They will say it was the sway of my hip, my hair’s lustre, that gleam of sweat beading my spine. Or they will call me, only, beautiful. What more could you need to know of me, after all? In truth, I was a girl like any other, dipping my pitcher in the dappled river, dreaming those dawn-rubied droplets jewels, a burbling fool, babbling as the birds themselves fell silent, as even the water’s dimpled flow slowing, slowing … stopped.
Look! Look up! On the far bank – there – steam-snort of breath, the flehmen curl, branches that twist, then step from the tree. My heart beats once: magnificent creature! Twice; and I know the truth of him by the infinity in his black eye.
And crashes, shatters my pitcher as scrumble, stumble, I scramble – and the drenching wave of his plunge – and my toes sliding, mud sucks, slipping slime – he has come before – yessss, up, hah, running – come for my sisters, in his shifting shapes – oh my treacherous skirts snaring – and the thrud of hooves quakes the air – nothing, nothing to – ‘Mother…!’ – hold, throw, stab – ‘Help me, mother!’ – she snatched, I saw, seized their sweet selves from him, recast … iris swallow laurel … see … See! … she greens my fingers opening tips bud but too, now? no, too late, no, too his hot musk blasts my scalp tines tear my skin and I am down and the agony of his power roots me and I am splintered.
My tardy goddess gathers what is left and hangs me blazing in the cold sky. She means it as a kindness in her way, but now their ceaseless observation will not let me be. They tell my story, pin me to their maps, probe my glare with their bleak gaze as I circle through the mute, eternal dark.
It is not my fault I caught the eye of a god.
SHARON TELFER lives near York, UK. She has won the Bath Flash Fiction Award and the Hysteria Flash Fiction competitions, and been nominated for Best Small Fictions in 2016 and 2017.
Image: Dimitris Vetsikas