Short Story: Nightshade and Pomegranate, Part One

“Demeter, what if he comes for her?”

“Come? Here? He’s the God of Death, would he dare walk the halls of Olympus and cross me?”

Demeter turned to the nymph, her round face and dark eyes looked down with smoldering fury and annoyance. Her lips pulled in a tight line, curled downward at the sides. Her hand pulled to her hair, pushed a strand behind her ear. Demeter’s eyes flicked around the room, scanned the other gods in attendance, deities that she had known since their births, since the destruction of the Titans, and since Zeus had taken his throne over them all. They had all come tonight in anticipation of who her daughter, Persephone, would choose as her king.

Gathered in the room were the bachelors that Demeter had chosen: Ascelpius, Hermes. She had even invited married Olympians who despised their wives like Hephaestus, which drew the criticism and interest of the rest of the gods who now stood in the halls of the sprawling manor, filling it with the murmurs of their words.

“All of the men of Olympia are here,” a feminine voice said.

“All of the bachelors except for one,” another, masculine chided.

Aphrodite looked to Eros, a gleam in her eye. “Demeter can try what she may, but you and I can feel the tug between her daughter and the God of the Underworld. I can’t blame Demeter, her daughter, the Goddess of Spring, so overflowing with life; to watch her wither away at the side of Death himself.”
“Would she wither?” Eros asked, a finger pulled to his puckered lips in sincere thought. “Or would she become something new?”

“Persephone’s change to anything other than her mother’s babe will be like withering in Demeter’s eyes,” Aphrodite said, watching Demeter and her devoted nymph, Minthe, talk to one another in fevered, hushed pitches.

“Where is the woman of the night, anyway? Where is Persephone?”

“Probably out in the gardens. That girl is always looking for a rose bush to talk to, Calypso even said Persephone told her that she prefers to talk to flowers than the rest of Olympia. What a strange lady.”

Persephone was outside in the gardens, joined by Calypso who watched as Persephone’s hands cultivated a rosebush three times larger than a naturally occurring bush.

“Your gifts, Persephone,” Calypso said, cupping a large rose in her hand and
taking in its scent. “What a gift to Earth you are.”

Persephone smiled softly, but it soon faded from her face, She took her friend’s hand into her own. “Calypso, I don’t want to be here.”

“I know, Persephone,” Calypso said. “Have you considered talking to Zeus about taking a spot with Athena, Hestia, and Artemis as a virginal Goddess?”

“Yes,” Persephone said. “I want to take that virginal pledge as much as I want to be here, at this courtship party.”

Calypso wrapped Persephone in a hug, putting her head on her shoulder. “I know that who you love is not here but your mother, the rest of Olympia… they’ll never accept your love for one another.”
“Then I don’t want live here, in Olympia with them. I’ll live in the Underworld, with him!”
“What will happen to you there?!” Calypso said, her words fast and scared. “What what happen to the Goddess of Spring, the embodiment of burgeoning life, when she lives in the Underworld of the dead for eternity?”

Persephone turned away, pulling out of her friend’s embrace. “I would rather die in the Underworld with my love, than live here, dead already.”

“You speak with no regard,” Calypso said, rolling her eyes.

“I speak with no regard?!” Persephone asked, her eyes throwing darts at her friend.

“No, you don’t,” Calypso said. “Your mother is here to set you up with a respectable suitor and you’re moaning about it! You walk the land with mortals, you understand what their lives are like! Hard, and rough. Not like your existence, not like here.”

“Calypso, I thought you of all would understand what it was like to have love ripped from you,” Persephone said, her voice tight with sorrow.

“The fates set that dream straight,” Calypso said, her voice heavy with relived torment. The sadness she had felt releasing Odysseus, and telling him how to build a ship to sail away washed over her again. As did the pain as she watched Odysseus leave, knowing he was to return to his true love. The anguish that even the body of a Goddess was not enough to sway a mortal man from his wife had ripped anew, an old, ever existent wound.

“The fates,” Persephone said, ruminating on the thought. “Are they here? They would know the truth of what’s to happen. They can guide me tonight.”

“I didn’t see them –” Before Calypso could say anything further a large commotion echoed from inside the manor. The voices of gods and goddesses clamored among one another, creating a torrent of sound.

Calypso ran to the doorway to see what caused the excitement. Her soft steps carried her through the manor, a large crowd gathered in the center of the foyer. A hand snatched her arm, she turned her head back to find Zeus holding her. Her eyes widened, her legs shook. A smile spread across his face.

Advertisement