Glauce

We would never have been friends.

Different worlds, different expectations, how should we have crossed that gap? History and tradition are wider than any winedark sea.

Still: we might not have been enemies. What was he to me, or I to him, beyond the convenience of a moment’s politicking? A marriage against a civil war, no more, and such things are as honored in the breach as in the observance; swear us safe and powerful and i would as liefer lived my own life as live hers.

I cannot find it in me to fault her, even now. Did she not do as much or worse for his weal? Was it not his place to weigh costs and futures? He claimed a throne; what were we but kingdoms?

We would never have been friends, but we might have been more than sisters. Now, past burning, I can see her rage, value her fury: were things different, I might have done the same. But nothing is more damning than what need not have been. Sister mine, Medea, these men have turned us one against the other; your only sin was their success!

Edith

The city was raw as a scraped knee when the strangers came, pleading to be let in. They were trouble, innocent trouble, and I told him so: safer to camp in the hills overlooking the plain, and I told them so, but he knew what was right and took them in regardless. Here where we live piled one upon the other there was no hope of privacy, and nowhere to run. “You risk their lives with this kindness,” I said, “and ours.” But he took them in regardless.

Salt, he said, bring them salt, and I brought what we had, enough for the four of us in our humility but not for honored guests. Bring more, he said; have faith, he said; the Lord will provide, he said. “There is no more salt,” I said. “You see it all there before you,” I said. Go you and find some, he said, so full of generosity, so what could I do but go and beg from our neighbors? And thus the secret spread, as I knew it must.

The rest you know: the city swarmed up like a kicked anthill, and he offered us over to their jaws, to no avail and no credit. We fled for our lives, into the hills overlooking the plain, for safety, for safety. “I told you so,” I said. Don’t look back, he said; doom comes in remembering.

A Bell Ringing In A Soundproof Booth

got away from him. Even that moment of anticlimax does not, cannot, exist. The hill starts to fall away into the sky, he starts to hope, in spite of himself, that this time is different, that he’s finally worked enough, strived enough, that he’s beaten them, that he’s won, and then—

There is no gap, no irritated, weary trudge down the hill. Too chaotic by far, that, too much chance for the boulder to build up speed, to escape. So, instead: he is merely mid-stride, lungs and legs already half-jelly, shoulder and neck pressed against the uneven surface of the rock, at the bottom of the hill, looking up, that half-moment of triumph still ringing in his ears.

He can’t be sure that he has done this before, that this isn’t the first time he’s set himself against the hill, the boulder, the gods. Time is slippery, here; the light never changes, the asphodel never crumples beneath him, the boulder never wears a track into the hip of the hillside. Memory is clear, clear and perfect, and the sentence laid upon him as fresh as yesterday.

Let him be perfectly clear: the boulder never

Epicycles

Even though he knows what’s coming, Paris thrills to put the apple into Aphrodite’s outstretched hand for the millionth time. His soul shivers with the contact, and he grins moonishly in her immobile face. Hera and Athena depart, muttering darkly, as they always do. “You have chosen well,” his goddess murmurs.

Hector takes up his arms again, and laughs joyously at his onrushing death and degradation. He is at the shore of Acheron before his cast off body has completed its first and latest round. “You again!” barks Cerberus. “How do you keep getting out?”

Alexander Hammil is a tongue of flame, speaking lies and misleading truths to a Florentine and his Mantuan guide. He speaks of borrowed cunning, and the daring blasphemy that saw him sail in his dotage to the shores of the cleansing mount. “Thank you, wise Odysseus,” mocks the Florentine, and passes on as he has before. But Odysseus is gone to farther shores, and found a different end beneath the stranger stars.

Asterion’s Canny Jaws

They never taught me to speak, my parents, but I learned in spite: born speaking, without words, my wide head and ungrown horns a mute testimony to human greed, a more than human thirst for the unsatisfying bite of the sea’s salt teeth.

They built this path for me, this maze of words, of obligations, of everything unsaid, demanded blood price from stranger and conquered kingdoms. I could not grow fast enough for my destined vengeance, so I took what ruth I could upon these clean-limbed and wailing youths, stuffed my stomach in the manner of my grandfather’s father.

We are all so much meat, nothing more.

Still: nothing lasts except the tides. Once I met a man, a twist of craft in his fist, and he struck me down, one more bloody heap tumbled to the bottom of this pit. He found his way out, and my long-delayed vengeance, and with that I must be satisfied.

I never asked for life, but in that, at least, I am not alone.