Awakening Spring

Contributor: Meagan Lindsay

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It is the end of winter once again. I do not want to go back again. I have come to dread the months that I spend with my mother, Demeter, surrounded by the verdant greens of spring and summer. I pat Cerberus on the head as I pass him, heading through his gate and up the stairs back into the mortal world. It is a long and torturous climb, made to ensure that no mortals escape death's clutches.

I find myself thinking of my husband, almost wishing he could come with me. Even if he could just join me on this climb, it would make things more bearable. He may be arrogant, often cold, and some would say greedy (I say confident in his abilities to get what he wants), but when he is with me, he is also fiercely passionate and extravagant with his affections.

I remember the first time I saw him. It was at the birth celebration of one of the lesser deities, I cannot remember whose. I only remember seeing him there across the room, watching me. He was dark and brooding, certainly. That burning stare of his and the small symbol tattooed on his wrist were the only clues I needed as to his identity. This was Hades, god of the underworld, the one god everyone respected.

Hades' dark hair curled at the nape of his neck; it was charcoal colored but caught the light with hints of flame. It seemed alive and I could scarcely tear my eyes away from it to study the rest of his face. His lips were luscious red, framed by just a bit of scruffy beard, and accentuated by a piercing. His nose was pierced, as well as his ears. At last, I met his eyes. Those eyes! They were like burning steel kissed by morning dew, and piercing as he watched me unabashedly. I raised my brow in a challenge to his stare.

I knew he would not come forward to speak with me, no man (immortal or not) dared. My mother kept far too tight a reign on my life. Other, lesser, men had tried and quickly been put in their place. But I let myself hope that Hades would rescue me, somehow, with some half-baked, yet inescapable plan. It became my fantasy over the next few weeks.

And when it happened, I played my part well. I was truly startled, by his rising from the earth, and so I screamed and fought. I thought I must be in a dream, for how else would he have known to come and save me from my boring existence? It was only later that I realized how my struggle added to my performance.

Once we were in his kingdom, I realized that I could not be asleep. No place in my imagination could have possibly matched this dark haunted place. We travelled past a giant dog with three heads, across a river, and down many gray pathways until coming to a stop in front of a modest sized shining black palace. I stepped out of his chariot and into his arms, collapsing into sobs.

It is true, I was terrified. It is also true that I was mesmerized. I didn't understand what this imposing god could possibly want with me (plain, straight brown hair, average figure, boring brown eyes). I was partly afraid that he would send me back to my mother, and partly afraid that he would never let me see her again. I spent days wavering between these two extremes. Terrified, grateful, but most of all, curious.

I wanted to learn everything about my kidnapper, my new husband. He was gentle and kind with me, giving me anything I desired. I didn't ask for much. Each new thing I learned about him was enough. I learned the names of the river nymphs, and attempted to teach Cerberus to fetch (It was a failed endeavor, as all three of the heads would want to go after the stick, but only one could pick it up).

Eventually, though, Hermes came for me. My husband had a private conference with him, and then told me of my mother's sorrowful search for me. I did not want to return to the mortal world forever. And this is the part of my story that people often forget: I did not have to eat or drink. I chose to do so. I chose my new life, my new role as Queen of the Underworld, over my grieving mother and the human world.

Yes, it was selfish. But after tasting the passionate world that I had been offered... How could I go back? Hermes tried to stop me, but I would not listen. So, he went back to Zeus, certain he was going to get disintegrated. Instead, my father came up with a compromise. And so, every spring I return to my mother, to suffer her complaints and protest that my husband treats me wonderfully. It is the same, year after year.

Finally I have reached the gaping chasm in the earth where the Underworld meets the mortal world. I climb up to the surface, flopping onto my back on the ice-covered dead crust. As I lay there, my hair shielding my face from the sun, the ice melts away and soft green grass springs up beneath me. My mother knows I'm back, and I have awakened spring once again. Winter cannot come soon enough.

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Meagan Lindsay is a receptionist by day, but by night, she writes books about terrible things and kissing, but hopefully never terrible kissing. Meagan has had work featured in Every Day Other Things and Daily Love, and hopes to continue writing well on into the future. In fact, she doesn't know what she would do if she didn't write, though her mom has always said she was born to be a Disney Princess, so maybe that.
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