I hadn’t noticed just how far I’d walked to get to that cove until it was time for me to walk back. It was getting dark, and I felt as though I was losing my way. I could see the glow of firelight on the horizon, so I tried as best as I could to head towards that. Everything was a bit fuzzy. I had a hard time getting my eyes to focus on the landscape. I think I may have fallen a couple of times, but at the same time, I felt as though I were flying just above the ground.
I heard singing and merriment in the distance. I knew I was close, but I still couldn’t see anyone or anything that looked even vaguely familiar. I tried to look to the Heavens for guidance but became so dizzy that I had to stop in my tracks. I felt a breeze from the South and my tears began to flow. I missed him so much it hurt, though this was the first time I’d allowed myself to admit it.
I felt an arm wrap around me. I melted into that arm, remembering the love I so desperately craved. It felt warm and strong. I heard a voice call my name. A soft voice, just barely audible, but it’s not right. I can still hear his voice and this isn’t it.
I look up into that face, but it’s not him. It’s a beautiful face, but not the one I long to see. It’s a kind face. One that looks on me with both love and concern. I realize it’s my niece, Artemis. She’s such a sweet girl. I lean back into her arm and allow her to guide me on my way.
I wrap the cloak around me tighter. It has a familiar feel to it. My memories began to drift back to a time before the war with the Titans. I remember running through the fields as a child with my sister, Hestia. We’d spent the day enjoying the sunshine, picking wildflowers to make into head wreaths, and exploring the wonders of Gaia. As Helios would take his chariot to the edge of the sky, Nyx would follow closely behind and lay out her cloak across the naked Heavens. Hestia and I would make ourselves a small fire and beds from the grasses of the fields. Nyx would come down and cover us with her cloak, letting us know that nothing would harm us in her realm.
We finally reach the clearing, and I see a huge bonfire in the midst of the crowd. I look around me and see satyrs taking their drums. The immortals are wild with drink and various intoxicants. I’m gently placed in a seated position and I steady myself, as I feel as though I’m off balance. Beautiful faces keep coming at me, asking if I’m doing well. I try hard to give off the air of sobriety, but I don’t think it’s working.
I hear the drums begin in time. The rhythm fills the scene with dancing and chants. The timed beats weave their way into my head, sliding down my chest and into my heart. The beats begin to coincide with the drums. I feel the magic throughout my body.
I open my eyes to see the flames of the bonfire. They leap in time to the beating of the drums. The crackling of the wood adds depth to the beats. The whistling of the wind sounds as panpipes in the background. The celebrants bend and sway in time with the music. The rhythm grabs hold of all who hear. Gods, Muses, and Titans all melding with the sounds of the night.
I feel myself begin to rise. The beating of the drums enslaves my feet. I look to the flames and see a face from the distant past. Blooms of fire jump and dance. I follow along, as though dancing with an unseen love. A young satyr adds fragrant wood to the fire, mixing tendrils of aromatic nuances to the celebration.
I breathe in the vapors and begin the dance of the great harvest festivals I’d participated in on Crete. I feel a warm breeze wrap around me as I sway in time with the rhythmic tones. I allow my mind and soul to become one with the drums and flame. The effects of the drinks from earlier guide my core. I care not whether anyone is watching or not. I am one with the drums. I am one with the fire. I am one with the aromas.
I spin. I dance. I feel the heat of the fire and coolness of the breeze. I set my senses free to take in all they can find.
I jump. I twirl. I unbind the braid that encircles my head, letting my hair flow at will. I give in to my demons and throw my head back in ecstasy.
I kick. I swing. I feel my body move into a horizontal direction. I know I am about to fall, but I am unable to leave my trance.
I land in the arms of someone strong. I lay still for a bit, then begin to come out of my fog. I look up into the eyes of a young satyr. He’s strong for his size, but he’s not yet had his beard come in. I see a glimpse of fear in his eyes. I relax my body and allow the boy to set me to the ground.
“My lady, are you okay?” he asks with a tremble in his voice.
I was more embarrassed than anything. Yet, I felt nothing at all. “Yes, young one. I am fine. Did I hurt you?”
“No, ma’am. Is there anything I can do to help?” I extend my hand to the lad, who helps me stand on my own two feet. I steady myself and again, reach for the cloak to wrap it around me. I ask the boy to point me toward the south, which he does without question.
I walk just beyond the bonfire circle in order to get a good look in my chosen direction. I feel another tear roll down my cheek as all my emotions become more than I can bear. My memories come back in a wave of anger and despair. I look to the sky, just above the horizon, and take in a deep breath.
“FORGIVE ME!” I scream as loud as I possibly can. It sounds deafening in my head, but the celebrants around the flames seem not to have heard a thing. I drop to my knees and bury my face in my hands. I cry softly. “Forgive me,” I whisper one last time. And my mind goes completely black.
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