Friday, January 11, 2008

Fiction Friday: Haefestus

This Week’s Theme: Write a scene that ends with your character saying: 'I never want to see you again.'

Haefestus …

The name rather than rolling elegantly off her tongue seemed to slither out like a sadistic viper. Her soul sister Jules was adamant that this was who she had been dreaming of.

The dreams had begun suddenly and seemingly without reason. It made no sense that the God of love and mystical restoration should be her nocturnal consort. She did not need his special love – she was not crippled, nor was her heart or dreams broken. In a month’s time her first collection of short stories would roll off the printing presses and into book stores. There was no more lingering in the shadows of self doubt, of literary torture. This was her small but powerful proclamation to all the nay sayers in her life – the artist in residence who had told her at uni to go out and get a life, her family who had insisted on her getting ‘a real job’, the passing acquaintances at parties who laughed and asked ‘No really – what do you do for a living’, to all the editors and their rejection letters she had collected over the years.

Curling up on the couch, she stroked the crumpled and dog eared tome Jules had lent her to read. The book, Women Who Run With Wolves, was velvety with age and use. She ran her fingers over the now rounded page corners that reminded her of the malleable corners of an old cotton pillow case. After all these years, when anxiety began to rise, she would seek the tactile reassure of rubbing something smooth and soft to rub between her thumb and forefinger.

But I’m not anxious … am I? And she opened the book again.

Haefestus, now crippled, refused to give up and die. He fired his forge with the hottest fire he’d ever built and there formed for himself a pair of legs, made of silver and gold from the knees down.

She knew those legs of silver and gold well and the pyroclastic shock that blew through her body like a nuclear blast, each time her hands touched the cool metal in the dreams. Lying naked and in a state of ecstatic bliss beside his warm body, she would be unaware of those legs until her erotic exploration bought her to the nob of his knee cap.

Haefestus, now crippled, refused to give up and die.

This line seemed to haunt her. It seemed even in her dreams Haefestus was tenacious – twenty eight nights of the same thing. Jules kept insisting that the dreams were trying to tell her something if she would just listen. She’d blow Jules off with the same nonchalant comment, that is was just a dream. Jules would remind her it had been an entire month of the same dream – how could it be just a dream. If the dream was trying to tell her something, she was adament she didn't want to know. All in her life was perfect now.

Looking outside she could see nothing. It was the dark moon and only a few stars pierced through the night sky and the light pollution of the city. The longer she stared up into the sky, the more it felt like she was being drawn into a vortex of nothing, into a knowing within her soul. In a breathe she would know everything if she could just surrender. If for a single moment she could completely let go of everything and just be. Then she got it.

With the potent sleep brew half finished and cooling on her night stand, she lay back into her pillows and allowed her eye lids to grow heavy. She thought of him, Haefestus, his warm body beside her. She thought of the never ending abyss of surrender.

Then he was there beside her. This time she lay quietly beside him, drawing him to her and allowing him to touch her. His lips and his finger tips were synthesthetic upon her bare skin – visions and memories awakening with each touch. It was kaleidoscope of visions and memories that played through her body, rather than her mind. She was seeing it somehow through his touch and the response of her body - all beyond her control. The rapture of his touch unleashed the torrent of suppressed pain, sorrow and disillusionment within her. In the orgasmic maelstrom the epiphany climaxed and then washed through her.

She was whole again - mended together with his tiny lines of silver suturing that thrummed beautifully in a synergy of both pleasure and pain.

In the dark she could sense he was still there with her. She reached out to touch his legs, anticipating this time the cool metal but there was nothing. All that remained of him was his essence that clung to her body, smudged through her soul.

She fought to find the words to thank him, to honour him, to express her joy and fulfilment at understanding finally, to finally say his name with the love that she felt for him.

But when her eyes opened and the world within her bedroom came into view, the words that rang out shocked and distressed her.

I never want to see you again.

This prompt comes to us this week from the creative genius of Paul Anderson.

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d sinclair said...

hey Jodi, great piece... I didn't know He was god of love, although had read a bit about his place at the forge.

wonderful synchronicity on a day with Venus sextile Chiron - love hurts or love heals!

keep on trucking :)

gautami tripathy said...

What a magical piece! Truly beautiful. Kept me at the edge.

To read mine, click on my name here.

keith hillman said...

Stunning! I'm in complete awe of your style of writing. I'm almost nervous to invite to visit my takes on this prompt, but please do!

Dalissa 365 said...

Jodi- You are the queen of short stories... seriously. I love this piece. Your skill at telling a complete story with in such a short amount of space and with a surprise ending is wonderful.

pjd said...

Knowing the prompt, it was not a surprise ending of course, and gods' relationships with mortals pretty much always ended badly in one way or another... this was really strong on the imagery and sensuality, and quite lovely. One thing I like about her is the complexity of her emotions.

I admit to being confused on the last line exactly due to the construction you used of "the words that rang out": Is she speaking them to Haefestus, is he speaking them to her, or is she speaking them to the material world that she's returned to? Every one is a valid ending to me that means something different, but I'm not sure which one is your ending.

Anonymous said...

Jodi, ... I am lost for words. You are so talented, this is brilliant!!!
Love Julie XO

Paul said...

I do like stories with different interpretations of the ending. I take this that it is Haefestus speaking. That once she understands, she has no need for Haefestus to visit, and so he never wants to see her again, because she no longer needs him.

PS: Thanks for the compliment Jodi, you've got me blushing now!

Square1 said...

This was wonderfully composed as usual, and the ending left me grasping at various interpretations also. I also did not remember Hephaestus as the god of love, only as god of the forge and craftsmen, but it's fitting considering he was smitten with his very unfaithful wife, Aphrodite.

pjd said...

The interpretation I took first was Paul's interpretation, but all three work in different ways. I'm just wondering which way you intended it (unless, of course, you intended it to be ambiguous as dreams and emotions often are).

lissa said...

You do have a way with words and imaginary.

Thanks for visiting my fiction friday.

Jodi Cleghorn said...

pjd: I was considering all possible endings (after I'd finished writing) - but also a fourth ending exists - that the words rang out as a very curt farwell from the conscious mind/world (now surfacing as she wakes) to the unconscious mind/world (that is now retreating) .. because the unconscious wandering have the potential to devastate the precisely constructed conscious world - sort of like a survival mechanism. The conscious mind/world wnats to maintain the status quo, in which it feels comfortably at home.

Because the ending was already provided - I wasn't really quite sure who was saying what, to who and am glad that there are multiples available with their own shadings .. it makes for good discussion!! Thanks for dropping back by!

Anonymous said...

Very nice, Jodi! Thank you for inviting me over to read. In your story, you write a reference to "Women Who Run With the Wolves" - is that a title you made up, or a reference to the same title by Clarissa Pinke Estes? (...Estes Pinke? It's been a few years, and I could be mixing up the order of her names). My favorite parts of her writing are parts that emphasize the power of expression, and the good it does for the feminine spirit.

Emily Ryan-Davis said...

The 3:01 post is by me...I clicked the wrong signature option, sorry :)