The torch is the only light in a sea of darkness, and the goddess holding it stands in its glow, beautiful and terrible in the way of goddesses, her hair the same gold as the flame, her dress a marvelous white. She waits, knowing they will come because they always come—there is always someone wanting something, needing a door unlocked, a path revealed.


She turns. This is not who she expected, and she does not invite him into the circle of light, nor would he come if she did.

“It’s mine by rights,” he says.

“I need it for my work.”

They stand on either side of the light, and she peers at him, past the flame and into the eyes that are the color of an oncoming storm.

“You cannot keep it,” he tells her.

“I only look to borrow it,” she says.

Even in the shadows, she can sense his frown. “For how long?”

“. . . Indefinitely.”

He reaches for her, but she is too canny to be caught. She inverts the torch, extinguishing the fire, and before he can lay hands on her, she runs.

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