The Night’s Homecoming: Alone in the Crowd

I’m so glad Nyx invited me to her Island Warming party. I wasn’t going to come, but I haven’t cut loose and had fun since I took the position of OA Counsel. I’ve worked very hard trying to keep my family out of legal trouble for the past few months. Between my little sister,  Hera, smiting a well-deserving mortal, and my nephew Erato spewing euphoric energy, I’d had just about enough of the stoic life.

The island is so beautiful. And though I’d normally say peaceful, I fear with all my family members around, that just will not be the case. Why, my beautiful Nyxie is planning some monumental events. I’ve already heard that at some point in the evening, there will be a drinking contest. I’ll be leaving that to the younger immortals. I’m not the party princess I used to be. However, I did have a couple of cups of my relaxation tea earlier. I just needed a little something to get my mind clear.

Look at all my beautiful babies out there, hugging and mingling. Why, you’d think we were back on our Mt. Olympus, back when the mortals still revered us and sang our praises. It’s good to see them all enjoying just being together again.

The air is alive with scents and sounds. I can see smoke pits and earthen-made ovens all around me. I smell the slow cooking of stag and wild boar. The salt carried on the ocean winds intertwines with the odors and fills my senses with memories long forgotten. Well-dressed waiters mix with the guests, offering trays of beautifully colored drinks to all. I choose one that seems black, yet deep purple. It shimmers in the sunlight, yet absorbs the light’s spectrum. I detect a hint of elderberry mixed with an infusion of moonflower. As soon as the first drop hits my tongue, I feel the tingling sensation.

I wander through the crowd, saying my hellos and passing out hugs. I do truly love my family, even the ones I try to avoid. 

My beautiful Nike comes running up to me and gives me the biggest squeeze. I’ve always had a soft spot for my little winged baby. I finish off my drink and see my sister, Hestia, enjoying a grand conversation with some of the satyrs. I love the smile on her face. I know she misses Chiron, but she still finds a way to be happy. I give her a big hug as we meet and ask her if she happened to bring any of her special brew. Though I have my own, I’ve become too accustomed to it. Hestia’s has always been able to put a glow on my cheeks.

I continue to mingle, grabbing another drink from one of the offered trays. This one is a beautiful orange color like the setting sun on the beaches of Crete. It smells of citron and mangoes with a dash of fermented rose water. The aroma is as intoxicating as the beverage itself.

I’m given a scroll with a list of the events planned for the party. I see there will be a hunting contest, but know full well I’d never stand a chance against Artemis. I see there’s a scavenger hunt planned, but I spend all day, every day, searching for stuff, so I’ll be avoiding that one. A “best dressed” contest is being held. I’m just a country girl who doesn’t do the overly fancy stuff, so I’m out of that one. And there will be pet races. My money is on Sayeh. I know Dinlas’ girls are drop-dead gorgeous, but Sayeh is the sultan of the skies.

I find a table to sit at and watch my family at play. Then it begins to hit me. The emptiness, the loneliness, the knowledge that even as an Olympian, I am on the outside looking in. I miss my sweet Persephone, but not because she’s had to return to Hades’ side. Even while she was free, I rarely heard from her. In fact, I’d seen more of Hades himself than I had of my daughter. I didn’t really hate Hades. In all actuality, he’d done nothing wrong. I was angered by the fact that he’d found a Sacred Law loophole that kept my daughter bound to him. That was my domain and he’d used it against me. I’ve never really known why.

I set my empty glass on the table and grab another as a waiter passes by. I can’t say that I remember the color of this one, only that I was beginning to feel a numbness in my toes. Several of my family members stopped by my table to chat or get a hug. Everyone knows that Auntie Dem has a hug if they need or want one. Then off they go, chasing each other and enjoying the moment.

My head is getting foggy, so I decide it’s time to take a little walk. I’d noticed a little cove on the Eastern edge of the island and thought about my little cottage on Crete. How I missed that place. It was peaceful and serene. The fields were filled with grains and fruits, and the mortals threw great feasts in my honor. It was there I’d felt the last vestiges of passion. The last time I’d felt love.

I slammed back the last of my drink and set it on a passing tray. I needed to see that cove as the sun set behind me. I needed to feel the Earth beneath me once again. I bent down to remove my shoes and used a table beside me for balance. I set my shoes on a small pile of stones and noticed that the table was being prepared for the drinking contest later tonight. As the nymphs set out casks of Nyx’s own version of special brew, I couldn’t help but revel in the aroma. I grabbed one of the glasses still resting in its case. I dipped into the cask and drank it before the nymphs even realized that I was there.

I began to make strides to the Eastern coast. Though I know it’s not my Crete, I need to send my senses back to that time so long ago. I reached into my handbag and pulled out a little vial of wine I’d “borrowed” from Dionysus some months before. It was from one of his more aged bottles and had quite a kick. It reminded me of a time when I felt anything but alone.

I got to the cove in time to see the hues of orange ride across the waves. The salty air tickled my face and the breeze caressed my hair. I began to imagine “him” standing beside me. The one I’d left behind. The one I thought would last forever, only to lose to violent rage. The last one I ever loved.

As I crested the hills, I see a small farmhouse at the water’s edge. It reminds me of my cottage. The land around me begins to fade and my beautiful Crete comes into view. I run to the cottage, hoping to see him, but knowing he’s not there. I can tell that the ravages of time have taken their toll on this poor structure. No one has lived here in a very long time.

I make my way inside, only to find it nearly empty. I close my eyes and soon I see things as I remember from my past. A lit hearth in the center of the room. Flickers of firelight bouncing off the walls. The window shutters open, allowing the cool breeze of the ocean to permeate throughout.

I see a chest against the far wall. I walk over and open it to find a beautiful garment the color of night. The sequins shine like stars in the sky and it feels like magic as I wrap it around myself. I allow my senses to become one with the garment and I can now feel him wrap his arms around me. I can smell his essence and lay my face against his chest. I feel his love envelop me.

I open my eyes, only to find I am once again in a darkening room. I try to stand up, but stumble against the opened chest. I sit there for a moment and notice a single tear running down my cheek. As before, I am utterly alone.

I rise to my feet and find my balance. I wrap the garment tighter around myself and give the room one last glance. It’s getting dark and I need to get back to the party before anyone realizes that I am gone. I reach into my handbag once more and find the half-empty vial. I swallow back the last of the wine and head out the door.

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Demeter (Christine Graves)
Christine Graves is short story author, writing prompt master, research junkie and ancient history fanatic. She’s been writing online for over 20 years, having been published in both fiction and non-fiction. She’s been an avid history buff since childhood and knows more about the ancient world than the modern. Christine is also a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves to crochet, finds adult coloring pages relaxing and rides motorcycles with her husband. You can find out more about Christine at her blog Graves Publications or at her writing prompt publication, Enticing the Muse. Want to make her day? Follow her on Twitter. She’s a sucker for that. | Original God (OG) - Charter member of All in the Pantheon |
Demeter (Christine Graves)

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