Delusion is a nice place. It helps me relax. The nightmares are still there, and I can still feel Koráki’s beak stabbing into my liver, but it’s relaxing. Sera has been a loyal companion, and though I’ve found her constant demand for affection and desire to go outside obtrusive, it’s forced me into action. Outside of my neighborhood, I meet other dog owners at the park. I don’t talk to them, but sometimes I make eye contact, and it feels good to see people and have them see me. All in all, I’d say my experience is a mixed bag, which is a dramatic step up from stealing everything and watching my every move. The point of all this is that in my routine, I’ve met someone.
You’d laugh if you saw me pining over him. He’s young, about twenty-four, but he has a wry wit that makes the cashiers laugh. He’s a box boy at the grocery store I frequent, let’s call him Ro. I knew he was attractive from the first time I laid eyes on him, but I notice that about a lot of people. Many of you have a skewed sense of beauty in this modern age. I continue to miss this obsession with engorged muscles. I suppose that’s what comes of a life without the need for constant warfare, you forget what warriors look like. I digress because I’m embarrassed.
It’s hard for me to talk about falling for one of you. You’re all so intelligent and adaptive, and I’m a useless pile of ash held together by skin – still holding onto his glory days of four hundred thousand years ago, and whining incessantly about the pain of my imprisonment. I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing about me. You should read Ares’ posts: he’s handsome, martial, and is always up to something.
Ro joked without any fear of losing his job, and it reminded me of my own little rebellion against Zeus. I watched everything Ro did, and then one day, I made some silly little comment. He joked about them being all out of latex, and I replied, “Sheepskin will do fine.” He smiled at me, and there was that tiniest bit of levity in his eyes. I did what I could to humor with him, and that led me to learn the confusing art of small talk.
I did what I could to research it. I talked to the other dog owners about the weather and commented about the breed of their pets, but I never got any further than that.
My handsome box boy was a different matter entirely. He liked to talk. He wanted to joke and do whatever he could to make the minutes fly by. He always had the last word, and I was happy to stare at his smirk as I carried my bags away. For him, small talk was only an opportunity to match wits, and I did my best to keep up. One time he laughed at my joke, and I felt so alive I risked chatting with Olympus.
Olympus installed a messaging system after Hera gave me that laptop, so I could talk to the pantheon. Ate set up a web cam the very day she freed me from my imprisonment, and every now and then I would see how they were doing. The camera was set up to look at a lounge or something, so I saw a lot of people starting their routines. They spent a lot of time implying that Aphrodite was a slut, or attacking Zeus for His sexual conquests. They seemed to forget that sex involved two people or more. I’d try to defend Aphrodite here and there, but they went right back to old habits. These were conversations that had been going on for centuries.
After my big mistake at Prometheia, the pantheon kept talking about me coming back to Olympus, to be apart of the big dysfunctional family. “Zeus doesn’t care anymore.” I didn’t by it. Why did he ask Artemis to hunt me down, only to tell her that he didn’t care if I’m chained to a rock? No matter how I thought about it, it didn’t add up.
Ramblings about my family aside, I was living on my own and crushing on a cute funny guy. It could’ve been the start of a great rom-com, but I kept feeling like a stalker trying to interject myself into Ro’s life. One day, I said some quip about prostate cancer and the cashier asked my name between giggles. I told Ro that I was named Porphyrios. When they didn’t recognize the name, I told them it meant rock, so that became my name instead.
Of course this little dance wouldn’t last.
One day at the grocery store, Ro was in rare form. He was dressed up and glowing even in his worker’s uniform. Ro talked to the cashier about his plans to go out drinking. He was so into his tales that he didn’t even look in my direction. I should’ve taken that as a hint, but I had to push things.
“Sounds like a lot of fun. You got room for one more?” I asked. I knew it was a mistake even before the words were out of my mouth, but all those “unbreakable confidence” vids told me to not take the first “no,” for a hard rejection.
It wasn’t the words that hurt, it was that dismissive look in his eyes. They told me, why would I ever want to bring you? And why would he? I don’t look young, and I was never handsome. My jokes weren’t anywhere near as good as his. I was that weirdo that buys dog food and groceries.
Still, I took the advice of strangers on the internet, and I pushed things a second time. I waited for him to be in a good mood and invited him to a thing. It was this festival that was only in town that week, but it wasn’t a big event, it was free and outside, and I told him I was meeting up with my friends. I planned to make up some story about them ditching me, but it was the best I had.
The levity drained out of his face. His eyes turned cold as my frozen broccoli. His body became stiff as a stone. He looked down at me with disgust, and with a single sneer, told me, “Look at yourself.”
Ro, my handsome box boy, who longed to have others love the sound of his voice and marvel at his wit, told me, “I’m not your friend. I’m not going to be your friend.”
“You could be my fiend,” I jested, but there was no smirk. There wasn’t even a glance in my direction.
He finished his job and moved to another lane. The cashier gave me removed sympathy, the kind you can give when you knew that you were under no obligation to actually soothe another. The middle aged woman didn’t count my change back to me, and she didn’t thank me for shopping there. She simply gave me what I needed so I could leave without making a scene.
So, I burned the entire place down.
I’m just kidding. Y’all think I’m a pyromancer.
No, I just went home, petted Sera, and cried.
It was in this mourning state that I contacted the pantheon and talked to them about love. I was remorseful and pathetic, as I often am, and they tried to tell me that love is beautiful, and that there’s someone out there for me, but the thing is that they don’t understand.
Physical beauty is a thing that changes how every single person interacts with you. They live in a different world, where men, women, and intersexed alike go out of their way to talk to them, because even if they’re not interested in something developing, they know that beautiful people attract each other. I’m the best friend that gets ditched when she finds the cute guy. I’m the harmless friend to make snide comments to. I’m the shoulder to cry on when she has a bad day.
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