She exists best in the twilight hours, like the fey that women speak of as they draw close together in the heaving markets and shout to be heard. Nobody leaves saucers of milk out for Ekho, though, and she is not repulsed by iron. She knows only that, in the between hours—when the earth is cool but the air warm—she can think, even if she has neither voice nor body to make her thoughts known.
Pan, though, doesn’t accept that she thrives only in twilight. He needs her most when Selene’s delicate madness thrums through the air: he pulses with hunger, desire, need, and yet she can do nothing for him. She watches him undress and touch himself, and she can’t even feel passion for that, no, not even that.
She has no true body; she has no real desire. Aphrodite’s influence does not stretch to the bodiless, even if it was love that made her waste away. She scorned love for centuries after that; she used to spit at Selene and scream at the lovers who walked, hand in hand, through her domain. They know better now, but it matters not: she would not shout at them anymore.
Pan, Pan, she whispers with her eyes. He’s asleep, as he so often is, during her strongest hours – when the shimmer of her body is there, just barely there, amid the wind and tinkling rain. It is only in twilight, then, that Aphrodite affects her: it is only in twilight that she so hungers for Pan.
He, though, doesn’t stir. She doesn’t know how to wake him: her lips are sewn shut, and the thread only loosens when another speaks first. She remembers Hera and still thinks resentfully of her: after all, she did not fuck Zeus; she merely made it possible for others to. Hera’s wrath is not bound by direct responsibility, though, and Ekho has learned to understand and accept that, even if she does not like it.
She draws closer, away from the trees where she pulses strongest—for it was in the trees that she withered away to nothingness—and has to fight through the wind to get near. The wind tears at her barely-there body – she doesn’t have skin or hair, lips or breasts or wind-warmed cheeks; all she has is her essence, concentrated into one place.
She kneels beside him, twisting her sewn lips this way and that. She feels cold, cold, cold: the hunger in her belly rumbles, sates, rumbles, sates. It bewilders her, but she understands it a little – she is not fully here, and so neither is her desire. The creeping chill in her veins reminds her of that–that she is even less tangible than the ghosts–and she forces her trembling essence to the ground beside him.
He is without his chiton; his dark hairs stand stiffly up from his skin. His face is tilted away from her, and she wishes that it was not; if he was turned towards her, his breath—always hot, hot, hot—might warm her. But he is not, and she doesn’t have the energy to force her not-there body to move once again, so she lies, still and silent, on the cool, hard ground.
Eos flits overhead; dew streams from her fingers and falls down, down, down – it goes through Ekho and she feels it, oh, she feels it. She closes her eyes and imagines that they, too, were sewn. She opens them again and smiles to find that they are not.
Pan, restless in his sleep as in his waking hours, shifts. He turns; his breath warms Ekho’s forehead, and she tries, in vain, to bury herself closer to him. She can’t, though; he is too far away, and she can’t move. The chill has frozen her; it is all that she can do to remain beside him.
He surprises her, then. Still asleep, he inches closer, until his bare, hairy chest presses against where hers should be. She recalls the feeling of her nipples hardening and smiles – if she had a body, that would have happened. His arms remain flung above his head, but one of his legs move; it winds around her essence, her ever-so-barely-there illusion of a body, and draws her closer.
His warmth begins to seep through her; she imagines fire coarsing through her nonexistent veins, chasing away the shards of ice. She imagines heat settling over her like a blanket; she imagines her own body, warmed by sex and flushed, red and open in the early dawn hours.
He stirs. His eyes open, and lock on where she thinks hers are. He smiles, and his head moves. She tilts her own back—or tries to; she recalls how it felt to do so, and tries to recreate that feeling—and feels, just for an instant, the brush of his lips over hers.
The wind finally batters through her, then; she is torn apart and torn away from her Pan. She collects her essence as best she can and flees for the trees, wrapping herself into the dewy leaves; if she lets herself go and simply succumbs to the wind, she will truly fade to nothing.
“I love you,” Pan shouts, his voice raw with hunger and, yet, softened by sleep – and tenderness.
She answers in the only way she can, throwing his words back at him with a slap of emotion, of strangled, tortured, aching love: “I love you.”
So it goes; the twilight passes, and she fades into silence as the day begins.