Presenting the winners of the 2008 Worthington Libraries Teen Poetry and Short Story Competition. Madison Durham, the third place winner for middle school short story, reads "Lyca and the Lion."
There are very few words that can describe the chain of islands that reside in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Greece. These islands have attracted mankind for centuries. They, along with mainland Greece, were ruled by the gods. Zeus was the god of the skies. Hades was the god of the Underworld, and so on. The cooperation of all these gods was extremely important in maintaining peace. That, however, is another story. This story is about the god of the sea, Poseidon, and his daughter, Lyca.
One day, Poseidon was in his sea palace, headed to see his wife, Amphitrite, the Nereid (mermaid). Poseidon and Amphitrite had a son, named Triton. But, Amphitrite was not completely satisfied. She wanted a sweet, darling daughter to have and cherish forever. Poseidon did not have any notion of this secret ambition of Amphitrite's. So, as he swam down the hall, he stopped quite suddenly. He pressed his ear to Amphitrite's door. Emitting from the room was a shrill, high moan of despair.
"Oh, how I have longed for a baby girl," she sobbed.
"You shall wait no longer, my dearest one," he murmured to himself. He spun around and sped to the entrance to the palace, calling out orders that his chariot should be brought to him.
"Where are you headed, sire?" questioned a servant.
"To my brother's house," Poseidon answered grimly, his demeanor slipping quickly. He shook his head ever so slightly.
"Off to Olympus!" he bellowed grandly. From a topmost tower of the palace, Amphitrite watched with glee as Poseidon took off. She giggled in happiness. Her husband was way too easy to manipulate.
Poseidon entered the palace nervously. He was standing before a painting of himself when Zeus came around the corner. Zeus's eyes widened, and he embraced Poseidon in a huge bear hug.
"Brother! What brings you here? A visit? Do you have a problem perhaps? Or did you just miss me too much!" he inquired jovially.
"Actually, I'm here to see...um...Hera," Poseidon murmured uncomfortably. Zeus raised his eyebrows, and then turned to call Hera. Before he could, Hera glided into the room. Her soft skirts rustled as she slid across the room, catlike in every aspect. She watched Poseidon in wry amusement.
"What?" she hissed irritably.
"Well..." Poseidon began.
"Let me guess," she growled softly, "You need a baby?" Poseidon nodded meekly in agreement, "Nereid, I presume? It shall be done within three days' time." She glided away, silently as she had come.
"Goodbye, brother," Poseidon said weakly. With a pop, he vanished.
"Don't I love family reunions," Zeus scoffed.
As Hera had foretold it, Lyca was born. She grew up proud and strong-willed, to her mother's delight. Her father, however, disapproved of her wild ways. Knowing this, Lyca tried even harder to spite him. She stayed away when he brought suitors to the palace, and did her best to make sure he was mad. As fate would have it, this would turn out to be a bad arrangement for both Lyca and her father.
So, one day Lyca was swimming along the shoreline, which happened to be a favorite pastime of hers. Suddenly, a flash of tawny yellow fur caught her eye. Peering closer into the bracken that lined the beach, she caught sight of a creature with a long golden mane and huge, amber eyes. Intrigued, she stopped to watch it. Suddenly, it leapt out of the brambles and roared ever so loudly. Lyca laughed in delight.
"My name is Leon," the lion growled, flicking his tail from side to side.
"I'm Lyca," she grinned. Then, the lion took off down the beach. He stopped about one hundred yards away, his eyes begging to be chased. Laughing melodiously, Lyca gave chase, excited by this new game.
Farther along the shoreline, a very angry-looking Poseidon made his way down the beach. As he neared the water, he heard Lyca laughing farther down the beach. He took up his trident, and headed for the sound. When he reached her, he was shocked to find her with, of all things, a lion. Furious, he threw the trident at the lion as it stood with Lyca in the shallows. The throw was powerful, and succeeded in piercing the hearts of both Lyca and the lion. They crumbled to ashes as soon as the trident pierced them. Horrified, Poseidon took the ashes to his friend, Hermes. He tried to revive them, but the process went horribly wrong. A mangled creature with two paws and a tail slithered away, leaving Poseidon and Hermes to puzzle over the cause of the creature. Poseidon swore Hermes to secrecy, and, ashamed, fled the scene.
Lyca swam home, her paws hanging uselessly by her sides as she struggled to move her tail.
Everything hurt, especially her chest. There was a large scar across it, sealing her broken heart into her chest. She desperately missed her lion. She sobbed all the way to the palace. Once there, she bolted quickly to her mother's chambers. Amphitrite did not recognize her, so changed was her look.
"Mother, it's me," Lyca rasped feebly, her voice barely above a whisper. Amphitrite embraced her daughter wordlessly stroking her ragged and matted hair softly. A single tear fell from Amphitrite's eye. It worked its way into her daughter's fur.
Suddenly, a bright light surrounded Lyca. Her mother cried out as Lyca's body was lifted into the air. There was a flash of blinding blue light, and then silence. When Amphitrite peered at Lyca again, she gasped in amazement. Standing before her were two creatures of great beauty. Each had the torso of a lion, and the tail of a Nereid. Also, one of them had a long, flowing mane. Lyca and Leon looked at each other amazedly, and immediately their broken hearts mended. Excitement written all over them, they looked expectantly at Amphitrite. She smiled sadly, and then gestured towards the door. Lyca licked her mother's face, and then swam away, excited by the prospect of her new life. She had no limitations. There was no one to judge her actions. She was allowed to go with Leon. She was finally allowed to be free. And that is exactly what she did.
3rd Place, Middle School Short Story
2008 Worthington Libraries Teen Poetry and Short Story Competition
See all the winners of the Worthington Libraries Teen Poetry and Short Story Competition!