A Message in the Titles

“What have I done?” I whispered to myself. “It’s ruined. I’ve destroyed the archives. What the hell is wrong with me?” I stared down at the sickle in my hand, that feeling of insanity crawling back into my mind.

I left my kitchen without bothering to clean up the mess. I was seething inside. Who would dare tamper with my special blend? Who would have the audacity to enter my world and tear it apart? Who had forgotten that I was a goddess?

I ran back to my desk and grabbed a pen and notebook. From there, I ran down the hall to the archives. I thought maybe there had been another instance in our history of an immortal being drugged in this way. This wasn’t something a mortal would have done. This was something only a god would know.

As the automatic lights flickered, I found the library in disarray. Books and tomes had been tossed about as if in a windstorm. Papers and parchments hung from light fixtures while scrolls ran the length and breadth of the room. It was utter chaos.

As I looked at the shelves, I noticed that there were still books in place, but not quite in their original place. It was as though they’d been purposely grouped. 

I moved from one set of books to another, yet nothing made sense. In one instance, I found a collection of nine books. I read the titles of each, hoping to find a connection. 

“Navigating the Oceans, Initiation Rites, Gods of the Hidden Valley, Hammarabi’s Directives, Territorial Boundaries, Monolithic Architecture, Aegean Royalty, Restructuring the Hierarchy, Ephesus’s Lost Temple.” I read each title aloud, trying to figure out what they had in common.

I looked at all the books still standing in place. I didn’t get it. The only thing that seemed similar in their titles was the fact that they’d all been housed together for centuries. Many of the manuscripts were older than most nations. Maybe that was it. Maybe it was their age.

“No,” I mumbled to myself, “they still span several thousands of years. Come on, Demeter, what are you missing?” 

I stared at the books, reading the titles aloud again, but this time also writing them down. “Diomedes of Argyripa, Ethereal Incantations, Metamorphic Transitions, Eleusis Burning, Testimonials of the Gods, Elysian Mysteries through Time, Reversing Common Curses, Songs for the Dying.” Again, I found no connection.

“Damn it,” I growled as I plopped down into the nearest chair. I looked around the room, feeling as though the answer was right in front of me. I just couldn’t see it. Frustrated, I glanced down at my paper, and I saw it.

My mouth went dry as I looked at the list I had created and realized what it was that the books were trying to say. The first letter of each title spelled my name when put together. It literally screamed DEMETERS.

I looked back at the first group of books I’d noticed and wrote down just the first letter. When I saw the two words together, my blood ran cold. DEMETERS NIGHTMARE.

I ran from one shelf to the next, writing down the first letter of each book in each group. I picked out words such as DEMON and COLLECTOR. But it was when I went back to the first row of shelves that I got the biggest surprise of the evening. A strange grouping of books stood on the top shelf. 

There were a total of seven books, one by itself, then three together, then three more. I wrote the titles down, breaking the words by number of books. “Iasion and Demeter, Oracles of Delphi, Women of the Southern Hills, Noteworthy Speakers of Classical Athens, Young Olympians Training Guides, Ovid’s Dialogue, Understanding the Unspoken Tongue.” 

The words that came to light on the paper chilled me to the bone. I OWN YOU. I felt as though all the breath had been sucked from my lungs. I couldn’t make a sound. I couldn’t move a muscle. I could only scan my eyes around the room in disbelief. Then I saw it hanging on the wall. The object that reminded me of who I was. The Sickle of Harvest.

A well of repressed emotions rose to the surface. My face went hot, and my eyes went red. I felt myself stand up and move to the wall, though it wasn’t of my doing. The fog of an ancient memory began to form in my mind’s eye. A flashing blade, slicing through the last stalks of a nation’s only food supply. The weapon I’d used to lay waste to the world when I’d lost my daughter. 

I curled my fingers around the grip of the sickle. My face tightened and my nostrils flared. “No, you don’t!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. I spun on one heel and sent all my energy outward, slamming the sickle into the shelves with everything I had in me.

The first shelf flew backward, smashing against the next, sending the rest of the room into a domino effect. Books flew in all directions. Windows shook at the reverberations of the blade’s power. Lights flickered from the sudden surge of electricity in the air. Though it all happened within seconds, I felt as though I were moving in slow motion.

As the initial rage left my body, I could see the chaos it had left in its wake. Whatever had happened in that library earlier was nothing compared to what I’d just done. It was enough to bring me back to my senses. 

“What have I done?” I whispered to myself. “It’s ruined. I’ve destroyed the archives. What the hell is wrong with me?” I stared down at the sickle in my hand, that feeling of insanity crawling back into my mind. Was any of this real? Was I really being tormented, or was this all of my own imagination? Was I doing this to myself? The thought was almost too much to bear.

With tears running down my cheeks, I lay the sickle down and retrieved my notebook. My hands shook as I looked over the words once again. Then, a few titles began to jump out at me. One hit me as though I’d never heard of it before, Iasion and Demeter.

The thought of my dear Iasion brought a little glimmer of hope to my shattered soul. I still missed him, my first true love, my only true love. I remembered thinking his eyes were the same color as the Aegean itself. I remembered the way his lips felt on the nape of my neck. I remembered…

“I remember,” I said with a bit of surprise. “Son of a bitch, I remember.” 

I looked back down at the book in my hand. The written story of my one and only love. This was coming with me. I looked back at the list of books, and a few others resonated with me. I finally felt as though I might be on the right trail.

I went through the room and tried to find all the titles that I’d taken note of. Though it took some time, I managed to do so. I threw them in a cart, then went back for my sickle. I knew I needed to get everything back to my personal library. Whoever had their sights set on me hadn’t realized that they had given me a lead. My first clue was my own story.

I took one last look at the destruction I had wrought. It was possible I was imagining some of this, but I knew at least part of it was real. I just had to follow the leads and do what I did best. I had to prove my case, and this might be my only chance.

Demeter (Christine Graves)
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