Destined for Greatness | Teen Ink

Destined for Greatness

May 17, 2021
By spinhack, Mashpee, Massachusetts
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spinhack, Mashpee, Massachusetts
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Author's note:

This story definitely stems from personal experience in a lot of ways. and I know I'm not alone in my struggle to live up to expectations, whether they are others or my own. I hope this story can inspire people to live life on their own terms and take control of their story.

Auralia knew the second she put on her armor that something was off. Her heart was racing, she was having trouble concentrating, and her sword felt heavier in her hand than usual. Still, she wasn’t too worried. She had never lost a fight and she doubted the place of her first defeat would be her weapons training class, and so she confidently stepped up to meet her opponent. Petre was not intimidating in stature. He only barely matched her in height and his limbs looked as though they would snap with even the slightest tension, which put any concerns lingering in the back of Auralia’s mind to rest. Thus, once their teacher called “fight” she lunged towards him with full confidence.

Auralia’s confidence was short-lived, as she watched Petre dodge this first attack with ease. It quickly became clear to her that what he lacked in build, he made up for in speed, and her tired brain could not keep up with his rapid technique. Every thrust, every kick, even her more elaborate efforts, he avoided with ease, barely breaking a sweat. Auralia on the other hand, could barely catch her breath after each failed attack, making it easy for Petre to dish out hit after hit. Before she knew it, Petre had brought her to the ground, with his sword pointed at her throat. The teacher called the match. She stumbled to her feet and looked at the awestruck faces of classmates, her teacher, and even Petre, and in their expressions, she read everything they were thinking. 

“She never loses”

“She’s not supposed to lose”

“Is she okay?”

  In that moment, as she let the distraught look of her peers fill her with dread, she felt something emerge behind her, a dark presence looming over her. Fortunately, it was clear no one else could see it, for she knew the panic that would ensue if they could, and though she could not bring herself to look, she knew exactly what it was, and no amount of training could have prepared her for it.

Later that day Auralia sulked home, and sluggishly made her way up to her room, her bones aching with each step. Upon entry, she was forced to stare at the scroll that loomed over her bed. She had always thought this was a strange decorative choice, as anyone else who entered the room would simply see a blank piece of paper on display, but her mother insisted that they hang it up. Today, she hated her mother for that choice.

Auralia threw herself onto her bed and found herself thinking back to the story behind that paper. Many years before she was born, a great war occurred between Olympus and the underworld after Hades unleashed his monsters in an attempt to claim Earth for himself. All the gods banded together to fight for humankind. Rumour has it that Zeus, Athena, and Apollo all fought in their town, which had been the primary target of the Fates, three goddesses who could control, even change human destinies. Their battle was long, grueling, and turned the town into nothing more than a pile of rubble. Despite the destruction, the story of the war is a triumphant one, as the Gods were victorious, and Hades and his demons were again cast away to the underworld. 

On the dark and dreary day that followed the war, as the town was preparing to rebuild from the wreckage, Apollo ascended from the clouds, bringing light to the town as he touched down. He stood tall among the rubble, with a scroll in his hand and fear in his eyes. 

“A hero will one day come from this town, and when they do, this scroll will glow, and they will gaze upon a message that only their eyes can see,” he announced to the hoard of people who had quickly circled him. “Until that day comes you must protect it at all cost,” he said, handing it to a woman at the front of the crowd. With that, he left, and the townspeople rejoiced at the knowledge their little village would one day be the home of a hero. 

Auralia was first told this story on her tenth birthday, which was also the day she was given the scroll Apollo brought to them and was told the scroll lit up the day she was born. That was the first time she gazed upon the words that the god had written exclusively for her.

“You are destined for greatness”

Auralia was always puzzled by this prophecy, but today it just irritated her. “I mean c’mon,” she thought, “the man is literally the god of prophecy and this was the best he could do.”

She found herself staring at the paper, hoping something more would appear, another line, a picture, anything that could help her figure out what was in store for her, but nothing did. All she had was this annoyingly vague statement, and even that she wasn’t sure she could believe. 

She then thought back to the Fates from the story. Ever since the great battle, nothing brought out fear in the villagers quite like the Fates. There, of course, was the destruction that they caused, but that’s not what people talked about. The stories that lived on were the stories of how people felt when they arrived, as their specialty lay far more in psychological warfare rather than physical. They could fill a person with complete self-doubt, and the tales that have been passed down through generations in the village tell of people’s hyper fixation on their shortcomings. Their greatest leaders were overcome with insecurities, and for a while, it looked as though they would never recover. They had the power to change fate, as they were clearly doing to the people in their small town before the gods arrived, and so Auralia fearfully pondered if they were strong enough to change a fate given by a god. She sat trapped in this thought until a knock at the door jolted her out of it.

“Come in,” Auralia yelled. It was her mother. 

“Hey honey,” she said sweetly, “I heard about your fight, is everything okay?”

“Yeah I’m just not feeling well today,” she replied, “I was a little off my game.” 

Auralia then thought about how quickly her mother heard about her loss. “Does news really travel that fast?” she thought. “Is my first loss really that big of a deal?”

“Alright well, get some rest,” her mother said, “ we don’t want you down and out for too long.” She walked out of the room with a concerned look that engraved itself into Auralia’s brain, just like the looks she had received from her classmates earlier. Now, every time she closed her eyes that was all she could see. They were worried about her, she knew it. They were questioning the strength of their supposed hero. Auralia became crippled by this thought. She just lied in her bed and felt herself lose the strength to fight it. Just like that, she felt the second of the Fates emerge behind her. “Is this really all it takes?” she thought “It’s only been a few hours and there’s already two of them.” if that’s how long it took for only two to emerge, she feared what would happen if she had to fend off all three.

That night Auralia tried to go to bed early. “Just get some rest,” she thought “you’re just tired that’s all.” She made herself a hot cup of tea and tried to do some reading, hoping this would soothe her, and help her drift off with ease, but she was not so lucky. Instead, she spent the night tossing and turning, as the fates grew stronger with every thought they put into her head. 

“You are a failure”

“You will never be what they expect you to be”

“You will only disappoint them” 

Auralia felt her heart race as she wrestled with these thoughts, and with each passing moment, she grew more and more frantic. Breathing grew increasingly difficult and her room started to feel very small as if the walls were caving in. For several hours she was in this state, filled with the worst fear she had ever felt, and though it was new, she feared it would never end, she hoped the sunrise would bring her comfort, but instead it just filled her with more dread.

Growing up her mother had taught her to look to the sun in her times of trouble.
“Whenever you feel alone” she would say “look to the sky and feel Apollo’s warmth. He chose you, he will protect you. No matter how dark the night gets he will always bring his light.”

Auralia had taken this advice to heart for most of her life. Anytime she felt alone or afraid, all she had to do was look up, and she was reminded that Apollo was still there watching over her. He had chosen her for a reason, and would not abandon her before she met the fate that he had laid out for her. Today, however, as dark clouds filled the sky, she could barely tell where the sun was, and thus was reminded that she was no longer a child, and this life was not as easy as it was then. 

“You can’t dwell on this,” she told herself.  “This is just a rough spot, you have to keep moving forward. You don’t know what’s coming.” Thus, despite the sleepless night, and the heart that still felt as though it would burst from her chest at any given moment, she would treat today as a normal day. Thus, she put on her most comfortable clothes and started on her daily run. 

Auralia sped through the village on her usual jogging path, pushing herself more than usual. Desperately, she was trying to focus solely on her running, the more she pushed, the less she could think about anything else. She held this concentration until a brisk breeze blew against her face, catching her off guard. It was colder than she thought it would be. Then she looked up at trees extending their branches over the trails of the town, and as she observed the vibrant assortment of orange and yellow leaves that blocked her view of the cloudy sky, she realized she had not even noticed the season until this moment. In fact, she rarely ever noticed the weather, simply wore a jacket when her mother said to. As she continued to run, she realized that wasn’t the only thing she never noticed. There were the white flowers that seemingly everyone planted in front of their homes, the exceedingly clear water was in the river under the bridge she jogged over every day, or even the giant statue of Apollo in the town square, depicting the day that Apollo came to town and sealed her fate.  

Auralia stopped in front of the figure. “How?” she thought, “I jog this path every day, how could I have never noticed this?” She looked it up and down, and eventually paused on his face. It was not quite the same as looking the god himself in the eye but she knew it was as close as she would come to it, and it was enough for her. It was enough for everything she had been feeling to be fully unleashed, and enough for the third fate to finally emerge. 

“He did this to you,” one told her.

“You will never be his hero” scorned the second.

“You don’t even know who you are,” hissed the third.

This last line sent a shock throughout her body, leaving her almost paralyzed. The fates were right, she had no idea who she was. Her whole life she was told she was brave and smart, that she was gifted. From the day she was born she was told she was a hero, and maybe when she was a child that felt right. Excelling was easy early on, but she was not that person anymore. She was a fraud, simply coasting on the overstayed adoration of others. She had no interest, no identity, she didn’t even know her home because she was so wrapped in her head that she never had time to take in the world around her. Beyond the expectations of others, she was a blank slate, a blank slate.

“You are destined for greatness. You are destined for greatness, You are destined for greatness”

Auralia winced at each repetition. She detested those words. She wanted nothing more than to escape them, to finally be free of this weight that had been holding her down her whole. The words that turned her into a symbol, and a hero, instead of a human being. This is when she fully understood the Fates’ power. They could change her story. They were strong enough, she could feel it, and she wanted it. At that moment she forgot all the stories she had heard about the pain they unleashed in people, about the doubt and despair they could not escape when they were around. She was so focused on everything she was feeling that she could not see them as the enemy anymore. They hadn’t shown her anything new, but rather made her more aware of what had always been there, and now that she fully understood she would do anything to escape. In her desperation, she started to see the Fates as her solution, and so she stopped fighting and allowed the Fates to do with her what they wished. 

Auralia’s emotions battled in her head. Anger, fear, and insecurity all engaging in a never-ending fight for the spotlight. She looked at the statue and felt nothing but resentment towards Apollo, for cursing her with the scroll above her bed. Then she thought back to her defeat against Petre, and the shocked and concerned faces of everyone around her. She lost the fight, she lost the faith of others, and now, she lost all respect for herself. This failure roared in her heard with the words of the prophecy,

“You are destined for greatness. You are destined for greatness, You are destined for greatness”

The weight of these words was becoming heavier. It was a weight she no longer felt like she could carry or anyone for that matter. “No single person could ever hold this,” she thought, and she was right, for she was no longer just carrying her own pain, but it was also that of the Fates. She now saw what they wanted from her, but despite knowing their goal, she didn’t know her to fight against it. Thus, she just sat in front of the statue and watched her story change from that of a hero, to simply a vessel for the rage and despair of others. Tears poured down her face. “This is it,” she said to herself, “This is what I’ve become.”

That is until she felt a warm light shine down on her. She looked up, and through her foggy eyes. The clouds had all fled from the sky at an unnatural rate, and she could see one thing; the sun, and it was casting it’s warmth directly upon her.

“He’s been watching,” Auralia thought, as her weeping slowed, “he’s still watching.” She dried her eyes and took a moment to simply sit in the light. She let its heat rush over her, embracing its comfort, but also its intensity. Apollo was encouraging her, He was telling her he wasn’t giving up on her, she knew it. She may have lost faith, but he didn’t. This was all she needed, She finally felt her courage return to her. This was the moment Apollo had seen for her, and she would fight to make his words true. 

“I will not hurt for you,” she said, turning to look the Fates directly in the eyes. Standing before her were three pale, boney old women with bloodshot eyes, and finally, she saw them for what they were; weak. Not only did they look so fragile that Auralia could have snapped their limbs with force required to break a stick, but mentally they were already broken, and Auralia would not join their ranks. 

“I can carry my pain, but I will not carry yours,” she continued, her voice growing in power. “My story may not be a happy one yet, but it is mine, and it is not yours to write.” The Fates hissed and screamed as she spoke, but she could tell it was working. The words continued to play in her head, but their voices were growing faint. Except for the one repeating the prophecy, her voice boomed, and Auralia embraced it, for she finally believed the words to be true. 

“I am strong,” she roared at them. “I am the child of Apollo’s prophecy. I am destined for greatness.” 

Her words seemed to cut through the Fates, as they let out one final scream before descending back to the underworld. Auralia had done it, she had beat them. A smile crept onto her face as she sat back down in front of the statue taking another moment to bask in the sun before mustering the energy to walk home. The adrenaline was certainly wearing off, but she held her head up high as she began her walk. As she stumbled about, she finally let herself take in the beauty of the village. She looked in awe at the vibrant autumn leaves covering the trees, and at the water in the river sparkling in the sunlight, and when she got home, she noticed that flowers in front of her house were not white like her neighbors, but rather they were gold, resembling the sun shining down on them

Auralia opened her door and rushed to her room, and instantly collapsed onto her bed, As she laid there, she looked up at the prophecy and noticed a change. It still contained only a simple sentence, but Apollo had slightly altered his message. 

“Your destiny is now your own” it read.

Upon reading this, Auralia felt a weight fully lifted from her shoulders, and for the first time in her life, was excited to see what her future held. However, her first order of business in this new phase of her life was to finally get some rest, and so she changed out of her workout clothes, crawled into her bed, and drifted off into a deep, and peaceful sleep.

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