The Girl Who Could Light the Night

Zeus, son of Cronus and Rhea, was the most powerful god in all of Olympia. Though he was mighty, he was also weak at times and was very fond of marrying young mortal girls. Hera, his queen and wife, detested when he wandered off and intermixed with such maidens. 

One day, as he was wandering about on a small, verdant island, thick with lush greenery, he saw a very lovely young girl. Her name was Calla and she was humming sweetly as she danced with fluttering butterflies in an open meadow. Nearby was a stream of fresh water and flowers of every color of the rainbow were blooming everywhere. It was a magnificent sight worthy of being painted. Calla played freely, her diaphanous blue gown flowing in the lightly whirling, whispering wind. Every now and then she would yearn for something sweet to eat and pick the juicy blackberries that grow in abundance on the hedges that bordered the stream. Zeus stared longingly in awe of Calla as she daintily picked roses and chased exquisite birds. She grew tired after some time and laid down on the fresh green grass as gracefully and gently as a hummingbird’s feather floating to the ground. Calla looked up at the clear blue sky and gazed at the puffy white pillow-like clouds above her. She softly yawned, shifted slightly, and then slowly closed her eyes and fell into a peaceful rest. 

Zeus, seizing his chance, immediately transformed into a small but brilliant bird. He spread his saffron wings out to the sides, stretching them to their maximum, and soared directly onto the tip of Calla’s nose. He batted his wings with pleasure. From the sudden landing, Calla woke up in shock and her face became tense; however, as soon as she saw the resplendent bird perched on her nose, her face softened again and she instantly grew enchanted with the beautiful creature. Zeus, realizing that he had captured Calla’s affection, started fluttering away and Calla happily chased the bird for hours, just as the sunrise chases the dew off of flowers. When Zeus thought it was time to show Calla his true self, he became a bolt of light and with a flash, he burst into his godly form. Calla fell in deeper love with Zeus. 

Hera saw the bright burst and became suspicious. She spied Zeus with the mortal girl and was outraged. Hera transformed herself into a hawk and swooped toward the island with fury in her eyes and murder in her heart. She had had enough of the many lovers Zeus had, so she was determined to get rid of his new focus of attention forever. Hera landed and picked up a sharp rock in her beak and was about to hurl it at Calla to kill her when a ray of sunlight blinded her momentarily. She mistakenly misdirected the rock and it hit an innocent deer instead. The deer wailed in so much pain that its cries reached every corner of the island. It tried running away and as it hobbled along the green grass in agony, the gushes of blood pouring out of its body stained the meadow gruesomely dark red. Insects of every kind sensed the fresh blood and thirstily flew over to the newly slain deer to feast off of it. 

Hera’s eyes raged like balls of fire and angrily she chased after Calla, who ran away in fear from Hera, with more rocks gripped tightly in her pointy talons to throw at her. Calla had never been more terrified and quickly hid among the dense hedges. Hera lost sight of Calla and changed back into her goddess form. She caught a glimpse of her husband, who was hiding behind a tall tree, and scowled. Hera then tapped her foot and, startingly, the sun disappeared behind the clouds and the sky grew dismal. Zeus, ashamed, remained hidden and did nothing. The island continued to grow darker and darker by the minute. No longer could the lushness of the land be seen. Soon, it was almost pitch black. Blacker than the eyes of an evil snake.  Blacker than a night without stars. Blacker than the void in which the earth was created. Calla could not keep herself from shaking with terror. She wanted to flee but it was too dark to move even a single step. Hera’s footsteps were moving closer and closer; Calla’s heart was pounding faster and faster. The footsteps were even closer now. Calla glued her eyes shut, shutting herself off from the torture and waiting to die. She was frozen in fear and lost all hope. 

All of a sudden, a shot of light flashed towards Calla and struck her hard in the stomach. It was Zeus and not Hera who had thrust the bolt. “This is the end,” Calla told herself, as she started to feel unsteady. She fell to the ground and felt a strange tingle cycle through her body. Calla’s insides shook and shriveled up. From her now diminished head, which shrank to smaller than a marble, sprouted tall spindly antennas. Her once bright blue eyes faded away and became beady pools of blackness. Calla’s limbs stretched apart and separated into six legs. Out from her back sprouted scaly wings. The only thing that remained of her former self was her slenderness. Slowly, and to her huge surprise, Calla’s lower torso started to glow. It was faint at first but then in seconds she started radiating a beautiful, vibrant yellow color. It was so bright that despite the bleakness of the night, she could see everything and navigate herself away from Hera. Calla took advantage of her new form and ability and started flying away, shining her light when she needed to see and switching off her light to escape Hera’s vengeful eye. Zeus was pleased. The world brightened with Calla’s radiant glow and Zeus had created the world’s first firefly.

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