Young Adult myth adaptation
Currently seeking publication
ARROWS is the story of Aaryn, a cupid who is stripped of his powers until he can fix Karma’s life, a ballet prodigy whose destiny was originally derailed by his arrow.
He never expected her to teach him about love.
“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate beings, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.” – Plato’s The Symposium
I saved my arrows for last.
It was a warm night on Earth, and I was content to watch Phoebe work from the shadows, noting her stance as she prepared to aim, the way her slender body appeared indestructible, her skin like milk.
“Aaryn,” Phoebe said. “Those two.” Golden shivers of light passed through the arrow she slid into her bow, and when she retracted, the fletching made a dent against the apple of her cheek. Her coal-lined eyes focused on two teens standing next to the door of the high school.
Even though we were invisible, the teens seemed nervous. The girl was casting little glances at her date, who was busy wiping his palms, repeatedly, down his suit pants.
Narrowed her gaze.
With a snap, a glittery path tore through the air, the arrow disintegrating with a burst of light through the boy’s tie.
She smirked over her shoulder toward me. I was stunned. I’d never experienced the arrows like that. I’d imagined what it would be like to study their power for myself, to witness the shock of the enchantment. I’d devoured all of the material and studied more than I would ever admit. Now, right before my eyes, love was beginning to unfold. The punch of my heart seemed to chase the next shot.
Phoebe placed a second arrow against the silver wire and brought the girl into her sights. The arrow flew and disappeared. Magic.
The teens held each other for a long time, admiring each other’s faces, kissing and murmuring affectionate obsessions. The whole thing was amazing, really. Two humans who hadn’t even reached adulthood, who’d barely started to learn about life, and they’d already found their soul mate. In Lakefield, Wisconsin, of all places. I grinned and set my quiver between my feet to steady it.
“That was intense,” I said.
Phoebe sat on the curb with an absent shrug of her thin shoulder. Above us, the sky was black and overcast in spots.
“I’m going to check out the school,” I said.
“Patience,” Phoebe said.
I hesitated, feeling charged, not patient. Her black hair fell over one eye as she leaned forward over her knees. She was plugged into The Hive, scanning statuses from home and flipping through photos. I didn’t have the luxury of zoning out yet. I still had my arrows.
A girl’s voice. I straightened a bit too quickly, knocking my quiver to the side in my haste. Phoebe looked up with one side of her mouth smiling.
“Steady now, stud,” she said.
My face burned, but I couldn’t let attention from a junior goddess distract me. With a steel-like grip on my bow, I watched the girl and her date amble toward the parking lot. If their profiles were in line with arrow protocol, they would soon claim their destiny as my first match.
I stared evenly into Phoebe’s eyes. “Give me the passcode and I’ll download their profiles.”
She half-laughed. “Profiles? No one actually uses those, Aaryn.”
“What do you mean?” Music filled the silence. “You’re serious?”
Phoebe nodded. “Dead.”
“But how will I know if they’re compatible for each other?”
“You won’t know. It’s called a shortcut. Now hurry up and shoot before they get too far.”
I thought about the shy couple she’d shot minutes earlier, my stomach dropping as I wondered what if?
What if they hadn’t been totally compatible?
What if the girl had planned to leave Lakefield, or was secretly in love with someone else?
Too late now.
I hesitated, then reached for an arrow. In my hand, the tube glowed brightly, a steady, vibrant orange. “Hey, check this out,” I said, showing Phoebe. “Ever seen an arrow lit up like this before it’s shot? Yours didn’t look like this.”
“It’s fine,” she said.
Had she even looked?
The girl’s voice grew closer, closer, and then she and her date came into view underneath the powerful parking lot light. She wore a pale pink dress that melted into her skin tone, her hair a mass of loose, tumbly curls. She tripped a little, falling against the guy, some idiot wearing a suit coat and baseball cap, a real romantic. Phoebe stood up and edged beside me. The light from my arrow cast shadows beneath her eyes.
“Do it,” she urged.
The boy’s voice carried into the darkness. “God, you’re sexy,” he said. He lured the girl against him, massaging her back as they kissed, his hands creeping lower and lower until they curved over her ass.
I closed one eye. Everything around me blurred except the girl. The moment I’d waited for had come. The metal between my fingers, glowing, the power to change someone’s life forever. My chest felt like it was going to explode.
I let go.
The arrow melted into the girl’s back, a bull’s eye shot. The effect was immediate. She gasped when the kiss ended and gazed into Cap Boy’s eyes. Smiled softly. I knew the enchantment was working and grabbed for my last arrow.
“What the hell –” I held the arrow up. It wasn’t glowing. I shook it, like that might help. “How’d this get in here?”
“Huh, that’s weird,” Phoebe said. She took the blunt arrow and slid the end against her finger, her face serious.
“Yeah, very weird,” I said.
First no passcode, and now a useless practice arrow? Was she trying to sabotage my first night on purpose? I froze as Cap Boy began to lead his lovesick date into the back of a pick-up truck, closing the door of the topper behind them.
“We have to go back for an arrow,” I said.
Instantaneously, our eyes met as we scanned The Hive for the arrow ration house site. Focus hours of operation.
I was seven minutes too late.
“Dammit!” I threw the blunt arrow toward the gutter where it bounced against the concrete. “How the hell could this happen?”
“You didn’t let your pack out of your sight, right?” Phoebe said.
I held my breath. I couldn’t tell her who I’d seen outside the ration house. Who I thought I’d seen.
My mother had been gone for so long, it had been a total shock to think I’d spotted her outside the ration house, even though there was nothing good for us to talk about anyways. Why had I even noticed her? What had made me jog into the crowd? Years of confusion? Embarrassment? Still. My pack hadn’t been left unattended for more than a few minutes.
“I swear, I kept it with me the whole time,” I answered.
Phoebe sighed. “Fantastic,” she said.
The girl was laughing again. She was a silhouette in the topper window, her dress coming over her head, her curves black shadows. I couldn’t stop staring. My neck began to tighten as I wondered how much of what was happening was her own choice.
“She seems easy,” Phoebe noted.
As their make-out session got hotter, time seemed to slow.
“Dad’s gonna kill me if he finds out,” I said.
The couple came together, kissing, God knows where his hands were, and then they disappeared from sight.
“Listen,” Phoebe said. She grabbed my hand and squeezed. “No one has to know about this. We’re going to keep what happened tonight between us. Got it?” Her grip was strong. Stimulating. Overpowering. I wanted to pull away, but I didn’t
“There has to be a way to fix this,” I said.
She rolled her eyes. “God, you’re naïve. First year cupids totally kill me, you know that? You’re all so damn optimistic.”
“I’m going to tell Dad what happened,” I said.
“No! Aaryn, stop and think for a minute. If you say something, we’ll both fail the assignment, and my GPA is already shit. Don’t screw me on this. Do you really want to fail your first arrow assignment?”
I stiffened. “Of course not.”
“Then do what I say. No one has to know.”
I glanced toward the truck, but the windows were empty, a lot like I was beginning to feel. “Okay,” I said. “Tonight never happened.”
“Besides.” Phoebe moved beside me and slid her hair behind her ears. Her gauge earrings made her beautiful face seem fierce. “Not everyone gets their happy ending.”
I hated that her comment made me think of my parents. I glared at the ground and tried to forget her statement, tried to forget the idea that my mother had returned to Mount Olympus. I swear she’d been there.
I set my jaw.
Months ago, when Dad had told me Mom left, I had no idea she’d planned to disappear for years. I had no idea he’d meant our family was broken indefinitely.
“We have to get out of here,” Phoebe said.
I was still staring at the truck when she grabbed my fist and yanked. Within seconds, we had sliced through the atmosphere and returned to Mount Olympus, fog-breath shifting around our feet. Unlike earth, there were no trees at home, a place where the contrast of greens and browns and sunsets didn’t exist. My home was white. Cream. Silver. Golden. The land of the gods.
“Chaz and a bunch of the others are meeting up at his place after assignments,” Phoebe said. Her emerald eyes held mine. “Want to head over there?”
Could she really forget the whole night that easily? I swallowed, but my throat felt thick. “I’m going to stay in.”
“More studying?” Phoebe teased.
“I’m exhausted,” I said.
She rolled her eyes playfully and began to walk down the white corridor, sandals clipping into the distance. I couldn’t stop thinking about the girl, the truck, that guy with the cap, everything. I walked up to my bedroom doorway and shoved the velvet curtain aside. I should tell Dad.
I threw my empty quiver against the wall. Tore my t-shirt over my head. Phoebe was right. I didn’t want to fail my first assignment.
I stared at the marble floor, trying not to care, staring so hard the range of colors blurred. I pushed the entire disaster of what had happened out of my mind. I would not think about the girl. Or the secret. I would not think about my mother. Phoebe had nailed it.
Happy endings were definitely overrated.
Email: melissa (at) peaceandprojects (dot) com
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