A is for Apollo
There are two things you need to know for today's post: first, one of the lifetimes of the two souls in my WIP takes place in Ancient Greece, and Apollo is a main character in that story; and second, in Greek mythology, Apollo is as unlucky in love as he is active in it. My story begins with the idea that Apollo, heart-broken, has sworn off ALL love affairs. And then, of course, he catches a glimpse the second main character.
Here's the bit of brainstorming I wrote, imagining how this encounter might have gone. I posted the first paragraph of this a while ago, and am posting the rest, with all standard disclaimers (this is unedited and unfinished; it might never make it into the final book; it also might stink):
The first time Apollo saw him, it was in a curving glance of golden light: his limbs bending up the long grass, each fine thread of muscle and sinew coiling with life; his hair black and wind-blown in the first drawn breaths of dawn. Swift and easy he raced up the shadowed slope, chasing after the flickering white tails of his herd. The god stilled his hand on the chariot and the horses reared back in plumes of flame, and the sun settled its burning arms low on the rim of the world, and so the day began with wildfire and black smoke instead of the rushing stream of rose he had intended.
The second time Apollo saw him, his eyes keen and hungry on the flame-scarred hills, it was only the barest sliver of sight: one perfect leg, olive-skinned and muscled, disappearing behind the low door of a humble shepherd’s cottage. Apollo could have pierced the walls with his gaze, turning the mud and stone into nothing more than silvering glass, but his hands jerked the reins and the steeds plunged below the sky, and the day ended as abruptly as it had begun.
The third, fourth, and fifth times Apollo saw him, the horses flew so swiftly, driven by the strange mood of their master, that the youth was only the glimmer of a waking dream, faint and flawless in the pouring onslaught of light, and the people far below wondered at the shattering new speed with which the sun rose and set.
The sixth time Apollo saw him, it was a concession to the burning silhouettes of leg and cheek and breast that chased him through the long, empty hours between his duties. He left his chariot behind and climbed the packed earth and the crackling, dried grasses on his own two feet, and crested the highest of the hills to find the youth draped in sun-kissed glory beside his flock, eyes shuttered, lashes long and thick on his soft, beardless cheeks. Asleep, he was even more beautiful than awake, with the heated sheen of blood pulsing through his skin; mortal; frail; breath-taking. Apollo stood and watched the thrum of his heart as it beat under his breast, so still that the circling birds forgot he was a god, mercurial and threatening, and lighted on his shoulders and his head as if he were carved of the same marbled stone as the statues his worshippers had erected in his honor, far below in the crowded arms of the city. When the sleeping form stirred at last, Apollo fled his human shape and took to the skies, so that all the waking youth saw to mark his passing was the flash of a pure white wing as it caught an updraft of air, and disappeared into the high, endless blue above him.
The seventh time Apollo saw him, blush-bitten and speechless, draped in the soft robes of the novitiate, it was long after the god had made sure he would never have to count the sightings again.