I made my way to the apartment of Persephone, wondering if I was doing this right. Does one call ahead, schedule an appointment? Or is showing up unannounced better? I was not one for unplanned visits, and yet here I was.
The woman at the front desk of the building smiled at me as I passed by, which I returned with a short nod, pressing the elevator button. I felt eerily calm, a strange emotion to have when going to see someone you had called wife for so long. The doors slid open and once inside, I felt a small twinge of nerves. Perhaps I wasn’t as calm as I thought I was. I dug my hands into my pockets, hoping it would help stave off my rampant nerves.
With a soft ding, I arrived on her floor and headed towards her apartment door, running my fingers through my hair absently, worrying over what I would say first. I only hesitated once – when I went to push the doorbell.
“Be right there,” came her lilt, muffled by the closed door. There was a shuffle of movement and after a brief pause, she opened the door.
Persephone is, in a word, stunning. Inside and out, she is a beautiful person. Her wit and intelligence is what first captured me those moons ago – she had been so easy to speak with about anything and everything. Her laugh is infectious, and her eyes used to sparkle whenever I said her name. She was as delicate and gorgeous as ever, but an expression of disbelief and quiet joy.
“Hades?” She looked out into the hallway. “What are you doing here?”
“Persephone,” I nodded my head in a short bow, “do you have a moment to speak with me?”
She stared at me for a moment, arms crossed as she assessed me before stepping aside and letting me pass. Her taste of decor was almost entirely opposite my own: whites and pastels, foliage vivid and luscious sprinkled around the apartment. Where she was bright and tidy, I was sumptuous and orderly.
“I apologize for the abrupt intrusion, but I thought it better to not wait any longer than I seemed to have.”
I sat on the edge of the nearest chair, Persephone mimicking my movement, eyes following me carefully. “It’s not a problem at all. What’s on your mind, Hades?”
I rest my arms across my knees, hands clasped as I studied her for a moment. Once upon a time, I exalted and worshiped this goddess. Now…
“I-I do not think we should continue this arrangement we have built around ourselves. I, um,” I hesitated, wondering if the words would choke me. “We need to see other people, Persephone. This isn’t going anywhere, and we both can see that.”
The Queen sat back on the sofa, wide eyes suddenly shining, and I felt my heart twist.
“You…you want to separate? A…divorce?” she breathed, curling her knees up to her chest.
I regarded my hands again for a moment, before nodding once. “I…I do, my Lady.” I took the chance to glance at her. Her eyes were faraway, almost staring right through me, cheeks as pink as the flowers she loved. “Aghapimenis, if it means anything at all to you, it’s not you. It is not any other god or goddess, either.”
Persephone refocused on my face, worry written all over hers, and I swallowed hard.
“I do not know who I am anymore. ‘Lord of the Underworld’, what does that even hold anymore? I ferry the dead to their slots here, day in and day out. I lost my hobbies, my want to explore. I stopped coming to see you, spending time with you – and it never crossed my mind to do something about it. I lost myself somewhere in this Zeus-forsaken place, and I just woke up this morning.”
A heavy silence seeped into the room, and I was not sure what Persephone would do – or what I should do. She leaned forward slightly, eyes bright as she listened to me.
“I cannot devote myself to you as a husband – I have already proven that I am incapable of doing so these past two decades, and I am sorry I have… failed you. I would, however,” I rubbed my forearm absently, “be entirely remiss if I did not say I still wish for your friendship. I understand this to be a highly ludicrous thing to say at the moment, but it is how I am feeling. You are still special to me, Persephone. I still care a great deal for you. But not like that…you deserve far better than that.”
A single tear slid down her cheek, and chills ran through me. Persephone unfolded herself from the sofa and stood beside me.
“If… if that is what you need to do, I will not stop you. I take no pleasure in it, but I have always wanted you to be happy, so…” she took a shuddery breath, “…so do what you think you need to do, Lord Hades.”
I was at a loss for words. Persephone was far too good a soul to have in the Underworld – Demeter was right. We sat like that in silence for a long while, before I rose from my seat and made the short walk to the front door, shutting it quietly behind me and leaning on it.
My chest felt heavy, though the smallest light had turned on. I was not happy, by any means, to have hurt Persephone. But what was worse: lying or telling the truth? I hoped she would forgive me in time, and perhaps heal. The light inside me told me I had done the right thing, but I did not want to explore what that means right now.
I headed back down the elevator, hands fidgeting. All I could hope was that the die fall luckily, and that I would be fortunate enough to keep a bond with her. But until then, I had work to do.