Daphne ran through the forest, nimbly skipping over protruding tree roots, skimming under low hanging branches, zigging and zagging as she ran. No matter how fast she ran, or how elusive the maneuvers she performed the man pursuing her kept pace. He seemed he might catch her. He could not catch her. Daphne’s mind raced faster than her feet, trying to find her escape. If he caught her, he would take her most prized possession, the one she intended to keep, the one she had sworn she would protect.
Something moved a short distance in front of her. She veered to avoid contact, but it moved with her. Through the leaves, she saw a face she recognized, Cupid. She screamed when he raised his bow and aimed it at her. Cupid didn’t waver his bow followed her then slowed, he shifted his aim to her pursuer and let the arrow fly. Daphne heard the impact, but he didn’t cry out, instead he only ran faster. Her eyes searched the forest for Cupid, who smiled wryly, and bowed with a flourish. Daphne, betrayed.
Closer now, Daphne knew it was only moments until the predator captured his prey. Her strength spent, fearing her future, she cried out once more to implore the power of Peneus her father.
“Destroy the beauty that has injured me, or change the body that destroys my life.”*
No sooner had the words escaped her lips, than her feet extended tendrils into the soil. The breath of her pursuer hot upon her neck, his hand reaching, nearly touching her hip, she screamed in silence. His hands would never touch her soft, supple skin, only the layer of bark growing to encase her, to protect her. Her fingers sprouted leaves, her arms became branches, her flowing hair shimmered with leaves as her forward progress, twisted and turned, rooting her to the ground where she made her final plea.
Transformed, her treasure safe, the beauty of Daphne reinterpreted as laurel. Still her pursuer wanted more. He laced her leaves into a wreath he wore upon his head and from laurel wood he fashioned his lute and his bow. He vowed that as his tree she would be evergreen.
The laurel bent her boughs and acquiesced to her defeat.
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer