The Wrathful Goddesses of Spring

By D.T. Krippene

I stared out the window at fat snowflakes drifting down from low-hanging, gunmetal gray skies. It’s not supposed to snow in April.

My wife padded into my office in her PJs. She sipped from her wine glass while looking over my shoulder. “Are you still editing that same chapter?”

“I have no idea where I’m going with this story. I think it’s this lousy weather.”

“Just for the record, I’m on strike and wearing these PJs until the snow melts.”

“Based on the forecast, could be days.” I gave up on the story and went to shovel the driveway.

The next couple of weeks, April teased us with a glimmer of sun and a taste of warmth, then pissed all over it with bouts of frigid rain from dark clouds resembling the effluent of an erupting volcano.

Photo by Tali Khrab on Unsplash

Instead of awakening the earth with new growth, the month of May blew in on the tail of a nor’easter, dumping a deluge like Noah’s biblical flood. Robins fought constantly because the females were cranky and refused to build nests. The tomato seedlings I was fooled into planting mid-month swam away in the newly formed creek behind the house.

On the first night of summer, the humidity condensed on my skin as a lure for flying bloodsuckers. Static flashes danced on the horizon as if Zeus had an overabundance of lightning bolts to sling. Amphibious peepers silenced their mating ditties when tornado warnings blared on my cell phone. The neighbor’s garbage cans bounced across the backyard and scattered fodder for raccoons and feral cats on my lawn.

And I still haven’t made any progress on the fantasy I’m writing. Maybe I should write a short story to reorient the muse. But about what?

A single thunderbolt struck a tree in the woods behind our house. Seconds later, the resultant boom rattled the windowpane, and the calendar pinned to the wall dropped on my desk. A little idea went off in my head.

Roman gods and goddesses of the Julian calendar go on a tear against modern civilization. First, I decided, a little online research and a stiff martini to entice the muse. I could go with the four seasonal goddesses, but a few celestial dudes and a direct human connection would add spicier character development and conflict. Before risking a power outage, I opened a new Word document to flesh out a basic plot.

I began with Julius Caesar, the strong-willed new dictator of the Roman Empire and Jupiter’s new favorite human, convincing the god-king that a ten-month calendar beginning with March should change to twelve to match lunar cycles. Jupiter loved the idea and fired the deities who represented the four seasons: springtime’s Persephone and Floria, summer’s Aestus, autumn’s Demeter and Autumnus, and winter’s Chione.  

Janus (January), a two-headed god who symbolized seeing the past and future, took the honor of starting the new year, demoting Mars (March) from that lofty position. Janus further expanded his authority by establishing festivals of atonement and purification during the quieter, colder time of the year, naming the second-month Februalia (February), meaning to cleanse.

Mars, none too happy about his demotion, stormed off when Jupiter kept him in charge of March as the tertius banana. Mars decided to use his assigned month to build and train new armies. He was still the war god. What did you expect?

Enter the ladies of spring, beginning with Aprilis (April), which means to open. She brought spring rains to prepare the earth for new growth. A close associate of Aphrodite, April’s interpretation of to open might have had a different meaning before Jupiter reassigned her, but that’s ancient history. The month of May was given to Maia, the Roman earth and fertility goddess, to nurture spring flowers.

When Jupiter first married Juno, he bestowed upon her the title of protector, complete with a sword, shield, and a matching chariot like his. However, Juno grew rather snippy about her husband’s womanizing ways. Jupiter figured Juno needed a new hobby and gave her the month of June before she accidentally stuck a spear up his ass.

Since it was Julius Caesar’s idea, Jupiter awarded the month of July to his best human pal. The guy loved barbecuing fish, pork, shish kabab dormice, and rotisserie pigeon. People danced, swilled cheap wine, and watched Mars fire off Roman candles. Julius asked Jupiter if he’d give the following month to Julius’ adopted son and heir, Augustus. The lad was popular with the other celestials and unusually good-looking. The hottest time of the year was August, and so was Augustus. Even Juno snuck an occasional gander at the handsome, curly-haired boy. It had been a long time since Jupiter sparked any lightning for her.

Gods and goddesses griped about two puny humans usurping their shot at owning a month. Jupiter waved them all off when Julius privately suggested simply numbering the next four months until the god-king decided later. Chew on that, you celestial brats.

Fast-forward to the twenty-first century, when humanity’s climate contribution over the past century had turned the atmosphere into the equivalent of a smoky casino bar that generated its own weather, no gods required.

When the new year began, Jupiter ordered Janus to travel to the other side of the world to investigate how New England became the epicenter of this disgraceful seasonal disruption. Unlike the cooler, mild season of Rome in January, Janus stepped into a northeastern winter squall akin to the North Pole. His backward-facing head screamed at Jupiter, “What’s with all this white shit?” Seeing what was in store for the next two months, the forward-facing head whined, “You aren’t going to leave me here, are you?” New England’s version of the purification rituals in this desolate place had devolved into humans sliding down snowy hills on one or two boards strapped to their feet and drinking themselves blind. No one was happier than Janus when Mars took over in March.

Fractious and unpredictable, Mars upscaled his reputation for coming in like a lion to find muddy snow fouling the landscape. Soldiers forewent training by huddling in barracks, playing dice and something called video games. He overheard one of them joke that someone called Old Man Winter was overdue at the assisted living facility in Minnesota. The raucous laughter of Floria, the former spring goddess, made Mar’s blood boil. Bearing a nature more attuned to ruin than renewal, Mars added more misery but summoning freezing rain and high winds to increase the already overabundance of gritty slush. Mess with me, will they?

Aprilis went into a hissy fit to find a landscape resembling World War I trench warfare. Robins squabbled at each other because the females refused to build nests. Unable to find buried nuts that weren’t soaked and moldy, squirrels gazed listlessly at empty human birdfeeders. Forced to clean up Mar’s mess, Aprilis dispensed with gentle showers in favor of hosing down the terrain with extreme prejudice, vowing to tell Jupiter he could take the job and shove it.

Maia arrived at her appointed time in her trademark diaphanous dress, wearing a flowery garland atop her head, then sank up to her knees in mud from Aprilis’ watery temper tantrum. Instead of colorful flowers to greet her, a bumper crop of mosquitoes dove to feast on her celestial blood. Swatting herself like a rowdy game of Wack-a-mole, Maia set about the task of greening things up while spitting words that would make construction guys blush.

For centuries, Juno had stewed over Jupiter’s confiscation of her chariot to become the goddess of marriage and childbirth. If she and her husband were supposed to be role models, no wonder the human divorce rate was at an all-time high. Like a nitpicky mother reviewing a shoddy wedding venue set up by the cheapest outfit in town, she clucked in disappointment, now understanding Jupiter’s dark mood after Aprillis and Maia gave New England a one-star review. The place needed something to remind them who was in charge. Jupiter owed her a favor, and the man loved riding on the crest of a storm, scaring humans with his arsenal of lightning when they pissed him off. An evil smile creased her lips, almost hearing the human sirens calling them to take shelter.

The spirit of Julius descended to New England in his toga and sandals, ready to party. As he passed Juno, she flipped him the bird. He shook his head and muttered, women. He’d heard the reports of the earlier months, but the place looked pretty good to him. The weather was balmy, corn stalks were knee-high by July, juvenile critters flit or scampered about the land, and humans were in an amicable mood. He set up a celestial lounge chair in the clouds, laughed at school-aged children on summer break driving parents crazy, and toasted men burning meat on an open fire. The air tasted a little acidy, but the supposed climate debacle the goddesses of spring bitched about appeared to be a nothing burger.

Julius was in no hurry to go back when Augustus showed up. They high-fived, then moved their lounge chairs closer to the beach to ogle human beach bunnies. Augustus mentioned that the highest number of human births on average occurred in July and August, which meant the season for heaviest canoodling happened in October and November. Since September to December had never been assigned to anyone, maybe they’d stick around and join in the fun before winter set in.

My wife ambled into my office in her pajamas with a wine glass filled to the brim. “Storm is over, but there’s another atmospheric river about to hit the West Coast.” She bent to read my laptop screen. “I thought you were working on a fantasy story.”

“I’m just fooling around to get my head out of the clouds, no pun intended. Kind of stuck for an ending.” I scraped my fingernails on a day-old mosquito bite.

“It’ll get infected if you keep scratching.”  

I stood and beckoned her to sit. “Take a look. Tell me what you think.”

Staring out the window, I watched as muted lightning flashes illuminated the trees. I wondered if the term atmospheric river would be too scientific for the story.

My wife sat back after reading. “I gather the past few springs have got you a bit riled.”

“You think? I found a groundhog shivering in the garage yesterday and thought it might have been Punxsutawney Phil looking for a safe place to hide.”

“Your premise is a domineering father figure who disregards the feelings of several women in favor of impressing a dictator, dumping his wife to a lesser job to get her out of the house, a hooligan with anger issues messing things up, then leaving it to girls to clean up the mess, followed by other guys behaving like frat boys and taking all the credit for good weather.” She took a healthy swig of wine. “Not very original.”

Ouch. “Stupid idea, huh?”

She swirled the wine in her glass. “I like Juno. She rocks. But you need to avoid making the other women look bitchy and weak. That stuff doesn’t fly today. The epicenter of New England as humankind’s alteration of the god’s plan is a good setup, but it’s not developed. Instead of fixing the problem, maybe have the spring goddesses direct their anger at Jupiter for putting them in the situation.”

“What about the title?”

“Hmmm. How about The Wrathful Goddesses of Spring?

I leaned against the windowsill and nodded.

She got up and stretched. “Did you eat anything tonight?” Shrugging when I didn’t answer, she sashayed to the kitchen.

What I really needed was to read a couple of her romance thrillers to learn how to characterize scorned women transitioning to influential personalities aching for retribution.

Another gust of wind pressed against the window. Perhaps a second martini wouldn’t hurt, either.

D.T. Krippene
D.T. Krippene

A member of the Bethlehem Writers Group and Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, D.T. Krippene writes apocalyptic science fiction, paranormal, and parallel universe science fantasy. You can find D.T. on his website, Searching for Light in the Darkness, and his social media links on Facebook, X/Twitter and Pinterest.

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