Sometimes you don’t know the face of your lover.
I didn’t. Just ghost caresses, phantom servants, a gauzy bed draped in silk where I spilled a single drop of wax.
I waited for a year to see those blond curls, the face between Adonis and Ares, for true love is sweet like flowers, but feverish as war, and the skin of the God of Pain is tan with Grecian sun.
There was a scar on his thigh where it seemed he had poked himself with one of his arrows, but other than that he was perfect, my Eros.
I died then, and I knew the kings and queens who left me at the bottom of that cliff, sacrificed, were right: I had married Death. Eros and Thanatos are not so different, both winged fates we all encounter in our dwindling candle flames, and wax is funny in that it doesn’t burn, not really.
Just a little sting like a needle getting past a thimble.
The wax didn’t awaken him. It was my soul leaving my body for just a moment, to join with his and rest at his breast, because mortal forms can’t make love to an immortal, not really.
I love him, I love him, I love him. That is what I whispered to his heart. Still, he left me. Men are funny like that. They ignore heroism in women, us baring our truths to them. Afraid of commitment, the only love I had ever known fled.
I sorted seeds. I met with Pan in my mourning. I went to the Iron Queen and brought beauty back in a box for his tempestuous mother.
Unlike Orpheus, I wove my bright laurels out of a barren place – I knew Eros would only love me if I was as beautiful as Aphrodite, and though I was the most beautiful of women, gods are still vain creatures who know nothing of the matters of the heart.
So, I applied the sweet hope Persephone kept on her vanity to my brow, and I died a second time, this time in Eros’ arms.
No god raised me from the dead. That’s impossible. Look what happened to Eurydice. Raising mortals from Hades is ill-advised. Eros is brilliant, and his arrows sorrow-sweet, but even necromancy is beyond his power, no matter how much like Thanatos he is, though I had married the God of Little Deaths.
I raised myself up. I sang to my stepsisters and the parents that had abandoned me, all dead now, for my travails took ages. For so long, I had sung beyond the boundaries of time, and now, Greece was ash.
It was a goddess who gave me breath again – sweet Kore, who herself was abducted, and who I regaled with my tale. She kissed me back to life.
We are kindred souls, both married to the most dangerous of gods, with our girlhoods stolen too soon – by every sly look from uncles who abduct us, by every groping of fathers on heavenly hills, by every time a king took our adolescent forms on his lap and ran a beer-stinking hand through our curls.
Maidens are spoils of war to them.
I did not want to be just another girl that lost her heart to someone powerful, my immortal body some fading rose kept in a crystal jar, only to be watered occasionally.
I taught Eros of true love so that no woman would have to suffer at Cupid’s hands like me, ever again. I did everything for a man so ready to cast me aside like yesterday’s broken amphora.
That’s why I have butterfly wings, not a bird’s: because in the calyx of my divinity, I stewed in ambrosia a third death, Psyche Triple-Born, and I am more powerful than all the gods combined.
Wax doesn’t burn – it lingers at the back of your mind.
Love doesn’t hurt – only craving for a man unfaithful.
Women aren’t raised from death – we claw back alone.
And though Olympus is full of stars,
My bed is very cold.
[Allister Nelson is an eclectic pagan and an avid fan of fantasy romance, world mythology, and writing. She loves to cook, bake, bike, and play with her husband and dog in nature. A lifelong Washingtonian, she love writing diverse fantasy romances with a dash of intrigue and spice. Her works can be found at allisternelson.com.]