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Journal of Atalanta--- THIS WON A CONTEST

June 8, 2020


Hi guysss
A few months ago I entered in a country-wide writing contest, and recently I found out that I got third place!
The prompt was to write a journal entry from the perspective of a figure in Greek Mythology. I chose Atalanta.
So, for all you non-Greek-Geeks out there, Atalanta was a princess who was abandoned in the woods as a baby because her father (the king) wanted a son. Instead of dying, she was rescued by a she-bear who raised her as one of her cubs. Atalanta grew up thinking she was a bear, and had no idea she was a princess. One day a hunter spotted and captured her, and brought her back to society. Since she was raised a bear, she was strong and fast and completely unlike all the other women in Greece. Her name, Atalanta, translates to "equal in weight" because she was equal to a man in strength. After that she went on a bunch of adventures and was known across Greece... but I didn't want to write about that. Instead I focused on her time in the woods, and what it was like for her to be a bear. It's such an important part of her story and no one seems to remember it.
So here's my entry! I really hope you guys like it, and feel free to give any input or criticism. 

Journal of Atalanta
Entry I
    Those hunters came back again. They brought their moon-shaped weapons that can shoot faster than a lion runs, and their tiny suns on sticks. I never understood how they managed to capture bits of the sun and attach it to a broken tree branch. Once, they had left one behind, and I had wanted to take a closer look, but Mama told me not to. She said that these suns were much hotter than the ones in the sky, and once it touched you, it never let go. Mama scolded me for getting to close, but I couldn't help myself. Mama said I was strange for always being so curious. 
    She had always told me I was different. I was not like other bear cubs, I looked like the hunters. I had their strange shaped feet and long rounded claws in place of Mama's sharp ones. I found it easier to run on two paws instead of four. My face is much flatter than Mama's, and the only place where my yellow hair grew as thick as her brown fur was on the top of my head. I don't understand why I look like this. Mama has never told me.
    The day the hunters came, Mama told us to stay in the cave and hide; if they saw us they would take us. But as I heard the strange, gruff noises outside, I was once again overwhelmed by curiosity. I peeked out to watch, and I saw Mama slashing fiercely at the men who were trying to hurt us. She was driving them back, but a man glimpsed me, pointed me out to his comrades before Mama stuck him with her paw and he fell, dead. The others retreated, and Mama growled in triumph, but she sounded scared. They had seen me. 
    The hunters stayed away for almost a whole moon cycle, and we roamed the forest again. The other cubs and I raced out of the cave and ran, breathing in the cold, clean air. Mama stayed behind us, making sure we didn't get into trouble. Through the woods, Mama followed the scent of wild deer as my siblings and I stumbled around playing. 
    After a while, we found a stream. Mama went further upriver to try and catch fish, while the cubs and I splashed around in the shallows. We were trying to catch some small fish of our own, when I heard a twig snap in the forest. 
    I glanced back at Mama. She was still sifting through the rapids for salmon, and had not heard the noise. Mama would tell me not to go, to ignore the sound and keep playing, but as it had so many times before, curiosity filled me up like the air I breathe. 
    I stepped out of the water and inched cautiously towards the treeline. I did not see anything dangerous, so deep into the trees I went, looking for the source of my interest. By now the leaves blocked me from my family. I had just stepped under a thick tree branch when I heard a springing noise.
    Suddenly I was entangled in a net high above the ground. I struggled and cried out, but Mama and the others must not have heard me over the distance and the running water of the stream. But still I struggled and groaned, my head-hair getting caught and pulled all around me. One of my paws was sticking out of one of the holes in the net, for any thing to come and hurt. My other leg was wedged beneath me, so I could not possibly manage to untangle myself.
    He then came out from crouching behind a fallen oak, and for a moment I stopped screaming and struggling. We simply stared at each other, and he looked just as surprised to see me as I was to see him.
He was one of the hunters I had spied on, though he had never noticed me. He held a long pointed stick, and was covering himself with cloud-colored, soft material. I never understood why humans covered their bodies. 
    It seemed he was finally aware of me, but I was scared.
    He walked toward me, and I growled and bared my teeth, trying to scare him. I do not know if humans can smell fear like the wolves they hunt with, but he did not seem to be scared of me. As he moved closer, he grunted in the human’s tongue. I did not understand the sounds, but the tone seemed… calming.
    Deep down, buried beneath the mountains of fear building up inside me, still that curiosity sparked.
    I stopped growling, and he held up his paw. I looked at it, then at my own paw, and suddenly, instantly, I understood.
    I was human. 

Entry II
    He told me (in very short, simple sentences, for I did not fully understand Greek yet) that I was doing very well, adapting to human culture. Before I had just remembered my life, but now I will immortalize it on paper. I have written my memories of my previous life in Entry I. 
    Over a month, he had started teaching me to speak, showed me how to clean and cook meat, and forced me to wear a chiton, which I found uncomfortable. Humans had so many rules and traditions that needed to be followed, that I almost wished I still believed I was a bear. I had learned the hard way that I could not simply take what I needed, or use the materials around me. And unlike bears, humans had strict social guidelines based on gender. I could not hunt in the woods or attend school. At first I complained about all these things, and the men told me to know my place.
    But I don’t want to know my place.
    So my guardian had decided to take me to something women do not usually participate in. After seeing me catch a rabbit on foot, he had decided to let me run in the athletic games the town was hosting. When I had gotten there, everyone had stared. They started gaping when I took my place on the starting line. And some of them almost fainted when I beat all the boys in the race without breaking a sweat.
    After a few more competitions, most people in the kingdom knew about me. So today, when my guardian told me to put on my best chiton, I did it without a thought. 
    I still did not understand Greek very well, so when he tried to explain to me what was happening, I did not quite know what he was saying. Only after I saw the castle in front of us did I realize: We were going to see the king.
    As I walked into the throne hall, I noticed many different things. The place glittered more than the stars of the sky, it looked like wealth and power itself. And the hall was packed with humans. 
    I still could hardly tell what they were saying, but I heard one common word, repeated over and over again:


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  • June 8, 2020 - 11:18am (Now Viewing)

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  • ect.13

    Wow this is amazing! Well done :)

    6 months ago
  • Bhavya's Treasure

    I was oblivious to Greek mythology but reading after what you've written, I think I want to read more! :)
    " they managed to capture bits of the sun and attach it to a broken tree branch."
    That was really very creative!
    Congrats dear!

    6 months ago
  • Sanjana Sunilkumar

    This is awesome!

    6 months ago
  • kealoha

    congrats! i see why this won, excellent piece!

    6 months ago
  • sunny.v

    wow, congrats!

    6 months ago
  • Stone of Jade

    this is so good! I love how you focused on the not-so-known part of the myth!

    6 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Woah, this is amazing!

    6 months ago