We’ll skip over how the baby got in his head—it’s a messy story of incest and cannibalism, you can probably fill in the gaps—and, you know, we’ll skip over the aftermath, too; the whole virgin warrior thing is rad, don’t get me wrong, but you get it. Olive trees, gorgon shields, tricky wagers, turning a woman who committed suicide into a spider, there’s some fun stuff there, but no.


Instead, let’s talk about the moment of birth, the unendurable headache that went on for days and days as she drummed her heels against the inside of his vast celestial skull, let me out let me out let me out, and how he went from unconcerned to miserable to anxious to desperate. The cold iron of the anvil against his cheek, his wife and her son grinning down at him, the biter bit yet again, Dionysus solicitous, slightly tipsy, fluttering around trying to get him to drink something first to dull the pain but he can’t think, all he can do is—

And then the hammer descends.

Blessed relief as the sky leaks in and his daughter leaps out, armed and armored, tall, lovely, and wary, and ohhh, the shivery moment as he lies there, hair damp with sweat, blood, cerebral fluid; he presses electric palms against his temples to hold the bone closed against any afterbirth. He weeps with relief, static discharge lost in his beard, alive again in that moment stretching from heaven to ground.

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