I hope you have checked out my newest series on Amazon: Chronomancer and the Time God. The link to the book can be found here.
For this month's post, I thought I would fall back to my passion for Greek Mythology. The story is called "The Second Kidnapping of Persephone". As you might guess, the story was written for my short story groups prompt "A Kidnapping".
I hope everyone enjoys it. Please leave feedback and let me know what you think!
James J Meadows III
"The Second Kidnapping of Persephone"
“How long have you been waiting for me?”
The woman’s voice, though light as air, seemed to startle Aeneas. The warrior leapt to his feet as though bit by a snake. Turning his head in all directions, he looked around, apparently trying to spot the source.
From a grove of tall Cypress trees, just a short distance from where Aeneas previously sat day-dreaming, emerged a long-haired woman. She wore a wreath of fresh flowers around her head and a long green dress, whose great tail merged with the earth as though nothing more than an extension of its surface. Upon seeing her, Aeneas knelt low to the ground, his massive frame more closely resembling a rolling boulder than a prostrate servant.
“My lady, Persephone,” he said. “I have waited for you since the crops of summer faded and before the snows of winter blanketed the land. I have done so many times before and will do continue to do so for many years, hence.”
“You really ought to get a life,” she replied.
Giving a sigh, she turned away from him, her gaze falling upon the budding flowers and rolling brooks dotting the land around her. Aeneas straightened back up and rose to his feet.
“You, of all people, should understand that my life is to serve,” Aeneas answered. “What your mother dictates, I do. Right now, she dictates that I wait here to bring you home.”
“Whose home?” Persephone answered, not looking at him. “Surely, not mine. No! You wait to take me back to my prison, where I must spend the long seasons awaiting my return to my husband, my children and my kingdom.”
“You know as well as I do that your return is necessary,” he said. “You bring hope to the people. You bring the spring to the darkness of their winter.”
“I end the winter of their discontent by bringing the spring of my own,” she said. “And I have no more choice over my fate than you have over yours.”
“You mother is strong-willed,” he agreed.
“My mother is a control freak!” She retorted, turning upon him. “You know it! Perhaps not as well as I do, but you know it, nonetheless.”
“Your mother loves you,” he protested.
Persephone gave a harsh laugh.
“Yeah, the way a python loves his prey,” she said.
She mimicked the motion of giving someone a big, smothering hug, and squeezing with all her might.
“And long as it doesn’t try to wiggle free, all is well, right?” She asked.
She dropped her arms, giving a grim smile, at the expression of horror on his face.
“Is it a crime for a mother to want to be around her child?” he asked, giving her a side-way look.
“Considering that she doesn’t even pay attention to me half the time, I suppose so,” Persephone answered, turning away. “I’m like a living security blanket. She wants me around, but ninety percent of the time, she doesn’t even do anything with me.”
“You get to spend time with your sister,” he hinted.
Persephone gave a scoff.
“Are you trying to talk me into going or out of it,” she asked. “Despoina thinks she is the ‘Master of the House’ and everyone needs to serve her every whim and desire. If I could find a self-less bone, anywhere among the gods, I’d insert it into her body, so she’d have one.”
Apparently, Aeneas had heard enough, for his face turned red, and his body assumed a fierce, intimidating manner, seeming to grow in height to match his fury.
“You can complain all you like,” he said. “But you will come! You have no choice! It is the law, a law we are all bound to - even your husband and your father.”
“Father,” she repeated, smirking. “Talk about being bullied into a decision. He would have sided with me, if he could. Goodness knows, he couldn’t stand mother’s controlling demands and endless manipulations, either. Then again, he ended up marrying Hera, so I guess he didn’t do any better. Still, he tried looking after me.”
“Looking after you?” Aeneas protested. “He let you be kidnapped!”
“He let me escape,” she retorted. “Seriously, if I didn’t want to be there, would I have swallowed those pomegranate seeds, knowing full well that eating them meant I would have to return.”
“You were tricked,” Aeneas said. “You were just a child!”
“I was old enough to know what I was doing,” Persephone argued. “I know the stories you tell, the stories everyone likes to tell, claiming I was defenseless and naive. What do you expect people to say, when my mother provides their harvest! That’s the benefit of having all the power among a group of people that need you. She can tell them anything she likes. They’ll believe it, too, as long as she continues feeding them. But she can’t deceive me, I was there!”
“This is non-sense,” Aeneas said. “We are wasting time. You will come with me!”
“And what if I refuse?” Persephone replied. “What if I turn right back around and go back!”
Whirling toward the trees, she made to leave. Aeneas was faster. He seized her by the arm, pulling her around to face him.
“You are mad,” he said. “Are you really going to tell me that you want to go back there? Are you really going to claim that you’d rather be there than here?”
“Of course, I will!” she argued, vainly trying to yank her arm free of his grip. “Do you think it’s coincidence that while my return to the upper world brings my mother such joy that spring spreads across the land, spring only comes to the ‘Land Down Under’ when I return. My sorrow at leaving my husband and children brings winter to the lands below as surely as my mother’s sorrow brings winter to the lands above!”
“You will come with me,” Aeneas ordered, tightening his grip.
Still holding her arm, he turned away from the forest, pulling her after him.
“And who’s kidnapping me now?” She protested, struggling against his grip, as he dragged her along.
Aeneas gave no response. Face resolute, he continued to pull her behind him, marching toward Olympus.
“I see,” she said. “Is that what this story is to be then- the second kidnapping of Persephone?”
“It is, if you make it so,” he said.
He stopped walking and spun to face her.
“By your will or against it, you will come with me!” He declared.
“And why is that?” she barked.
“Because this is about more than just you and your controlling mother,” he said. “It’s about more than you and your kingdom below! It’s about more than your children, your husband, and even your desires!”
Persephone stopped struggling as she listened to him. Noticing the change, he released his grip, staring into her eyes with unwavering conviction.
“What is it about then?” she asked.
“It is about the world,” he said. “It’s about the people in it. They need the spring as surely as the people below need the fall. The seasons created by your sojourns make their agriculture and society possible. Without the cold, icy regions melt and waters cover the land, drowning the crops and burying the fertile fields. Without the heat, the crops refuse to grow, for they lack the warmth to live. Either way, without the seasons, there are no people. And, without people, we are nothing!”
“So, you’re saying I need to suffer to make the world work?” Persephone replied in disbelief.
“Sometimes that is how the world works,” he responded. “Sometimes, that is the only way it works. In life, you have to endure the harsh seasons and bad times, for the greater good, knowing that, in time, the good times will return. If you will be patient, you will see that, soon enough, you will be able to return to your home, your kingdom and your family. Until that time, though, you must make the best of the difficult times. Besides, if you’ll just change your attitude a little, you might find the bad times are not as bad as you think. They may not be good as you want; but, at least, they aren’t a bad as they could be.”
“Very well,” she said. “Take me away, if you must. I will not claim to go willingly. But, I will go – for the sake of the people!”
“A decision truly worthy of a queen,” he said. “Now, let us depart – your mother awaits.”