Lili Masoudi, Union County Vocational-Technical School

 

     Selene works the night shift. After Helios is finished blazing his trail of glory, she boards a silver chariot and whispers to the stars. She is sleek, understated. She doesn’t need to say as much as Helios does. Her job is done while the world sleeps. She assumes she likes it that way. She’s never really stopped to think about it. 

     Sometimes, there is a nymph moon bathing as she travels by or a holy animal still grazing. These sightings make her nights a little interesting, but only once in a while. Most nights, no one really cares about the moon, frail and useless compared to the sun. The difference between night and day is that the day needs the sun; the night is dark on its own, with its own stars for light. The moon is just an accessory. 

     Secretly, Selene is the awe of the palace. The lesser gods prefer her chill shimmer to her brother’s brazen heat, though they would never dare say it. She doesn’t say much at all. She is respected, admired from afar, but not valued. Not like the rest of them, anyway. 

     Selene knows of Artemis. Everyone knows everyone in this immortal world. Artemis is the better moon goddess. She has more free will. She knows who she is, who she wants to be, where she’s going, even though she’s still young. The only path Selene knows is the one she traces every night. She is divine in the sky, but to stick to the ground would make her lost as any peasant mortal. Artemis has better things to do than fall in love or drive the moon for an audience of none or have her heart broken by the king of the gods. She is not ancient, but she will be soon. And Selene will just watch and drive and watch and become old instead of ancient. She won’t be remembered in legend for very long. 

     Selene catches her reflection in brushstrokes of starlight. During the day, she is the envy of all, but at night, there are no mirrors on her obsidian walls to see herself in. What does she know about herself? When she sees her own face tonight, she does not recognize the endless hair like coastlines of black sand, the narrow platinum eyes, skin of marble and lips of brick. Her shell is impermeable, protected by cursed divinity. She tries to imagine what she would look like if she could choose, tries to see herself while everything else blurs together, but the reflection is gone. She is passing over parched plains that darkness pummels instead of enchants. This is mortal land. 

     Helios is allowed to delay. He visits his children and flirts with nymphs and explores the world along the way, but Selene cannot linger. She is the metronome of eons, the intermission to Helios’ eternal symphony. There is no audience to witness her silence. It is not in the stars for her to veer away. But she is starting to notice patterns in seas and stars. Tonight, the world is sculpted with sharper tools. 

     Tonight, for the first time, she passes over Crete and looks. She flies close to Gibraltar and looks. She does a figure eight above the head of one lone farmer and looks straight into his eyes. Now that she looks, she sees the world snapping into focus, and she enjoys the view. She cruises until pink nudges the horizon, and the last specks of stardust settle on Mount Olympus. 

     Selene knows the fate she is beholden to. She feels the gazes of sea gods upon her as she descends over her brother’s palace. She will have to live here for eternity, ride her chariot for eternity, with no “until” to speak of. But if the cycle breaks for one night in one billion millennia, that is enough for her. So as her chariot streaks down the mountain, she opens her hands and eyes and mouth, and she laughs for no one but herself.