As prophesied, the gods returned to judge the humans. As mistranslated and misinterpreted as humanity’s myths had been through the millennia, they had accurately recorded a handful of details. There were twelve of them – six males and six females. And they were titans – colossuses with white marble bodies aglow with the gold ichor that coursed through their arteries and veins. And, oh, the humans were impressed by the gods. But were the gods impressed by the humans?
The most titanic colossus – Zeus, perhaps? – thundered to the throngs, “Humans, show us what you have done with the time we have given you here on Earth. What have you created, what have you made, that is divine – that is worthy of the gods?”
After a hurried discussion, the humans sent forward two representatives from the crowd cowering at the feet of the gods – the greatest of their artists and the greatest of their scientists.
“We,” the artist started, with a lot of confidence, “have created divine works of art, literature, and philosophy!”
The most handsome of the male gods – Apollo, perhaps? – stretched out his hand to accept the masterpieces presented by the artist. He skimmed a couple lines of an epic poem. Yawned. “Semi-divine,” he pronounced, unimpressed.
“Well, we,” the scientist stammered, with a little less confidence, “have made divine advances in science, engineering, and technology!”
The least handsome of the male gods – Hephaestus, perhaps? – stretched out his hand to accept the masterpieces presented by the humans. He swiped the screen of a smart phone a couple times. Shrugged. “Semi-divine,” he pronounced, unimpressed.
“Well, we,” both the humans stuttered, with a lot less confidence, “well, we—”
“Um,” a baker called out from the crowd, “I made these macarons. I have twelve flavors, and there are twelve of you, so I just thought—”
The loveliest of the female gods – Aphrodite, perhaps? – stretched out her hand to accept a macaron from the white cardboard box presented by the baker.
He was momentarily stunned into silence by her beauty, but then recovered enough of his senses to select a delicate pink pastry. “The secret ingredients are rose petals,” the baker blushed bashfully, “and love.”
The loveliest of the female gods took a couple nibbles from the ruffled circumference of the macaron. “Divine,” she pronounced, impressed. “Ambrosia!”
The rest of the gods, all eleven of them, stretched out their hands to accept the rainbow of macarons – raspberry, orange, lemon, pistachio, blueberry, lavender, grape, chocolate, caramel, honey, and vanilla – nestled in the baker’s cardboard box.
“Ambrosia!” agreed the rest of the gods, impressed. “Divine!”
“Humans,” thundered the most titanic colossus, combing crumbs of blueberry macaron out of his beard, “you have fulfilled the purpose for which you were created!”
“That was it?” the artist and the scientist asked in disbelief.
“That was it.”
“Just the macarons?”
“Just the macarons,” the most titanic colossus said. “We could never get them this small; our hands are too big.”
He turned to the baker. “Let us set up a standing order. You are to leave a gross of these on our altar every week—”
“Shall I,” the baker asked, “burn the offerings?”
“No, no,” the most titanic colossus said. “You are to bake them. For you to burn them would displease us.”
“But we,” protested the artist, “we created symbolic languages—”
“That was so you could write down the recipes for the macarons.”
“But we,” protested the scientist, “we made flying machines—”
“That was so you could deliver the ingredients for the macarons while they were still at their freshest.”
“Actually,” the baker interjected, “these macarons are made with only locally grown ingredients.”
“Oh,” the most titanic colossus said, standing up to depart. The rest of the gods, all eleven of them, followed his lead. “Then the flying machines weren’t necessary, after all.”
With that, the gods left.
“Divine” was originally published in 2015 in the United Kingdom by Litro Magazine.