I feel as though I am floating home on a warm, fluffy cloud. Is this what true happiness feels like? I would do anything to always feel like this. Opening the door to the cottage that my mother and I share, I see that it is empty. I take this opportunity to slide down the door and sit against it, the biggest, face splitting grin taking up my face. I begin to picture him: black hair, perfectly styled as always, the most beautiful smile I've ever seen directed at me, beautiful grey eyes lit up with amusement. He is a very large man, so he is always looking down at me, and I, up to him. He's very muscular, but not in an obvious way. He doesn't wear form fitting clothing in an attempt to show off. Instead, he prefers clothes that fit well but leave some breathing room, and they are black - always black.
"Where have you been?" The angry, accusatory sound of my mother's voice snaps me out of my daydream. I look up and see her standing in the living room her golden hair long and wavy, flowing down to her belly. She's wearing a beautiful green sundress today, and she looks absolutely radiant, except for the angry expression on her face. I have a feeling that anger is directed at me, though I do not know why.
"Oh, I was just out with some of the nymphs, picking flowers by the river. You should have been there! The colors were stunning today, and I even practiced making them grow!" His voice rings through my head, and I try to keep a neutral face. "Do I look like a nymph to you?" he says teasingly in my imagination. His voice - it's like the finest silk, always so smooth and charming, with just a hint of the darkness that consumes his life.
"Persephone," mother says, her voice angrier, as if challenging me to continue this story and begging me to stop all at once. "Do not lie to me. I did not raise you to do such things." She continues staring at me with her hardened eyes. She can't know, we were alone and I didn't tell anyone where I was going. Maybe she knows that I wasn't out with the nymphs, but she can't know that I was with him. I decide to stay quiet and wait for her to talk, to tell me what she thinks she knows.
"Helios stopped by for a visit," she states, her voice calmer, as if she's telling me she had tea with a friend today. My heart stops. She's mentioned the one person that I know could ruin this for me. I know she knows. But I refuse to give myself up. "He had some interesting things to tell me. He sees quite a bit, you know. It's hard not to in that chariot he's in all day. It's really a wonder he keeps so many secrets to himself, but some of us are grateful when he tells us his secrets. Just as I am grateful he has shared his information with me today."
Still, I am silent, intently watching my mother. I have stayed seated on the floor against the door through this conversation, but slowly, I begin to rise. All joy I felt upon entering the cottage has faded away, as I know this will not be a pleasant conversation. Mother and I have never disagreed on anything, never truly fought with one another. But this, I know, will be what finally sets us apart. She will never see him the way I do. I wait for her to continue with this story.
"What he told me doesn't match your flower picking story in the slightest, nor did he say it was the nymphs whom you spent time with today. No, he accused you of spending the day with someone much less desirable than the nymphs. Someone you know I do not approve of, someone I loathe. Why, Persephone? Why were you with him?" She stares at me accusingly, hurt shining bright in her eyes. I knew this would come one day, though I did not know it would be so soon.
"Tell her," I hear him say in my imagination, "she cannot keep us apart. I will not allow that, and you know it. Nobody can keep us apart. You are mine, and I yours. I will be here to comfort you when this is over." The words I know he would whisper to me if he were here comfort me, and I know when this is over, I can run to him for true comfort. His arms will always be open for me.
"I love him," I whisper quietly. I know this will infuriate her. I see the anger in her eyes simmering into hatred, and I don't know if it's directed at me, him, or the words I've spoken. I have not even told him this, and I cannot say for certain that he feels the same. But I know how I feel about him, and I will stand by it. The silence stretches on as my mother glares at me, presumably trying to think of a response.
"LOVE?!" she shouts. "You are eighteen years old, what do you know of love? He has tricked you! The God of Darkness is not someone who can be loved! He is evil, cruel, no match for a sweetness such as your own!"
"You're wrong!" I must defend him. She doesn't know him like I do. "When I see him, the world shines brighter. He is a sweet, considerate, and very protective man. I may be young, but I'm not stupid. Hades is as worthy of love as anyone else in the world, if not more. If you think he is not, then you don't truly know him. Truly, it is me who questions if I am worthy of love from a man such as him. I am lucky to be able to stand by his side, to hear his laugh, to see his eyes shine when he looks at me!"
Tears are streaming down my face and the depth of my love for Hades overflows from my heart. Mother seems taken aback at my words, as though she expected me to just submit to her will and never see him again, rather than stand up for him and fight her on this. Have I really been that weak my whole life? Was I always just agreeable to make those around me happy?
"Persephone, listen to me. You are young. There are many men out there that would be much more suitable. Hades is not a good match for you, no matter what you think you may feel for him. It is simply an infatuation of what you think he could be. You would not be truly happy with him, especially if you were to live with him. Could you imagine living in the Underworld? It's dark and desolate, Persie. You would not find happiness there. You couldn't."
"You're wrong," I state firmly. I stand up straight, square my shoulders, I look her in the eyes. "Maybe you wouldn't be happy, but wherever he is, is where I want to be. I do not care if it's in the darkest part of the Underworld. He is my light. He is my happiness. I will not risk this love, this happiness, because of some old grudge you hold against him."
With that, I turn open the door, and leave the cottage without a backward glance. "Persephone!" I hear mother yelling behind me. I don't turn. I don't acknowledge her at all. I know she is hurt, and afraid that I am not making the right choice. But at some point, she needs to let me go. And it seems as though there is no better time than right now.
I walk all the way to the river I spent the day by. I bring images of him to my mind, summoning him to me. I desperately need to see him, to feel his warmth, to hear his soothing words spoken to me instead of imagining them. "Hades?" I whisper, not knowing if he will actually hear my plea, feel my need for him.
For a few moments, I sit staring into the river, watching the tears in my reflection wash down my face. Mere minutes ago, I was the happiest I had ever been. It's cruel how quickly things can change. When I slumped against the door, I never imagined I would be back here, the place of my happiness, crying and feeling my heart break. I don't know if my relationship with my mother will recover from this. She has always hated Hades, told me stories since I was little of how truly evil he is. I don't know what happened to make her hate him this much, and I have never asked. But when I first met him, and heard his beautiful laugh, I knew the stories she told me were nowhere near the truth.
From that first meeting, we had been inseparable. Sneaking off at parties, meeting in secret on simple days like today, writing letters to keep each other company when we couldn't see each other. He became my best friend very quickly, and it wasn't long before I fell in love with him. I wished to tell him of my feelings, but I hadn't found the right moment yet. I never dreamed mother would find out that I love him before he did.
The story of Hades and Persephone is one we can all say we've heard, but can we truly say we know it? In this retelling of the ancient tale, we discover truths that have always been right in front of us. Truths of love, pure and true, hindered by jealousy and revenge.