In the third and final installment of his series inspired by Greek mythology, Themal Ellawala gives an engaging account from the perspective of Daphne, a nymph who was pursued by the god Apollo. His piece depicts the internal conflict of one who has discovered the destructive power of desire, and the challenge involved in overcoming it. Read “Dear Apollo” below.
I am done.
I can no longer be undone. By you.
You wish to pursue me? I will flee you, on feet as swift and sure as the west wind, a gazelle outrunning the bane of its existence.
Once, the thought of leaving you would have cleaved my soul. Once, my bleak days and aching nights were sacrificed to the thought of your return.
You, you consumed me. To move on, I allowed everything else to devour my mind, my time, my life. And now, I am untouchable. Our roles are reversed, I am the god, not you. I am divine, distant and transcendental, on a pedestal as high and vast as the firmament, forever beyond your mortal reach.
I stood my ground, steeled myself and faced every thought of you. Every memory, every plan and fantasy that featured you. I purged my soul and cast these, your parting gifts, into the abyss of oblivion.
I schooled my heart to stay calm at the sight of you, tamed the primal tidal wave to a ripple, slow and steady, and then nothing.
The pulsing emptiness inside of me I learned to ignore, fill up with the banalities of daily life. The yearning for moments that never could be faded. My sight, blinded by the brilliance of your aura, adjusted to the dull hues of my solitary life.
I am happy.
You cannot, will not change that.
I dare not look back for fear of faltering. You are as nimble as I remember, confident, sure-footed and always behind me. Is there ever any escaping you?
I will stop.
I am stunned. I stumble. A leaden numbness grips my sweat sheened limbs in a death-like vice.
I need armor, layers and layers of defenses to shield myself from the piercing heat of your gaze. Bark creeps up my body in a pattern of gnarled fate, encasing me, smothering me, and turning my flushed skin rough.
My scalp tingles, and the wild tangle of my hair curls at the memory of your caress. It grows, lush and plentiful, into leaves of laurel green.
My fingers twitch at the remembrance of our twined hands, yours encasing mine in a soft eternal hold. My arms yearn to reach out to you, and as they do they turn still and wooden, branches spread out to the heavens in supplication.
My feet, as sure as the west wind, a gazelle but moments ago, still. Roots push forth and snake through the ground, rendering me motionless.
My lips still tingle from your stolen kiss. My eyes battle between staring at the ground and paying homage to your face. As this eternal war ensues, my face is lost in a canopy of leaves.
I am here.
I am not here.
I am different, yet still so much the same when it comes to you.
There is no escaping you.
Swing that axe and smite me,
Or hug me in a timeless embrace, the warmth of which I still have not forgotten.
Do what you will with me.
I am yours.
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