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the story of hades and persephone
.... There once was this girl.
She had the salty blue sleepy eyes and pale corn silk hair of a child, though she was no longer a child. She was the daughter of a Goddess, who loved her more than sun or sea or the earth itself. Many people loved her, and not simply for her beauty, but they loved the way she smelled like dark ocean water and vanilla beans. The way she spoke so sure, the way she played in the grass barefoot.
Her mother told her, "Be home before dark - don't talk to strangers."
She had laughed it off. She was only going to play in the valley, she liked to look at the wildflowers in the evening, she liked the way the orange sun set behind them - making everything look like it was on fire. She would never talk to strangers, she had once promised.
But she didn't even need to talk to him, because he snatched her up before she had a chance to speak. No, she never spoke to the man with the sea-storm eyes and blue black hair. She didn't have to. He stole her, pin'd her down like a butterfly in his arms. How thin, yet impossibly strong he appeared. Even when she tried to scream, and claw at him with her babyish chewed fingernails, he hadn't flinched. He open up the ground beneath them, taking her to a place the living rarely enter - the underland, the shadow place where there was no sunshine.
Her name was Persephone, and all if it is true.
Everything that now surrounds Persephone is made from smoke and marble and lead. An entire kingdom wrought from screaming iron. Every shiny glass work surface gone foggy with the faces of lost souls.
She sees the stray ones sometimes, the escaped souls, the half formed clayish figures that skitter about in the corner of her eyesight. When she tries to catch them, they drift from her, retreating into the shadow play. They whisperwhisperwhisper in voices that are much too full of white noise for Persephone to understand.
Hades does that to her, too. His foreign presence makes her feel weak and rabbit hearted. It gives her feelings like pins and needles, like carbonated bubbly thoughts that make her feel too light - nearly translucent, maybe she'll fill with air and float away, get lost forever in the grooves of the ceiling.
The kingdom is covered in ivy, sharp as barbed wire. It crawls out from the cracks in the marble ground, hell flowers. They reach out like hungry arms, grasping at ankles. Like some sort of botanical vampire. So what, just one more thing that wants to drain her blood.
She wears her gifted crown of thorny stars, black as his eyes. Thinks that winter has never felt so long as this one - every night filled with long hours of their pallid faces staring
at once another from far ends of the table.
She hides behind her own glassy eyes, her pale cheeks. She gives clipped answers to the questions that he intended to fill the space with.
Do you -- ? Have you -- ?
She hides in a grey velvet room that he made just for her, scribbling a letter to her mother that she'll never send. She crumbles it in her hands. Wishes someone up above could call down and describe to her the color of the sun as it sets, she can no longer recall it herself.
She cannot find freedom even in dreams.
Because when she sleeps, it is nightmares of coal black horses. They trod over her and splinter her weak bones. One by one - she can feel it all ; trapezoid, scaphoid, pisiform carpals. Femur. Humeri. Sternum. And last to go - her 24 glittering ivory ribs that chatter loud against her pulse in a frenzied chorus.
snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap.
And there it is. Behold - her heart. Hot and beating, a tangle of blue-red veins that weep at the injustice of it. (but she can't help feeling guilty for not drinking all of her milk when her mother told her to)
And suddenly as they appeared, the horses have vanished. And in their place is Him. Hades. He stands before her like gentleman Death, staring at her and managing to seem both disgusted and amused at her state. He reaches over, gingerly plucking at her mangled frame with his fingers, a mess beaten into the ground. She can't help but watch, she is rendered spineless. Literally.
So she remains seated, playing the part of a limpid saint, praying to a God she is related to and doesn't believe in while crossing her cracked chest. He watches with such bored fascination. She waits for oblivion, and oblivion apologizes because he won't be able to make it.
He doesn't put her out of her misery. He doesn't dramatically plunge a dagger into her chest while the crescendo swells and the audience dabs their eyes with rosy tissues - no no, instead, he keeps her. Like a sick experiment, he watches her. He lets her grow wings only so that he may clip them with sensory words scissory words. A caged girl.
She thinks she hears him speaking, but his mouth never seems to move. He hands her a crown made from melted down stars and silverware. He holds her up just so, just like a queen. Because that is what she is....
A queen of trash cans and rats and belladonna and weeping mothers and knots in your stomach and holes in your head and secondhand smoke and everything being taken for granted and rapists and carbon oxide and precious baby girls.
"Isn't this the life?" he asks, his hands smeared with her.
... There once was this boy.
He was as small and anemic as a hairless baby bird.
He had two plastic work parents that seldom visited his hollow home. He thought, maybe it was so they didn't have to hear his cries when he had nightmares of his father devouring him; of black clotted bleeding mares; sharp toothy grins and gleaming sickle flints. Or maybe it was because he wasn't the golden brother with the bright lightening eyes. Hades was so different, so jittery and storm eyed.
Too scared, too thin, too cold. Blue lips, blue veins. Left shivering in the corner of his pretend kingdom built for and made from corpses found face down in the mud.
Hades finds that Persephone has these blood-sucking baby doll eyes that make him do stupid things. That make him feel stupid. She seems so scared of him. He could build her a tower of stone and tile, if that would make her feel safer.
He hears her screaming in her sleep. A bleeding tarnished song and heart. Her sharp blue diamond eyes shining, crying. Hating him for being so demented.
Because he was just a kamikaze boy, born for death.
Persephone can't sleep when it is so quiet, not when she is used to hearing life around her. Nothing now except for the sound of her own breathing.
She sits on the cold marble floor, singing herself a sparrow song. One about innocent bright shine babies who are snatched up by the dark side of the moon.
A bogeyman who tangles her hair and hides her away in a mason jar...
Once, she had read fairytales and believed every word. She had thought that someone in sleep chrome armor would find her and his touch would bring her to life. They would fall in love. End scene. Curtain call. Everybody applauds.
Things were different now. She knew people weren't good or bad. People just had to make a lot of confusing choices with complicated results.
She knew something was different inside of her. That weakness that once loomed, she had vomited out. Transformed. And transformation was a powerful thing. Like Zeus becoming a bull. A swan.
She had been frightened of him. He acted so Godly in his dark throne.
But she was the kin of Demeter. A poppy daughter season creature earth lover. Fed by barley and kissed by Apollo's sun. She was descended from Gaia, who that had made the dirt and the grass that once moistly licked her toes. And with blood beating beating beating in her ears.
Why be afraid?
A little serpent boy.
You know, girls have probably died for worse.
She doesn't understand the way silence can wreak you. The way eyes can make you break out in hives and bubbling red blisters. It would make her laugh if it was happening to someone else.
His skin looks albino milky pinkish by candlelight. Her lip tastes like salty iron, as if everything she wasn't saying was clawing itself out of her mouth. Making her bleed.
The way sometimes you want to say something so bad that you can't. Frozen. The way eyes can suddenly draw you in, until you can't look away. They were addictive narcotic eyes.
She would find it funny if it was happening to someone else.
He loves her and she doesn't know why. She wonders what happened to him so that he now has thorns in his eyes. Little serpent boy.
And even though for some reason she doesn't want to ever break his sad fevered blood sucking mad lovelorn heart, it's too late. It bursts from her mouth like canaries.
Girls have died for worse.
"I want to go above ground."
The day comes slowly. But when it goes, Summer's Eve is like a gale of crisp air.
She twitches all day, it feels as if her skin is about crack apart and she must hold it steady. They don't mention what the day is, but he does seem to stare at her more than ever.
When he takes her to the gate, that's when she sees her mother standing there.
Demeter is a wheel of colors. Her cheeks flushed the shade of French roses. Her yellow flax hair casting pale shadows on her face. Over her cornflower blue eyes.
Painted bright by Rhea, and no doubt a Goddess.
They scream and they hug and kiss. And Demeter smells like apples and wheat,
and they are laughing and crying and talking about everything and nothing. Trying to feel like she never left. To see her so bright and beautiful.
But then, she remembers him behind her. And what is she to say, an introduction? Introduce her mother to her kidnapper? She goes to say something to him, wave farewell. But then, he isn't behind her anymore. He's gone. Like he was never there.
She is almost angry that he didn't say goodbye, but she catches herself before it gets that far.
She will be gone a whole summer.
The only clear thing inside his head. Persephone will be gone for an entire summer. And he will be left to stalk his own empty kingdom as if she were never there. Never existed to torment his every waking moment. Every sleeping moment.
Hadn't he expected that she would leave the first chance she got?
He hadn't expected so much from a girl who smelled like vanilla and salt, who had hair spun from sun and gold.
She is different than he had imagined her to be - wasn't quite so fragile. She was stubborn and spoiled and bratty and completely incorrigible.
He liked that.
Just like catching lightening bugs. He always had tried to keep them. He put them in a jar. They died. They always died.
He pushes everything close away, like when he was a lightening bug catching child, and hides himself away in the darkest corners of the underground.
Summers end, like most natural things. And no matter how much Persephone laughed and sang and braided flowers in her hair, it would end.
And as the prospect of returning to the underworld loomed above and below her, she didn't understand why this was happened. And why did he leave without even saying goodbye like civilized persons? And she had left him, when she returned would he be furious? Would he hate her?
Questions, questions, questions.
But, she thought, he never really was angry towards her. He was as quiet and waning as a sinking moon. She found it strange she had never seen the God of the Underworld angry. Grumpy and displeased, yes. But never angry. Never at her.
Her mother tried to convince her to escape, to try and run away where he would find her. She mused at how great it would be to spend all day together again, that she would feel warmth and sunshine all year round. But Persephone said that there was simply no running away from Hades. He always knew where she was.
She wore a white frothy dress that made her feel like one of the forest nymph, and wore pale flowers in her hair like when she was younger.
"Persephone," he said when they met again, as if he were rendered dumb.
"Hello," she replied, just as simply.
Something had changed, and not knowing exactly what - they didn't speak of it. Best not scare it off. And, walking back through the gate, they tried to speak to each other. No matter how difficult it was. No matter how much it hurt.
.... There was this salty-eyed girl once. She gave a wire-haired dead boy life.
She didn't mind being his so much anymore. She got used to the way the marble felt under her bare feet. Almost like sand. She guesses that it is nice, the way he crosses sea and sky for her.
Persephone knows that people will tell stories about them. They'll tell it to others, and the way things were will no doubt be changed along the way. Little things, maybe. Big things. But you can't care what people will think of it.
He isn't quite so thin as Before. He has more substance, feels more real. Even if he is as pale as ever. Her deadened blue vein prince.
He tells her how white light is a prism that contains all the other colors, and that black is the absence of color.
Some people say that because of this they aren't real colors. And he says that absence and fullness are sort of the same thing. That they are the same.
And they glow. Like everlasting poison gas stars. They exist as the bane and lifeblood of each other.
And there is hope.