Rising from the Ashes, Part I

Another headline about another pedophile politician. Just what the world needs- some decked out patriarchal mask covering up secrets. You open up to the world, and it destroys you. You hide the dark secrets, and it is yours for the taking. Well, at this point, I am an expert at disguising the truth. Maybe it’s my turn to climb the ladder. I have power, money, influence – all the makings of a politician. I would love to watch that asshole, smiling back at me from the headlines, crumble under my stiletto heel. 

I think that message Athena left for me must have triggered all of this. I haven’t heard from her in centuries, and suddenly she wants to talk. The last time we spoke, I was left disgraced and disfigured. The humiliation was minuscule in comparison to how I felt after the rape. 

Still, something in me remembers what it was like before. I loved her wisdom and kindness. I dedicated my life to her. That me would scarcely comprehend what I have become. 

Why did I ever agree to this meeting? 

My secretary buzzed in. 

“You’re 3:00 is here, Miss Gorgon.”

I sighed. Just a few minutes, and it would all be over. 

“Let her in, Mrs. Hancock.” 

“Medusa?” I heard a familiar voice crack through the silence. She looked around inquisitively before turning to face my gaze with a smile. 

“Athena,” I nodded. 

“I see that you have done well for yourself. You deserve no less.”

“Would you believe that they are paying me to turn the world to stone?” I arched my brows and mused. “I build parking lots and foundations.” 

She laughed. “How very civilized.”

“Yeah. That’s me – civilized.” 

There were a few seconds of awkward silence before she continued. “I’m glad you agreed to see me.” 

I sighed. “I think it’s time to talk about our…uh…fiery past -”

Athena cut in. “Medusa. I no longer think I was justified in how I treated you.”

“Well, that is the understatement of the century. I was your biggest fan, and look what that got me.”

She winced and nodded. “I am not proud of what I did to you. Your years of service to me and our close friendship…you deserved better. I regret that I responded to your humiliation by heaping another punishment on top of the one Poseidon forced on you. In my misguided way, I thought changing your appearance might also protect you from being raped again.” She looked at me like she thought I could comprehend why she turned me into a beast. “I didn’t understand what I walked in on. My uncle was upset that the city of Athens chose me to be their patron. He was trying to hurt me and took his revenge by hurting you, my favorite priestess. I couldn’t see that at the time. All that I saw was everything I held sacred defiled. I failed you by allowing my rage to blind me. I hope you can forgive me. ”  

Silenced again buzzed in my ears. Did she really think I would empathize with her decision to turn me into a monster? 

She continued. “I didn’t love you because you were the most beautiful priestess, which you were. I loved you because you were the smartest. That’s why I was so angry when I thought you betrayed me. I cannot say that I’m sorry, but I regret replacing your beauty with the power to inflict harm. If the choice were presented again, I would not take the same action.” 

Even still she wouldn’t just say she was sorry. These gods never admit when they are wrong. “I will take that as an apology without the apology, so thank you. You know, saying you’re sorry shows strength instead of weakness sometimes.” I looked at her for a minute as she smiled. “Regardless, your cruel punishment led me down this path that I can’t say I regret, either. I learned to find my strength in something else besides my beauty.”

“I am glad that something good came out of it,” she admitted. “Every obstacle can become an opportunity.”

“Yes. Opportunity is just what I was looking for.” I cleared my throat and plowed forward. I would never fully understand, but it didn’t matter. I had bigger thoughts on my mind. “I read your statement about the #metoo movement, and I thought that it was time to talk. It sounded like your perspective was changing.” She nodded. “As time keeps passing, it seems such a shame that you and I aren’t on the same page. Imagine what power we would wield if we joined forces. I watch the world slowly wither and can’t help but think that it is time for a change.” 

She nodded. 

“Anyways, as I have been expanding my business, I have started to notice the power behind money. It bends the hearts of humanity around my finger. I can’t help but think about what it would be like to take that power a step farther.” 

“What steps are you thinking of taking, dear one?”

“Who better to untangle politics from the inside out than us? Who better to represent the power behind the female?” 

She strummed her fingers on my table. “That’s an interesting thought… are you thinking of running for office?” 

“I am. There is an election soon here in Mississippi that I have been encouraged to run for. As I understand it, it is practically sitting in the palm of my hand. The gentleman who currently occupies the seat is a real douche, too. He was videotaped with young girls, some just thirteen, walking off to spend some time alone with them. I can’t see a better place to shake things up.”

She smiled. “I’m not comfortable being the face out front, but I have toyed with the idea of being the champion behind the hero again. Will you perhaps be looking for a political consultant?”

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Medusa (J.M. Keen)

Medusa (J.M. Keen)

Staff Writer
Medusa is portrayed by Ozarkian author and podcaster J.M. Keen. She is currently working on a middle-grade fantasy series which celebrates cultures from around the world. Be watching for her upcoming podcast Rough Country, which explores the outlaw society of the Ozarks.
Medusa (J.M. Keen)

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