12. Hospitality

12. Hospitality

I couldn’t bear to look directly at Selene.

She still had her baby-blue coat on, but it just made her look thinner because it was designed to be baggy.

Calliope, who was a lot bolder than me, spoke up in a cheery voice before the silence got too awkward, “So, Selene, you look so thin!”

Selene lowered her head and said in her gentle, brittle voice. “I’m trying, Calliope. I’m trying very hard. But I have this disease in my stomach that makes it hard to absorb nutrients.”

At this moment the seemingly useless stuff I learned in biology came back to me. Of course! Selene was thin because she was ill, not because it was a natural thing! Now I wondered why Aphrodite and the others would want to be ill all the time just to be thin.

“What disease is this?” Calliope sounded concerned.

“Um.” Selene’s brows furrowed. “I don’t know.”

“But you drink so much medicine,” Calliope pressed, “how could you not know?”

Selene shook her head. I was afraid that her head would fall off from her fragile neck. “I really don’t, Calliope.”

We entered the school hall, where the prom was held, because the school hall was the only place that could fit so many people.

Those who had acquired their god/goddess title were showing off; those who hadn’t, like the three of us—well, we just stood and watched their performance. Apparently, Aphrodite could change how she looked; she was the only person with a large number of guys around her. I looked around for Hades but didn’t see him; maybe he was too conscious.

I also saw Zeus and Hera talking. Hera had a stunning dress of many colors; the fabric was made like some kind of bird’s feathers. She looked like a queen. Zeus, on the other hand, was wearing a tuxedo, simple yet kingly. To my amazement, Hera held out her hand and Zeus gladly took it—I could see his gleeful expression. Together they danced away.

Then we were being paired up. We grabbed the nearest person—who happened to be Calliope, in my case— and danced. Calliope was as bad in dancing as in singing, though I didn’t point this out because she would step on my foot using her 12-centimeter heel.

The melody changed and Calliope flew out of my hand. Before I recovered, someone else had already grabbed me; I circled on the spot until I came face to face with him.

“Hi, Persephone.” Poseidon’s deep voice rang in my skull against the music. He was smiling at me; I would have fainted if it were not for the remainder that he was dating with Aphrodite.

For one second I didn’t know what to do: to relax or to yell at him for attracting attention to me once-again. My steps became clumsier, and I stepped on him twice. I wished my expression was angry enough to make him understand.

The music changed again, this time to a waltz, and I struggled out of Poseidon’s grasp. Someone else’s hand touched me and sent a jolt down my spine. I turned around and came face-to-face with Hades.

I opened my mouth to say hi but no sound came out.

“I wouldn’t leave you to the dogs,” he said.

Hades was dressed formally in tuxedo like Zeus was, but the rims of the tuxedo were decorated with lots of golden powder so that the suit reminded me of his black wings. He placed a hand behind my back and led me into the waltz. Dancing with him was swift, like dancing with Calliope (that was because Calliope and I both sucked at dancing, and because Hades was so good); when I looked at him to see what he was thinking, his dark eyes demanded mine to stay on them.

It seemed to take forever for this piece of music to end. For some reason, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to feel the hospitality he gave me that no one else seemed capable of giving, not even Calliope or Poseidon. And now Poseidon was a nobody; it seemed ridiculous that I had liked him just a few days ago.

The music was approaching to its end—I could feel it, but I could not freeze time. My expression must have been frantic, because Hades smiled. It was a sad smile, or it seemed, because Hades wasn’t the kind of person who smiled a lot.

“Persephone, I hope you wouldn’t abandon me.”

“What?” I said shakily, fearing the end of the waltz more.

“You’re the only one who wouldn’t avoid my company.”

I laughed. “Why would I?”

He leaned closer, as if he didn’t want anyone else to hear what he was going to say.

“Because I’m the god of the dead.”

(featured photo by Blake Bonillas)

via: Hospitality


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