Based off: I'm Ready by Niykee Heaton
Love is dead, and I was on my way to dying. My eyes blurred as my head hit the ground, the energy almost completely drained out of me. Through my fading vision I could see the silhouette of my boyfriend walking away from me, probably to get something sharp to finish the job with. I don’t know how it had happened, he had never been violent before; it was like he just snapped. I thought we were having a light hearted argument, and then he started screaming. He was so loud, screaming and yelling and spit flying, veins popping, face going red.
My head felt like it was filled with cement and the kitchen was water. My throat burned, and the bruises everywhere on me burned and stung. I couldn’t even gather enough energy to cry out in pain. The only thing that seemed to work was my mind. I was thinking a mile a minute, how he was going to kill me, how he was going to end it, how he was going to get rid of me.
I prayed. I was never a religious person, I couldn’t believe a god was out there and allowed all the hatred and this destruction. But in my final moments, I decided to pray. Pray that I didn’t become a number, a statistic. Pray that I would be remembered, that I would be missed. Pray that maybe, just maybe, I don’t die tonight.
And someone heard.
She came like moonlight, cold light shining almost outwards of her. A small girl, maybe 10 years old, was standing in the doorway of our apartment. She looked at me, broken and bleeding on the floor, tears seeping from my puffed up eyes. Then she looked at Aaron. Standing three feet away, bruised and bloodied knuckles wrapped tightly around the handle of a knife. My parents had given us that knife set, where we told them we had bought an apartment.
“Who the hell are you?” Aaron asked. He looked at the girl threateningly and for some reason a chilling sense of foreboding washed over me. I didn’t know how, but I know that he shouldn’t have talked to her that way.
“You do not know me, boy,” she bit out scathingly, “and I pity all who know such a poisonous person; if you can even be called that.”
I was losing consciousness, and I didn’t want to. I was scared. Scared the little girl wouldn’t be able to help me, scared Aaron would kill me and then her. Scared that Aaron might kill some other innocent woman.
“Who the fuck do you think you are little girl,” Aaron growled, wobbling closer to her. His four beers were getting to him, and he was starting to waver as much as me.
“Don’t you dare,” she hissed standing up taller. “Ever talk to a woman like that. Don’t you dare,” she reminded me of the cat I had found was I was a kid, hissing and spitting, defending her young. “Ever touch a woman again. You do not deserve anything but death, and I shall give it to you.” Her words started to leave her mouth, echoing around the room, swimming all around me, lulling me to sleep.
I woke up in what looked like a room. Except the walls were cloth, and the ground felt like grass. And I could move. I could see, and I could hear, and my body no longer felt covered in aches and scratches and bruises. I lifted my head, looking around. I was in a tent, but it was the fanciest tent I had ever seen. There were thick rugs covering the floor, comfortable chairs placed around the large space. There was also a fireplace, somehow.
And the girl. The girl from my apartment. I was in a tent, with a strange girl who found me while my boyfriend was about to kill me. I had so many questions and yet I did not know how to phrase any of them. I don’t think I’d even be able to say thank you.
She glanced at me, eyes searching for something, scanning my face. Her eyes I then realized were silver, like the glow of a star. That’s an odd thing to compare it to but it
“Don’t try to talk, my child,” the girl said. She didn’t sound like a girl. She sounded old, like she had seen civilizations rise and fall and rise again. “I know what you want to say, I know you have much to ask, but there are some things you must understand before I can answer your questions. May I continue?” I nodded my head. “I am Artemis, goddess of the hunt, of chastity, of the moon. I find girls, just like you, who have been wronged by men, and I make them my companions. I give them eternal life in exchange for a vow of chastity, a vow to never be intimate with a man. Do you understand?”
I nodded numbly. I had learned about Artemis in school, in one of my history classes. It was a brief lesson of all the gods, and if she was real then all the others were real. And I believed her. She somehow got me away from Aaron, healed me, and has a fireplace in her tent. I can buy her being an immortal millenia old goddess of the hunt.
“Do you pledge to follow me, from hunt to hunt, day to day?” I nodded. “Do you pledge to uphold your vow of abstinence?” I nodded. “It is done,” she finished. At first I didn’t feel any different, but then it was like my senses sharpened. Like I was watching a 1080p video. Like I could see movements before they came. I could smell everything so much better. The tent smelt like the forest, and hot chocolate. I could hear feathers rustling outside, a swish of a tail and people walking around, quietly murmuring to each other.
And I could see. Oh, I could see the different shades of silver in Artemis’ eyes, the coldness and the warmth buried deep underneath.
“Rise child, there is much for you to learn.”
I was born for this, as I later discovered over the years. Everything that made me me had been repressed, by Aaron, by my parents, by the people I thought loved me. There was only the Hunters, and Artemis. They were my real family, they cherished me. They valued me. And I valued them. We travelled everywhere together, hunting monsters. Both myth and real. We killed monsters who prayed on humans, mostly on females. We saved them, As I had been saved.
This is what I was born for. Feet pounding into the ground, my breath coming out in short pants. Wind ripping through my hair, pulling at any loose strands. My hands on my bow, feeling the feathers on the arrows. This is what it was to be free, to be fully you, with nobody there to censor any part of you they didn’t like.
Sometimes I missed love, romantic love, but then I remembered. I remembered Aaron, and the one before that, and all the others we stumbled upon. Angie’s Mike. Penny’s Jared. Sasha, David. He was the worst. Because he did not value Sasha. He did not uphold his promise, to love her, to care for her, and only her. Because he was fucking other girls behind her back, while she worked hard all day so they could spend their days together.
Artemis turned him into a jackalope. We hunted him down, and I could see the fear in his eyes. He did not understand what was happening. He died not knowing why he died.
I was born for this. The wind, the freedom, the truth, the hunt.