Title: When She Left
Summary: History spins and repeats.
Feedback: Please! I'd like to know about any mistakes in the mythology and whether or not the style works. And any spelling/grammar/clumsy phrasing. Believe me, I have a thick skin.
Warnings: FEMSLASH. As in homosexuality. Nothing explicit, but you have been warned. This pairing is so prozacpark's fault. She got me thinking about Medea slash.
When Medea left, she left behind the bodies of her sons, the fury of her husband, her good name and most of her sanity. She did not care, for she soared into the sunset on the wings of divine favour. She looked forward and saw nothing but glory.
After some days of travel, Medea was forced to alight on what she hoped was an inhabited island in order to ask directions to Athens. She did not know whether they would be friends or allies and did not care. The gods were on her side and she feared nothing. She left the chariot on the sand and strode confidently up the beach.
Medea expected that she would find a dwelling with ease, and she did. It was only a cave, but the signs of long inhabitation were unmistakable. Wood was stacked by the entrance, and tracks led off into the forest. She stood by the entrance and peered into the gloom.
“Welcome, Medea,” a soft voice behind her said. Medea spun and stepped back. The woman stood as if she had been there all along. She was gimlet-eyed and wild-haired, tall and whip-cord lean, and though she was fair of face Medea saw no kindness in her.
“Greetings, lady,” Medea said, stiff and formal. “I apologise for my intrusion.”
“I am always glad of company,” the woman said, and smiled. “Please, be welcome in my humble home.”
Any sense of danger Medea had once had was long gone, and anyway, she had nothing left to lose. She inclined her head and entered the cave.
The cave was spacious and the floor worn to smoothness, and Medea admired the beauty of the carvings. The woman offered her bread and honey, tender lamb and watered wine. They offered a libation to the gods and sat down to dine.
After they had eaten, Medea said, “Calypso,” for they had already been introduced, “Fair Calypso, my tale is one of betrayal and grief. My husband, whom I loved, whom I betrayed my country for, has put me aside like a pair of worn sandals in order to marry the daughter of Creon, king of Corinth. You of all women know the pain of an unfaithful man.”
“I do,” said Calypso, who admired a well-turned phrase, and Medea had spent the length of their dinner turning these.
“But I have had my revenge. My husband’s new wife is dead, King Creon is dead, our sons are dead, and my husband wails in agony and grief. Is it not just that he should feel some pale reflection of my pain?”
“It is,” said Calypso.
“Yet now I must flee to Athens, where the good Aegeus has offered me sanctuary. I go there now, or would, if I knew the way.”
“I know,” said Calypso, and smiled.
“Will you give me direction?” Medea asked.
“I will tell you,” Calypso said, and lounged back on her seat. “but first you must pay my price.”
Medea was disturbed at this. “A price? What is it?”
“It is only a small matter. Tonight you must come with me and share my bed.”
It was only a small matter, Medea thought, for Calypso was fair as well as wild, and Medea might have done it out of choice. Still, the favour Medea desired was an even smaller matter.
“I am no whore,” she protested angrily. “And surely we are comrades in grief? All I desire is directions, nothing more. O Calypso of the lonely isle, Calypso of the broken heart, you know my pain. Will you not tell me the way to safety?”
Calypso leant forward, a gleam shining in the darkness of her eyes. “Dear Medea, fair Medea, I desired only the company of the one I loved. He came to my bed willingly enough, yet sent up a cry of wrong done that echoed from the earth to the heavens. I did no harm, I broke no law, yet I was punished. Great king Zeus, bearer of the aegis, would not let me keep him, though noble Zeus himself has both concubines and catamites.”
“All know the story of your sorrow,” Medea said warily. “I know both story and sorrow myself.”
Then Calypso said, and her eyes glittered in the half-light, “Brave Medea, Medea of the murdered sons, I know your story all too well. You escaped Corinth in a chariot drawn by winged dragons, for the gods favoured you despite all your sins. They favoured you, a mortal, where they had no mercy for me, one of their own.”
Then Medea understood, and was afraid. She stood and turned to leave, but where the entrance had been there was only stone.
When she turned back, Calypso was also standing. “Come, most cursed of women. Do not be afraid. I only wish for company, and you will suit well.” When Medea did not reply, Calypso said angrily, “You will stay whether you wish it or no, mortal, so you may as well enjoy it. I assure you, you will not find your time in my bed unpleasant.”
Medea was very afraid but even more proud, and only turned away.
Weeks passed, or so Medea believed, for she never saw the light of the sun. She would not sleep with Calypso, and Calypso did not press, knowing that Medea would be worn down in time. Instead, Medea slept where the entrance had once been, and waited for the goddess’ vigilance to slip. It had not yet. Even at night Calypso slept like a cat, and the enchantment never fell.
During the first day she had raged and despaired until she collapsed on the cold stone and slept with exhaustion. When she awoke the storms of emotion had passed and she found herself calm. That was when she had taken up her vigil by the entrance, and there she had remained ever since.
Now Medea found her patience waning. How could she hope to outwait a goddess, who had all eternity to practice? There had to be a better way. She sat and thought and schemed, which she had much practice in, and finally came across a plan that seemed workable.
When Medea saw Calypso begin her preparations for bed, she rose and went to her.
“Fair lady,” she said, “I have considered your words, and my stone bed grows colder and harder each night. Perhaps, tonight, I will find somewhere warmer to sleep.”
Calypso looked at her and was pleased, for Medea was proud and beautiful and Calypso greatly desired her.
“I am glad,” she said, and smiled at Medea. “Then will you now come with me to bed?”
Medea dropped her eyes and attempted to look shy. “I will, lady, but I have never lain with a woman before and I find myself,” she made a vague gesture, and whispered, “nervous.” This was very much not true.
Calypso was moved to pity by Medea’s words, and said to her, “I understand. There is no need to be afraid, child, but let us drink a little wine nevertheless.”
Medea was not pleased to be called ‘child’, as she was a wife and a mother and by no means young, but she smiled with a passing semblance of gratitude and agreed.
They sat and drank, the mortal and the goddess, and though Medea drank enough to feel that familiar and welcome warmth, Calypso drank far more, for Medea had not forgotten her plan.
Eventually, Calypso rose, and extended a hand to Medea. Medea allowed herself to be pulled to her feet, but was startled when Calypso then pulled her forward until Medea could feel the warmth of Calypso’s body. They stood there in silence, until Medea very slowly lent forward and kissed her.
Calypso returned the kiss with passion, but Medea quickly pulled away. “This is the price,” she said. “I do not pay for what I have not received.”
Calypso tried to kiss her again, but Medea turned her head away. “Tell me,” she demanded.
Calypso sighed in frustration. “East,” she finally said grudgingly. “East towards the rising sun.”
Medea smiled, and kissed her again.
After some time, they adjourned to Calypso’s sleeping chamber, and Medea discovered that Calypso had spoken the truth. She did not find her time there unpleasant at all.
Nevertheless, when Calypso had fallen asleep, Medea roused herself and crept out to the main chamber. As she had hoped, Calypso was too deeply asleep to maintain the enchantment, and Medea left without looking back.
When she arrived at the beach, the sun was a mere glimmer on the horizon. The chariot was still where she had left it, and she was in the air before Calypso arrived.
When Medea left, she left only a wild and lonely woman, shrieking on the shore. She felt some regret, yet thought of Aegeus and Athens and was resolute. There was land ahead and sea below and she set her course for the sun.