in the same world as the award nominated audio drama, The Lift’s first written anthology features nine all new stories by fan favorite writers and special bonus content by creators Daniel Foytik and Cynthia Lowman. The collection is brought to life with beautiful illustrations by Jeanette Andromeda for each story.
Please don’t forget to visit the other WiHM 11 projects taking place!
Commendable piece! Well done, Scarlett!