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Forbidden Love Affair
Odysseus paused as the spellbound group gasped. The wise storyteller glanced over at the noble Alcinous, who in return, nodded. The great Odysseus skimmed over the people and continued.
“ Like a bat I clung to its trunk for dear life—not a chance for a good firm foot hold there, no clambering up it either, the roots too far to reach, the boughs too high overhead, huge swaying branches that overshadowed Charybdis. But I held on, dead set…waiting for her to vomit my mast and keel back up again—Oh how I ached for both! and then everything stopped. No bird called, no water rippled, it stopped dead. As if the great god Khronos had stopped time. Charybdis’ swirling water still circled in the wine dark sea. With a grief filled heart, I hoped that my makeshift raft would appear again, but the unforgiving waters seemed to have eaten her whole. This was just another agony the all mighty Zeus, god of thunder and lighting, had planned for me, as Polythemus had prayed to the grudge bearing god Posiedon.
Then an enchanting maiden with glossy braids, glided across the crag. She sat on the edge near the opening of a cavern and dipped her feet into the still water. I called down to her with winged words, “Oh lovely maiden, might you be a deathless one? One who rules the vaulting skies? Or perhaps a child of one of the all mighty gods and a human? If either be true, please take pity on me and show me the hospitality of Zeus himself, for I have no food, no drink, no men to guide my way, no ship to sail me across the ever lasting sea. “ and so I pleaded, and so she replied
“Dear stranger, I am no deathless god whom rules the vaulting skies, no, I am a cursed maiden, struck down by mighty Hera herself, for jealousy of the lust between god and man was that of which drove her mad. She cursed me after the one night in which I laid in the arms of the father of the gods and he pronounced his ever-lasting love for me. Hera, with all her power, took her vengeance in captivating me here on this appalling island and spellbound me to drink and spit up the sea three times each day. I am now known as Charybdis, swallower of the wine-dark sea.” With those last words, my heart pained with agony. Washed up on a island with a cursed woman who, in turn, swallowed up passing ships of men, Zeus had surely plotted my down fall here.
With a sweeping motion the maiden drifted over to the aged tree, to which I clung to, with all my strength, and reached out a thin hand, as high as her white arms would let her, and bells around her lovely ankles dinged. A pain shot through my joy pined heart, and I leaned in and took that thin hand in mine, cold as ice it was, slender as a young sapling’s boughs, but still to the tree I clung, never thinking twice of releasing my grip. Then a sensation over came me, a light mist, like the ones of the gods, and I felt myself floating, light as a feather I was. A sudden urge forced me to release the old tree, descending, I found myself beside the maiden, hand in hand, foot to foot. Sweet smells of ambrosia pronounced from the maiden, my eyes, aching for sleep, lolled, and Athena, the watchful goddess, finally shimmered welcome sleep over me.
Dawn with her rose red fingers, rose once more, and I opened my weary eyes , homesick for my native Ithaca, a place I hold so dear to me, when a beautiful sound met my ears, a song that I had never heard before. Then looking down, I noticed the silk sheets of a lovely bed, with it’s raised platform, is the one in which sleep had held me. I leapt from the soft bed and dressed, strapping- sea washed sandals to my travel weary feet. From the chamber I flew, in and out of halls, following the handsome voice to a balcony over looking the swarming sea. The first thought was that it was a bard, a human, praised by the gods and gifted with a noble voice, but my canny mind was proved wrong. As I got closer, a woman appeared, my heart sank at the sight of her, for it was the doomed Charybdis, spellbound maiden. She sensed my presences and turned quickly, spotting me before I could flee, so at merciful last, I dropped down and hugged her knees, pleading,
“Oh daring Charybdis, lovely maid, please, if you have any pity on this god cursed man, do not harm me. I am nothing more than a broken sea dog, surely never bound to reach my sweet and native land! Posiedon’s son Polythemus wished it so, and most of shall be! I’ve lost my men, my comrades-in-arms, and my sleek black ships that at one time sailed me to Troy. All I ask is for some food for my stomach racked with hunger and ruddy wine for my dry throat.” So I pleaded and so she replied,
“Courage, stranger! Pull yourself from the ground and look me in the eyes. I am not one to hurt a pitiful man, no, I rather help than harm. Come let us eat to our hearts content and you can tell me of yourself. What is your name? Who is your father? What are your lands that you hold so dear?” Then the lovely maiden lead me to an enticing dinning hall where we rinsed our hands, missed mellow wine and poured libations to the gods, then reached out for the good things that lay at hand. When all desire for food and drink had passed, the maiden pressed me with questions. I told all, holding back nothing, from the Cicones to the back track from Helios’ Island and the death of the rest of my ship mates. She listened, spellbound, and when I had finished, she broke into tears. They rolled down her red cheeks and fell on her knees. Not knowing what to do, I took her in my arms, like a child is consoled by their mother, and she wailed out.
“Poor man! Why have the gods done you so? You have gone through so much and still stay sane! What a powerful man you must be, with a mind of steal! Have no worries, dear Odysseus, I will treat you with the hospitality of the gods. What ever it is you want you will get.” Evening soon fell and lust filled us both, and we soon fell in each others arms, lost in a new love.
The next few years are all in a haze, as if a dream that was woven on a great loom. What is memorable is a birth, the lovely maiden with the glossy braids bore a beautiful baby, who was named after my father, Leartes, a noble name it was. So the seasons came and went and wheeled on the tenth year, all thought of my home land, Ithaca, had left me, until one day when my son had reached the peek of his childhood, I heard him and the maiden talking of my venture, how I came to this place.
When the words met my ears, I fell to my knees with tears flowing down my face, clenching my fists I prayed to the gods, pleading for their help.
“Zeus! All mighty god! Why have you cursed me so! Was it for my pride of avenging my comrades-in-arms when running that foul Polythemus through the eye? Or is this pay for my foolish shipmates when they butchered the Sun God’s cattle? I would rather endure anything other than what I have just now noticed, the forgetting of my own home, my wife, and my dear boy! Please Father Zeus! Have the mighty god Khronos turn back the years! Put me back in the days when I was venturing home, heart sick, but mind set on only one place! Zeus! Release me from this spellbound love! Help me please! Send me a sign!”
At my last words, Zeus, god of thunder and lighting, sent a thunderbolt though the clear sky, making my heart leap with hope. Then in a moment, I felt my body being thrashed around, my breath escaped me, the scene of the lovely maiden and the child faded from my view, and the familiar sound of swirling water could be heard, slowly growing louder. When my eyes cleared, I saw Charybdis’ circling waters and my trusty raft was under me. Like before, I heaved myself aloft to clutch at the fig-tree’s height, like a bat I clung to its trunk for dear life—not a chance for a good firm foot hold there, no clambering up it either, the roots too far to reach, the boughs too high overhead, huge swaying branches that overshadowed Charybdis. But I held on, dead set…waiting for her to vomit my mast and keel back up again—Oh how I ached for both! And back they came, late but at last, at just the hour a judge at court, who’s settled the countless suits of brash young claimants, rises, the day’s work dine, and turns home for supper—that’s when the timers reared back up from Charybdis. I let go—I plunged with my hands and feet flailing, crashing into the waves beside those great beams and scrambled aboard them fast.”