The woman’s healthy hands cracked open the lush heart of the fruit. The crisp crack, the fragrant rind, and the faint, blood-like tart of the pomegranate filled the air. She gave me the inviting smile of customer service, and handed a half to me. Smelling it, I could see her there, washing my forehead and around the surface of my eviscerated torso. She looked at me with a kind of sympathy others couldn’t understand. That was our lot in life, and nothing would change it. I took a bite. I bit into it with all of my rage and indignation, and chewed through the bitter pulp to get at the fruit. It was lost in the fibers of the seed and the sponge of the white rind. Through all the flaws, there was a sweetness so choice, that the hasty would miss it. That was the taste of life, not the life you wish it was, but the life you all live. Despite all the flaws, you remember the taste of the fruit and tell your friends, “It was delicious.”
The service woman was a professional, and looked to me with curiosity. In my enthusiasm, I’d covered my chin in red juice. The other tourists laughed at me. There was a little girl who looked at me with jealousy. She wanted to bite into the fruit and feel something push against her molars. Her mother handed her four pomegranate seeds.
She wasn’t there. It was foolish to think she would be, but something told me I was only fifteen years too late. The Rimon Winery had first brewed a professional bottle of pomegranate wine in 2003, and opened the following year. She would’ve been there that spring or summer, but this was 2019. I did what I could to look into the founding of the company, to try and talk with the people in charge. There was no sign of her influence. In every way, the company looked to be inspired and built by mortals. All I got was the tourist show, complete with a wine tasting meant for someone with a strong liver.
My liver does grow back every morning. I never get a hangover, but I can get blackout drunk without any problems.
I’ve been quiet. I apologize for that. I’ve been searching for her, trying to find her among the pomegranate farms, or the greatest tourist traps of the world, but it hasn’t been easy. I make a small amount of money through data mining, and I’m only able to steal and sneak past so many obstacles. Of course, the real problem is that I have to stay away from Olympus, and I fear that she’s been coerced into Zeus’ little project. His brother took a quarter of her life, and that megalomaniac wants the rest. It isn’t fair, and it isn’t right.
Justice kept me in this world. Or maybe compassion did? Either way, I was free from Zeus and that wretched bird. I could live my own life. Still, I wasn’t happy. I thought that being free would be enough to unbind my heart, but it wasn’t – it isn’t. There’s so much of the world that’s denied to me. I don’t have a family to play with, or a lover to talk to. Everywhere I go, I’m alone. Yet, going to places I thought she might’ve been filled me with a subtle joy. I imagined her standing where I stood, eating the seeds delicately. When I looked to the barred window while sitting on the patio furniture, I could hear her voice commenting on the need for safety, and the fate of those that sinned.
We were all sinners, surely she knew that. There were no people in the world that didn’t have reason to be thrown into Tartarus. Some were given absolution, while others were not. She’d tell me about how beautiful everyone looked in the Elysian Fields. Was there a spell that made the happy dead removed of deformations, or did the scales of justice favor the beautiful? I imagine it makes no difference. Beautiful people have an easier life, and have less of a need to commit crimes. Of course, they’d all end up in the happy place, they’d been happy their entire life.
I bought the richest bottle I could afford. The server made some small talk with me, asking why I liked pomegranates so much.
“They remind me of a friend.” I was cold, my expression too grim to mean anything positive.
“When did she die?” the woman asked.
There was only one answer to her question. “Winter.”
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