She drifts, in the place between sleep and waking, borne up by the tide and cradled by the rocking of the river. She drifts but never drowns, for that is not her place in this story, and the flowers tangled in her hair vary with the river, but are most often roses. Red roses, for the bright flame of love; coral pink, for sweet desire; yellow, for new beginnings. She can find the romance in any moment, the sweet fulfillment in any hesitation, and the stories she tells herself are finer than any in the waking world.
In the running river, Ophelia dreams.
Her faithful say she comes when love has already taken seed and blossomed, even if the root is but one-sided; she nurtures, she does not inspire, and who better than her faithful to know her rites and rituals, her requirements for dedication? All she asks of them is adoration, and not even necessarily for her—she is not unique among the small gods, but she is rare, in that she would rather they be joyous than be hers. If they move into the domain of the Small God of Love Fulfilled or the domain of the Small God of Improbable Mathematics, in whose embrace the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts its made of, she will be ecstatic. If they stay with her forever, she may be overjoyed, but she may also be concerned, for her domain is meant to be a temporary one. Dreamers dream of love, lovers fall in love, and Ophelia drifts on, safe in the arms of her river as she will never be safe in the arms of her love.
For her dreams to become reality would be to deny her nature and undo her purpose. Ophelia can love forever. Ophelia can be loved. But she can never make her romantic notions real, and that, too, is fine with her; she has found her place and her peace and her passage, and she will dream as long as lovers do, as long as love is both longed for and lusted after.
She will never drown.
Artist Lee Moyer (The Doom That Came to Atlantic City, Starstruck) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.
Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities: