I worked on these out of order but chose not to post them until I had completed all of them. Some I like, some I don’t, but it was a nice writing exercise.
I say we do this again, Jubilare.
1. Make up a constellation and write a brief story about it.
In which I end up writing a fairy tale.
Look over there! Do you see them? The twin stars that are just beginning to shine at the edge of the twilight? Let me tell you their story:
There once was a maiden who lived in a tower on an island in the Mediterranean. Her father was a soldier for the king, and he had brought his family to reside in the watch tower that was the first defense for the kingdom. The soldier’s family lived within the tower, and his fellow guardsmen lived below.
Naturally, the girl fell in love with one of the soldiers under her father’s command, and when her father found out, he sent his daughter’s lover away, for he thought his daughter was still too young to know her heart, and he judged the young man she loved harshly.
And the Goddess of Love heard the pleas of the maiden.
The young man returned to the mainland and made a name for himself. He rose in the army’s ranks, and when the kingdom went to war, the soldier won glory and honor by saving the son of the king.
And the God of War heard the pleas of the soldier.
The soldier returned to the watch tower on the island for the maiden, but it was too late. The maiden was to be married to another, an old, rich merchant.
The soldier knew that if his love was lost to this merchant, then he would die of a broken heart, so he sent a letter to the maiden and begged her to run away with him. But the letter was found by the maiden’s father. The father locked his daughter high in the tower, and then he sent a false reply to the soldier to convince him that the maiden had refused him in favor of the merchant.
The soldier returned to war with a broken heart and a broken spirit. On the battlefield he fell.
The maiden married the merchant, but at the wedding feast her husband suffered a violent death. The maiden was accused of poisoning her husband by the merchant’s family, and still clad in her wedding garments, she was led outside the city gates and stoned.
On the battlefield, the soldier lay forgotten by his brothers. His blood soaked the ground, and the breath of life was escaping him when the Goddess of Love appeared at his side. She kissed him, and his wounds were healed, his strength restored.
Outside the city, the God of War knelt beside the maiden. He took her hand, and life returned to her bruised and battered body. He spoke calm words to her, words he had learned from the Goddess of Love, and he led her away from her distress.
The Goddess of Love spoke of honor and valor, words she had learned from her lover, the God of War. And she brought the soldier to his love.
Reunited, the soldier and the maiden claimed each other for their own. With the blessings of the gods, they left the kingdom and set out into the world. And when their adventures were over, and they approached death together a second time, the God of War and the Goddess of Love remembered them, and the soldier and his love took their place among the stars.
And they will shine until the end of time.
I was inspired to write this after I read about the Maiden’s Tower in Istanbul, Turkey. I will be returning to Istanbul this summer, for a visit, and one of the places I’m interested in seeing is the Maiden’s Tower.
There are two legends surrounding the Maiden’s Tower. One is rather like the story of Sleeping Beauty–an Ottoman princess was destined to die from a snake bite. So her father did what any father would do and locked her away in a tower. But on her 18th birthday, her father brought the princess a basket of fruit, and she was killed when a snake hidden in the basket bit her.
The Maiden’s Tower is also called Leander’s Tower because it was mistaken for the tower in the story of Hero and Leander. Hero was a priestess of Aphrodite who fell in love with Leander. He would swim to her tower every night, and Hero would light a lantern to show him the way. One night there was a storm that blew out Hero’s lantern. Leander drowned, and Hero threw herself off the tower.
When I started writing this, I originally was going to rewrite Hero’s story, but I just hated it. So after three tries, I wrote the story above. Which I also don’t like, but I like a little better than what I was trying to write.