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 soon finished her orison and opened
her eyes, her thick lashes brushing against the skin beneath her brow. Her long

golden curls fell gracefully down her back as she stood, glowing in the early morning light that shone through
the pillars of the Temple of Athena. She allowed herself a moment to admire the grandeur of the
temple, the pearly white columns that stood proudly around the building. The most
impressive aspect of the temple was probably the statue of Athena herself that sat in the
center of the floor: the goddess was seated on a grand throne, her skin glowing white, her
helmet, spear, and shield painted gold. Her eyes were what drew Medusa’s attention every time
she looked upon the statue: they were a piercing blue that seemed to embody the sharpness
and wit that was Athena, almost as if the statue were the goddess herself staring back at
Medusa. She forced herself to look away from the statue, having gotten lost in the dazzling sight
of Athena yet again. Medusa grabbed a bronze hydria sitting on a table a short distance from
the statue. Holding the vase by two of its three handles, she 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
She felt eyes on her before she saw them, the hair on the back of her neck rising
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 an elegant white toga that wrapped
around his right shoulder and his waist, held together by a gold belt, leaving his left-tanned
shoulder exposed, pairing everything with a simple pair of brown 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 deep sea-green eyes stared intently, determinedly, at Medusa. The look
on his face made her stomach twist unpleasantly, something about his smile made 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 smug grin spreading wider with
each word. The priestess turned her full attention towards him now, their eyes locking, green
meeting brown. 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 in her direction. 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 softness of her skin as they
glide over her body. Help me. His eyes held a glint that danced in his irises, the one that sent
unsettling chills down Medusa’s spine. Help me. His pupils are blown wide. Help me. The quick,
rhythmic grunts that erupted from his throat. Help me.
. . .
She didn’t let the tears fall until he was gone, the sun had already set. Medusa lay
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.
Her statue did not do her justice. 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
“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. All it had taken was one sentence, a handful of words, to destroy
everything she’d worked so hard for. A sentence that had seemed to come so easy to the
A soft hissing in Medusa’s ear interrupted her spiraling thoughts as she felt scales slither
down the back of her neck. Eyes wide, she 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,
and 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 a blood-curdling scream
that was building in her throat, scaring nearby birds into flight. Yet again, her vision blurred as
tears welled up in her eyes and she lacked the energy to even attempt to hold them in. Soon
enough, Medusa was fully sobbing by the riverside, letting out gasps with each ragged breath.
In two days, everything that she had worked for her whole life had been completely demolished
by two Olympians. Two days ago, standing in this exact spot beside the stream, Medusa was a
respected and devout priestess to Athena. Today, the thought of the goddess of wisdom caused
hatred to 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 was 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, rejects 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

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  • K

    K'LynnMay 21, 2024 at 12:22 pm

    I really love the lead of this prose

  • K

    K'LynnMay 21, 2024 at 12:19 pm

    I really like the lead of this Prose

  • A

    Ayesha ShahzadMay 21, 2024 at 11:55 am

    I found this piece to be really interesting. I really liked reading it as it was very imaginative and you can picture Medusa and the setting in your head as you read the story.