The warm wind carried the scent of olive flowers. Cold stone pressed against my cheek. I sat up slowly.
“Ah, good. She finally wakens.”
Melponmene. I blinked in the bright afternoon sun. My head hurt and my skin was on fire from being forced into my original form. I said roughly, “What do you want?”
Gentle hands helped me up. Clio sang, “Peace, dear sister. Have a seat.”
I almost fell for it. I tore away from Clio, running right into Urania who tried to steady me. I settled for leaning on the table. “I don’t need a chair.”
I rubbed my temples. The world slowly came into focus. The offending chair had my emblem, the serpent, emblazoned on it in gold gilt. My nine sisters were gathered around. I might be able to push between them and make a run up the stairs or to the skene; perhaps it could be used as a portal. If I could get past the Erinyes. I saw them in every shadow. They looked irritated. Mel had denied them a meal, namely myself.
Thalia coaxed, “Come, Sappho. Make it easy on yourself. The Guild has much to offer you.”
Urania and Clio were pulling on my arms, guiding me to the chair. It seemed they were going to make me sit in it one way or another. I tried to twist away and nearly tripped on my traditional tunic. The voluminous folds of soft scarlet linen weren’t tucked up in my girdle enough to keep it from trailing on the ground. I tried to change forms but this play had already been scripted; I was caught in it’s web.
Erato came up behind me and started pushing. The chorus was singing resignation and acceptance. I tried to block it out, to clear the fog from my mind so I could find my escape. A loud crash at the back of the theatron shattered the tableau. I fell to my knees as the others suddenly let go of me. Silence fell, and all eyes turned to see who dared interrupt.
It was Ben, wearing jeans and a black Flamingo Slime t-shirt. His tennis shoes whispered on the stone steps as he ran towards us. He paused, momentarily uncertain which muse to approach. Then he came to me. There was that lopsided smile. It was pure sunshine after a cold winter’s night to me. “Sappho, I presume.”
I took his hand. “How…?” I saw my serpent draped over his ear, whispering.
Ben seemed to be listening to it. He nodded and murmured, “Got it,” then grabbed Clio’s scroll. “I’ll just edit this script a bit.”
Clio reached out to grab it back. “You can’t just rewrite my scroll!”
The serpent slithered down to wrap around Ben’s wrist and struck at Clio. Ben said, “I think the snake disagrees.”
Clio sat down, understanding the wisdom and importance of a good editor.
Clio sat down.
“That’s better. Alright. I’m writing this play now.” He bit his lower lip as he struck out large portions of the script. “We’ve got a new ending.”
Sappho confronted Melponmene. “Enough of your dramatics. Do I need to bring Apollo into this?”
Melponmene stepped back. “No, no gods. They complicate things.”
Urania said, “I may have to re-evaluate the data. Perhaps there are other ways to solve this problem. I think a study of muse needs may be in order. I could do a survey.”
Melponmene groaned. “Now you’ve done it. Very well. Science wins.”
Ben looked up, watching as each muse said her lines even as he wrote them. “Good.”
Laughing Thalia gently took the scroll from him. “Well played, mortal. They are bound by their words and won’t bother Sappho for a while. Now go, before she’s required to answer Urania’s survey. I’m sure it will be at least a thousand questions long.”
Later, in Ben’s room, I said, “Do you believe me now?” I was Saffus again.
Ben nodded and brushed a stray lock of my hair out of my face. “Though it could all be a crazy dream.”
“The line between dreams and waking isn’t nearly as clear cut as you think.”
He laughed and carefully unwound the serpent from his wrist. “True. Here, I think this is yours.”
“Thank you. For everything.” I wrapped the serpent around my ear.
“No one is ever going to believe this.”
I shrugged. “Write it anyway. You never know who it might inspire.”
Copyright 2011, Kimberley Long-Ewing, all rights reserved