Book of Hades
I am normally very content with my own company. I am surrounded by the dead so much I can barely think. So when I am truly alone, I feel relaxed. But sometimes, I feel empty. I have a gaping space in my heart, like part of my being is missing. That part is my wife. Persephone.
It had been a quiet day in the Underworld. I had walked around, making certain everything was in order before going to my throne room and sitting. I looked to my right, at my wife’s empty seat. She was not there. She spent half the year in the Underworld and the other half away. I began to miss her terribly. I missed her eyes, her smile, on the rare occasion I saw it, and just her general presence.
It was no secret my wife never wanted me. I was Lord Hades, strong and powerful, but I could not have her willingly. I’d refused to accept that and just took her. Did I feel guilty about it? No, I did not. We had been married a very long time, and you got used to certain things. She came to terms with being my wife, to a certain extent. But the more time that passed, the more I began to realize that taking her was not the same as having her.
I wanted her to give herself to me willingly, to love me. Did I feel guilty then? Yes, and no. I was a very different god in the old days. I was arrogant and angry a lot of the time. I was no longer that god. As time drifted by, I became more open-minded about life. As I watched from the shadows of the Underworld, I began to enjoy the changing world above me. New age humans began entering my dominion. I found them fascinating with their lives, their knowledge of all things new, the technologies and advancements of the world.
I became infatuated with the new look the world was taking. As a god, I’d never really seen humans as beings that had something to offer me, something that would change me or my way of thinking and living. It gave me a fresh outlook on everything. I watched and learnt how their lives were a constant game of give and take, and the ones that gave were always the happiest. I began to think about the gods. Are they the same? Do they know about this mysterious thing that makes you and others happy? Maybe I was just slow on the uptake, or maybe it was just a human thing. I had no idea. I had given things, taken things, and others had offered me things, but I had never felt happiness from them. Maybe it was different in the matter of love? That personal sacrifice of giving must be powerful.
I once tortured a soul who didn’t care that I was hurting him. He had only cared about the hurt he had caused his wife. He had killed her in a fit of rage. He kept telling me he deserved the pain, even welcomed it. He thought it would somehow make up for what he had done. It was a strange mixture of love and guilt.
I found myself thinking about Persephone. For the possibility of easing my sins and the hurt I caused her, would I welcome the pain this man had gone through? I found myself saying yes. I would go through it for her. I loved her. But it wouldn’t change anything. My torture would not change the past or make up for anything I had done. Did she hate me? Did she resent me? If I offered to let her go, would she leave me forever? I could never willingly let her go. I had come a long way with feelings and emotions. I understood them better, but I was nowhere close to putting myself through the torture of losing her. I guess I’d lied before. I would not put myself through torture for her. Maybe I was not as strong as I thought I was. My weakness made me feel angry and more lonely than ever. Did she really hate me?
I sat and mused over these things. My stomach twisted and turned, making me feel sick. What was that? Why did she make me feel this way? Every story and song I had ever heard said love was a beautiful thing. It was amazing. They were so happy because they were in love.
That’s Cerberus crap. Love was the greatest torture there was, and I should know. I would welcome every torture technique there was over it. Tartarus was like Elysium, compared to love. Pain was one thing, but love was in a league of its own. It was the dominant force and could defeat anything, even the mighty King Hades, Lord of the Underworld. If she’d loved me back, then I was sure it would be a beautiful and amazing thing. But nothing I had seen or heard, over the thousands of years, had indicated her affections for me. Not that I blame her. I’d forced her to marry me, she hadn’t chosen to.
The door to my throne room opened suddenly, snapping me out of my misery. My heart stopped. I couldn’t breathe. I was in a state of shock and awe. It was her. She had returned home. I felt a tear escape the corner of my left eye, clinging to my lashes, before rolling down my cheek.
“Persephone,” I said, in a relieved voice as I rose from my seat, offering her a smile from across the room.
“Hades,” she said in greeting, looking back at me. She didn’t smile, and she had no affection in her voice or on her face. Her eyes were a sparkling silver, and she wore a dress similar in colour. Her blonde hair hung loose over one shoulder, and a smell of freshly fallen rain on a sunny spring morning drifted towards me. It was intoxicating.
I was about to say more, but she nodded to me respectfully and left the room. For the most part, she had taken over torture in the Underworld and even enjoyed it. In that respect, I was one of her victims. She didn’t mean to do it. In a way, I did it to myself. She hadn’t made me love her.
Love was bloody torture. But, strangely enough, I wouldn’t want to lose that feeling. It made no sense, yet it made perfect sense.
I sat back on my throne, continuing to live in my personal torture chamber…my heart.