The Literary Magazine of Westwood High School


The Literary Magazine of Westwood High School


The Literary Magazine of Westwood High School


How Medusa Came to Be

Medusa kneeled on the cold stone floor of the temple, the thin cloth of her dress unable to keep her shins warm as she prayed. Hands clasped together, eyes closed, she called out to the goddess Athena. Her patron god. Her world. Medusa had devoted her life to the goddess of wisdom, becoming a priestess of Athena with pride and relished in the glory that was the protection of a goddess. Or so she thought. The priestess finished her orison and opened her eyes, her thick lashes brushing against the skin beneath her brow. As she stood, her long golden curls fell gracefully down her back, glowing in the early morning light that shone through the Temple of Athena. Medusa grabbed the bronze hydria, holding the vase by two of its three handles and began making her way to the nearby stream to collect water for that morning’s service. Once completing the short walk to the stream, Medusa bent down to scoop water into the hydria but paused as the air shifted around her.
She felt eyes on her before she saw them, the hair on the back of her neck raising unsettlingly. Medusa turned over her shoulder to find Poseidon, the god of the sea, staring at her intently from under a nearby tree. He was wearing a white toga that wrapped around his right shoulder and his waist, leaving his tanned left shoulder exposed, as well as a simple pair of sandals. On his luscious, dark brown hair sat a gold leaf crown, somehow still shining even under the shade from the leaves above. The gaze of his bright blue eyes pierced through Medusa, the look on his face made her stomach twist unpleasantly as well, something about his smile making her wary. In spite of this feeling, the priestess attempted a polite smile and began to return to the previous task at hand. Or she tried to, at least.

“My my, you’re even more beautiful up close.” the god said, his grin spreading wider with each word. The priestess turned her attention towards him now, their eyes locking. She was the first to break, glancing nervously at the vase still in her hands.

“Thank you, my lord.” Medusa replied with a slight bow of her head, purposeful of keeping her tone even and resigned. A bead of sweat was building above her brow. She didn’t wipe it.

Poseidon’s eyes grazed over her body, looking her up and down, unabashed. The feeling in her stomach tightened. She stood there in silence, not knowing what to do next in fear of displeasing the god. After what seemed like far too long, Poseidon started making his way towards Medusa, stepping unhurriedly towards her. She felt a jolt of fear rush down her spine, urging her to run, to flee, to get away from the god before her. The closer he got, the more intense that feeling became. Her thoughts were racing through her mind, chasing each other in chaotic circles, unable to decide on a course of action. Medusa was running out of time.
The next thing she knew, she was running. Her legs brought her to where she felt safest; Athena’s Temple. Who else than one of the 3 maiden goddesses to protect her from the unwanted attention of Poseidon, a god that she’s always despised? Who else than Athena, the deity that Medusa worshiped with her whole being, to step in and defend one of her most devout priestesses? These were the thoughts that were running through Medusa’s head, her chin tilted up towards the decoratively chiseled concrete of the temple’s roof as she fought the tears that were threatening to escape her eyes. She called out to Athena, desperate and scared, begging her to stop Poseidon. Help me. His grin, all teeth, surrounded by the dark stubble around his mouth and lining his jaw. Help me. His calloused fingers contrast with the soft of her skin as they glide over her body. Help me. His eyes, the deepest, truest blue. The glint that danced in his irises, the one that sent unsettling chills down Medusa’s spine. Help me. His pupils blown wide. Help me. The quick, rhythmic grunts that erupted from his throat. Help me.

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          She didn’t let the tears fall until he was gone, the sun having already set. Medusa layed there against the wall, feeling limp and weak, like a bird that had broken its wings. She felt numb, the only real thing being the warmth of her tears as they fell down the sides of her face. Her mind was blank and empty, a fire run out of wood, a river run dry. How dare she be left in this body, this blood, flesh, and bone, that was no longer her own? How could Athena have left her there, helpless, to the whims of that merciless god? The tears were flowing quickly now, consistently in motion, one after the other.
Medusa only stopped crying hours later, when her eyes ran dry and simply couldn’t produce any more tears. She didn’t sleep at all that night, tossing and turning until the sun rose again, signaling the new day. Once she arrived at the temple that morning, she found someone there to greet her; Athena herself. Without a second thought, Medusa immediately dropped to her knees at the goddess’ feet. Relief washed over her. ‘Finally’ she thought, ‘finally she has come to save me.’

“Rise, Medusa.” Athena said in a stern voice. When the priestess stood, she was able to fully
take in the appearance of the goddess before her.

Athena was more stunning than anything Medusa had ever seen, her dirty blonde hair draped over her shoulders from under the gold helmet that sat on her head. The goddess wore a white toga with a gold belt around her center and several gold arm bands up and down each arm. Clasped at Athena’s shoulders hung a red cape, creating a sort of background behind the goddess. She stood with her chin held high and her shoulders back, her presence simply commanding respect from anything and everything around her. However, the look in her stormy gray eyes was cold and unforgiving. Medusa tensed ever so slightly.

“How dare you, one of my own priestesses, break your vow and give yourself to a man and
defile my temple? As punishment, I will make sure that no man can ever look at you again, lest
they be turned to stone. You will live in isolation away from the world of men forever.” And with
that, she vanished into thin air, leaving Medusa in shambles, her whole life having crumbled to
her feet in a pile of rubble.
A soft hissing in her ear interrupted her thoughts as she felt scales slither down the back of her neck. Eyes wide, Medusa raced to the stream to take a glimpse at her reflection. Once she reached the bank, Medusa peered into the water. Staring back at her was a hideous monster; her previously golden hair was now a pile of snakes, writhing in different directions, attached to her scalp. The whites of her eyes had turned an unnatural shade of yellow, her irises now nonexistent, leaving her pupils two black slits in the center of a sea of yellow. As Medusa took in her appearance, paired with what Athena had said to her mere moments earlier, anger,
betrayal, and hurt flashed in her stomach, spreading to her limbs, rapidly consuming her body. She was drowning in it, emotion suffocating her, wrapping its meaty hands around her throat until she couldn’t breathe. Medusa let out the blood-curdling scream that was building in her throat, scaring nearby birds into flight. Yet again, tears welled up in her eyes and she lacked the energy to even attempt to hold them in. Soon enough, Medusa was full blown sobbing by the riverside. In two days, everything that she had worked for her whole life had been completely demolished by two Olympians. Two days ago, Medusa was a respected, devout priestess to Athena. Today, the thought of the goddess of wisdom made hatred bubble in her stomach, making its way up her throat and into her mouth, leaving a bitter taste on her tongue. Medusa’s tears only fed the blooming rage she now felt for the gods. She was thirsty for vengeance.

Despite the fact that Medusa had devoted her life to Athena and would’ve spent the rest of her life worshiping the goddess, despite the fact that Poseidon had violated her and her body against her will, it was still she who was punished. The mortal stuck between two angry gods, a mere pawn that had been carelessly sacrificed in the Olympian game of chess. Who was Medusa, a mere mortal, to reject Poseidon’s advances? Who was she to expect Athena’s sympathy? The lesson that she has learned is this: don’t ever believe yourself to be equal to the gods.

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