It was a sunny day. Hades and I were sitting in the place that he had first shown me his powers. A light breeze blowing across our face made it much more tolerable for a hot summer day. I hesitated for a long time before saying, “Do you know something that I don’t?”
He didn’t look surprised. “You know, we gods aren’t supposed to tell people about our…knowledge.”
I didn’t mean that, but I said, “Knowledge? You mean like the existence of primordial gods?”
“Not just that, but yeah, it’s kept a secret and only gods can talk about it among themselves.”
I was about to ask what would happen if I told the non-gods about these knowledge, but I knew the answer—it was embedded in my mind when I became a goddess: I would go to Tartarus if I disobeyed the rules here.
“Um, Persephone.” Hades paused. “I’m sorry for trying to interfere with your Exam. You saw an image, right? After you became a goddess.”
“Yeah,” I said absentmindedly. “I saw the primordial gods. Jeez, there’re five of them!”
“No. I mean the image.” He looked eagerly at me. I could tell from the look of his expression that he, too, had seen an image, when he passed his Exam a few months ago. I did not know what he had seen, but I was sure it had something to do with the both of us. When I asked him what he had seen, he said, “I saw something quite different. You were lying on the ground and not breathing…”
I held my breath. “Does it mean anything? Does the image tell the future?” Of course, I didn’t want the image to tell the future, because I didn’t want to be dead or half-dead or anything, and I didn’t want my own image to come true, either.
“I don’t know,” he replied, a worried look on his face.
Not wanting to know more, I said, pointing up at the sky, “Remember that day? Can you take me up there?”
“What? No!” he protested, shaking his head frantically. Somewhere deep in my heart, I knew I shouldn’t. But I wanted to see what would happen. There must be a world outside this one—a world beyond this canyon—that someone was keeping away from us the gods and goddesses and everyone else.
A long pause. “Okay. But promise me you wouldn’t do anything stupid other than this.”
“Like touching the sky.”
So he grabbed me by the arms and we shot up together. I glanced down for a second and almost vomited my breakfast: we were so high up now that we could see the whole canyon, where it came from and where it stretched to. But that was it; the canyon seemed to go on forever.
And then we stopped. Not exactly “stopped” but it was a dynamic shift up and down. “Why are we stopping?” I asked.
“If we go further, I’ll lose my balance just like last time…What are you doing?”
I was breaking my promise to him when I reached out my arm to the vast blue above me.
The next thing I knew, I was falling.
Persephone. Persephone. Persephone.
It was such a sad voice. Full of tears and woe.
I caught you in time. Your soul is not in my realm. You can’t die.
Who was this person? What was he talking about?
But I couldn’t. A thousand little spikes pierced through the skin on my back, but I could not feel the pain. My body had gone numb long ago.
(featured image by Ryan McGinley, “Falling (Light Leak)” (2013) from this site )