Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

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The Maenad

November 30, 2009

Quietly, quietly, whispered the nymphai with their hands and lips and soft, soft smiles. Come quickly, but come quietly.

Their winged words reached my ears, and fell over my skin as shimmering stars. I plucked a heart from the air and held it to my chest, let the blood drip.

My skin yearned for the explosion; my breasts ached with unfulfilled need. The nymphai danced silently ahead, writhing in wild ecstasy.

Lions roamed at their feet, and bared their teeth when I walked closer. So I danced: I became one of them, throwing back my head, spinning round and round.

I felt his eyes on me, anciently hungry, and I danced faster. I became a rabbit, darting here and there, and when the leopard came I jumped into his jaws.

I opened my eyes. Sweat covered my skin. My body tingled and ached with release and need. I smiled at my god’s statue and stepped back, still trembling with love.

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Fiction: Pasithea: Restless

October 15, 2009

The cream walls melt beneath her fingers, gliding down and settling over the carpet. Brown and cream mix together, circling her feet and then spreading up over her bare calves, thighs and hips. The colour clings to her, a second skin of delirium, as she walks silently through her husband’s halls.

“Hypnos?” she whispers, forcing each reluctant word out of the warmth of her body and into the chill night world. There is no answer, and she tries again: this time slightly louder. Still, though, he does not answer; she does not know if he even remains among the living, or if he has once more drifted to the world of the sleeping dead.

The hall hums with energy – it pulses under Pasithea’s restless worry, lending further agitation to her uncharacteristic state. She begins to move more swiftly, shoving her delicate, white feet through the streaming rivers of murmuring colour.

She finally reaches her husband’s door, her limbs heavy and quivering with tension, and Hesykhia, guardian of the sleeping Hypnos, is beside her immediately. Pasithea whispers wordless pain against Heskyhia’s silent lips, softness yielding to harsh as the need to rest overwhelms her spirit. “My husband,” is all she manages to say, her tongue barely able to wrap around the word and force it from her trembling lips.

Soundlessly, Hesykhia takes her into her arms and pushes open Hypnos’ door. The lord of sleep is tangled in the sheets once placed down by careful hands – he stirs as Hesykhia carries his Kharis wife through the room.

“Insanity,” Pasithea breathes as Hypnos stands, his eyelids barely open and his shoulders sagging with exhaustion. Hesykhia, as silent as a gargoyle, hands her to him and they sink, together, to the bed. The door eases shut behind Hesykhia as she leaves; Hypnos kisses his wife’s cheek, breathing in the scent of lilies that lingers constantly against her skin. She continues to whisper: “Madness, delirium, blood, death.”

He, smiling, kisses her eyelids and interrupts: “Love.”

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Fiction: Thoth: Bookshop

September 29, 2009

The shop was cool and quiet, but for the tinkling of windchimes that hung beside the blue-tinted windows. The woman paused at the door, glancing around and breathing in the heavy smell of citrus lingering in the air; the small shop seemed deserted, and she was uncertain as to whether or not to continue on.

Finally, she moved forward and called out into the shop, “Hello?”

There was an immediate shuffling noise, and then a door she hadn’t noticed behind the stacks of books slid open and a man stepped out. She took an involuntary step back; the man, though extremely slender, seemed impossibly tall. He had a cruel look about his eyes — no, not cruel, she corrected herself, but calculating. He had the look of a bird about him; a cold, cunning animal.

She shivered, and he smiled. It wasn’t a reassuring smile, but rather a baring of teeth. He clicked his teeth together twice–snap-snap–then turned away and shut the door. She started, and looked again at him. He wasn’t quite as tall as she’d thought; he was barely above average height. He turned back to face her and she started again.

“Who?” he asked coolly, “are you?”

She sniffed, then shrugged her bag from her shoulder and held it securely in her arms. “A customer,” she shot back, just as icily – but she couldn’t hide the tremor in her voice, and the way her eyes skirted away from meeting his. She finally managed to hold his gaze for a split second, and realised that the skin around his eyes was marked–tattooed–with strange dark marks.

“Hieroglyphs.”

“What?” She stepped back.

He gestured at his face–at his eyes–and then smiled again. It was more human this time, and the goosebumps that had been creeping along her arms faded almost as swiftly as they had arrived. She didn’t answer, and he turned away once more. His hair was perfectly straight and so dark it seemed to be beyond black — a colour that was completely its own.

“What do you want?”

“I don’t – I just wanted to look.” Her tone was defensive, now; she scowled and tucked her chin against her chest, as if to shield herself from him, though his back was still to her.

“You came for this.” He turned back, giving his predatory smile once more: she flinched and then looked at his dark, almost feminine hands. There was a sleek book in his hands with a pale grey cover and a title obscured by his thumb. He stepped forward and held the book out until she accepted it. A gleam of silver at his throat caught her attention; he was wearing a strange cross with a loop in place of the upright point that seemed almost familiar, as if she’d seen it before – or instinctively knew it.

She looked down at the book. The title was unfamiliar, but it felt right in her hands. This, she realised, was exactly what she had come for.

“How much is it?” She turned it over in her hands; there was no sticker on it denoting a price, though, as she’d thought there would be.

“A pen.”

She blinked. “I’m sorry? A pen?”

He smiled sharply. “Yes. I like pens.” He held her gaze for as long as she dared to look; and when she glanced away, a flush creeping into her cheeks, he spoke again. “If you have a pen, you may have the book.”

She slowly pushed a hand into her bag and, after a moment, drew out a pen. She held it out, smiling uncertainly, and he took it.

“Goodbye,” he said abruptly, turning away. She followed his example, and paused only at the shop door. Beyond the door, shadows had begun to settle on the streets – it looked to be about five, six o’clock, and yet she’d set off for the shop at midday. She glanced back over her shoulder and saw the man at the door, his arms folded and his strange cross glittering at his throat.

“My name is Djehuti.” He smiled, and then the door opened behind him and he stepped back through it. It closed behind him, and she remained at the shop door for a moment, gazing in the direction he’d gone. The door, barely visible behind the books, had a strange, long-beaked bird painted on it, with more strange writing–hieroglyphs–beneath it.

“Djehuti,” she mumbled to herself, passing her free hand over her hair. She turned, shaking her head, and quickly hurried out of the shop. The darkness had truly begun to set in, now: although she’d looked out of the window only moments before, she’d have guessed that it was now perhaps ten o’clock. She looked down at the book as she walked in the direction of the bus stop, squeezing it as she walked.

Within moments she was on the bus, the book in her hand and an odd smile on her lips. If asked, she would not have known where the book came from — she would have thought she’d always had it.

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Fiction: Aphrodite: Winter

September 28, 2009

She isn’t there in the winter. They – men leaning on staffs and breathing heat into the air – discuss it among themselves. She isn’t there, and they ask why. They invent stories amongst themselves, tales of her with Persephone, threading the pale flowers of the Underworld through her fellow’s hair – but no, no. That is not true, because then she would be somewhere, not here but still there, and she is not.

The truth doesn’t make sense to her. Winter, the chill nipping along throats and shoulders, destroys her. It tears her apart with curved nails and makes her scream – pleasure pain pleasure pain; she’s not sure, it’s hard to distinguish the two when she rules such a vast domain. But winter: still it destroys her, still it kisses her until her eyes stream with tears and she forgets herself.

If she forgets herself, she doesn’t exist. That much is true and that is honest, and yet if the men knew, they would ask: then how does she return? Where does she go?

She laughs at them when she hears their words in the summer, and slaps them with pulsing waves of desire, need. She speaks, without the need for oracles or sacrifice to appease her, for she laughs often and without restraint: “I am everywhere.”

That is the truth. She exists not at all, and yet she does, really: she exists in the occasional kiss, mostly chaste now, just a brush of lips over a brow, or else in the tentative touch of icy fingers.

She has to wonder, though: where does she go? She’s not certain – not to the Underworld, though, and that is all she knows. Not even to the Kharites, with their red-red, ever-smiling mouths – even they succumb to silence in the all but endless winters. To her, they are endless: and yet they are incredibly finite, for she never remembers anything of them.

Once, she asked Zeus where it is that she goes, and he laughed at her, as though she were nothing more than the humans that she herself mocked. “You? You are not of winter, and so you do not live there.”

His answer terrified her, and it still does now. She hides: she wraps herself in Ares’ warmth; she is hot beneath her skin, and flames blaze in her summer-girl veins. She thinks, thinks, thinks, and she dreams, but she can’t find an answer better—or equal—to that Zeus gave, and she doesn’t like that. She doesn’t like to think herself an outcast, but, in the winter, that is what she is.

Nothing grows through the snow that settles over the earth, or even in the chill that creeps in the autumn days and makes her mind hazy and her pleasures harder to find. Not love, or plants, or fruits: not even hate can blossom here. Yes, yes, even Eris fades in the winter – a cooling of the words at first, the sharpness edged with something softer, and then even she goes.

Aphrodite does not stay, cannot stay, when winter sets in. She has tried before – fighting back with teeth and nails, snarling and screaming – but it never works. Ice blazes against her, pulsing like a fire that she can’t control, and it pulls her under. She drowns in the ice like a child, struggling to press her face up through the jagged hole to breathe: and it does not work.

She blames not Demeter, nor Persephone—and from the tales whispered among women with loose-hanging breasts and thin, cruel mouths, she knows this to be strange—but Athene. She is Aphrodite’s undoing: thus the chill winter months must be of her. She curses Athene and flies at her, screams, attacks: and cold, hard Athene simply ignores her.

That, though, is the way of things.

It is only when she looks, finally, to herself that she realises what she knew all along. She looks past the image that the humans set upon her, trying to define who she—she!—is, and she understands. Winter takes her from the scope of humanity and places her back among the kosmos, as Ananke once again: for it is inevitable that the kosmos need her influence, too, in order to remain as they are. In the winter, she realises, she wraps herself with Khronos, and melts, fluid and snakelike, into him. He remains with her when she returns: she understands that. He keeps her heart beating—hers, hers; the only heart of all the gods that truly beats—as she dances with mortals and exchanges kisses with her lovers.

Winter does not seem so harsh, now. She thinks of him in the spring, summer and autumn, and that makes her disappearance easier. She shares kisses with Persephone at the solstice and then waits: but she does not wait long. Winter sears through her, tearing her apart – she feels no agony, not really, but only the bliss of knowledge.

The pulse of ichor, of life, in her veins is kept there by her yearly embrace with Khronos. She melts into him, and he into her, and she becomes new once more. She is refreshed; she shines among the Olympian gods and puts even the Titanes to shame. Her heart beats and her eyes flutter, ichor pulses and need claws at her belly, and she understands that this is her own blessing. She smiles to the sky in the dead silence of a summer night, and looks on with bright eyes to the coming winter months.

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Fiction: Ekho and Pan: Twilight

September 28, 2009

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.

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Fiction: Hekate and Hermes: Crossroads and boundaries

August 22, 2009

He, she thinks, licking her lips, is everything that she loves about herself. No, no, he is not just that. He is everything that she loves and everything that she hates. He is the shadows to cool and comfort her when the light—the bright light that she has grown unaccustomed to in the gloominess of Hades—burns hot-fast-sharp enough to hurt. She bleeds for that light; smoke pours from her mouth and eyes, her own power streaming away from her – from her own imbalance.

And thus, when the light stings and her smoke flees, she turns back to the darkness, back to him. He is always there – not pushing, not demanding, just there. He opens his arms to accept her; she pushes the low rim of his hat aside and kisses the warm skin of his brow. It shouldn’t be possible, not for a god whose very lips are dark with shadow, but he’s always warm, as though fire burns under his skin. She loves that; and maybe she hates it a little, too. Maybe she hates him a little.

But in that moment, with her body nestled against his and stealing the warmth from his skin, she does not think of love and hate. No: she thinks, instead, of another lover – her only other. She is of the night, of gloomy death and prophecies of thus; and so perhaps it was natural that she would fall into Hades’ bed, one Summer night when they were drunk on their own despair. Summer is Aphrodite’s season, after all—her domain does stretch to the Underworld, of course: for she is a goddess of life and, thus, of death—and she had not seen Hermes for almost a month. Time travels differently between the worlds; and although she knew that it had been only a month, it had felt like endless, lonely years. Hades, hungry, kissed her first. She remembers that clearly, despite the fogginess of her mind and of their encounter. Passion fueled them, then, but it did not hide how much Hades repelled her, when their chitons were strewn beneath them and all she could feel was his cold, hard body against hers.

But she does not like to think of such times. She kisses Hermes again—lips to lips, this time—and thinks instead of her seduction at this lovely-awful god’s hands. He was not cold and indifferent like Hades; instead, he brought her cool skin to quivering life with his hands and tongue. She only has to press her fingers to her tongue to feel the echo of her taste and his combined in her mouth – light and shadow, summer and winter, ice and fire. He has never bored her: she is inexperienced and he is not. She chooses to spend her days in Hades with only shades and barely-there nymphai; and he flies through the air, over the earth and through the seas. She envies him that: he is a messenger, bound to them all, and yet he has more freedom than she—lady of the Underworld, minister to Persephone and one-time lover of Hades—will ever have.

Now, though, Hermes pushes the darkness out of her mind with kisses that set her nerves on fire. He does not ask questions, nor comment, nor laugh at her cold, fevered hands that glide over him, awkward and fumbling as ever. He just kisses her, breathing heat into her body, and she responds as she never did for Hades.

Later, she lifts her head from the ground and looks at him. Her skin is flushed, now; and his is cold and pale. The balance has been restored – and when he leaves, he will be warmed by the sun and the kisses of nymphai and his wife, and she will lose her heat to the creeping cold of the Underworld. But such thoughts are not for now: and so when she looks at him she casts all of her thoughts aside. She—Hekate, queen of ghosts and necromancy, lady of blood and life and death—becomes almost mortal with her open expression and too-moist eyes.

I love you, she thinks, as she always does.

And his lips twitch, as they always do; for he is language, he is thought verbalised – and yet he will not answer her unless she speaks the words aloud. He would not do her such an injustice as to act as though she is beneath him, that her body and mind is his alone to read.

But she will not speak the words herself. To do so would be to become truly mortal, to lose her divinity and yield to the pleasures and pains that Aphrodite and her Erotes bring in their laughing, golden wake. She is not ready for that—not yet—but perhaps, one day, she will be.