Dec 09

Pluto

This is a prequal I wrote to the Roman myth of Prosperinia and Pluto. It was actually a school assignment, but I had a lot of fun writing the story. I hope you like it!


The Fields of Asphodel are crowded today. They are crowded every other day too, filled to the brim with normal people from normal lives who could have changed the world but chose not to. I stare down at the expressionless faces that stand silently for all eternity. They are my subjects, my responsibility, my burden. I wonder if my parents are down there, or if it is different for Gods. What I wouldn’t give to see them again, but fear has always stopped me. What if I don’t see them? What if I do?

I think it would break me, looking at them so...dead. I think it would kill me to see them as one of the masses. They were joyful, wonderful, and alive. I release a deep sigh and stare down the long, bejeweled table laden with ruby red pomegranates, shimmering glasses of champagne, chocolate confections, and amethyst lavender blossoms. 

It disgusts me. 

I shove away from the table, my obsidian chair screeching against the stone floor. It cuts through the silence like a knife. What good does this do me? All this wealth, this palace, this food? It did nothing for my parents. It will do nothing for me. All of the wealth in the world cannot stop a perfectly timed arrow or a shining blade. I storm down the empty halls, my steps thundering on the cold staircase and into the garden. My mother’s garden.

Ruby apples, amber pears, and citrine peaches hang from branches with leaves of cut emerald. Diamond lilies sit perfectly still on stems of peridot. Tiny sapphire blueberries are sprinkled generously throughout the bushes. I have seen it all before, but a deep, heavy grief overwhelms me as it always does when I visit. 

I see my mother here, in every leaf, every branch, every flower. Her voice follows me through the winding hedges as it did when she was alive. Once, it was her garden; she tended to every bud and blossom, sapling and tree. She would grace the air with songs of our kingdom’s glories as she worked, unafraid of getting dirt under her fingernails. But that was before. Before the ball, before the blood. I bury my head in my hands.
    Lively music floats through the halls, with sharp violin notes and a slow caress of the cello. The aroma of freshly baked tarts floats up from the kitchen as the ballroom fills with laughing people sipping on rich wines.

    I stand on the edge of the floor, hugging Tootles in my arms as I look up at the people around me.  No one is paying attention to me - or Tootles. I pout. They only have eyes for my parents, twirling away on the dance floor. It isn’t fair - this is my party too! I stomp my foot. As the horns let loose one last note, I walk towards Mother and tug on her skirt.

    “Mommy.”

    She turns, her eyes shimmering. I look up at her, willing her to understand. She smiles. I don’t need to tell her. She knows. Mother always knows.

    She looks down at Tootles. 
    “Well, hello Mr. Rabbit. Would you like to dance on this fine evening?”
    I nod Tootles’ head. Mother turns her gaze to me. 
    “Are you ready, my love?” 
I shake my head, my chin on my chest. She smiles. “The music will tell you what to do. All you must do is listen.”

The horn toots. The violin purrs. Mother smiles. The flute chirps. And the orchestra begins.

Mother grabs my hands and twirls me around as the ballroom melts into swirls of decadent light and color. She laughs, a sound rivaling the beauty of the song, and I laugh with her. 

I feel unbreakable.

    I remember that - thinking I was unbreakable. How wrong I was! It was the naive belief of a six-year old boy with every wish granted. No one is unbreakable, least of all me. I run my hands through my jet black hair and stare unseeingly at the brightly-colored plants in front of me. 
I wake up in the dead of night. My breathing is fast. It was the same nightmare again, the one where I am stuck in the Fields and cannot get out. I yell and scream, but I am stuck in the mass of unfeeling people for all eternity.

I hug Tootles to my chest and bury my face in his fur. At ten years, I’m too old to have a stuffed animal - it is unbecoming of the heir of the Underworld - but I can’t bring myself to get rid of him. I breathe in the calming smell, willing my heart to stop racing.

“Mom?” No reply. The house is as quiet as a cemetery. “Mommy?” I whisper.

She always comes. Why isn’t she coming? I furrow my eyebrows, slowly get out of bed, and walk towards the door. My feet barely make a sound on the smooth floor as I pad down the hallway cautiously.

“Mom?”

Suddenly, their room comes into view. The door sits wide open, hanging on broken hinges. Splinters of wood litter the ground like broken bones, and bare spots, devoid of paint, cover the door like battle wounds.

“Mommy? Dad? Mom?” I whisper.
And then I see the drops of blood.
“Mommy, Daddy!” I scream. My feet won’t move. They are rooted to the floor. Tears track down my face. The housekeeper comes running. 
“Pluto? Pluto, darling…” She grasps my shoulders, looking at the scene in front of me. 
“I -” She closes her eyes. “We need to leave.” 

But I can’t move. I can’t do anything but watch as person after person runs into my parents' room. The hallway becomes a cacophony of shouts and cries, prayers and pleas. The housekeeper pulls me to her chest. 

“You shouldn't have to see this.” She doesn’t cover my eyes, though. She knows I have already seen too much. She knows she cannot hide this from me and that I knew what had happened as soon as I saw the blood. 

They are dead. Killed. Murdered with their own blades, the only way to kill Gods. I want to cry, scream, beat my fists on the ground. But I don’t. I can’t. I can’t feel anything. 

Charon, my father’s right hand man, slowly walks toward me with a solemn expression. He kneels at my feet.

“All hail the new King.”

 
King? I was no king then, I am no king now. I laugh bitterly as the emerald leaves clink together in unholy music. Charon was a fool to put his faith in me. My father was a great man, but he died and left his kingdom in the hands of an ignorant child.  

My parents left their kingdom, they left their people, and they left their son, all too soon. We never found the assassin, never discovered who it was or why they were hired. I think it was my uncle, Poseidon. He was jealous when my father received more territory. Yes, the seas are large, but the Underworld is infinite and not governed by the laws of nature. It was a blank slate waiting to be built by its master, and it could have rivaled Mount Olympus. 

 Poseidon has always seen me as malleable. Maybe he wanted to rule the Underworld through me, or maybe it is someone else entirely who is responsible for my parents’ deaths. 

I don’t know. I never will.

I thought I could rule all by myself, and so I pushed everyone away.  I was too afraid to let someone in and make the same mistakes my parents had. As I closed my doors off, one by one, everyone left. First, the court, then the cooks, then the housekeeper and Charon. I haven’t spoken to him in years. 

I was hoping, hoping they would stay, hoping they would tell me that, no, they were not leaving me alone. But as I fervently hoped, each and every person left. 

Then it was just me - is just me - alone in my obsidian castle, sitting in my bejeweled garden, sulking at the cards I have been dealt.
I sit up.
I can’t do this anymore. I won’t do this anymore. Is this any way to live? Living each day like I am a slave to my parents’ fate, like there is no end to the grief, the guilt? Desperate anger surges through me. 

For years, I have told myself if I had just gotten there sooner, if I had just known. I should have known.

But I can’t do this. I can’t wait for the assassin to come for me. I can’t continue believing it was my fault. I can’t keep shoving everyone away.
I can’t.
I don’t have to. 
I am not going to.

I run out of the garden, the gate slamming behind me, the walls blurring on either side of me. I run until I reach my chariot, a wave of my hand harnessing the midnight horses with one thought. I don’t know what I am doing, where I am going, I don’t know. 

I laugh. I am okay with that. I am okay with not knowing what will come next. I have eternity to live, so I am going to live. 

I clap my hands once, and the horses immediately bound out of stables and towards the world above. Fire dances on their manes, and smoke pours from their nostrils. I am doing it! I am actually doing it! There is no room for doubt in my mind, no room for anything but pure joy. I scrunch my hand in a fist, and the earth breaks open above us in a shower of dirt. The chariot sails through the hole and into the world. I crow with elation, lifting my face to the marvelous blue sky. 

I can see everything. The luscious trees swirling in the wind, somehow so much more comforting than those in the Underworld. The birds chirping their merry songs. The water flowing in a babbling brook. 

A girl.
A beautiful girl. 
Her honey-gold eyes stare at me, wary yet unafraid. She is brave and she will not cower.

I know, as I look at her, that I am hers. That she will be mine. My light in the darkness, my flower in the gloom, my spring in the winter. 
My eternal love.