“Why don’t you want to go back?” asked Atargatis.
“I fear that, if I go back, there will only be more pain.” answered Neagil, with her eyes half lidded and drifting in and out of consciousness.
Atargatis closed her eyes and smiled with pity “Neagil, aren’t there also beautiful things waiting for you when you go back?”
“Beautiful things…” uttered Neagil, sounding the words out in a questioning way as if they were completely new to her.
Atargatis plucked the petals off an ocean lily as she explained. “Your parents are waiting to see you again. You have a lifetime left to reconnect with the father you just met.” She bunched up the tear-shaped petals in the hand she used to pluck them.
“There is a young woman waiting on the other side, who was born the same way as you. She will need a teacher soon. You are the only one who understands the life she has lived.”
The petals fell from her hand with the motion of sand in an hourglass.
“The man you love is waiting to marry you.”
“Atargatis…” Neagil barely vocalized the goddess’s name while her throat was caught under the foot of a broken spirit. She recalled the face of her beloved Keid, the person she trusted the most in her life. They could both escape, far away from the atrocities that they helped create. They could get married, live in a house by the water, have children, and have happiness. But Neagil denied her rights to that future and set Keid free by leaving him behind to live.
“I have done terrible things. I tried to fix it. I tried so hard to make things right. I didn’t care if they loved me or hated me, I just wanted the world to heal” She weeped. “But in the end, maybe nothing I did mattered. It didn’t matter” Her words quieted to a whisper, through her sobbing.
“Neagil. You must understand that both you and the world are not so different.” Atargatis laid Neagil’s head on the lap of her fishtail and stroked her head like a mother would to calm her child.
“You are both damaged, ugly, ignorant, and confused in many ways.”
“But,” Atargatis continued. “There is also grace, beauty, wisdom, and strength. Both you and the world have many years to live.”
“Atargatis, I still don’t understand.” Neagil said as she weakly rose from Atargatis’s lap, recovering from her sobs.
“Then why don’t you return to your life? And spend the rest of your years trying to understand. The next time I see you, I’ll listen to what you have learned. Do you think you can do that?”
Neagil looked at her with an uneasy pause and her silence answered for her with the truth. She was terrified of what she would see and feel again if she returned. Atargatis understood that this woman, whose patience and vivacity was repeatedly broken by the living world, needed an extra push to go back to her life.
“There is someone you should meet. You and her have a lot in common.”
05232021 Edited by SilentStar