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tearing the rag off the bush again
Gods Awake PDF E-mail
...the young chef had no problem giving his blessings to his young wife to spend Sunday afternoons with the writer, when she would play her violi...

It happened that there was once a writer in New York City, an old man who still had his passions but not all of the facilities needed to follow them.  He was in love with a beautiful young woman, a violinist, and she loved him, too, though not necessarily in the way he wished; nor would it have mattered if she did since he had long ago lost the flame in his candle.  Still, he had an inferno’s worth of matchsticks in his heart.  The violinist was married to a fine young man, a chef, and this chef loved her.  And he trusted her.  With this trust, combined with his awareness of the writer’s feebleness, the young chef had no problem giving his blessings to his young wife to spend Sunday afternoons with the writer, when she would play her violin, and he would sit quietly and listen, or if a muse would sing to him in accompaniment to her violin playing, he would calmly write down whatever poetry the muse would sing him.  Being diabetic, the writer had to pay some attention to his health and constantly monitor his insulin.  But one particular Sunday as the violinist played a particularly beautiful Sonata by Bach, the writer slipped quietly into insulin shock, and then into a very peaceful comatose state.
Just prior to falling unconscious, the writer had been writing a poem to the goddess Aphrodite.  It was a beautiful poem that came to his mind in perfect dactylic hexameter, but which he felt should be written in iambic pentameter, that form being the best for the English language, he argued with the muse and himself.  The words he had managed to write were, however, in the style in which the muse sang them to him, that is in dactylic hexameter.  And as he slipped into unconsciousness, with the room and the world spinning into a lovely blur, he fought with the muse.
So, in a state of worldly unconscious, the writer awoke to find himself floating above a shoal off the coast of Cyprus.  As he smiled and looked in wonder at the perfectly crystalline blue sea, which was calm as glass, he noticed a flowing white linen hem and following that hem in a fluid and wavering line he came upon a lovely ankle, which he followed with his eyes up to a beautiful calf, and upwards to a half-covered thigh.  Using his mind’s power he willed himself to fly backwards in the air from where he hovered, and as he went up into the sky, he was able to make out a whole leg, and a lovely round stomach in the water, and floating still further back, he was able to make out an entire being lying asleep there in the water.  Suddenly he felt blood boiling in his heart and stomach, and a rush of what felt like adrenaline that made every hair on his body stand up tingling, and his arms and legs shivered at the realization that here was Aphrodite herself, sleeping in the shoal.  Her skin was as white as sand, her hair as black as volcanic rock, her lips as subtle and soft and round as one would ever imagine.  He dared not utter a sound, but after awhile a sound emitted from deep inside him, an accidental sigh that a lover might make involuntarily when he looks at his beloved and sees her beauty again as if it were the first time. It was a quiet sigh, but it was enough to make the goddess stir, and as her eyes slowly and sleepily opened the writer was filled with terror and fear at what he had done.  “What have I done!”  he uttered to himself, floating in the air, wishing he would fall into the sea and disappear. But he couldn’t move and he just floated there staring while the goddess rubbed her eyes with her lilting graceful hand, and stretched her leg and her long flowing neck. Then she looked up at him, her eyes as blue as the calm sea, and smiled a sleepy smile, her blue blue eyes gleaming at him like the sun.
“Thank you for waking me up,” she said in a voice that soothed every fear and calm swept over the writer like a soft current in the sea below. “I must have been sleeping for two thousand years or more,” she said, and reached up her open gentle hand and touched his cheek, drawing her enormous finger down to his neck. This sent a sensation through his entire body that he hadn’t imagined ever feeling again.  He was a little embarrassed, but she took it in stride and smiled in such a way as to convey that she understood, even that she was grateful for his physical response.
Then, all of a sudden, he felt himself falling from the sky, and everything went black.  Before he opened his eyes he became aware of a siren blaring, a loud horn honking, then of a soft hand on his face, and when he did open them, into his focus came the concerned face of the violinist.  Then he knew he was in the back of an ambulance.  He began to speak, to ask what happened, but she placed her gentle finger on his lip. “Don’t speak,” she said, “just breathe.” And he did.
It was very late before the violinist, Katrina was her name, came home.  Her chef husband had taken all day to prepare a wonderful Sunday dinner for them, and when she walked in, the entire table sat with food on plates, and he sat in a dark corner.  He was visibly upset, and it was obvious from the look on his face that any number of misguided thoughts had been swimming around his brain like a fire shooting from a broken gas line. She was exhausted, and very upset by what had happened to the writer, besides having to sit in the emergency room for hours and hours waiting to find out what would happen, if he would be released, or if they would keep him in the hospital for the night to observe him.  Had they told her he absolutely had to stay in the hospital she would have left, thinking a dozen different times she should call her husband to tell him what had happened, but she was never sure what to tell him.  New York hospitals being as they are, she kept thinking one thing and then another, and she was very upset by all of it, so she had not called.  By the time they had released him, and by the time she escorted him back home, and gone to get him something to eat, it was very late, and when she walked in to see the decayed feast, and saw the rage and mistrust in her husbands eyes, she simply and gracefully declined to speak, or to explain what had happened, and went to bed. For his part, he decided to roll up a big fat joint and go sit on the roof of his apartment and sulk, assuming all the worst: she had stopped loving him because he didn’t understand poetry; she had fallen for the writer because he did; she was going to tell him when it was convenient, and when she had figured out what her next move would be, and until then it would be all silence.  All manner of thought in this vein coursed through his mind. The endless stream of smoke he ingested aided the flood of thoughts, until he finally dozed off.
When dawn’s rosy fingers crept over the rooftop and tickled his face, his heavy eyes struggled open and he forced them closed against the steam of light.  But a sudden thud gave him a start and he jumped up. There, before him stood a stocky man with bright beaming powerful eyes, and strong hands and arms.  The man wore a toga, of all things, and that sight brought a smile to the chef’s lips.  The two locked smiling eyes, and there was an instantaneous affinity, a bond, as though they were old friends. The chef inquired, who are you?  The toga-clad man just smiled. The chef looked around him, his cheek still creased from sleeping on the cool tar roof, and found the stub of a joint near his feet, which he picked up, drawing his lighter from his pocket and slowly toward his lip to ignite. He took four or five long inhalations before offering toga man, who walked toward him with a slight limp and took the stub of the joint into his thick strong fingers and pulled a hit and coughed a little, which seemed to make the whole roof shake. But the chef had no fear in his heart. Rather he felt the man was there to protect him somehow.
“Who are you/”  he asked again.  The man smiled, then a sparkle entered his eye and he said, “Hephaestus.”
“God of fire and forge?” asked the chef.
“Fire and forge,” answered Hephaestus.  The god looked at the ground as if he were a little embarrassed at the answer.
“Wow,” said the chef. “What are you doing here?”  Then he added, “Am I hallucinating?” To which the toga wearing gimpy god smiled, waited perhaps a moment too long then said no, he was not.
“What are you doing in New York City?”
The god explained, in a voice neither angry nor calm, how the sun god, Helios, whom he described as a very nosy god, had come running to him to tell him that “Ares had gone whizzing past in a hurry, apparently chasing after my wife who, as far as I knew, was sleeping in her bed for the last two thousand years. I can’t imagine why she got up and came to New York City in such a hurry, but if Ares followed her, I know he’s looking for a tryst with her.  I have to at least pretend to mind.  Mind you, I do mind a little.  But it’s a bit of a joke.  What I love is work, he said.
“I feel the same way,” said the chef in agreement, adding, “but I would be upset if my wife slept with Ares.”
“Maybe you would consider it a favor.” Hephaestus looked around at the roof, then at the sky, and asked the chef if he had any more of whatever it was they were smoking. “My friend would really like that stuff,” he sheepishly said.  He was really very humble for a god, thought the chef, answering him, “I have plenty.”  Should I run down to my apartment and get some? The god said it would be very much appreciated.  By the time he returned, having quietly crept in and out without waking his wife, who slept soundly in a flow of white linen sheets, another man had joined Hephaestus.  He was a beautiful blond man with blue eyes that seemed to be floating in a sea of pink (his eyes were ever so slightly bloodshot.)  He wore a toga, too.  But he was lithe and impish looking, with a rye grin on half of his alabaster face.  
“This is my friend, Dionysus,” said Hephaestus.  Dionysus offered his soft hand to the chef and said how do you do. They spoke for a few minutes, the new god and the chef, while Hephaestus wandered the roof checking various aspects of the construction, beams, bolts, how the tar was laid, and how the door hinges were attached. Dionysus asked him where he came from, who his parents were, what things were like in the countryside, outside the enormous city, all of which the chef answered, and in the meantime he began rolling up a doobie for Dionysus to smoke.
“Have you ever done this?” the chef asked him.
“Once, at a party in Ethiopia,” answered the god, “but it was a long time ago.” The chef could tell he was probably lying, so he offered a caveat: this is really strong, he said.
The two spoke like old friends for a few hours before the chef realized that Hephaestus had disappeared, and that the day was slipping away and he thought to himself that he ought to go to the market to shop for the day’s food so his customers might have something to lovely eat that night.  He mentioned this to Dionysus, and the god thought that seemed like a wise choice, so the two went off on their ways, he to the market, and the god into the ether. When the chef went back down to his apartment his wife and her violin were gone and there was a little note on the (now cleaned up) table saying she had gone to check on the writer.  
‘I should be jealous,’ he said to himself, ‘but I guess I’m not.’
Now, the violinist walked toward downtown with her violin case strapped to her back, not bothered by her husband’s upset from the night before.  She trusted her love for him, and there was no reason for him not to do the same. He would come to see that eventually, and they were married forever and for a reason.  As she thought this through she gradually became aware of a strong presence directly behind her on the sidewalk.  She did not wish to turn around, but felt compelled to do so.  Waiting until she came to a red light, she took off her mirrored sunglasses, with the pretense of cleaning them on her cotton blouse, when in truth she used them to see who was behind her.  In the reflection she could see two mischievous eyes, and a flashing grin of a smile.  And suddenly she felt the man in the reflection step quickly to sidle up next to her.  He said hello, which sent a tremor up her spine. She was quite used to creeps approaching her on the street, and to ignoring them, but something was more resonant in his hello, and she was repulsed so strongly that she felt morbid curiosity filling her thoughts as to who this creep might be and what he could possible want, aside from the normal lascivious desires of catcallers and hushed whistlers that would pass her by.  She thought ‘this is a stalker that is not going to go away, ever.’ So as she walked, and he walked right beside her, she stared forward in quiet fear.
“No need to be afraid of me,” he bothered to say after several blocks. “I’m not here to hurt you.”  They both continued walking side by side, and after several more blocks she stopped in her tracks and asked him what he wanted.
“Maybe we could just have a drink,” said the strange man, his eyes glinted red from the reflection of her blouse.
“It’s noon,” she said. “Who has a drink at noon?”
“I happen to have some wine that is like ambrosia back in my room,” he answered. “It’s imported from heaven,” he added with an arrogant tone.
“No thanks,” she said, continuing on her way.  
“Well,” he said, “I’ll save it for you.”  He was ominous and a little scary, and she felt genuinely frightened, and, well, creeped out by him. When she arrived at the writer’s apartment she told him all about it, and he smiled and said something like, “now things are going to get interesting,” under his breath.  
The writer was supine on his velvet sofa with a cashmere blanket wrapped around his feet.  On the table near him were cookies, grapes, juice, an empty tea-cup, and some handwritten pages lay strewn about the floor.  The violinist asked him if he felt like hearing a new Albinoni piece she was learning, and he said he was a little tired and would prefer to hear the same Bach sonata she had been playing yesterday, so the two spent a couple of hours in their individual solitudes, she playing, and he working on his poem.  The violinist then excused herself, feeling it might be good to smooth things over with her chef.  
When she left the writer’s building the creepy man was standing there with a somewhat less creepy look in his eye than he had before.  In his hand he held some flowers, the commonest flowers that one would purchase cheaply at a deli, some white and pink day lilies, red and white carnations, and a daisy or two thrown in for color.  He handed them to her, apologizing for being so strange, but, explaining, “I am strange by nature,” which seemed sincere enough for her to take the flowers.  The two walked together for half a block, and in that time the violinist told the stranger that she was married, and did not feel comfortable talking to people on the street.  Only after they parted did she wonder how he knew to be waiting outside the writer’s door for her and she tossed the flowers in the first garbage receptacle she passed.
When she entered the restaurant where her husband worked, she saw him sitting at the bar writing out that evenings special offerings.  He didn’t notice her enter the place, so she was able to walk up behind him and place her hands gently on his neck, which made him shiver and smile.  Without looking up he said he was sorry for being so angry last night. She asked him what was for dinner last night and he said she should know since she threw it in the garbage this morning and they both laughed and everything was good again, as is the way with husbands and wives sometimes. She told him about the writer, and the hospital, and again said she was very sorry about missing such a beautiful dinner. He kissed her and disappeared into the kitchen, and she left him a little note saying she would be in for dinner to try his specials. Then she went to the bookstore to purchase a book of Ahkmatova poems and wandered to a small café to have a tea and read for a while. It crossed her mind while reading that she had discarded gifts from both her lover and her new stalker that morning, which brought a smile to her face, having, in her mind, retained the love of both.
Across the café there sat a very beautiful woman, graceful in every way, to the point that the violinist could not help thinking to herself that she was reminded of Ahkmatova herself who to her mind was the most beautiful woman that ever existed.  If anything, this woman was more beautiful, and she couldn’t help looking up from her book every now and then to catch furtive glances.  Each time she glanced at the beautiful woman, she was looking back at her with the most powerful blue eyes, and before long the beautiful woman motioned with her eyes for the violinist to join her at her small round table. Katrina was drawn instantly to the woman, and they began a lovely conversation, which went on for quite awhile when Katrina thought of her encounters with the strange man.  The beautiful woman asked her what she was thinking of, and Katrina told her about the stranger.  This visibly concerned the beautiful woman, who placed her long beautiful fingers up to her slightly pursed lips in concern.
“I know him,” she said.  This puzzled Katrina.  
“How do you know that?” Katrina said. It dawned on her that something strange was going on, and when she looked into the loving, kind eyes of the strange beautiful woman, she felt as if she were looking into the eyes of a goddess.  She believed in goddesses.  So, flat out, she asked: are you a goddess? The woman smiled, said nothing to acknowledge her question, and told her that the strange man was very strange indeed. Now Katrina believed the woman knew what she was talking about and let go of any suspicions, desiring more than ever to get to the bottom of who the stalking creep was. She pressed her to give her any information she could.
“I’ve known him for a long time,” said the beautiful woman, a little flush coming into her alabaster cheeks.  “My husband would kill him if he could. But he is hard to kill.”
Katrina thought for a second, then asked again: are you a goddess?  I do believe you are a real goddess. Who are you?
The goddess knew she was caught, so she nodded and her eyes fired up, her lips raised on the corners just enough to say yes. She suggested they get out of the café so they might talk more privately, so Katrina grabbed her book and her bag, threw down some money on the table to cover the tea and the tip, and they walked out.  
“I am Aphrodite.” The goddess was silent after this admission, and Katrina could not bring herself to speak. She thought: I need to be careful what I say around a goddess.  She had read too many stories about what happens when people mix with the gods.  But Aphrodite put a calming hand on the back of her head: “No need to be so guarded with me,” she said.  “For one, I know what you’re thinking.  Secondly, I am here for you.” Then she added, “Though I should admit that it was your friend who woke me up. And what a thrill it was to be woken by someone who loves me so much and so truly.  And he loves you, as you know.”
“Who is the creepy stranger?” Katrina asked.
“He is a very strange god.  A troublemaker.  I have often tried to avoid, but I have always been attracted to him. The truth is, I could do without him, and, if further truth be told, he could use a good solid spanking, or even a very nasty thrashing for all the trouble he’s caused, not only to me, but in the world. He is a detestable creature!”
“Who is he?” Katrina pushed for an answer.
“Ares, as you must have already surmised,” she answered, looking a little embarrassed.
“I knew it,” Katrina said. “Oh my god,” she said, “that is really scary.”
The goddess comforted Katrina and her fear seemed to vanish as quickly as it arose.  She gave her some pointers on how to deal with him: he liked to be loved, like all gods; he loved tokens of gratitude; he was egged on by what he could not possess. Mainly, she said, he’s out of his element in this city.  He needs to be acknowledged in order to have any power whatsoever, so if you don’t want him to bother you ignore him.  But, on the other hand, he is a powerful god, and he is enticingly hard to ignore.  And, she assured her, I will always watch out for you.  Just think of me and I will be there.  The goddess’s words were comforting, and Katrina felt a powerful sense of joy over their encounter.  She noticed the sun sinking low in the sky then, and she asked Aphrodite if she would mind, but she had promised her husband she would join him for dinner. The goddess then gracefully excused herself, and vanished into a crowd of pedestrians.
When Katrina walked into her husband’s restaurant she was surprised to find him sitting at the bar with a man she’d never seen. Her chef and the stranger were wrapped in a conversation, and there were numerous empty shot glasses sitting on the bar in front of them. She had half a mind to turn around and walk out before being noticed, but the stranger whispered something to the chef, and the chef turned his head sardonically to look at Katrina. “Shot of tequila?” he said with a slurred tongue.
She looked the stranger up and down and he looked her up and down, all but licking his lips in the most obvious and obtrusive way.  His outfit was ill-fitting, and entirely too baggy.  He wore jeans that showed the top of his derriere, and his shirt was some imported muslin job, unbuttoned to reveal his hairless chest.  It was not at all an attractive look, and he was even less attractive than his clothes, all slumped over the bar, his sideward leer giving him a pathetic drunken appearance.
“Who’s your friend?” Katrina said.
Her chef drunkenly replied: “This is Dionysus.  He’s from…” and he turned to Dionysus, “Where are you from?”
Dionysus answered glibly, “Olympus Heights,” and he slammed down another shot of tequila just as Hephaestus limped up to the bar.
“Who’s this one? Katrina asked.
“Hephaestus,” answered her chef.
“Jesus!” she said.  “What is going on here?” Just then she looked over at a booth in the back of the restaurant, where Ares sat in dim lighting.  He waived her over and she felt her blood rising, but remembering the things Aphrodite had told her, she took in some deep breaths and, excusing herself from her chef and present company, calmly walked over to him.
“What do you want?” she said.
“Just thought I would answer your questions,” he said, running his finger around a glass of wine.
“I don’t really care for you,” she said, looking him fiercely in the eye.
“Relax,” he said, taking a sip of wine.  “I’m here to help.  You don’t have to listen to Aphrodite.  She’s entirely too dramatic,” he said, looking down at the table. “Sit down.” She sat down, with some hesitation. “Here’s what is happening,” he went on.  “Your writer friend woke up Hephaestus’s wife. She, being the desperate bitch she is, transported herself as quick as Mercury to…here. When I noticed her leaving, I followed, and Helios, always in everyone’s business, when he saw me on the move, told Hephaestus, whom I respect as much as anyone else, gimp that he is. I have no idea what Dionysus is doing here, except that he seems to be pretty chummy with your husband. Now, I know I have a reputation for being bellicose, but I’m as much a lover as the next god.  I have it in me, believe me, to be a fine lover. But I was a little hurt that you threw my flowers in the trash.”  He looked her in the eye to find that she was only half listening. “I thought you were beautiful the moment my eyes fell on you,” he added, noticing she still wasn’t paying too much attention then added, “I would even say you were the most beautiful woman in the world.”  At this she picked up her eyes toward his, having detected the slightest tone of sincerity.
“Really,” she said, “why stoop to clichés?”
“I’m not a poet, I know it,” he smiled.
“Holy shit,” Katrina said, rolling her eyes, “maybe you should leave off being the subject!”
“Maybe I will,” he said. “But, it looks like you’re being subjected to some scrutiny right now.” He motioned toward the bar, where Katrina’s chef was gazing toward them with a look on his face. Katrina said excuse me and walked to the bar.
The scene at the bar was unpleasant.  The two gods, wanting nothing to do with such human interaction, told the angry chef they would see him later.  He, after many unsavory insinuations about Katrina’s consorting with strangers in his own restaurant, and that she had made a fool of him one too many times, and other accusations of this nature, slammed down two more tequilas and disappeared into the kitchen. Katrina, tears in her eyes, walked out, followed by Ares, but she told him to leave her alone. She had walked a block with no idea where she was going before she felt a sense of warmth in her whole body, and a voice emanating from within her saying: Let’s go and see how our writer is doing.  It was Aphrodite’s voice, calming, soothing, confident, unflustered. Katrina was calmed by the goddess’s voice inside her, and she thought the words: let’s do that. She felt an impish grin cross her face and a sparkle in her eyes.
It was morning before Katrina had another thought, which was: where am I? She looked around and began to recognize objects around her: a desk, bookshelves, an oriental rug, the smell of coffee, and then, her writer’s voice asking if that was her stirring around.  She felt her body under the blankets and knew she was completely naked.  No shame was felt, and she tried hard to remember what, if anything, happened, but not a single memory was produced. The writer appeared with a tray of coffee and some fresh croissants, jam, some peaches, some ripe melon, and a Times. He was smiling.
“I ought to explain,” he said.
“I ought to leave,” she said.
“It’s really not what you think,” he said, holding her hand familiarly, as she had held his hand in comfort when he was sick just the other day.
“It looks like what I think is exactly what it is,” she said.
“You may want to talk to the goddess,” he said.  “It was her.  You weren’t even here.”
Katrina was certain her husband, if he knew the details, would not see it that way. Though, it was the truth.  
“The thing is, my functions have not been right for at least twenty years,” added the writer, who, every few moments was lost in reflection of the previous night, delighted at the miracles the goddess was capable of, even if they were comparably small miracles that he had experienced, or so he thought. “If I were you, I would think it best to put it out of your mind,” he said.
She was somewhat confused; this was not something she herself would ever have done. She operated on a high moral plain.  She hadn’t even consummated her marriage to the chef until after their nuptials. Even though she was more than disturbed by her husband’s lack of trust, she couldn’t justify her own behavior, even though it was not her behavior at all.  Then she became quite angry with Aphrodite. “I have to go,” she said. “I have to get some perspective on this.” And she left without waiting for a response. As soon as she was out the door she thought something seemed strange with the writer.  He didn’t seem himself at all.  As she walked and thought this through she became aware of the goddess walking along side her on the sidewalk.
“I know you must be very upset,” said Aphrodite, almost sheepishly, perhaps even apologetically.
“I know enough to know that the gods do as they please, or they do what pleases them most,” said Katrina, adding, “I am no one to question.”  They walked for a few blocks without saying anything and Katrina broke the short silence: “I never realized, even after all the poems I have learned, how much trouble you gods could impose.”
“I understand your feelings,” said Aphrodite. “But, that husband of yours…seems a bit beneath you, if I might say that without being too imposing.  He seems to think that by plying you with his trade, which some god granted him as a gift in the first place, that he has come to deserve you.  A woman with your beauty, both inside and out, deserves somehow better than to be purchased with sausages and cakes.” This struck Katrina hard, and she blanched.  
“Some god must have given me whatever you are saying I am,” she said, very quietly.
“And you are certainly humble about it, but he, he is as arrogant about his skills as I have ever seen. He doesn’t cherish you at all.  He cherishes how much you appreciate his fishcakes.  He seems to feel you owe him something, that he rescued you from some meaningless life.  In fact, you rescued him, and he still drowns in his own thoughts.”
Katrina thanked the goddess for her words, which seemed objectively wise to her, then the goddess and she parted ways. Katrina watched her turn the corner into a crowd, her diaphanous dress fluttering slightly in the morning breeze between the pedestrians, and she was gone.  
As Katrina walked up the stairs to her apartment she could hear a very loud bass emanating all the way through the hall of the stairway. She was not in the mood for loud music.  As she approached the door she could hear the rumblings of a party crowd inside.  Even though this was the last thing she desired, she took the key from her pocketbook and put it in the lock.  As she turned the lock, the music got louder; and when she opened the door she was confronted with an almost unspeakable sight.  There was Dionysus riding around on a giant tortoise with the remote that controlled the stereo held high above his head pointed right at her; three dozen naked nymphs with ivy garlands hoisted her naked husband into the air with the beat of the music. Hephaestus was in the kitchen flambéing brandy in a sauté pan, and there were four or five waitresses she recognized from the restaurant doing unspeakable things to each other; all of them oblivious to Katrina. She did not bother taking the time to identify any of them, but turned heels and ran back down the stairs. She was more relieved than upset about what she’d seen. Her first inclination was to go back to her writer’s apartment, so that is what she did.
When she entered his apartment he was in the process of packing. She was surprised to see he was leaving town, feeling a little abandoned, which showed in her countenance, and which he detected right away. He explained that his poem about Aphrodite had already been accepted by a very fine publication, and that the editors had consigned him to write an article about Cyprus and the origins of Aphrodite to accompany his poem.  She smiled and congratulated him, but could not control the few tears that streamed from her eyes; it seemed to her that she was due for a very sad and lonely time while he was away.  He explained the rush to knock out the article quickly on his frail health and his fear that he would soon be unable to do anything at all, and she said she understood completely. Then he said, “Why don’t you come with me?” This invitation did not require a moment’s thought to accept.  She briefly explained what had happened with her husband, that she had nothing to pack, and nothing in which to pack it in, so she and the writer went to SoHo and bought just enough for their trip to Cyprus. That afternoon they were aboard a Concorde to Paris, and the next morning they flew into Paphos. By the end of the day they were in a small house just a mile from what is called The Rock of Aphrodite, the legendary place of the goddess’s birth just a few miles outside of the town of Paphos in Cyprus.
Before the sun began its descent the violinist and the writer made their way to the beach.  At first the sea was completely tranquil, but as they stood there and the sun, gigantic, beautifully pink and orange, began to touch the horizon, the wind picked up and the waves gradually went from small splashing eyelashes to substantially crashing mountains of water.  The writer seemed to have something on his mind, and he kept fiddling with something in his pocket.  Katrina didn’t ask any questions.  Time seemed to stand still, and the sun seemed to hold its place on the verge of the sea.  The horizon line grew an intense peach and purple.  The writer asked her to wait on the beach for a moment.  He walked toward the sea, kicked his shoes off then removed something from his pocket that at first she could not decipher, but when the sun’s rays hit it just so she could see that it was a golden band, a simple wedding ring. Before she could understand what was going on, he said some words toward the sea, put the ring on his left ring finger, and walked into the sea. He swam a ways out, and kept swimming until he became a very small black dot in the sinking sun then disappeared.

Katrina could hardly believe her eyes, but when what had happened, that her writer was not coming back, began to sink in they welled up with tears.  But things had been so strange lately that she hardly wondered why or what any of it meant. She just watched the sea, which calmed down as soon as the writer had disappeared, and then she began to make her way back to the little house. As she walked along the poorly paved road she heard footsteps approach her, but she didn’t look up. A strong voice began to speak to her; it was Ares’. “A child grows inside you of Aphrodite and of me.  I know you will shield her, but if you should ever need, all you will have to do is think of either one of us and your prayers will be answered.”
And so it was that the daughter of Love and War came to be conceived…
 
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