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Winter's Snowflake This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   One day Zeus became particularly bored with his life on Mount Olympus. He was tired of dining on breads and fruits and drinking sweet nectar. He was tired of being waited on hand and foot and not being left alone for a single fleeting moment. Most of all, he was tired of the endless list of demands. As the Chief God, he had to solve every problem there was. Aphrodite and Persephone were squabbling over a young mortal boy; Demeter was protesting that eight months was too little time to spend with her daughter; and Hephaestus was in an uproar over Aphrodite's latest affair. Zeus decided that it was time to get away for a while. He settled down on a fluffy white cloud and had just begun planning a trip to the Earth when he spotted the most beautiful creature in all the world.

"What an essence of beauty!" Zeus proclaimed as he peered down at the lovely young mortal.

By a crystal blue river sat the fairest maiden Zeus had ever set eyes on. Framing her face was long flowing hair with gentle waves draping far below her delicate shoulders. It was the golden color of the wheat born from the Earth in Demeter's happiest hours. Her skin was a glowing ivory color and her features appeared to have been carved by a sculptor with some magical talent. Her lips were wet, luscious and colored like the bold hue of the mulberries hanging on a nearby bush. She pouted slightly, and Zeus long to rush down and kiss her.

"I believe I am in love," he sighed transforming himself into a snow-white dove. He flew down to the girl, landing softly by her feet. At first, she was unaware of him for she was admiring her reflection in the sparkling blue water.

"Oh, what a magnificent bird!" she exclaimed taking notice of him. "You are beautiful like I am, and you will therefore be my pet."

Zeus was taken aback by her conceit, but her beauty compelled him to pursue her. As she scooped him up in her arms, he changed back into his true form.

"Oh, my," she gasped surprised by this sudden transformation. Then she noticed his rippling muscles and glorious appearance and was drawn to him. "You are more handsome than any mortal," she murmured.

"I am Zeus, the God of Gods," he bellowed, "and I am captivated by your beauty. I wish to take you to the island of Crete. The children from our union will be as stunning as you and I."

The young maiden, whose name was Winter, was made breathless by this awesome being. She gladly followed him as he led her to his majestic chariot. Two black stallions with sparkling coats stood ready for his command. They hastened to the island of Crete where Zeus conjured up a fog to surround the island and hide their actions from wandering eyes up above. Then he seduced the girl on the beach amidst the rolling waves.

Hera, Zeus' wife, however, was not fooled. She had been sitting on her throne looking down at the Earth when she noticed the fog-covered island. It seemed odd on such a beautifully sunny day, so she sent Eurus, the East Wind, to blow the mist from the island. When she did, Hera discovered the two lovers.

"Well, what do we have here?" she gasped.

Zeus was unable to think of a good excuse for his newest affair. This made Hera even more enraged. She extended her long, slender finger and pointed it at Winter, turning her into a hideous old hag. Then, she turned and glared at Zeus.

"You will take this pitiful creature to her home and then come home to me immediately," she commanded as she marched away.

"I feel different," Winter cried fingering her hair.

Zeus looked at her pityingly. Indeed she was different. He silky hair was coarse and gray, and her lovely ivory skin was wrinkled with age. Dark circles surrounded her once-brilliant eyes. They rode home in silence. As Zeus dropped her off at her home, he gave her some directions.

"I will be back at midnight to change you back into your true form," he explained.

"My, my true form?" Winter questioned.

"There is no time for explanations," Zeus bellowed, "but whatever you do, do not look into the mirror!" With this warning, he left.

Winter was shocked by his words. Did she really look different? She had understood his instructions, but her curiosity overcame her. She ran into the house and glanced into the nearest looking glass. The reflection that stared back at her made her scream in terror. She crumpled to the ground and died.

When Zeus returned that night, he found the dead girl. He transformed her wretched body into the beautiful figure it had once been.

"It is a pity," he said solemnly, "that she was so obsessed with her outward appearance."

Still, he had loved her so he gave the Earth a symbol of his love for her. This symbol is the snowflake. It floats to the ground with grace and style: each one is splendid and beautiful. However, when you try to hold a snowflake in your hand, it melts into nothingness. This is a reminder to man that while beauty can be admired, it can fade away without a moment's warning. e




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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