Death will not be allowed to touch her.
There is a prior claim.

This is what it means to be loved by a god.

When darkness rises to enfold her
like a new coat
nebulae rise too, galaxies in their thousands,
the stars dance around her in newborn orbits.

She thinks she will dance with them endlessly
it is all she ever hoped for,
that heaven might be a place of dancing,
all the dancing that was taken from her,
month by year, symptom by heartbreak,
not stolen, only misplaced, and just
for her feet to step into the pattern
to continue the interrupted conversation

They settle upon her, the stars.
They find their places.
They button up her new coat of night.
They crown her brow, spangle her ears
define the position of each limb

the curving reach of her arm
the tips of her toes en pointe

outlining with immortal precision
the moment in which a god best loved her.

She becomes the equal of Cassiopeia
no one, not even a queen, may look down upon her
fixed among the stars for all to behold by night
and remember
as they remember Andromeda in her moment of
despair, limbs splayed, spread-eagled, in chains,
as they remember the Gorgon, fatally abridged, reduced
to an accessory
in the constellation that bears her slayer’s name

her gaze defanged, its old and terrible power
for each member of that austere company
is already fixed eternally in place

unmoving exhibits
in a cosmic gallery of divine remembrance

The stars have their stately rounds unending
but the constellations do not dance.
She will never dance again.

This is what it means to have been loved by a god.

[Originally from New Orleans, Nicole J. LeBoeuf lives in Boulder, Colorado where, when she isn’t writing, she skates roller derby under the name Fleur de Beast. Short stories by Nicole J. LeBoeuf have appeared in the anthology Blood and Other Cravings, the magazine Nameless Digest, and the podcasts Tales to Terrify and Toasted Cake. She blogs at nicolejleboeuf.com and publishes very short fiction four times monthly for her subscribers at patreon.com/NicoleJLeBoeuf.]