The reader is told that the Temple of Artemis closes at midnight and it’s now 11:52.
The narrator apologizes to the snake-headed girl in the UNC Chapel Hill sweatshirt who’s cleaning the statue of Artemis. She’s waiting for someone. Not that she has an appointment. She tells the reader she just knows the other person will come.
When the other woman shows up, it’s clear she’s another version of herself. The narrator’s husband—or maybe former husband—entreated a god to bring her to life after he sculpted her from marble. But something went wrong, and the other woman is here, in the temple of Artemis.
This is an intriguing retelling of the Pygmalion myth from Galatea’s point of view. I enjoyed the classical allusions, though I have to admit, a Gorgon cleaning a temple is pointless even if it is cute. While it’s never worked out, there is the assumption that temples to classical deities dot the North Carolina landscape. Is this an alternative universe, did the old gods never go away, or has there been a latter-day revival? It doesn’t matter. The reader accepts things as they are and happily goes along for the ride. It’s not important.
What is important is what’s happening between the two non-snake-headed women. This is a touching and thoughtful piece. I liked it.
According to the author’s blurb, author Caroline Diorio is a student at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her short fiction has appeared on The NoSleep Podcast. Her Meredith College Athletics Profile notes that she ran a personal best in 2018. An “interesting bit” note is that she “loves to write.”
The story can be read here.
Title: “The Raleigh Temple of Artemis”
Author: Caroline Diorio
First published: Daily Science Fiction, September 30, 2019