“THROUGH me you pass into the city of woe: Through me you pass into eternal pain: Through me among the people lost for aye. Justice the founder of my fabric moved: To rear me was the task of Power divine, Supremest Wisdom, and primeval Love. Before me things create were none, save things Eternal, and eternal I endure. All hope abandon, ye who enter here.” – The Divine Comedy, The Inferno (Canto III. Lines 1 -9).
“Abandon all hope? How can this be right? I didn’t kill anyone and I was no pervert. I stood for my political office. I did what I had to do,” Ker said.
“How do you know it was the right cause?”
“Well, I just do.”
“What about those you hurt along the way? Your wife, Meredith, who now rests in Heaven’s fold? You’re here at the gates of Hell at the river Acheron for a reason,” the wise Charon told Ker.
“I didn’t mean to hurt her, to use her to get where I needed to go. I loved her, but I didn’t mean to leave her. I prayed and I apologized. I admitted my sins to a priest in confession. Yet, here I am in Hell at the Traitors’ Gate, why here?”
Charon sighed and whisked the regretful Ker’s soul into the boat. “I wonder Ker, where Midas will send you? Will you be in the eighth circle as a corrupt politician or the ninth circle for being a traitor to your wife, to your family? Will you spend eternity ‘a Judas?'”
Ker shook his head, “This is nothing but a dream. Dante’s Inferno does not exist. I won’t abandon hope, I won’t. Meredith is not dead and I’m not really here.”
“But you did stop hoping and you’re a traitor so now you face the Traitors’ Gates. You are one of them and that’s why this gate is where you will enter into the ninth circle of Hell.”
“What?! I’m so sorry, I mean it. I repent. I’ll do better and change my ways. Tell me this is just a dream, let me have another chance.”
Charon chuckled and shook his head wearily.”It seems someone up high is fighting for your soul, Ker, I don’t why because your soul is pitch black. Yet, you will have another chance. Remember you won’t get another.”
Ker awakes suddenly whispering pleading prayers in words of Latin and Ancient Greek. He doesn’t know why he understands these prayers to God, but he does. Ker attempts to pick up his smartphone nearby but feels terrible pain whenever he moves.
Then, his beautiful Meredith walks in the hospital room door. “Meredith? I thought you were dead. That you would never speak to me again. I thought you were in Heaven and I was in Hell, I dreamt it.”
Meredith smiled at Ker with love despite how he had treated her recently: “Who do you think asked God to give you a second chance? I gave up eternity for a later time, hoping you will be there with when I return. Now you must fulfill your promises made in front of Charon.”
“So, can you change, Ker? Can you stop being a traitor and fight for ‘the good’ in this world? Can you fight for me, for us, for our family?” Meredith asked.
Ker was just grateful to be alive. He swore to do better in life, in love, and he did.
Welcome to the monthly Fairy Tale writing prompt hosted by MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie. This month’s prompt is to write a fairytale about the following picture:
Daphne was tired of being stuck as a laurel tree. Thousands of years ago, she had begged her father, the river god Peneus, to save her from Apollo’s lust; he turned her into a special tree.
Long ago she had sworn to be a virgin forever. She had begged her father to allow her to remain a free nymph. To not have to marry and birth him grandchildren. He was a kind god and had allowed his beloved daughter to remain pure.
Daphne had always loved the woods and found serenity within the forrest. But after many years being stuck in it, the woods had become a cage to her. The laurel tree she was locked in was a prison and Daphne quietly loathed Eros who had sent Apollo after her in love, when Apollo had mocked Eros.
Eros had hit Apollo with an arrow of gold so he fell in love with Daphne. Like wise, Eros hit Daphne with an arrow of lead, so she would despise Apollo and be repelled by him. Nevertheless, Apollo visited Daphne to this day, swearing his love towards her millanias later. Her hate for Apollo had mellowed over time, although, she wouldn’t admit this to Apollo yet.
He came often to admire her beauty even as a tree. He used some of her thinner branches and leaves to weave himself a crown of laurels, to remind himself of his love for Daphne; that this love still grew within him daily. He would replace a worn out and dried crown with a fresh one each time he visited.
Though Apollo had many duties, he seemed to be appearing more often to see Daphne this last half-millennia. She drew her womanly figure out of her laurel tree to see him whenever he came. She had become more excited to see him over the last few hundred-years. Daphne looked forward to talking with him each visit.
A friendship had developed and the sworn virgin Daphne was feeling things she had never felt before. Had Eros changed his mind and hit her with a golden arrow after all this time? Or had it been so long, his arrow of led had faded and no longer effected her. If so why did Apollo’s arrow of gold not fade? Why did he still love her?
She had wondered this out loud today and Apollo laughed at her thoughts. His attractive face was timeless and beautiful.
“It’s love Daph. It doesn’t fade if it’s real. If it’s true love it’s always there. At times I’ve been frustrated with you, about our situation and you being stuck in a laurel tree. It frustrates me you wanting to remain chaste. But even when I find I’m angry at you, the next time I see you we talk and my anger disappears. It doesn’t matter if you’re stuck in a tree, I love you anyways.”
Daphne smiled through the tree.”Look at you declaring your love to me through thousands of years unchanging. Though you yourself haven’t been chaste at all. It surprises me with all you have to do, that you come and see me without fail, these days often.”
“Well, I think you’re returning my feelings finally; you’ve mellowed and I see you blush when I visit.”
“Trees don’t blush Apollo.”
“Ah Daphne, you do indeed blush. I always take good care of you, so I know you well. I’ve played you many songs on my lute and I ensure the sunlight hits you just right. I keep the plague and disease from you, though it effect the humans and other parts of nature. I heal you if such disease affects you. But what I can’t do is change your form and release you from the laurel tree, if you still detest me.” Apollo sad this last line sadly.
“You’ve tried?” Daphne asked. “I wouldn’t have wanted you to, even a few hundred-years-ago. But I grow weary of this form and it’s obstacles. I grow weary of a forrest I cannot move around and maintain. I wish to be a nymph again.”
“Yes, dearest I know. I want that too.”
“Would you force me?” Daphne asked Apollo. “Take me into your bed right away, no gentleness? Would you impregnate me right away?”
Apollo shook his head. “Daph, after all these millenias you know me better than that. I’m not the lust-filled boy-god who would’ve had you without a second thought. I’ve spent thousands of years trying to get you to like me, to see beyond my faults, such as my lust. It’s not merely lust I feel for you. I love you, the real you. The nymph I’ve gotten to know so well. That’s why I have your crown upon my head. Why I play you beautiful music and take special care of you. I’d take specialcare with you in my bed as well,” Apollo added with a sly grin.
“I know, but I’m afraid, Apollo. I’ve been a laurel tree so long. And before that I wanted to be on my own, no man or god to tie me down. You’ve grown on me, inch by inch, each passing year. The lead arrow in me is gone. I’m not immune to you anymore. I feel strongly for you, something I’ve never felt before. I think it’s love, is it? You would know you’re the god of truth?”
Apollo trailed his hand down Daphne’s body in the tree.”You feel it, I know. Yes, I do see the truth, in your eyes, in your relaxed form. At last you love me too. You never even came out of the tree in your female form for many years. Perhaps now I can you heal you?”
“Yes, I think so. Our love is powerful beyond the mistakes of the past.” Apollo held his hand to Daphne’s cheek and she felt a warmth surge throughout her entire body, tree and nymph.
“Apollo, I feel your powers. My tree limbs, my leaves, they’re melting away.”
He said nothing, to busy concentrating on healing Daphne. She closed her eyes enjoying his hand on her cheek and the warmth suffusing her body. Daphne fell into a deep sleep and when she awoke again she was a nymph.
She looked at her hands, her face in the river. Her beauty had returned and her father would be proud, for he would have grandchildren soon. She looked around her for Apollo and found the god fast asleep. Healing her into her natural form had drained him greatly of his powers. She snuggled against him laying down beneath his arm, and they both slept.
When they awoke, three-hundred-years had passed. Apollo had had to regenerate his powers so he sealed himself and Daphne together, hidden from human and god eyes alike, so he could sleep and be with Daphne in the future.
He felt her shaking him awake. “Apollo, get up. You need to wake up, we’ve slept many centuries. You’re needed to do use your skills and gifts.”
Apollo lazily opened his eyes and grasped Daphne pulling her down for a deep kiss. It was the first between them and one of only many. They were a devoted couple from then on in, for as long as gods and humans existed.