Nothing excited ever happened in the town of Valenview, Michigan. It was a tiny town, situated three hundred miles off the coast of Lake Huron, and home to just under a hundred people. This meant Isa Wozney knew just about everybody. She grew up in a rather homely little cabin with her mother, Aubrey, who'd been single since Isa's birth. On several occasions, she'd requested the woman give her some sort of idea about her father, but Aubrey remained tight-lipped, as though she was ashamed of her past. Aubrey spoke little of the past.

"Mother, tell me about Father," Isa would say, politely, whenever the chance arose. She'd been asking this of her mother since she was a girl. A young woman needs her father, after all. She'd grown into a beautiful woman, with an inclination toward archery and music. This, said Aubrey, was due to her father, a powerful man. There were days when Isa could swear the sun was warmer on her than on others, or the ravens and swans followed her, but she'd always felt most at home in nature.

Aubrey would smile thinly, either out of contentedness or pain. Sometimes, she would say nothing at all. Once in a while, when the sky was clear and the sun was shining, she would place her face toward the skies and respond. "Your father was a charmer, and he loved the summer. But he wasn't much of a commitment guy. He preferred a one-night stand or a casual encounter over anything too serious." There was little Isa knew of the guy. From the little information she'd been given, he sounded like kind of a dick.

Strange things had been occurring in the tiny town of Valenview. The usually quiet place had been overrun by tourists, who never came. As Isa said, she knew almost everyone. If someone in town was new, she'd know it. Tourism in Valenview wasn't strange in itself, per se. But with travelers came unexplainable happenings: exotic wildlife that pranced right across Isa's front lawn, strange women wondering the streets at nighttime, unusually pleasant weather. It was all very atypical, for a town like that.

Isa worked at a cafe, where she baked and prepared drinks. Like anything else in town, it was never very busy. There was a commotion this morning, out on the street, where a traveler man stood with an arrow in his hand. He wasn't the first one Isa had seen with a bow and arrow, but it was the best look she'd gotten at a stranger in a good while. Through the open window, she could hear the ruckus.

"Don't talk to my sister like that."

It was a large group of people, which was unusual. Lately, everything had been unusual. The stranger was handsome, ethereal, it felt weird to describe him this way. Like Isa, he blond, accompanied by a woman of strawberry-blonde. "Calm down," said the woman, her hand on his arm, seeming to calm him. "I'm a big girl. I can handle my own."


Isa had a customer: a woman dressed in pink, with eyes of blue. "Are you going to serve me? My husband awaits me." She was beautiful. Everybody new was beautiful in a sort of godlike way.

"Sorry." Isa did so, quickly, distracted by the noise outside her building. "Have a lovely day." With that, the woman vanished as quietly as she had come, her tunic splashing out behind her. On the counter, there sits a pearl in a scallop shell.

"Your father had to leave," said Aubrey, when Isa was six or seven. "He had to leave when you were an infant, before you were born."

"Why, Mother?"

"Because," said Aubrey, sadly, "he didn't belong here."

Isa held a bow and arrow for the first time when she was four years old. Accompanied by her mother, who had no inclination toward anything of the sort, she was proficient from the first arrow she shot. Aubrey was unsurprised by this. Isa enjoyed nature. Aubrey was a homebody.

When something exciting happened in a small town, everybody wanted to know what was going on. By the time Isa joined the gathering outside of the cafe, half the town had collected. There hadn't been a gathering this big since the mayor was elected three years ago.

Isa was an only child. She looked little like her mother, who always claimed she was the spitting image of her father. "Excuse me!" She weaved her way through the crowd and straight up to the man with the bow and arrow. He had a boyish face, clean-shaven, and hopelessly young. The strawberry-blonde woman looked hopelessly young, too. "What's going on out here?"

The crowd eased, when the noise died down. Isa was always drawn to chaos. The stranger looked at her, a grin splitting across his face. "Well, if it isn't Isa Wozney."

Isa knew everybody in town. But she had never seen this stranger before. Despite this, he seemed so familiar. He... knows my name?

"Duh." The stranger sat, adjusting the arrows in their holder. "Of course I know your name. I know everything about you. Is your mom seeing anyone?" Next to him, the woman threw an elbow at his ribs. "Fine. You got any uncles? Cousins?" Under the gaze of the woman, anybody else would have cowered. "Yeah, yeah, I'm not supposed to mate with mortals, I know. Buzzkill."

"Idiot," said the woman, rolling her deep green eyes, "you're traumatizing the poor girl." She sat with poise, seeming to draw serenity from every facet of her gorgeous body. "I'm Artemis. Don't mind my brother. He's a giant pain in the ass."

"Hey, you're just jealous that Dad likes me more-"

"Artemis?" Isa interrupted, another argument about to erupt. "Like the Goddess?" Nobody really knew what deities looked like. Most of her life, Isa didn't even believe they existed. "Have some faith," her mother would say. "There's so much more out there than you and I could fathom." This made sense now more than ever.

The woman smiled. "That's me." She seemed to glow, like a luminescent shell. On her head, she wore a crown made of green leaves. Even if a Goddess was real, she wouldn't come to earth, right? Isa wasn't sure anymore. Nothing in life made an ounce of sense any longer. Her brother, sitting on a wooden bench at her left, fiddled with a small stringed instrument. Music. Isa was adept at music, too.

She stammered. "Prove it!"

Both looked at her, as if daring her to disbelieve their existence. Could anyone really blame her? She was just a small-town girl, living a fairly uninteresting life. Today was the most excitement she had had in years, or possibly her whole life. "Very well." The woman raised her hands, and daylight became darkness, the moon full and bright. Nobody was here any longer, except Isa, the only citizen who seemed to be interested in anything exciting.

"Your father loves poetry," said Aubrey, when Isa was a young teenager. "Just like you."

This doesn't make sense.

Isa sat, too, bewildered. "Artemis." This was not a question, but a rather confused statement. Why would a Goddess be here talking to me? Surely there are better things to do. "Well, if you're Artemis, then you're..."

Probably, a person wouldn't believe anything surreal if it slapped them upside the head. Probably, Isa shouldn't have believed it, either. She was drawn to the siblings in a way she couldn't explain, except maybe to her mother. Underneath the streetlamp, a baby deer strutted across the street.

"Apollo," said the God, as the sun came up again. "You know, patron of the sun, inventor of poetry, all-around superior. That's me." Isa stared. She knew nothing at all of any deities. She knew nothing at all, really, of anything outside her own life. "Why would we be here talking to you, you ask? Take a wild guess."

"If you really want to know who your father is, I can tell you. But you'd never believe me if I did."

Isa, who had never played the lyre a day in her life, snatched it from the bench. Beneath her fingers, a flurry of competent sound erupted into a song, somehow. Isa, who didn't even know the notes, played a song suitable to the most practiced of men.

The sun swelled. Her hair was warm and light. Apollo smirked. "Told you she was mine."

Okay. Maybe she was dreaming. But the lyre felt real, and the world did too. Perhaps it was one of those lucid dreams people talked about. Feeling faint, she dropped the instrument, which fell to the ground with a clatter. "What is happening?"

When Isa was seven years old, she sat down at a piano and played a symphony of classical music without knowing a single note. Her mother had called her a prodigy, and insisted everybody listen to her play. Isa never learned to play a keyboard. Then how did she know to do it so perfectly? "I'm .... a demigod?"

"Well, technically," Apollo shrugged, picking up the lyre without lifting a finger, "you're a demigoddess, but same thing. I'm not supposed to be here, but I wanted to meet you." Removing the archery bow from its holder, he thrust it at Isa. "Know how to shoot?"

"What kind of daughter of Apollo would I be if I didn't?"

"Show me."

They stood, beckoning Isa to follow. Her head hurt in a way that made the rest of her hurt, too. It had been a long day, and it wasn't even noon. She took the bow in her hands, loaded it. The arrow flew freely, easily, seeming to split the skies into two. The sun was red, making her feel at home.