The sun rose over the horizon, gifting its radiance unto the world. The early morning rays drifted into the room, igniting the colors and creating beauty on the canvas beyond the window pane. It shines a path to my face, and I smile, a rising coziness in my core. I look around; I am not in my temple or at my residence in the OA. Even before I move the duvet, I feel his hand on my chest.

I turn to my right and see Dinlas sleeping next to me with a smile on his face. Under the duvet, our naked bodies lay entwined. My hands invariably reach for my mouth as I try to drown the loud gasp that escapes my lips. I smack my forehead and try to remember how and why I’m naked on Dinlas’ bed, but my memory fails me. Dinlas opens his eyes slowly, looking at me and smiling. “Good morning, sunshine.” 

For a God of Hate, his eyes this morning are filled with love, ecstasy, and adoration. He traces a stray strand of hair away from my face and pulls me closer to him in a tight embrace. I feel the thumping of his heart, slow and peaceful while mine was frantically racing. He must’ve felt the coldness in my embrace or the rapid beating of my heart, for he looks straight at me and asked, 
“Arty, are you alright?” 

I pull myself out of his embrace and grab my dress that lay crumpled on the floor. In one quick motion, I pull it over my head.

“I’m fine, Dinlas,” I reply.

I walk towards the window, grabbing my cell phone on the way. The date displayed on it tells me that it has been three days since I was last in the OA, three days since my meeting with Peitho. 

Peitho, the lunch, Erato! Oh, my goodness, Erato! 

In a flash, it all comes back to me. Going to Nox with Peitho, her teasing me about Dinlas, meeting Erato, and Nyx saying something about an incident, Erato’s weird behavior, kissing Dinlas, and then our date. 
The scenes from the temple floods into my mind. I shut my eyes to force them away, hoping it was all a dream, a beautiful dream, I think looking at Dinlas. Furnished with the memories and emotions of our lovemaking, I cover my face with my hands and lean onto the window. 

Dinlas eyes me from the bed. “Arty, is everything ok?” he asks again. 

I toss him his shirt. “Dinlas, please put on some clothes.”

He walks up behind me and wraps his hands around my waist. I turn around, place my hand on his chest, and push him away from our embrace. His eyebrows crinkle as he looks at me, hurt and concerned by my coldness. Ignoring him, I look out the window into the bright blue sky that is slowly giving way to large grey clouds threatening rain. Echoing my emotions, there is intense anxiety to the rain that starts slowly by tapping against the window, then picks up speed as though between the tumbling clouds and the earth, it is fearful of never reaching its destination.

“We, uh, we need to talk.” I decide to tell him the truth about what happened and about my feelings. 

My feelings? What do I feel for him? I did not know what it was that I felt for Dinlas, I have not given it any thought.
 “Dinlas, I do not know how to say this to you than with the honesty you deserve,” I look at him trying to gauge his reaction. 

Eyes are a strange ocean: they reflect the emotions from the depth of our souls, despite our best efforts to hide them. I notice the skepticism creep into his eyes as he searches mine for the affection he could no longer find.

“I am Artemis – Parthenos, the Virgin in its original meaning. I have always been free and wild, untamed, and bound to no one. And I choose to remain as such. You and I, we move in separate spheres, our challenges and futures are different. I do not know if it was love that we shared, but you shall always remain close to my heart. I must make a choice, and I cannot choose to be slowed down by emotional bonds. Thus, I have chosen to travel onward alone, as I always have.”

“Arty, what are you saying?” Dinlas takes two quick steps away from me. “That you were testing if this “virginal thing” still suited you? You wanted to try something different, and now you are done?”

“No, that’s not…”

He cuts me off and continues his tirade. “I asked you why? I asked you if you were ready?” He grabs me by my shoulders, and lets go of me just as quickly. “Was this an experiment? Were you just toying with the idea of love and knew me to be a willing prey?”

I flinch at his words. “Dinlas! How can you accuse me so? You know as well as I that it was Erato’s tragedy that resulted in, well, in mine, too! You must know, surely you must know, that I’d never willingly hurt you.”

“Tragedy? You’re calling our love a tragedy? A mistake?” he asks with disbelief at my choice of words. “You can blame Erato all you want, but you are no mere mortal. You are an Olympian Goddess. Surely the ill-effect of a mere muse would not distract you to such a degree. You had to know on some level of what you were doing, enough to want to stop it if you didn’t love me.” He speaks with an urgency that reveals his pain and frustration.

“I am sorry that you think that, Dinlas. But, the truth is that I am not ready to love in the way you deserve. Your anger at this time is justified. And you’re probably right, I was out of line. However, that is not going to change my mind. Walk away, I must and walk away I will!”

 He tries to stop me, but I interrupt him. 

“You are one of the few people for whom I will go into battle, and that will never change, but if you’re waiting for me to soothe your pain, then you are waiting in vain. I am sorry, Dinlas, I truly am, but I have nothing more to say!” I turn to look at him one more time before I walk out of the room and his life.

Artemis (Rashmi Menon)
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