The Strange, Backward Paternity of Ptolemeus

“Aha!” cried Odysseus, and ripped the dress off the child reaching avidly for the pile of spears and shields, revealing — the soft white belly and budding breasts of a pubescent girl, of course.

“This is terrible behavior, Odysseus,” rumbled Lycomedes. “What is the meaning of your rudeness?”

Odysseus shook his head in confusion. “I don’t understand. It should have been Achilles. I was sure of it.”

“What did you want him for?” said the nude girl, who had put on a helmet and was busy brandishing a spear at her sisters, who sneered at her.

“He was supposed to help us pull down the walls of Troy and revenge the kidnapping of clean-limbed Helen.”

“Oh, I can do that,” said Deidamea. She shouldered the spear and dug her toes into the floor. “Let’s go.”

Odysseus shrugged. “Just as you say, then. This way to the ships.”

The room was very silent after they left, save for the click click click of Achilles’ knitting needles. Deep within his wimple he smiled, the way a good and diligent craftsman does at his work.