Fiction: ‘Medusa’

74 - Medusa

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She stares at the hideous apparition in the mirror as though frozen by its reflection. Her skin is cracked and split, glaringly white even in the shadows. Her lips are the pallor of someone long dead. In place of her lovely chestnut curls are deadly snakes which twist and writhe from her scalp, their scaly bodies coiling around one another.

The huge dark eyes take in the thing that she has become.

Something cold and dark ripples beneath the black surface of her eyes.

If only it would work with a mirror.

If only Athena had been more merciful and let her transform herself into stone, leaving nothing behind except a grotesque gargoyle in a ruined garden. She’d been happy and beautiful once. Her life had a purpose, and she dedicated every day of it to Athena as a priestess in her largest temple.

But then Poseidon had risen from the sea and claimed what he wanted.

Athena had shown no pity when she placed her curse upon Medusa as she lay on the floor of the temple, broken and bleeding.

When she awoke she was in the ruins of a decaying temple on a barren island.

Generations of foolish boys had come creeping up the shores of her island, with a sword in one hand and an empty sack in the other. Every single one had wanted to slay her. And now, every single one stood in her overgrown garden, turned to stone with that look of terror emblazoned on their petrified faces.

Their sightless eyes teased her.

She longed to look into live eyes sparkling with life as they look back into her soul; but you cannot look at what isn’t there. When she tried to warn them before they had a chance to glimpse her face, only hissing came out.

Her ability to speak had been wrenched from her.

Eyes were the only bridge to humanity that she had left.

She remembers the first time she had looked into someone else’s eyes after Athena had transformed her. She was suffocating under the desperation to communicate what had happened; to connect with another human being in some way, and feel the soft comfort of understanding and compassion.

She didn’t realise that her new form would never allow this.

His face, full of revulsion, had hardened into stone before she could stop it.

She looks on into her own soulless eyes reflected from the glass as his steps echo through the ruins. Slowly, she turns. His footsteps enter the stone chamber. His breath quickens audibly. He grasps a sword in one hand and a mirrored shield in the other, but his face is turned away from hers.

She looks at his downcast eyes.

Blue as cornflowers.

His skin is smooth and sun kissed.

She hisses a low warning, but he only draws closer, angling his shield as he approaches.

She draws back.

She doesn’t want to kill him. For the first time in years she can feel her heart beating in her chest again, still strong and brimming with emotions she had long ago thought dead.

Hope. Passion. Sorrow.

Somewhere deep down inside, she can feel herself start to sink under the weight of those raw feelings that had once been hers.

Guilt. Hatred. Despair.

Perseus is near enough now for her to smell his sweat.

He lifts his sword high into the air. It quivers slightly before coming down in a cutting arc. She bows her head to him, her neck exposed to the swinging blade, and thinks of the quiet relief that only death can bring.

           ~ Ekaterina

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