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A Final Farewell

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Today, I watched him come.

His stride was confident and the sun blazed off his armor, and immediately pride warmed my belly. Pride for him and his position in the army, obviously, but also pride that he had come to see me before joining the battle. I knew of too many women who had lost their sons and husbands to this war without any farewell. I would not be one of them. Many think that my Hector has no love or caring; indeed, many of the soldiers in command do not. But those people do not know him. Though he fights with all his strength, he does not sulk or hold grudges. Why, just the other day, he fought with the great Ajax of Troy. When night fell and a stop to the battle was called, he obeyed without anger, and even gifted Ajax with a sword! It was a fine sword, too, a sword that Ajax could use to kill Trojan men, but knowing Hector, I’m sure that never even crossed his mind.

He came closer and I beamed so hard my cheeks became sore. I began to walk towards him, but as I took a step, a vision flashed before my eyes. It was a vision similar to when my father and brothers died, but this time, I saw in vivid detail Hector being stabbed through the throat at the gate of Troy by a tall warrior with fiery hair. Lurching forward, I clutched at his shoulders. “If you go back, it is your death and you will not return to see us again!” I gasped, feeling hot tears streaking down my cheeks.

“Like enough,” he shrugged. “That is why I have come to say good-bye.”

I grabbed his hands and pleaded with him not to go, crying out that he was everything to me, and that I couldn’t bear Hades taking another one of those I loved. I wept wildly and gestured like a madwoman. But although I know he loves me, and I know he was trying his best to listen to me, I could see that my words were not reaching his ears. It was like I was banging my fists upon the great gate of Troy; nothing would come of my efforts. Not knowing what else would convince him and utterly spent, I passed to him our baby, Astynax. At first, sweet Astynax was afraid of Hector’s great plumed helmet. Hector laughed then, a deep booming laugh that pulled on my heart and made me laugh too, like it always did. He removed his helmet and took Astynax into his arms. As he played with the baby, I could see in his eyes that he was praying for his son’s future. You should be praying for your own future! I wanted to scream at him. It was just like him to put us before himself.

I wanted to say so much, but I had no idea what to say to someone whom I would never see again. I would have started, but he had already donned his helmet, and though his eyes were the same gentle eyes I knew, the lines on his face seemed harder. I swallowed my words and touched his shoulder, hoping my expression would say what I could not.

“War is men’s work,” he said softly, then left.

I clutched Astynax in my arms and watched Hector go, my fingers outstretched as if I could pull on some invisible strings and bring him back. And when he was completely gone, I sat on the steps and waited for the news of my beloved husband’s death.



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ArchimedesWhite said...
Sept. 1, 2011 at 10:51 am

...Wow...

It's as if you knew me. I am a tremendous fan of Greek stories. I have studied them for many years, and i applaud you. You have successfully incorporated the modern touch into ancient myth.

Bravo...

 
Harebelle This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Sept. 10, 2011 at 3:00 pm
Thanks! I'm also totally obsessed with Greek myths.
 
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