Sunday, April 22, 2012

Persephone's Journey

  She didn't ask for this.  She didn't even want this.  But here she was, on a dreadful descent to an unknown land.  She couldn't believe how quickly her world had been turned upside down.

  Young Persephone was gathering flowers among the elysian fields to decorate her home.  It was a beautiful day.  The sun was beaming down on her angelic face, making her wavy strawberry hair glisten as it danced about in the soft wind.  As her dress caressed her young, graceful form, her eyes twinkled with delight and she filled the air with a sweet, melodic giggle as she beheld nature with pure joy, and nature beheld her with the same. 

  Suddenly, there was a foreboding stillness in the atmosphere.  A deathly odor broke through the floral bouquet that had filled the air just moments ago.  Persephone stopped in her tracks as an expression of dread took over her delicate face, her perfectly pouty lips parting in dismay as her aqua-blue eyes grew big and round, realizing the terrifying scene that was unfolding in front of her.  The ground rumbled as it began to open up, knocking her off her feet.  She stumbled backward and scrambled frantically to get away, as pieces of earth crumbled and gave way to a black chariot amid dark clouds of dust.  Persephone covered her face and squinted her eyes, choking on the thick clouds.

  Persephone couldn't see anything around her.  Suddenly, the once peaceful field was filled with ear-piercing screams  as she was grabbed and carried away by the chariot's dark passenger.  After the chariot began its descent, Persephone's eyes began to adjust.  She started to make out the shapes around her.  What she saw made her skin crawl.  No one seemed to be driving this chariot of onyx she was aboard.  The dark passenger who grabbed her said nothing, but his sharp, grim features, completely void of expression, were enough to tell Persephone that she was in danger. 

  Her pulse quickened and she shuddered uncontrollably as she swallowed hard and tried to assess her surroundings.  The dark chariot quickly moved deeper into the earth, down into a land she never knew existed.  Persephone looked up toward the sky, and the place where the dark chariot had penetrated the ground was now a window of light that grew smaller and smaller.  Persephone grabbed the dark passenger.

  "Where are you taking me?" she demanded.  "You can't do this!"

  The dark passenger just stared ahead.  No response.  Deeper into the earth, darkness took over as the window of light disappeared completely, and fear wrapped around Persephone like a cocoon, threatening to suffocate her.

  "Please don't do this!  ...  Please!  Please take me back!" Persephone cried in desperation.  "I need to go back home!  I need to see my mother."

  Her voice trailed off in the darkness.  The dark passenger said nothing, acknowledged nothing.  He just stared straight ahead, a cold, hollow shell who had neither compassion nor concern for the girl's pleas.  He was just a servant, carrying out his master's orders.

  While Persephone's cries fell on cold, indifferent ears well below the surface, Demeter was just learning of her daughter's abduction.  She ran all the way to the field.  Her servants held her back as she almost threw herself into the ground to retrieve her missing daughter.  How could this happen? she asked herself.  Demeter had been so careful, sheltering her daughter from anything in life she found unseemly.  She had turned away so many unfit suitors, waiting for the day that perfect man would come in on a white horse and give her daughter the life Demeter had always wanted for her.  Now, that life Demeter had preserved so carefully was taken away, without warning.

  Below, Persephone alternated between bombarding the infernally silent guard with questions, and making panicked petitions for her release.  As she descended deeper into the underworld, any notion of ever being free again began to die away, and the fate that awaited her began to dawn on her.  She sank down, hugged her knees to her chest and mourned the world she was being forced to leave behind.  She knew her life would never be the same, and the innocence she knew was quickly becoming a memory.

  As she moved further and further away from the warmth of the island sun and the cool mist of the ocean breeze, Persephone began to acknowledge what awaited her:  The god of the underworld had decided to take her as his bride.  There was nothing she, or anyone else for that matter, could do about it.

  Reality gradually sank in on what seemed like a never-ending journey. Persephone's features began to take on the darkness of her surroundings.  With every speculation of what her new life might be, a little bit of the girl she once was gave way to the woman she was fated to become.  Her youthful features hardened, transforming Persephone into a cold, refined goddess.  Her light red hair darkened to a ravishing shade of auburn, and her lilting, soft voice became low and somber.  A solemn chill took over where there used to be a light in her eyes.

  The chariot finally came to a halt at an ominously tall iron gate with skulls decorating the posts.  Persephone swallowed hard as she stood, paralyzed by fear.  The dark passenger firmly escorted her through the gate, where she saw him.  Hades stood before her, radiating equal parts maleficence and lust for his new bride.  Chills swept down her spine as he locked eyes with her, and he extended his hand toward her.  He held her hand as he slid a gold ring on her finger.

  "Welcome, my bride," Hades said in a voice that made Persephone shudder.  Aware that she was helpless to stop what was going on, she pasted on a brave smile and nodded to her new husband.  She had to play her cards right, until she could find a way out.  But for the time being, her dreadful fate had been decided for her.

  Persephone was now the Queen of the Dead.