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The Sky's Limit

The Sky’s Limit
By Adrienne Stallings

I knew him before I knew anything at all.

I can’t tell you how I knew him—if anything, his sister was my constant companion, my guardian—but my mother always spoke softly to me as my world erupted in light.

He had kissed me more than my mother or father ever had. His kiss was the first I’d ever known.

On this island, dotted by grand, towering mountains and caged by the ocean’s embrace—my home—he was the only constant I’d ever known.

* * *

“There’s a new shepherd,” Zoe whispered as she brought Father a bowl of figs. She cast him a glance that went unreturned. She turned to me fully. “Everyone is vying for his hand.”

I plucked at the strings of my lyre, neglected hand keeping my head perched. “A new shepherd? Why would anyone come here?”

Zoe leaned forward. “Sophia heard from Theodora that he escaped the Minotaur.”

“Nobody escapes the Minotaur.”

“Nobody but this guy.” She looked back to Father. I looked with her. He sat scribbling at his papers, eyes furrowed. Zoe leaned closer to me. “We were going to sneak away at lunch to go see him if you wanted to come.” 

We both jumped as Father began mumbling. “I don’t think I can,” I whispered, hand freezing on the strings.

She sighed, straightening. “If you change your mind—” She leveled me a look, “—we’ll be in the fields to the west.”

“I won’t,” I mumbled to her departing back.

* * *

I did.

Zoe and Sophia giggled as I squirmed. I damn near changed my mind again.

Until I saw him, that is.

The two stopped their pestering to swoon. “I told you he was handsome,” Sophia sighed. I was reluctant to agree, avoiding the sharp look Zoe sent me.

I can only describe him as golden.

Golden hair, golden eyes, golden skin, golden smile.

“He’s looking this way!” Sophia gasped.

He smiled at the three of us, then turned back to lazily strumming his lyre.

I wish my fingers could strum half as smoothly.

“Isn’t he handsome?” Sophia whispered. “I hope he’s looking for a wife while he’s here.”

* * *

I found out he was not looking for a wife, but he was happy to fuck around.

* * *

I thrust my lyre into his chest. “Teach me.”

He raised a (golden) brow.


A lazy grin crawled across his face. “Alright, but I should get something in turn.”


A relaxed hand gripped my chin. “My sister says I am a rather demanding teacher, so I must ask for your entire being to be devoted to me.”


* * *

“You’re doing it wrong,” he hummed.

I startled. “I was playing the right notes.”

“Abysmally, yes.” He sighed. “There was no soul in your movements, and if you lack soul, then you are nothing.” He smiled. “Is that not true?”

I set my lyre down. My fists were shaking. “Okay, so how do I fix it?”

“Put your heart into it.”

“I am!”

“No, your heart is elsewhere.” He leaned forward, drumming his fingers on my knee. “Perhaps with one of your friends.”

“Zoe and Sophia?”


“No, I—” I broke off with a strangled chuckle, “I—uh—don’t like them like that.”

“Hm. Then, perhaps, you’re simply not devout enough.” 

“What can I do to change?”

He leaned forward, hand cupping my cheek. “Channel your devotion to me into the piece.”

We kissed.

When we separated, his hand fell. “Now, try again.”

* * *

My body served as an alter through which we worshiped. We began with simple melodies. My improvement was so profound that Father even ceased in his scowling whenever I practiced. What began with summer-kissed lessons soon saw us sneaking away to fig tree groves to create symphonies under the autumn moon.

“It’s unfair,” I whispered.

He hummed, rolling over to face me. “What is?”

“How perfect you are.” A pause. “Zoe is convinced you’re a god.”

He smiled, leaning over to place his lips against the hollow of my neck. “She’s quite the intelligent girl.”

My eyes widened. “What do you mean?”


I jumped. He rolled his eyes, sitting up. “Yes?”

The woman stared at us with pursed lips and piecing gaze. Her silver eyes pooled like moonlight as she stared at me. She turned away.

“Your presence is requested,”

He rolled his eyes again, standing. “Alright, alright. I’m off.” He stopped midway, gently picking up my hand to gift me one last tender kiss. “I love you.” Then he was gone.

His sister remained behind, staring at me as I flailed to my feet. “Be careful with him.” 

I paused. She turned away, moonlight shadowing her face like a veil.

“His worshipers tend to get burned.”

And then I was alone.

* * *

I should have listened.

* * *

“My father wants me to marry,” he hummed into my chest one day. “I caused quite a stir back home with my latest escapade.”

I froze. “You’ve never mentioned your father before.”

He huffed. “And I’d rather not speak of him at the moment at all.”

I shoved at his head. “Well, we should.” He tensed but complied.

“There’s not much to say. Damn hypocrite doesn’t approve of my lifestyle while seeing several mistresses. After my last fling ended in flames, I was sent here as punishment.” He smiled languidly. “I think he’s just upset that I quite enjoy my sentence.”

I opened my mouth, but he leaned back down.

“I love you, more than Hades loves Persephone.”

* * *

And yet, he left. “My father’s calling me back.” He shrugged. “If only my love for you could be a chain.” He smiled a lazy smile, leaning forward to cup my cheek. “I’ll write to you, my soul, so that you may feel my love, even if it’s from afar.”

I chased after his fingers as he withdrew, hand reaching for his. “Don’t leave.”

He sighed, “I must.” And then he was gone.

The servants delivered mail often, and my heart sunk further with each letter handed to my father instead of me. I strolled often with Zoe and Sophia by the pastures, eyes blindly looking at the sheep bathing in golden sunlight.

“What ever happened to your friend?” Zoe asked one overcast day. “I haven’t seen him in the fields in a while.”

I was numb. “He left.”

* * *

I woke with a gasp.

I couldn’t breathe. My chest convulsed with every breath, and my head spun.

I stumbled out of my quarters, waving off the guards coming to check on me. I fled into the night—into the safety of the figs.

Collapsing on the earth, I gulped down air, eyes darting along the gnarling of the branches curling over me until they found focus in the gentle curve of the moon.

As my body tremored, I swore I heard a whisper. I told you so.

* * *

It wouldn’t have been so bad—being so easily forgotten—if not for Father’s blunder, if not for the princess’ adoration, if not for the Minotaur’s death. We no longer had the luxury of privacy. The cage of Father’s making had become my own. Not even Zoe could sneak through to console me. Father sought to escape by any means necessary.

We took to the sky with wax bound wings.

I thought I had known what freedom tasted like. I hadn’t imagined it would taste like gently salty mist. Father watched from below as I threw my head back and laughed.

Cheeks aching, I set my gaze on that godly chariot.

It was in my grasp.

It was golden.

Father screamed, but it was lost to the roaring waves. 


The roaring was my own.

* * *

“Don’t fly too close to the sun,” Father mumbled, securing my straps. “It will melt your wax.” Finished, he rested his hand my arm. “I love you, my son.”

* * *

They say when the Fates cut your string, you see your life flash in those fraying milliseconds.

It didn’t come, but I didn’t let myself dare to hope. My screams died down.

It happened in a moment—the blood rushed in my veins, electric in my bones—and my eyes were fixed on the sun, growing dimmer and dimmer, the gold going cold. 

As darkness swarmed my vision like the frigidity across my skin, all at once, I felt revived—alive. Clarity returned to my brain. 

I hope my death hurts.

As Poseidon raised his waves to welcome me to my grave, I whisper my final prayer. “Watch me, my god.”

* * *

Adrienne Stallings is an aspiring poet and author. A recent graduate of Texas Christian University, she will continue her studies at the University of British Columbia, where she’ll be pursuing a Master of Arts in English. Her work will be featured in upcoming editions of Zaum Magazine and Equinox. When she’s not writing, she can be found searching local bakeries for the perfect slice of black forest cake.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

I get my inspiration from everywhere! One of the surprisingly common places is from my dreams. On days where I can remember them, it’s a mad dash to my phone to write down as many details as I can remember and let them just sit until I can develop a story from them. I take plenty inspiration from everyday life as well.

Basically, anything I see that sparks something in my brain, I write it down—whether it be something particularly funny that someone said to me or a TikTok that put me into a contemplative mood. The last place I draw ideas from is from my poetry. Sometimes I fiddle with a poem and there’s just something about it that is refusing to work. It will usually come to a breaking point where I decide to do a complete overhaul on the structure and expand it into a prose piece instead of restricting it to poetic form. That’s actually how I wrote “The Sky’s Limit,” the piece having grown out of the ending sequence.