I haven't had much time for art lately. I have been too busy preparing for classes and grading tests and papers. Even my beloved camera is beginning to collect dust. This week, though, I played with a different art form as I wrote out a sample for my writing class. Enjoy this slanted version of the story of Pandora; my seventh graders did. :-)
The jar was so beautiful with the light shining through the alabaster. Dawn’s first rays crept through the window and across the sill like a delicate flower unfolding, inching up the curved sides until the whole jar was infused with a rosy glow. How could I know that it held such foulness inside? The colors were so lovely, so inviting. Surely the maker of the jar should have known that beauty of such a kind would kindle a desire to know what matching beauty was inside. I expected glistening jewels of deep color and fiery shine, or perhaps the rarest perfume to delight my senses—such a nice beginning to my dreary days of hunting down that lazy girl who never brings the water quickly and spinning the rough clumps of wool until my hands are raw. This beauty given me by Venus, my skin smooth like the marble at the temple, or white like the fleeting snow, what good does it do me here? Surely she would have been kinder to hold this gift back and not let it be so destroyed by all this work. My lyre hangs unused while the only strings I stroke are the ones I weave from those first rays of Apollo’s sun to the last. And all the while the jar beckoned to me, reminding me of the beautiful things I could have been surrounded by had I only been betrothed to one more favored by the gods. A man with great wealth and a home of delicately made wares would have been more suited to me, so carefully crafted by the gods. If there had been jewels in the jar wouldn’t it have been my right to adorn myself for my husband instead of letting them sit, wasted?
So I went to that one lovely thing, that one bit of fine workmanship in this stone hovel. The day, even, was fair and blue as Apollo’s chariot rose, the light glancing off the sea like sparkles of gold falling behind the horses. But even in that moment the gods conspired against me to create such burning curiosity in my soul. I savored my dreams as I extended my hand to remove the stopper. It was not even heavy as I drew it out. Shouldn’t such plagues have been held imprisoned with something of more substance than that? But the stopper lifted so gently, and, as I sat enchanted with my imaginings, a slow mist began to rise from the open neck.
At first it was pale. Then the color began to shift, to slither like a snake, up into the air until, for a moment, I thought it was a viper coming out and preparing to strike. Then, in the most horrible moment I could imagine, eyes opened in the vapor and looked at me with an icy cold. Arms raised upward and the wisp became a wraith, now grey, now black, swirling and twirling and dividing until there were suddenly two, then three, then ten, then thirty. Still shocked at such betrayal, I sat staring, as if held fast by Ariadne’s web until I felt the cold caress of a hand on my cheek. Pain poured over me, around me, even through me, like the water in the streams in spring. Terror took me then and I fled. Those shapes, those forms of things, laughed as they floated out through the windows, but it was not silver, tinkling laughter. It was the sound of bitterness as it bites and mayhem as it mocks, the laughter of everything evil and I knew betrayal stood among those wraiths.
Now even the trial of that lazy girl would be a blessing to me. As I go to fetch the water the people point at me in accusation, but they would have done the same. How could anyone stand in that moment against the temptation of the gods or have thought to put the stopper back? Epimetheus didn’t warn me. Surely he knew and yet he never said a word. Now he looks at me as if I were a curse from Jupiter himself and my eyes, once blue like the Aegean, are now as red as my raw, raw hands. But I know that one day they will forget; time will wash away their memories as the water washes away the sands. Some day, when I am old one child will look on me with pity, or with kindness even, and ask if he can draw my water. People will treat me with kindness again and remember my beauty. I still have hope.