2
min

Metamorphosis

Image of Sophie

Sophie

18 readings

1 vote

In competition

Antiopa couldn’t breathe.
She writhed within the thin membrane holding her, unable to determine what was her and what had been her body, a thick soup which held her, constricting, and shifting and drowning. She could not think, could not rationalize anything but the thought that this was wrong, something had gone wrong-
Antiopa woke up with a sharp intake of breath. She tried to laugh, to calm the beatings of her restless heart. It’s all right, she told herself.
As she went to get a drink of water, she saw the chrysalises outside, pulsing with inner lights.
Maybe I should move back in with my parents, she mused.

Nobody really knew why it - Metamorphosis - had started, but it had begun when Antiopa was just a child. Something in the water, adults would grumble. Something in the ground, others would say. Still others would treat it as a sign from something divine, that they had been chosen - as a curse or a blessing, none were sure.
The teenagers, though? They just thought it was cool.
Antiopa remembered how her aunt, Melissa, had talked about it. Melissa had been sixteen - or was it seventeen? Eighteen? - and awestruck by the idea of metamorphosing. She had once pointed out those who had transformed to Antiopa (“look at them! They look like they’re glowing, don’t they?”), smiling with the wondering grin of someone seeing who they thought they’d become.
Antiopa remembered, too, the rotting stench when she discovered a crack in her aunt’s chrysalis, a crevice that grew to gape like a yawning mouth and regurgitate a soup of flesh, only the wet tissue-paper wings left as evidence of what Melissa had dreamed of becoming.

Antiopa had fallen in love with Pearl their freshman year of high school, and wanted to stay in the feeling forever. Love felt like flying - not fluttering on gossamer wings, tossed aside by even a slight breeze like the Metamorphosed, but soaring, powerful, like a bird. Pearl’s smile was what did it - small, secret things they were, rare, that felt like blessings.
When Pearl had transformed, it felt as if she was disappearing, forever.

Antiopa had gone to see her, once, when she was beginning the process. Her skin was peeling off, revealing something glassy and shimmering, encasing her. Antiopa had begged her to stop, to try to stop it, even simply from willpower, but Pearl had only looked at her, glazed eyes and a careless grin, and laughed at her. You knew it would happen eventually!
Grow up, Annie!

Pearl was back now, but Antiopa didn’t recognize her. The journey to and from the chrysalis had changed her, in a way that was more substantial than her newly delicate limbs, her newly slim body. More substantial by far than the almost imperceptible glow that came from her, or the diaphanous wings giving her the power of flight.
“I miss you,” Antiopa had wept, scared if she clung to her, Pearl would rip like sheer fabric.
“I missed you too.”
Her eyes had been as deep and dark as a starless night, but Antiopa saw nothing in them but her own reflection.

Antiopa sat, drank her water, and looked out the window at the chrysalises. Their glows lit up the cold night.
She thought of her aunt, whose remnants had seeped out like blood from a wound.
She thought of Pearl, who she no longer knew.
She thought of all the other Metamorphosed, careless and beautiful and flying.
She thought of how all her friends had already changed, entered themselves and emerged as something she was terrified of becoming.
Grow up, Annie.

When Antiopa woke up that morning, something felt different.
A shifting, crawling, feeling, beneath her skin.
Tissue-paper, gossamer, glass.
Nothing at all.
She smiled, and readied herself to transform.

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Image of Katla Ignis
Katla Ignis · ago
I love that you jump right into the story, you don’t stop for explainations. When Pearl transforms, it really adds emotion to the story. All in all, I think this was a very creative idea!
I think you would enjoy my story, “Do You See Me?”. The link to it is here: https://short-edition.com/en/story/3-min/do-you-see-me

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Image of Sophie
Sophie · ago
Thank you! I enjoyed reading your story!
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Image of Not-Only But-Also Riley
Not-Only But-Also Riley · ago
This is a great concept, and you've really managed to pull it off. The idea of humans literally transforming is already a good one, but I especially like how this story brings into question whether that transformation is something to be desired or feared. The paragraph where you repeat "She thought..." feels exceptionally strong to me, and really drives the story into that ending with a bang. That said, I do wonder if maybe the ending would hit harder if the dream sequence at the beginning were not there. I feel like excluding it might make it all the more surprising that Antiopa is going through the metamorphosis at the end. Then again, you might not have been going for surprising, in which case it works fine as it is. I also absolutely love the name for your main character, which I went ahead and looked up, assuming you chose it for a reason. Overall, this is some great work. I was expecting something Kafkaesque and, in a way, you've more than delivered.
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Image of Sophie
Sophie · ago
Thank you so much!!!
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