Seven Stars

2 Conversations

"Shining can be pretty dull, you know. Living in an eternal night, and being miles away from everything I ever held dear. That is, except my sisters. I really don't believe that the Gods couldn't have done better than this."

"People back home don't really believe in them anymore. Its not a polytheistic society now. Well, not in most of the world, anyway."

"I always knew it wouldn't last. Real people are so very stupid sometimes, aren't they? Oops! I'm sorry, I was forgetting. And you have done so well to get out here, also. Did it take long?"

"A little while. The Gods?"

"Oh yes. Electra told Athena it couldn't last, and I think that Merope told Zeus or someone. But did they listen? Have they ever? It serves them right in a way, but some of them were nice. Especially Apollo. We all fancied him, when we were little."


"My sisters and I. You know: Electra, Sterope, Merope, Taÿgete, Alcyone, Celaeno and myself, Maia. The Pleiades. Daughters of Atlas and the sea nymph, Pleïone. Don't tell me you didn't know who I meant!"

"I did. Of course I did, Maia. But my readers aren't as well versed in Greek mythology. But I'm sorry, my talking to you proves its not really mythology, doesn't it."

"Yes, it does. But that's okay. I don't suppose people have believed in us for years. Its rather sad to me, really. Well, once, children in school learned about me. But I suppose time passes. How long is it that I've been shining for now? Its not at all a glamorous life, I can assure you. So very dull. Oh well. There's no place for me on Earth, I bet. Not that I have an opportunity to go back there. In this state I'd probably destroy it. I was so surprised on my journey here to see that Earth was a ball. A lovely blue ball that I lived on. Quite different from anything I'd ever learned. Mind you, its not as if my teachers had a chance to see it from space. If you look over there you can just about see it. My favourite view. I always look at it before I would have gone to sleep on Earth. Before I was sent here. I suppose they did do it for the best, but I wish there had been another way..."

"Could you please tell us what they did exactly, and why?... The readers..."

"Yes, the readers. Are they very powerful, now? Instead of Gods?"

"No, I think you've misunderstood me. Since you have been gone, things called magazines have been invented. They are like scrolls, with words in, that the humans read. My job is to find things to write the words about- a writer. I'm writing about you."

"Oh, I see. Well anyway, my sisters and I were put here to escape Orion the hunter. We are doomed, as I think now, to always run away from him across the sky. He'll never catch us: we may as well quit. But we can't, of course. Doomed.

"Anyhow. When we were children, we were looked after by our mother. We hardly saw our father, Atlas. Shortly after we were born he was made to hold up the skies by someone, some God, even, or other. I've forgotten which. We did go and visit him, though. And once, when Heracles was performing those tasks of his, and held up the sky instead, he came to see us.

"When we came of age, at around 25, we became nymphs of Artemis, Goddess of hunting. I enjoyed working for her. She allowed us lots of freedom."

"25 seems a bit old for that, doesn't it?"

"Not when you're a Pleiad, like me. We are very long lived, and we always look young. I'm even longer lived now, of course.

"We all of us had boyfriends. They said that men could not look at us without falling in love. Now that's very nice if you fancy the man (or God) back, but if you don't, well it can definitely be a liability. You know, I'm ashamed to say now, although it seemed okay at the time, that we also had affairs with married men. Believe it or not, three of us are mothers of Zeus' children. Alcyone, Taÿgete and I. It was all right for Ally and me, but Taÿgete was seduced by him, and felt really ashamed of it afterwards."

"Why did it upset her so much? You and Alcyone were okay about it."

"She was our conscience, the responsible one, ever since we were children. Always when Electra and I were about to do something stupid, she stopped us from getting hurt or making fools of ourselves. If we were told to come for a meal or something, she was the one that got us there. We would always been thought of as really bad mannered brats if it hadn't been for her. She always felt responsible for the rest of us, so I suppose it was like she'd set us a bad example. She'd have made a good teacher, but nymphs don't do that kind of thing.

"But you should've seen her. She was just sat with her head on my shoulder, crying silently. It was really upsetting. Eventually I got Artemis to come and see if she could do anything for her. Artemis turned her into a doe. A beautiful creature she was. We petted her so much, and looked after her. After a while she was changed back, and she'd got over it by then, thankfully. I was so very worried about her. Her son was called Lacedaemon. After he'd been born, to thank Artemis for all she'd done, she found this doe with golden horns, and wrote the Goddess's name on the horn. Heracles had to catch this doe, also.

"My son by Zeus was Hermes. I didn't have charge of him, and I never got to know him. I regret it now, but what's a mother supposed to do when her son is a God and about three days after he's born leaves his cradle to invent the lyre? I was sad when he left, so Zeus gave me Arcas, Callisto's son, when she died. Arcas was nothing like my Hermes, and he resented my not being mortal like him. I suppose it is difficult getting older while your mother still looks like she's eighteen, always.

"Electra's son by Zeus was Dardanus. He was killed in the Trojan wars. It was a shame. I liked him. She also had Harmonia. Harmonia hated it whenever anyone argued, as Electra and I did, (and occasionally still do) regularly. She made us make it up each time."

"And your other sisters? Did they have children?"

"Of course. Alcyone went out with Poseidon (I didn't really like him, myself). I don't remember the names of her children- never really saw them much. But they became the Boetian race, eventually. Merope married Sisyphus of Corinth. She had mortal children, so we didn't know them. She is least bright among us now, because she's ashamed of having married a mortal.

"But how did you get set up here? You all seem to have been having busy being mothers."

"You forget so fast, you humans! I am a Pleiad. Pleiades are very long lived. After our children had grown up and their fathers gone, we went back to being nymphs of Artemis. People, well, men and Gods couldn't help falling in love with us, no matter how much we discouraged it. We knew we were better off just being with Artemis.

"Most of the men were nice, and left us alone when we asked, but one didn't. Orion. He really, really wanted us, so he came and lived and hunted near us. We became fed up with him, so we got Artemis' permission to move to a different part of the forest. However, Orion followed us and found us. So we moved again. And, when he found out, he followed us again. So, we moved again, or were going to, but he had started watching everything we did so he virtually chased us to our next home, where we managed to stay one night before he forced his way in. So, we ran for it."

"Why run? Why not just tell him to go?"

"We hated him, and we were petrified of what he might do to us. He was so big and strong, he towered over us. If I was ever scared of anyone, I was scared of him. Especially since we'd run from him before. Anyhow, we ran for it then, and managed to get ahead of him, but although we can run faster and further than mere mortals, Orion could out distance any of us. We ran on until we were really exhausted. I don't know what kept me going so far, but I knew I couldn't get any further, so I called to Artemis for help. I heard Celaeno calling also, and soon, she came."

"What did she do?"

"Seeing the problem, she decided that metamorphosis was the best idea. So, while running along, I suddenly found myself flying as a dove in the sky. It seems strange, but all I thought of just then was that trees look weird from the top.

"We flew up really high, and got as far away as possible. We flew for miles, but soon we heard the cry of a hawk from behind us. We all had one thought- some God or other must have changed Orion into a hawk to help him follow us. We all cooed."

"Cooed? You were calling for help by cooing?"

"Well, we had to. We couldn't scream. But happily for us then, Zeus heard us, and set us as stars in the sky."

"Saying it like that makes it sound pretty instantaneous."

"I know. It wasn't though, not at all."

"What was it like?"

"I felt like I was being slowly dragged away from Earth, and like Earth didn't want to give me up. As we got further away, I could see clouds swirling all about, and I suddenly realized how much bigger Earth was than I thought, and that it was a ball too. Now I'm much bigger than Earth myself. We got so far that Earth was just a small coin in the sky, here in fact, then I got bigger and hotter and became a star. We used to be brighter, but when Dardanus was killed we dimmed in grief. I'm over it now. I'm actually jealous of him now- he's in Elysian Fields now, where if I'd not become a star I would be now.

"At his death, Orion was put as a constellation, so that he could chase us into the sea that's supposed to be up here in the sky. I don't believe in it myself, we should have been there ages ago."

"Now what?"

"Now I just keep shining until I die. Stars even don't last forever, although we are very long lived. I think Merope may die soon in the life of a star. She's so very dim. When I die I go to Elysian Fields as a nymph, and live there for eternity. But shining can be pretty dull, you know. Thanks for breaking the monotony..."

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