It’s been two weeks since I woke up and I’m still confined to quarters. Between Nana Hera, my aunts (Demeter, Athena, Hestia, Nike), and Thanatos, my kitchen counter and refrigerator are filled to the brim with blueberry pie, elixirs, venison roast, healing herbs, ten different ambrosia dishes, victory glitter, and a host of sweets and treats. Eleni has been invaluable doing double duty taking care of me and running the business.
Artemis came to see me yesterday for the first time since I woke up.
It was awkward.
I was on the floor attempting pushups in my shorts when Eleni knocked on the door and stuck her head in.
“Someone’s here to see you,” she smirked.
“Who is it?” I asked as I stood up. I grabbed a towel from the chair to dry off.
Artemis walked in and gasped at the sight of my body. I was covered in scabs, scars and lacerations from my neck to my knees.
“By Zeus,” she said as she put her hand to her mouth, “what did she do to you? I mean, I know what she did, but you were always covered in gauze and bandages before.”
I nodded. “Well, it’s not like I didn’t ask for it, or deserve it.” I grabbed a shirt out of my dresser and struggled to pull it on as painlessly as possible.
“Here, let me help you,” offered Artemis.
“I got…I got it, Art,” I said as I resisted her efforts. “I’m sorry, please, sit down.” I gestured to a chair and sat on the edge of the bed. Artemis sat tentatively on the very edge of the chair. She looked uncomfortable, and keep fidgeting with an imaginary loose thread on the hem of her tunic..
“Artemis, I’m glad you came to see me, because we need to talk,” I said. “I need to tell you that I’m sorry. I’m sorry for how I behaved.”
She started to say something, but I waved her off.
“Please let me get this out. I am sorry for how I behaved. You, of course, have the right to be with anyone you want. I certainly have no authority to make that choice for you. I was completely out of line, and I certainly owe Iain an apology as well. I don’t know him, but I spared no energy in being hostile with him. Whether it be he, or someone else, I hope someone will come along and make you happy. I hope they compliment and complete you.”
Artemis shifted uncomfortably and looked down, but she did remain silent.
“I will not, however, apologize for my feelings when you left me. Quite frankly, how I still feel. You bowed. You bowed to pressure from members of the family who labeled me as abusive, unloving, and most of all, not good enough for you. You listened to whispers from Prometheus and others, and you took them to heart. People who have done unspeakable things themselves, you gave credence to over me. You considered me abusive and beneath you, without ever giving me a chance. I was guilty in the court of public opinion. They were the high-handed judges and you the jury. And my crime? My only crime was doing everything you asked, nay demanded, that I do for you and with you. I had never once gave you anything but love and respect.”
Artemis sat perfectly still, staring at me.
I rubbed my eyes with my thumb and forefinger, sighed, then continued, “I’m sorry, I said I owe Iain an apology, but I have to say it: a satyr. You have gladly given to a satyr the chance I was refused. I know Aunt Hestia would argue, but they’re not exactly a group that’s known for their respect to women. But that’s your choice. I will live with it, because frankly, it’s none of my business. What I just can’t wrap my brain around, though, is what you told me.”
Artemis looked confused. “What I told you?”
“Yes, when you left here that day. You told me you couldn’t be tied down by emotional bonds, that you needed to free from such encumbrances. Yet shortly after, here you are with him. It stings. I can’t tell if you deliberately lied or if something else is happening. What do you feel in your heart, Artemis?
Artemis looked uncomfortable. She sat quiet for a moment then shrugged and put her hands palm up. She then let them drop down to her sides.
“I never intentionally lied to you, Dinlas,” she answered with a tremble in her voice.
I chuckled and she looked perplexed at my response.
“That’s the same thing you did in Olympus Park. When I asked you why you were suddenly attracted to me. You had no clear answer for your feelings then, either. All those years of being alone, of eluding the lovers who chased you. You never could get past Grandfather’s multiple indiscretions and foolish behavior. Now it affects how you think about relationships. You no longer can relate to your romantic feelings.”
I shook my head, then continued.
“Anyway, I honestly hope he makes you happy. And if he doesn’t, then I hope someone else will. But know this, none of them will ever love you deeper and truer than I love you. My love has stood the millenia.”
Artemis brushed a tear from her eye. I did the same. I paused and looked at the drop on the end of my index finger. I couldn’t help but glance at the corner of the bedroom where Estrella’s demon had been summoned only a month ago.
“When Estrella was whipping me to death, she said she needed a teardrop from me to complete the demon’s summoning spell. She whipped me for hours and I never cried out, not once.”
Here I pulled my shirt back up and my shorts down slightly for effect. It exposed the hideous marks all over my body. Many were crusted, angry or still broke open, over a month later.
“She did this to me and got no teardrop. Only at the end, when I was dying, did the thought occur to me that I would never see or touch you again. That’s when I cried. That’s when I shed my tears. Then my fleeting thought was that my feelings for you had betrayed me once again.”
Artemis stood and moved towards me, but I put my hand up to stop her.
“I don’t want your pity, Artemis. I still have to thank you also for saving my life. It will be hard to live with, being eternally grateful. You are immortal as well, so it is a debt I will never be able to repay. That’s a burden I will bear. It means I can never be totally free of you. Instead, I will always be stuck, indebted to your selflessness and courage. Truthfully, I wish it weren’t this way. I wish I wasn’t tethered to you forever. You have done more for me than anyone should do for another person. But it’s still too painful to be near you. I will always love you, Art, but I just don’t think I am now in love with you.”
I stood, teetered for a moment, then pulled myself up straight.
“I’m sorry we turned out this way. I would give anything to go back to just being friends, and you not knowing my true feelings. At least then I could still claim some small part of you as my own through friendship.”
“Dinlas, please, I never meant for this to happen. I just was so confused. Then after I left, it was easier to stay away then to come back and face you. To face the emotions…” she said.
“Confused? You were confused? Imagine how I…”
“Dinlas,” she whispered as she approached me, “your eyes. Why have your eyes have changed…”
“Your eyes, they aren’t black anymore. They’re blue, blue around the edges.”
I nodded. “That creature absorbed my immortal essence. That can be replaced with ambrosia. But it also grew strong from the hate and anger in me. The demon sucked it out of me like infection from a wound. Now it is gone. So far, it has not returned. Eyes are the window to the soul. You’re the first to see a physical change in me. Not even Eleni, who is here everyday, has noticed.”
Artemis moved towards me to hug. “Dinlas, please, I want for us to remain friends.”
I put my hands up and stopped her.
“No, please, I can’t.”
She pulled her hands back and scrutinized me. “You can’t what? Be friends? Or hug me? Is it because of the wounds?”
I looked at her for a moment and thought of all my wounds, inside and out.
“Yeah, I can’t hug you,” I whispered, “because of my wounds.”
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