Eos the Lighthearted 1 The Dawn EOS, THE GODDESS OF THE dawn, fluttered into the sky on feathery white wings. Her bright, saffron-colored robe, its hem embroidered with lovely blue flowers, ruffled in the breeze as she moved up and up, preparing to bring forth the morning. A lighthearted inner joy filled her, as it always did at this moment. In mere seconds she would share some of that joy with the world around her.
High above her, Nyx, the goddess of the night, stood in her horse-drawn chariot reeling in her magical cape. Both girls were twelve years old, but though the same age, they were pretty much opposites. Dawn and darkness. Yet they’d become good friends.
Nyx’s dark cape and the plum-colored gown she wore were studded with stars that twinkled and flashed as she expertly tugged her cape down from the heavens. Her clever hands worked fast, folding the rapidly shrinking cape to make it smaller and smaller. Once it was the size of a sandwich, she would pocket it. Her nightly job completed, she would then go home to sleep in the Underworld.
Eos felt her heart clench at the mere thought of that deep and gloomy place underground. And a familiar “sad-mad” feeling that had nothing to do with Nyx welled up inside her. As always, Eos quickly squashed that feeling before it could swallow her happiness.
Then, aware that Nyx’s cape was nearly folded now, she brought her attention back to the task at hand. It was almost time for her to take over from her friend to bring forth the dawn!
Nyx looked down, and the girls’ eyes caught. Eos grinned and wiggled her rosy fingers in a wave that caused long, squiggly lines of pink vapor to drift outward from her fingertips.
“Was it a good night?” Eos called up.
“Yes, thanks!” Nyx called back. “Also, I have big news! There’s finally going to be . . .” Her attention wandered from her folding, and she made a wrinkle. She paused to smooth it, then went on breathlessly, “Sorry. I’d better keep my mind on what I’m doing. I’ll toss down the notescroll I wrote you when I finish with my cape. It’ll explain.”
“Pink!” Eos called back, which was her word for “cool.” “Can’t wait to read it!” What could the news be? she wondered. Since the two girls worked opposite schedules, their interactions were brief, and they never had much time to actually chat. It would be weird for the world if darkness and dawn lingered together too long. So mostly they communicated through the notescrolls they tossed each other as Nyx was leaving for bed and Eos was beginning her day.
Speaking of beginning her day, she really needed to get a move on! Graceful as a dancer, Eos raised both arms over her head. With gentle flicks of her wrists she sent glistening rays of pink, purple, and orange to fan out along the horizon. While she worked, she swayed from side to side, sometimes twirling with happiness as she sent out her colors to paint the sky with the misty, drifting hues of dawn.
Though she performed this same action every day, she never grew tired of it. In fact, the satisfaction she got from watching her colors spread was her greatest joy in life. (This was a feeling Nyx understood, since she did something sort of similar with the aid of her cape.)
Eos loved to imagine her colorful dawn filling all beings who were awake to see it with energy and hope for the new day ahead. Not that everyone was an early riser like her, of course. But in her opinion, late risers were really missing out!
Nyx had finished folding her cape, and now she slipped it into the pocket of her gown. “Time to head for home, Erebus,” she called to her swift and loyal horse. He gave a whinny and then took off, mane flying. As Erebus swooped past Eos, Nyx reached over the side of her purple-and-gold chariot and tossed the notescroll.
“Have a good day!” she called to Eos. “Hope you can come!”
“Hope you can come”? What was that all about? Eos wondered. Too busy with her work to catch the scroll just then, she watched it drop to the ground far beneath her. She took careful note of its approximate location, planning to retrieve it after her work was at an end.
About twenty minutes later, her older brother, Helios, appeared in the eastern sky. Crowned with the corona of the sun, he stood tall in his chariot, skillfully guiding his fiery horses. His purple robes billowed out behind him. It was his job to carry the sun across the sky each day. And his appearance meant that her brief duty was nearly done.
Eos gave one last happy twirl. Then, with ballerina-like movements, she gracefully lowered her arms. Slowly she crossed them over her chest, her fingers pulling in the last of her misty, colorful vapor. Her job complete, the dawn now faded to a faint pink glow that eased into the blue sky of morning.
From start to finish her dawn-making never took more than thirty minutes. That was only a fraction of the time that her brother’s and Nyx’s jobs took. Or her sister Selene’s job, for Selene was goddess of the moon. Half an hour was perfect, really. Because if creating dawn had taken much longer, Eos would’ve had a hard time doing it. Not just because her arms would get tired. But mostly because her restless, curious mind liked to hop quickly from one thing to another.
She often wished she had better brain control. It was just that she was interested in so many things! Whenever something new caught her interest, she’d read up on it to learn as much as she could. Then, if the subject required practice, like knitting or playing the flute (two topics that had intrigued her in the past), she’d practice for hours each day. Eventually some other new subject would catch her attention, and she’d hop to the new one while abandoning the old.
Sometimes she wished she was more like Tithonus, a mortal boy who was her very best friend. He lived next door, and they went to Oceanus Middle School together. Now, that boy knew how to concentrate. And he had exactly one interest. Bugs!
As she watched the faint pink glow of her dawn dissolve completely, Eos suddenly remembered the scroll Nyx had dropped. Her eyes darted low to scour the ground for it. There it was!
She fluttered down and picked it up. Notescroll in hand, she flapped her feathery white wings and took to the air again. She had to be at school in thirty minutes! She’d have to read Nyx’s notescroll later.
As she zoomed homeward to grab her school things, Eos recited to herself the names of various Greek cities, mountains, and rivers. She had a geography quiz second period. “Greece’s four largest cities are Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and Corinth,” she murmured. “The tallest mountain peak in Greece is Mount Olympus.”
From this high in the air, that very mountain was easily visible now in the distance. The glint of Helios’s sunlight lit the white polished stones of the five-story Mount Olympus Academy building that stood atop it. Many goddessgirls and godboys, as well as some mortals, attended that amazing school, but going there had never been one of Eos’s dreams.
She had no desire to meet that dumb Zeus, who was the MOA principal. So what if he was King of the Gods and Ruler of the Heavens! He had earned the number one spot on her do-not-like list. Because he was totally responsible for that sad-mad thing she didn’t like to think about! (It was actually a sad-mad-dad thing.) And she could never ever forgive Zeus for that. Not that he knew or cared.
Eos’s neighborhood came into view below. She zoomed toward the blue-tiled roof of her bright yellow home and down into its enclosed humongous stone courtyard. Quickly, she landed in her mom’s garden, which bordered the square mosaic-tiled courtyard on all four sides.
“Be careful not to trample my irises!” her mom, Theia, warned, pointing to some purple flowers near Eos. Trowel in hand, her mom had been kneeling in the dirt, rooting out weeds.
“Okay,” Eos said, automatically folding in her white wings to tuck at her back. She tightened her hold on Nyx’s notescroll as she hopped over the clump of purple flowers. At school she’d learned that the flowers were named after Iris, goddess of the rainbow and a student at Mount Olympus Academy.
She shot a glance at her mom, who’d gone back to her weeding. As usual, even when gardening, she looked dressed to attend a fancy party. She was wearing a glittery, sequined gold gown. A gold necklace embedded with precious gems including rubies, emeralds, and diamonds encircled her neck. The goddess of shiny things, she adored gowns that sparkled and all kinds of precious metals and jewels. She’d made that necklace herself.
Gardening and jewelry-making were Theia’s two favorite hobbies, but she had many more. Just like Eos, her mom had lots of interests and was always doing something. They were both so busy it sometimes seemed like they didn’t get to say more than a few words to each other all day.
Theia looked up as Eos hopped over a potted plant. “Good job this morning, by the way,” she said, smiling. “Your dawn was gorgeous!”
“Thanks,” said Eos.
“Your lunch is on the kitchen table,” her mom went on. “I packed a daybreak-delight sandwich.”
Eos ducked her head, and an awkward pause fell between them. “Daybreak-delight” had been her dad’s nickname for the sandwiches he used to make her when she was little. They were peanut butter and jelly, with sliced banana in between. The sandwich had reminded them both of him, a topic Eos tried to avoid big-time. Her mom knew that.
She hadn’t liked it when her mom kept trying to talk about him in those first years after he left them. Finally Eos had started covering her ears so she wouldn’t hear and singing lalalala. After that, she’d made her mom promise not to bring him up anymore. Though disappointed, her mom had kept that promise. Just as Eos kept her promises. Just as her dad had not.
He’d broken his most important promise of all! His promise to come home after the war. A war that had put Zeus in power on Mount Olympus. But when the war ended, her dad did not come home.
Her gaze shot to a trophy that stood on a pedestal in a corner of the garden. It was a prestigious award her dad had once won for his ability to cast spells. If he was so great at spell-casting, why hadn’t he cast one to bring himself home? she’d wondered more than once.
“Great, thanks. Gotta hurry or I’ll be late for school!” Eos said to Theia at last, breaking the awkward silence between them. Then she sped off abruptly before her mom got any ideas about bringing up the taboo dad subject.
Eos made a beeline for the large urn that stood at the very center of the tiled courtyard, feeling glad she always had so much to do. Staying busy kept her from dwelling on sad-mad-dad thoughts, though they still tended to pop up when she least expected them. It was almost like there was a jack-in-the-box of sad-mad feelings in the back of her mind, ready to spring forth at the slightest trigger.
She came to a stop before the three-foot tall terra-cotta urn. Decorated with a glazed black scene of women filling and carrying water jars at a fountain, it had a wide body that curved from its base up to its narrow, openmouthed top. And it was through this top that Eos intended to go, with the help of a little goddessgirl magic.
Twirling in slow circles that gradually spun faster and faster, she soon became a tornado of pink vapor. Quickly she whirled herself in through the opening at the top of the urn. Once she touched down inside it, she morphed from vapor into herself again, only a much smaller self now. Still feeling like she was spinning in circles, she stood for a few seconds till the dizziness passed.
She loved that this urn was all hers. It was her own special private place—her bedroom! Near the middle of the round room stood her comfy bed. It was piled with colorful pillows stuffed with soft feathers. A pink-painted wardrobe with a floral design sat on one side of the bed, a matching desk on the other. Built-in shelves filled with scrollbooks and knickknacks curved against the wall beyond the foot of the bed. Her favorite knickknack was a sparkly star-shaped ornament that Nyx had given her.
After grabbing the schoolwork and textscrolls she’d left on top of her desk, Eos stuffed them into her schoolbag, along with Nyx’s notescroll. Though she and her belongings had shrunk to fit inside the urn, they would expand to normal size again once outside it.
“Guess that’s everything,” Eos murmured, taking one last look around her urn-room. Holding onto her schoolbag, she twirled in circles till she and her stuff became pink vapor. Then she swirled up and out through the neck of the urn, rising directly into the sky above the open courtyard.
Drat! She’d forgotten her lunch. She swooped low again. After zooming through the house to grab it, Eos yelled, “Bye, Mom!” Then she headed out into the lovely day she had created.
Joan Holub has authored and/or illustrated over 140 children’s books, including the Goddess Girls series, the Heroes in Training series, the New York Times bestselling picture book Mighty Dads (illustrated by James Dean), and Little Red Writing (illustrated by Melissa Sweet). She lives in North Carolina and is online at JoanHolub.com.
Suzanne Williams is a former elementary school librarian and the author of over seventy books for children, including the award-winning picture books Library Lil (illustrated by Steven Kellogg) and My Dog Never Says Please (illustrated by Tedd Arnold), and several chapter book and middle grade series. She also coauthors the Goddess Girls and Thunder Girls series with the fantastic Joan Holub. Visit her at Suzanne-Williams.com.