Image of Short Story
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.