I'm working on a short story series about Women in Greek Myth. This is Medusa's story.
I smell him before I see him. Hot blood, salt tang sweat. Dust stirs beyond the dark pillars. Death has come, as I knew it would. It lies in the shaking hand of a boy hero sent by grey-eyed Athena, the tireless one, the hope of soldiers.
The curse of women.
My life is hers, of course, sworn in blood on her chaste altar. Hers to hold in her pale hand, the daughter of Zeus.
I cupped the flickering flame of her votive candles, bound my potency to her divine service. Until I brought shame. Until Poseidon saw the white twist of my ankles, the fair cheeks beneath my virgin veil. Until he seized and took what was sworn to her, stole my gift away. I still smell his salt, hear the roar of the ocean mingled with my screams.
There is a clatter close by, an overturned urn. His sudden silence is as loud as an echo. Fear. It is palpable, in him, in me. I cover my face, feel the scrape of scales against my cheeks. Snakes hiss in chaotic agitation, coiling around my once smooth shoulders.
This was her punishment, bright-eyed Pallas; her curse on the daughter of Keto, whose virgin blood outraged her untouchable shrine. I am a monster, unclean. Banished to the fringes of Hades, beyond the black river.
Waiting for him, her chosen one.
“Medusa!” His voice vibrates with uncertainty. I see the flash of his burnished shield.
Not again. I will not be used again, my potency subsumed. I am Medusa. I am death to all who I behold. No man will spill my blood again. I open my eyes, stare into the darkness.
The sword whistles.