Weekly Shorts

Story of the Week

The title of this week’s story is …

Electra and the Shrew

By Brenda Short

Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels.com

It was an October day that started off warm and balmy, but with a surprising change in the weather mid-afternoon.  The clouds rolled in and the temperature plunged.  Within an hour, the day had changed from pleasant to threatening.  It was soon apparent that there was to be a storm and by that time the wind was stripping what was left of the dying leaves and blowing them all over the meadow.

The sky became ominously dark, portending a hurricane, or even a tornado.  The wind was howling outside, rattling the windowpanes, and sneaking in through every crack and crevice, whistling around the house.  This storm had been building now since suppertime and although a blazing fire crackled in the hearth, a chill was in the air.  Luckily, nobody had to go out that night and the animals were safely housed in the barn.

Lightning flashed and sizzled across the meadow, illuminating everything in an unholy grey light, and the sound of thunder was coming increasingly closer.  But… no rain as yet. 

The children were gathered around the fireplace, enjoying its warmth, and relaxing with their toys.  It would soon be time for bed, but they wouldn’t sleep well, if at all.  The storm was relentless and was building in intensity.  The parents knew that it was futile to take the children upstairs and had decided to bed them down in the living room, until the storm had passed over.

Suddenly there was a knock at the door.  The father jumped up and shrugged his shoulders, giving his wife a puzzled look but decided that it must have been a downed branch blown against the door.  He sat down again to play with his children and keep them calm, but moments later, there was another knock at the door, this time more insistent and unmistakeable.  Who would be out on a night like this? 

The father opened the door and let the storm inside for a moment.  There was a tiny woman standing on the stoop.  Her hair was wild, blowing around in the wind and her clothing was torn.  She was barefoot and obviously half frozen.  He ushered her inside without asking any questions of her.  She was a woman after all and needed shelter.  What harm was there in admitting her into his family home?

His sent his wife into the kitchen to prepare a hot meal for this stranger and she went grudgingly, taking the least tender part of the meat, and the vegetables that the children had left on their plates.  This was not the best of the meal that they had enjoyed just hours before to celebrate and give thanks for the harvest.  Who was this woman and why should they feed her, she thought?  

The father took this waif over to sit beside the fire and warm herself, but as he touched her hand, he felt a sizzling energy run through his fingers.  He dropped her hand and shook off the feeling, thinking that it was the cold in her body that caused this sensation.

The children were instantly mesmerized by her eyes, as she stared at them without blinking.  The youngest immediately climbed upon her knee and leaned into her breast.  When the horrified mother tried to pry him away, she too received a shock in her fingers, but this time, enough to throw her across the room.  The other children were soon at the stranger’s feet, clinging to her legs and they too, could not be coaxed to leave her.

The mother ran to her husband and pleaded with him to put this woman outside, back into the storm.  She was upset that her children seemed to be mesmerized by this stranger.  What was she doing to them?  What kind of hold did she have that would prevent them from leaving her side?

The father thought to do as his wife asked, but his conscience troubled him.  How could he put this woman outside when she would most likely perish in the storm?  If she would let the children go to their mother, he said, everything would be alright.  But the stranger just screamed a blood-curdling scream and his wife collapsed to her knees in fright.

Moments later, the stranger pointed her finger at the wife, accusing her of callousness and mean spirit, and a bolt of lightning flashed forth and hit her in the chest.  She fell unconscious and lay on the floor drooling, her sanity gone.  The stranger then pointed at the husband and warned him not to approach her or face the consequences.  He had been kind to her, she told him, and she would spare him, but his wife was a shrew, spiteful and mean.  She did not deserve these beautiful, unspoilt children.

She rose up from her seat on the hearth of the fireplace and morphed into another form.  Her hair was black as night and full and glossy.  Her clothes were replaced by robes of richest velvet and gave off small flashes of electricity.  She was beautiful beyond belief and that is what had lured the children to her, as they could see beyond her matted hair and rags, but there was an underlying power in her façade that was undeniable.

The children melted into the folds of her skirt never to be seen again by their father.  She left the man with tears streaming down his face, his children gone and his wife an imbecile, because of her uncharitable personality.  The stranger glided towards the door, which opened in front of her, sparks escaping from her hair and gown.  Outside, the storm had abated and it was as if it had never been.  She disappeared into the night…Electra, goddess of the storm.

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