Selene walked the path of stars. The air was always cool up here, but tonight there was a slight breeze through the shimmers. Her sister’s laughter floated along with it.
“Good evening, Dogoda.”
“Good evening, sister.” The wind whispered back.
Selene laughed as the breeze playfully twirled her sleeves It put her in a good mood, so she woke the dawn with a gentle coo, “Ushas. It’s time.”
“I see that it is,” A bright voice answered, “Thank you, cousin. Good day!”
“Good day, my dear.”
Selene watched the golden woman drift to the edge and coax daybreak from its slumber. Eternity had not dulled the splendor, to her, of the world shifting from the tranquil blues and grays to the victorious orange and pinks. Though it meant her reign was over for another day, it still filled her with hope.
And it did not mean her work was over. It never really was.
“Come on, we’ve got to get the girls.”
“Hmph. You go get them.”
“No no, it was a long night and you’ve had plenty of rest.”
A pale hand pushed back long blond braids, “We’re entering spring. The nights are shorter.”
Selene placed a hand on her hip. “And you’re an immortal. Get up. Or I’ll ask Hypnos to take your place.”
Selene hid her giggle at the big blue eyes rolling upwards before Bezelea stretched and fell in beside her on the northern path.
They walked quietly for a moment. Too quietly for the younger goddess’s normal chatter.
“Bez, what’s on your mind?”
“Aren’t they getting worse, Selene?”
“They’re getting strained. More painful.”
“I don’t think so. I think there are just so many more of them now.”
They walked a moment longer.
The blond slowed to a stop, then shook her head. “No, it’s not that. The younger ones have seen so much.”
Selene returned to Bezelea’s side, tucked the girl into her chest. “There was a time when the younger ones couldn’t be young at all. At least now there’s a chance for children to be just that.”
“But only for a time.” Came the muffled complaint.
“A time we can protect. It makes all the difference.” She lifted her younger sister’s chin. “And you know that.”
“Alright then,” Selene took Bezelea’s hand and they walked into the home of the northern star.
The twins were already hard at work, fishing the dream catchers up from earth. Selene always admired their synced movements. Nuit had done the work all on her own for centuries, but the world had changed so that it wore her to near pieces. Thankfully, the Zorya girls knew that together they could pull the dream catchers from earth the same way. One from morning and one from night could take the same place as the goddess of sky.
Selene was immensely proud. These were her first daughters, and they were doing so well.
With a sigh, Bezelea sat beside them and began to release the nightmares caught within each dream catcher. Selene admired the creativity of the earth dwellers. Their need to protect themselves had their hearts creating shields from anything and everything.
Sure there were the traditionalists that knew their needs, knotted hide and hair with flower and feather to tie themselves to earth and their mind to the sky. Other hearts had to get a little creative, which had sweet Bezelea untangling wind chimes, knitted blankets, and the occasional set of Christmas lights.
Selene had done her part for so long, it was natural. Watching over the night was her joy, but here was her true task.
Each morning, Zorya Utrennyaya and Zorya Vechernaya together plucked the dream catchers up into the sky. Bezelea, with her gift of change from day to night, had the strength to unsnarl the dark illusions from the dream catchers. Then, Selene had to guide them.
Dreams were nothing to be thrown away into the universe. They could grow and plague the cosmos with dark deeds and cruel desires. Each had to be controlled, sent to the exact corner of shade where they could do no harm. Since dreams were a reflection of thought, they answered only to Selene’s reflection of her brother’s light. She alone could send them on their way safely.
But it was exhausting work. The fear flowing through each idea and image drained her. There were those who felt attacked by monsters, those who felt exposed by friends. There was the fear of not belonging, of not knowing oneself. Too much pressure. Not enough trust. But the hardest were the ones who felt trapped. Selene’s whole existence was freedom to float between the stars. She could gaze upon the world through her light or rest in the shade Yggdrasil bathed her in from time to time. So the trapped, to her, were worse than the damned. Or at least the same.
She sent these dreams as far from the world as she could. A black hole in a universe so far it was still nameless, and she prayed to any of her family that would listen, that there those nightmares stayed.
Her hands weaved and waved for hours, chaperoning these warped affairs and imagined strifes.
Then, a snag- a sharp pain against her finger. Like a paper cut, small yet pulsed as if it were an arrow wound. She paused, plucked the fancy from the stream and examined it.
At first, she thought it a violated memory, as it was too bright to be some sort of shaded dream. But she looked closer. It was just a young man, standing on a grassy hill. He would throw a small blurry object, and a brunette pup would race it back to him. The man would laugh and throw it again.
“Bezelea- what is this?”
“What is what?” The younger girl did not look up from her sorting.
“Bezelea, look. Zorya. Please, a moment.”
Bezelea froze as she registered the concern in Selene’s voice. Slowly, like a cuckoo clock winding down, the girls came to a halt, still in sync.
“What is this? I feel no fear. No hate. It’s just a dream. A cute one at that. Why is it here?”
The three goddess were quiet.
“Girls. Zorya, where did you get this?”
But the girls didn’t answer then either. They both looked to Bezelea.
“This… this is what I meant earlier.”
Selene’s eyebrows furrowed, “When we were talking about the young ones?”
“Yes, Selene.” Bezelea twirled the end of a vintage veil she had been combing through.
“But this one… looks so happy. You said they’d seen too much.”
“And they have,” She pulled another illusion from the veil. It too was bright and airy. Within it, a bride’s point of view flashed between the eyes of her father, the aisle at her feet, and the eyes of her moments-away husband.
“I don’t understand. Tell me why these have been caught along with the dark ones.” Selene was stiff, scared of the guessing game the world seemed to be playing on her.
“Momma,” Zorya Utrennayaya whispered, “They are scared of their happiness…”
“…because it is gone. It hurts them.” finished Zorya Vechernaya.
Selene stared at the dreams. She shook her head.
“No, no this isn’t right. I will speak with Somnus. This has to be Phobetor’s doing, this time his games have gone too far.”
Bezelea reached out and grasped Selene’s hand before she could go, “The girls already spoke with Somnus. His sons have no part in this.”
Selene slumped against the sky, “So they are… truly afraid of the night now. Even sweet dreams are bitter?”
The three girls nodded.
“Not all…” answered Zorya Utrennayaya.
“…but many.” whispered Zorya Vechernaya.
Selene nodded slowly. Her eyes seemed to glaze, but Bezelea knew those eyes were soaring over the stars, searching the earth for the confusing pain. And by the quickening pulse in Selene’s temple, it was found.
“They still need their rest…” Selene spoke softly, almost to herself.
“Yes, Selene. So we keep to our task.” Bezelea tried to fill her words with comfort, as the moon goddess had done for her so many times.
“Yes, Bez, of course.”
The twins stared at each other for a long moment, and then at their mother. “Perhaps we do not have to send the bright ones so far away…”
“…perhaps we could hold them near. In case one day they will bring joy again?”
Selene offered a small, sad smile. “Yes, my darlings. That is a good idea. I will find a place for them where they can offer the light they are meant to.”
Bezelea offered Selene the next beautiful dream, this one of small footprints on a sandy beach, and Selene held it for a moment. She weighed it in her hand, as she did each nightmare, but instead of sending it away, she tucked it into her robes. And she did the same with the next, and the next.
When it was time for Bezelea to cover the world in evening, Selene kissed the forehead of each her daughters, then walked with Bezelea to the edge of day.
“What will you do with them?”
Selene’s grin was that of a worn mother, one who knew weight so her children would not.
“I am the reflector of day, my dear. If these will not light the minds of our earthly bound, then they shall light their paths. It is the least I can do.”
Bezelea left Selene there, at the edge. But as she slowly peeled back the day into dusk, she saw the moon rise with a grandeur she had never witnessed before. Selene had taken each and every dream into herself and now shone nearly as bright as her brother. Bezelea was in awe, and when she looked below saw she was not alone. There were children giggling in driveways, allowed to stay out another minute due to the bright nightfall. Lovers held hands, unafraid, through a forrest path. A young girl turned off her night-light, and opened her curtains to the moonbeams instead.
Bezelea heard a soft laugh behind her, saw Nyx’s slow steps approaching.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” She asked the night.
“Yes,” Nyx replied, “quiet joyful. Sweet dreams, young one. Sweet dreams.”
CHIMERA (noun): 1. (in Greek mythology) A fire-breathing female monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail. 2. A thing that is hoped or wished for but in fact is illusory or impossible to achieve
PHEW we got some mythology learning up in here tonight!
If you even kiiiiinda enjoyed this short story, go read (or audio book) American Gods right now. Though I’ve had this thought long before I listened to this book, Neil Gaimen has a much more polished writing than I (shocking, I know!) but plays on the idea of all mythology gods on the same playing field. He is where I first heard of the Zorya twins, and I loved adding them to my story. (Also- what a good story/sequel name right? One is Zorya Utrennyaya and the sequel is Zorya Vechernaya? DIBS.)
I love the night in spring. It is pretty in all seasons, but I am either a reptile or some sort of perennial flower, so I like to be under covers for most of winter. The spring is when the night and I get reacquainted. It’s beautiful, really. And even in a city lit 24/7 like mine, the stars and moon pick and choose times to be dim or bright (don’t come at me with that science stuff, this is a writing blog! 😉 ). I hope this is why. I hope those happy memories we sometimes turn away from become our guiding lights. I like the idea that the stars are worried for us, and are watching closely to make sure we are alright down here.
Pleasant dreams, sweet reader. May they at least light your way.
The origins of the gods rewritten in my story today:
- Selene (Greek) – Goddess of the moon, sister to the sun god
- Dogoda (Slavic) – Goddess of the west wind, and of love and gentleness.
- Ushas (Hindi) – Goddess of the dawn
- Bezelea (Linthuanian) – Goddess of the evening
- Zorya (Slavic) – Guardian goddess of the auroras; morning (Ut≠rennyaya) and evening star (Vechernaya). Sometimes associated with the North star
- Nuit (Egyptian) – Goddess of the sky
- Somnus (Roman) – God of sleep
- Phobetor (Roman) – Demigod of fright; son of Somnus
- Nyx (Greek) – Goddess of the night