Week 6 Story: Determination

Scheherazade was with her younger sister, Dinarzade, when they both heard the news.

Everyone in the world knew how much the Sultan Schahriar loved his wife, and to hear of her betrayal of the Sultan. No one was happy. Although Scheherazade, more than anyone, thought of how the Sultan would react. She had observed him for most of their lives – he was not much older than she – and Scheherazade understood the Sultan’s temperament very well. She admired him deeply for the kindness he showed his people, but he was also apt to be impulsive, stubborn, and unlikely to forgive the wrong that had been committed against him.

And so Scheherazade worried.

When her father, the Grand Vizier, announced what the Sultan had decided, Scheherazade and Dinarzade weren’t even present for the proclamation. But the reaction of the people brought the two girls out into the streets. At first Scheherazade thought that the news must be false, and the people hysterical; it seemed impossible that the king had decided to protect his heart by marrying a new woman each night and having her killed in the morning. She and her sister ran to their home in the palace and asked to speak to their father. When he did arrive, he seemed to have aged years in the few hours since Scheherazade had seen him. She didn’t even have to ask to know that the rumors were true.

At first Scheherazade held out the hope that Sultan Schahriar would change his mind. But as night after night passed and more and more young women fell victim to the Sultan, Scheherazade knew something had to be done. As upset and frightened as everyone was, no one seemed to be prepared to do everything, and nothing came close to breaking the sultan’s resolve. But this could not be allowed to continue.

And so Scheherazade planned.

She thought through everything she had learned of Sultan Schahriar over her whole life, wracking her brain for anything that could be more powerful that his fear and sorrow. Scheherazade grew more determined every day that the sultan took a new wife, but each scheme she created seemed bound to fail. Until one day she told her sister Dinerzade a story that she had forgotten the ending to. Dinerazade queationed Scheherazade for days about the ending, even asking her to create something. Scheherazade was reminded of the insatiable curiousity that the young sultan had never grown out of.

When Sultan Schahriar was young, all of his tutors loved that he would learn anything they could teach him. As he grew older, his tutors despaired because they had already taught him everything, and now he asked questions they couldn’t answer.

A story then, Scheherazade decided. A story that would never end, to hold the sultans curiosity until he remembered that he was a good and kind man, and not a monster. But it would have to be a truly wonderous story to convince Sultan Schahriar to go against his original proclamation. Scheherazade all but locked herself in her room, Hardin each day that she wasn’t ready and another girl died, but knowing she would join them if she didn’t prepare properly.

At last, Scheherazade felt that she was ready. She could go up against the sultan and remind him of who he really was behind the hurt and the fear. All that was left was to put her plan into motion. Scheherazade knew she could do this.

“Father, I have a favor to ask of you. Will you grant it to me?”

 


Author’s Note: This story is based on the frame tale story of the Arabian Nights (or 1001 nights) where a sultan is betrayed by his wife and declares that he will take a new wife each night and see her killed the next day. A young woman named Scheherazade marries the sultan and tells him a wonderful story that she isn’t able to finish in one night. The sultan allows her to live until she finishes the story, and he ends up falling in love with her and trusting her enough to let her live. I thought that the beginning of the story was too rushed, and I wanted to show some of what I image Scheherazade was thinking as all of the events leading up to her storytelling were happening

Bibliography: The Arabian Nights translated by Andrew Lang. Web Source.

Image: Arabian Nights by Quentin088. Source: Pixabay

Week 3 Story: A Tale of Revenge

Nemesis was tired. The goddess of revenge was rarely able to rest, there was always someone who wanted revenge. She sighed and focused on the current task at hand, as boring as it was. Venus wanted revenge. Not surprising, as hate often follows love. Nemesis and Venus would have been friends if the goddess of love wasn’t so air-headed, and if she didn’t always make so much extra work for Nemesis.

This time Venus wanted revenge on her son, Cupid. Apparently Venus sent him to punish a mortal girl for being pretty, and he didn’t do it quite the way his mother wanted. Typical. Revenge is best left the professionals. The idiot fell in love with the mortal girl and decided to marry her instead. So now I have to fix this mess, Nemesis thought.

After centuries of doing her job, Nemesis had perfected the art of getting other people to do her job for her. In this case she whispered in the mortal girl, Psyche’s sisters ears. She made them first fear for their sister, and then grow hateful and jealous when the finally found her. Humans are resourceful. Nemesis was sure the sister’s would find some way to ruin their sister’s happiness. Besides, there’s nothing quite like family to ruin a good day. Nemesis smiled at that though and started scheming on avoiding Venus in the future.

Later, time is hard for goddesses but it was definitely later, Nemesis was enjoying a well deserved rest when she was rudely interrupted.

“WHAT DID YOU DO?”

Psyche glared at Cupid from where she had been sleeping. “I didn’t do anything to that girl of yours. Her sisters however,” Nemesis shrugged. “Them I may have had a conversation with. Why does it matter?”

Cupid slumped over. He didn’t seem to be able to form a coherent response. Weird. And now that Nemesis got a good look at the god of Love, he really didn’t look like himself. Nemesis started to feel a bit bad.

“Look, I was just doing my job Cupid. When your mom wants revenge, she sends the best.”

“Why did my mother want revenge on my Psyche? She already got that.”

“This wasn’t revenge on the girl. It was on you. For not doing as you were told.” At the last sentence Cupid seemed to experience several emotions at once. Shock, anger, determination, and a few others Nemesis didn’t really have a name for.

Finally Cupid seemed to find his voice again. “I think I need to have a… conversation with my mother.”

“Need any help?” Nemesis asked eagerly. She’d love to put one over on that goddess.

“No. I want to work on this myself. But would you mind taking care of Psyche’s sisters? They shouldn’t have messed with my wife.”

Nemesis’ answering smile looked more like a grimace than anything. “Consider it done.”

It really isn’t fair for humans caught in the games of gods, Nemesis remarked to herself as Psyche’s second sister followed the first over the edge of the cliff. Nemesis hadn’t even had to do much. She just showed Psyche how to most effectively take revenge on her sisters. They were all to ready believe that Cupid preferred them over Psyche and they both rushed off the cliff. It really wasn’t fair.


Author’s Note: This story is based on the myth of Cupid and Psyche. In the story Psyche is so beautiful that it makes the goddess of beauty, Venus, jealous and she sent her son Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with a horrible person as punishment. Cupid couldn’t bring himself to do it, and he fell in love with her instead. They were married, but Psyche didn’t know who her husband was, and she was never allowed to see his face. Eventually, at her jealous sisters’ urging, Psyche looked at her husband’s face while he was asleep. Once she saw her husband was Cupid, she accidentally spilt hot oil on him and woke him up. When Cupid saw the Psyche had broken the rule, he fled and Psyche wandered to her sisters’ kingdoms. She convinced each one that Cupid preferred them to her because of what she’d done. They each jumped off a cliff, expecting the wind to carry them to Cupid. They both died.

I took the plot from Cupid and Psyche and retold it from the point of view of the goddess of revenge. She wasn’t in the story, but I like to image that she was very involved in the background.

Bibliography: Cupid and Psyche by Apuleius and translated by Tony Kline. Web source.

Image: Angel of Revenge by Comfreak. Source: Pixabay

Week 2 Story: To Answer a Prayer

I wish… like my ivory girl.

Venus closed her eyes and tried to concentrate. This day was always difficult, when every believer called on her for the blessing of love, but this plea was the one that caught her attention. This prayer, so heartfelt, was unlike anything she felt from a human for centuries. Venus focused even more intently, listening for the voice that caught her attention. It had faded, almost to nothing, but was not gone. The human had not given up hope yet.

“If you can grant all things, you gods, I wish as a bride to have one like my ivory girl.”

It was a man in Cyprus, making his offering to Venus at his festival. But Venus could hear hesitation in his words, and she looked into his thoughts to hear what he was not brave enough to say. She saw this man, Pygmalion, carving stone into the likeness of a woman in his memory. She wasn’t perfect but Pygmalion looked at her as if she were. Venus could see in his memory how his love for his creation grew day by day. Venus saw Pygmalion’s true prayer in his thoughts and in his heart.

I wish as a bride to have my ivory girl.

Impressed by his devotion, Venus granted his wish. She watched as the fire expressed her intent and Pygmalion ran to his statue. His love gave the statue life, as Venus intended, and as long as Pygmalion continued to love her, she would stay alive.

Venus watched as the two began their lives together, pleased with their happiness. She couldn’t see the future, humans rarely did what was expected anyway, but she imagined they would be happy together for many years. While their story would probably not be remembered – and who would believe it, even with the gods?- Venus would remember the man who’s love was strong enough to bring his ivory girl to life.


Author’s Note: This story is based on Pygmalion by the Roman poet Ovid. In this story a sculptor, Pygmalion, carves the likeness of a woman. He falls in love with his sculpture and asks Venus, the goddess of love, for the girl as his wife. Venus answers his prayer and the sculpture comes to life. In this story I changed the point of view from that of Pygmalion to Venus.

Bibliography: “Pygmalion,” Roman myth by Ovid. Web Source.

Image: Photo of Lely’s Venus. Source: Wikimedia