Story – 500 word or less

Thaïs pt. II

II. Prostitute 

I limped down the path.

Athena! How my head swam. Too many blows. The bruise about my eye left throbbed. My body ached. How it ached! Especially there; down there, where he had

It was not supposed to be this way. He had come with a beautiful smile and easy tongue. He had chosen me over the other girls, saying I was the most beautiful. I could see the jealousy in the girls’ eyes as I threw my cloak on.

Our business is usually done in the house, but he had paid extra to take me somewhere private. A decrepit cottage out of town. Where no one can hear you scream.

My stomach turned. I left the path, and retched.

Standing up, I saw far below a boat – a trireme – sail into Piraeus’ harbour. I wished myself onto it, and to a new life; somewhere, anywhere away from men. The gods did not hear me.

I wiped my split lip. Blood mixed with the white lead that was my make up stroked my hand. I wondered what I had done wrong; how had I displeased him? Yes, he was my first client, but the girls had given me much good advice and I had lain with a slave to get practice. What had I done wrong? Confused, I cried. I cried, and did not stop crying until night fall.

Night. Stars glittered overhead but the world was bathed in darkness. I shivered in the cold. The rags that he had been kind enough to leave me were no protection were they in pristine condition, and he had forced me to leave without my cloak.

All was quiet as I stood up to resume my journey back to – what? I had broken a house rule by not returning this afternoon. I would certainly be fined, maybe expelled.
“But look at me, sir,” I murmured, “It was not my fault!”

I lifted myself up; faintness over came me, and I fell forward. I did not move.
“Hades take my future,” I said, “for this day he has stolen my past.”
“You don’t believe that,” a voice – female – replied, “if a bandit came and raped you or took a knife to you, you would fight back. Even if it was just a scratch for his stab, you would give him something to remember you by.”

I pushed myself up on my arms and looked round. A lady, flanked by two slaves, sat on a tree trunk a few feet away.
“Thaïs of Athens,” she said, “you have led me on a merry chase these last few weeks, but finally I have found you.”
“Who are you?” She smiled, smugly.
“Today I am Aphrodite taking pity on you; tomorrow maybe I shall be Hera commanding you, or Aspasia teaching you, or no one saying goodbye to you. I hope, however, that you will let me be Aspasia.”

She walked towards me, knelt down, and offered her hand. I took it, and she took me.

Categories: Story - 500 word or less, Thais of Athens | Leave a comment

Thaïs Pt. I

1. The Pact.

My father knelt down beside me. Balancing himself on his haunches, he scooped up a handful of dirt from the garden path. He felt it within his grip with a strange satisfaction, as if it were money. On a moment, however, he opened his fingers. All was quiet; all was still: the world had paused, as if it was unsure how to respond to this simple act. Then, Boreas replied. He blew the dirt from my father’s hand in a small cloud and sowed it upon the path and the grass on which I sat. I shivered at the feel of his cold breath upon my bare arms.
“Thaïs,” my father said, patiently, “This is how the world is. We build, and we think that our works will be eternal, but against the power of the wind, they are nothing. If we are fortunate, we will die before the wind shows us this. I have not been fortunate.”
“I hate the wind.” I said. “I curse it.”
“Shh,” father said, “Be careful what you say.”
“But you do not believe in the gods,” I replied, accusingly.
“Maybe that is why we are having this conversation.”

Once upon a time there was a king; he was a powerful man, and he lived in a palace of fire. He did not eat, nor did he drink; he fought many wars. If he was injured, he simply returned to his palace, and wrapped himself in flame, and it healed him. The fire would make him stronger, invincible. This was the first story that my father ever told me. I remembered it now because I wanted to be that king’s queen. I wanted to share in his strength; to share in his power. How I wanted to be powerful!

Powerful. Powerful, so that I had the power to save my father’s business. Powerful, so that I had the power to take revenge on the men who ruined him. Powerful, so that I had the power to bring wealth, honour, and safety to myself. If anyone had told me that it was possible to gain that power by walking into a real fire, I would have done so. I dreamed of doing so; in my waking hours I put my hand as close to the fire of our hearth as I could before the heat drove me away. On the day we lost our home, before the hearth was extinguished, I made a pact with the fire; I promised that if it helped me win back what my father had lost, I would worship it. I cut the palm of my left hand. As blood seeped out, I took a twig. I lit it, and extinguished the flame in my cut hand. The pain! But now I was the fire’s blood sister. I would make my father rich again.

Categories: Story - 500 word or less, Thais of Athens | Leave a comment

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