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Alexandria

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In the ancient era, seven wonders reined the land across Egypt, Babylon, Greece, and Rome. In their time, the Wonders were the diamonds in the companionship of life itself, as well as, temples, statues as high as the moon and stars, and tombs and gifts to a king’s beloved. All of these diamonds have now crumbled into ash and dust leaving behind only one—The Great Pyramid.

The Great Pyramid stands in the desert of Giza, dust blowing around its stone base, as it weeps over what once was. But the Pyramid’s story is for another time. This story is regarding the Great Pyramid’s brother, the Lighthouse of Alexandria. The Lighthouse, like all of the other wonders, toppled into the Mediterranean one thousand years ago, leaving the Pyramid alone.

Yet, there was a time when the Lighthouse stood tall and proud above the Egyptian city of Alexandria, illuminating the path of lost fishermen in the Mediterranean. The city of shouting merchants, running children, slaves and civilians were always under the watchful eyes of the Lighthouse.



Her name was Shashai and she was known as the most beautiful woman in Egypt—number two to the Ptolemy’s wife, Cleopatra IV*. Her skin was two shades deeper than the sand she stepped on and her eyes, outlined in black kohl, were as green as a serpent’s emerald. She always wore her wig** down to her slender shoulders and black like a raven’s wing. But no matter how many times she was told of her beauty, she would still look into her gold mirror and sneer.



Shashai’s father was a merchant and never sailed home to Alexandria. He was always riding the waves to faraway ports in Rome and Greece but never failed to send his daughter the finest jewels and cloths.



But what Shashai desired most of all was not a sparkling jewel or silk that her father could send to her. What her heart yearned for was for what she could not have. Shashai had men asking her to wed on a daily basis. She could choose any man she pleased…except for Anemro.



He was a worker in the Lighthouse. He pushed wood into the burners so the guiding light would shine. Every day he would pass by Shashai on his way back to his home and every day he would talk with her for a few sweet moments. She loved him. She loved how his brown eyes glimmered when he laughed and how his dark cheeks would turn red when she brushed her hand against his. But every day, he would walk away from her to meet with another girl, Nanu. He looked at Nanu and his eyes would glisten and Shashai could hear his heart racing from where she stood. Shashai loved Anemro and Anemro loved Nanu.



One day, as the sky’s bright blue began to diminish into violet, Shashai watched from the shadows as Nanu and her love treaded away from her and down the sand streets. Shashai collapsed on the ground and her eyes watered. Her helplessness grew day by day as the moon rose and the sun fell. She wanted nothing more than to drown in the deep water of the sea. She would die for love. Her body ached for him. Her soul yearned for him.






“Shashai,” a voice called from the shadows.



She sat up and looked around the alley, seeing a hooded woman. She wiped her tears when she recognized the woman. “Hello, Kepi,” she whimpered to the priestess.






“Oh, get up, you poor, pathetic soul!” Kepi scorned, wrenching Shashai off the ground with her three-fingered left hand.






Shashai pulled her hand out of Kepi’s. “What do you want?”






“You love Anemro; do you not, my dear?”






“I do! I do with every piece of me! I love him more than Isis loves Osiris!”






“Do not question Isis’ love. You could pay in the Afterlife for that statement,” the priestess scolded, “but I can help you win him, Shashai.”






Shashai’s heart began to float on the Nile. “You can, Kepi?”






“Of course. All you have to do is wear this.” Kepi lifted a golden ankh medallion to the moon. “Tomorrow, Anemro will see you and not Nanu. It is the least I may do. Your father did something for me years ago. I should return the favor.”






She let Kepi tie the ankh around her throat with her heart pounding wildly in elation. “I will never forget this, Kepi!”






The priestess chuckled a little. “I am sure that you will not, my love.”




Shashai rushed to Anemro’s house an hour later. Something churned within her, causing heat to rise from her toes to the tips of her ears. She paused for a moment before deciding that what she felt was her overwhelming love for him.



She knocked a few times on his door before it creaked open.






“Shashai?” Anemro questioned, pulling the door open the rest of the way. “What do you need?”






“Anemro! I love you! I always have! I need you, Anemro! I have waited so long to say this to you. I love you.”






A long song of a moment passed before Anemro raised an eyebrow. “Are you alright, Shashai?” he asked, “Go home, you should rest. The sun has beaten down upon your brain.” He shut the door in front of her nose.



The churning within her exploded, ripping off its mask and revealing itself as horrid anger. This was all Nanu’s fault. If Nanu had never bewitched Anemro, he would have loved Shashai. This was all Nanu’s doing and Shashai was the only one who could see behind her rosy cheeks and the black eyes. Nanu was a MONSTER and all monsters must be slayed.



Shashai turned her red glare over the streets, staring directly at the monster’s front door. As the new moon hid in the sky, Shashai stalked down the street, her heavy footprints bearing no sound. Coldly, she knocked on Nanu’s door. The monster opened the door with a smile on her lips.



Within Shashai’s bag, she always concealed a bronze dagger embossed with a striking cobra with ruby eyes. She held the dagger within her palm and as soon as the smiling Nanu opened the door, the cobra struck.



With a cold-blooded shriek, Shashai buried the knife into Nanu’s heart. The monster didn’t deserve to have a heart because she was the cause of Shashai’s own being shattered. After Nanu’s white robes were forever bloodstained and the woman ceased to move, the world stopped revolving. The anger stopped. Shashai looked down at the dead Nanu and the dagger in her hands and choked on the air. Her hands dripped with her victim’s blood as she staggered away to the pier, black tears streaming down her cheeks. As soon as the Lighthouse came into sight and the sand embraced her toes; Shashai crushed to the ground in sobs.






“I told you that I had a debt to pay.”






Kepi stood on the beach, her indigo robes spinning around her figure. Her hood had blown off of her head, waving around her glossy tan skull.






“What?” Shashai sputtered.






“Your father is a traitor, Shashai. He wronged me many years ago. Have you ever wondered how I obtained such a mutilation?” she motioned to her left hand. “I have paid my debt,” she said, satisfied. “The medallion manifested anger within you until you produced the ultimate outburst. That is when the medallion has no more power.”



Shashai said nothing but tears falling into the sand. She heard Kepi’s cackling as she strode back into Alexandria, leaving Shashai in the darkness…or not.



She looked up, letting the eyes of the Lighthouse warm her face. She stood and ripped the medallion from her neck, letting it fall from her fingers and into the sand. She looked one last time at the eyes of Alexandria before slowly fading away into the desert of Egypt, never to look upon Alexandria or Anemro again.



The Lighthouse of Alexandria saw everything that happened in the city until its destruction. Some say that when the Lighthouse was breathing in his final gasps during the storm, a dark silhouette of a girl was seen walking towards the base of the collapsing all-seeing eye.


*
Cleopatra IV was not the Cleopatra that many people have the tendency to imagine. The other Cleopatra, such as the one portrayed by Elizabeth Taylor, was the seventh and final Cleopatra in the line. She comes along
about 100 years after this story.

**
In an effort to prevent parasites, Egyptian women and men shaved their heads and wore wigs.





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