Fireflies painted the sky beneath the shimmering glow of the stars while the summer air was dense with moisture on the isle of Sarpedon. Vivienne sat upon a smoothed stone with her eyes pointed towards the cosmos. Although she could no longer see them, the memories she held of the stars in the sky and of this spot in particular warmed her. She had arrived on the island eight years prior, full of life and prepared to conquer the monsters rumored to lie deep within the ruinous caverns and abandoned temples when the beauty of where she landed in time captured her attention. Six years earlier Vivienne had lost her sight to the Goddess Athena who then replaced it with a gift far more beautiful to some. While she had not asked for it, Vivienne did not let the incident dampen her spirit. She knew the land and she adjusted, although her heart grew empty with each passing day.
She had grandiose ideas of romance and love once, but after her sight was taken the woman who claimed to love her abandoned her. Everyone had gone, unlikely to ever return to Vivienne’s side. A hopeless romantic with no love left to give, she began to sing. The gift Athena had given her, meant to capture the true beauty and essence of life, was nothing more than a voice with the beauty of Olympus intertwined with her soul. Vivienne had always dreamed of being a great hero like the ones in the tales her father, a former Athenian soldier, had told her in the early years of her life. He would tell her stories of god-touched heroes who engaged on epic quests and glorious adventures that led to their names being immortalized throughout history in the same breath as the gods themselves. Her olive green eyes would grow to the size of mountains and beneath her thick brown curls her mind would race with ideas of her own great adventure. She forced her father to teach her to use a spear, and many years later she set off in search of immortality.
Vivienne met a woman on her travels, and she loved her dearly, but it was not meant to last. Tales of monsters that devoured the souls of men that would never be seen again on the island of Sarpedon brought Vivienne to the shores below the cliff on which she frequently sat and remembered the stars. She was exploring the island on her own when the skies began to roar with thunder that shattered the cosmos and lighting that cut the air like a blade. Vivienne found shelter in an abandoned temple that had been torn to ruins, and it was within that temple that Athena punished her for trespassing. She removed her sight and cursed her with a voice that no one would love her long enough to hear the songs it would sing. Vivienne adapted and often reminisced about the beautiful things she would never see again, such as the stars surrounded by dancing fireflies. She rose from the stone beneath her and stepped towards the edge of the cliffside with waves singing below as they slammed into the stones of the coast. Her arms were outstretched as if they were large feathered wings and she was about to take flight, and then she began to sing.
“An empty heart,
Struck by rolling thunder,
Frozen in time,
Left alone to suffer,
A blind world will never see,
Because a blind girl can’t see them.”
And then she roared. Vivienne refused to give in, and her voice echoed so loud the gods up atop Mt. Olympus could have heard it, her will was stronger than even the mighty Zeus himself in that moment. The moonlight struck her soft brown skin as she made her trek back to the ruins she called home. The path had grown familiar to Vivienne by now, although she relied more on the sounds and familiar ground beneath her feet to guide her. Blindness wasn’t easy to live with, but it wasn’t impossible. Vivienne learned to listen to the other senses in her body, the sounds around her, the vibrations beneath her feet, and the feel of the world around her. She may have been alone, but she knew the beauty that surrounded her.
There was a crack of thunder followed immediately by a storm as water droplets scattered across the ground. There was a rumble beneath Vivienne’s feet, and then she felt the ground give way and she began to slide. Her spear couldn’t catch into the earth as the rockslide began to pull her further and further down until finally she felt her body slam into stone. The gravel and jagged edges of the collapsing mountainside tore into her flesh, leaving her too weak to realize the large stone that crushed her leg. The pain brought her in and out of consciousness slowly, but Vivienne could hear a voice. Was it the Athena coming to reclaim the gift she’d given her? Could this be the moment where everything would end for her? When everything else went black, what would she finally see?
And then there was a hissing sound.
Vivienne came too, the pain within her body caused her to wretch and groan in agony when she felt a hand touch her forehead. “Shhh. Careful, darling. You’ll die if you move too much.” A sultry voice tiptoed through the air, calming her and relaxing Vivienne for the time being. “There, there. You fell right into my cavern, but for some reason you didn’t immediately turn to stone when you saw me. I must admit…” The hissing sound grew louder, and Vivienne could feel the breath of the woman on her neck. “I am curious as to why that is…” The woman’s hands rested on her shoulders, rubbing them deeply and releasing the tension within.
“I can’t… Technically see anything…” Vivienne struggled to get the words out, her body aching with every syllable. “Who are you?” She sat up, reaching towards the hand on her shoulder. The nails were sharp, but the hands were incredibly soft and subtle.
“You lack the ability to see? That’s interesting to say the least, my dear. But have you not heard the tale of Medusa? Is that not what brought you to my isle?” Medusa whispered into her ear, the snakes that made up the Gorgon’s hair slithered out slightly, hissing through the air around Vivienne. “Don’t be afraid though, darling. You’re not going to turn to stone here like the others.” She moved around Vivienne, sitting across from her. She reached out to grab her hands, and then they held them there for a second.
But for Vivienne, that second became an eternity. She could feel her heart skip momentarily as a spark ran from her fingertips to Medusa’s. She remembered the tale of a priestess of a Athena who was defiled within her temple by the god Poseidon without her consent, thus resulting in Athena turning the great and beautiful woman into a monster that would let no mortal man lay eyes on her any longer. She had come to slay the beast that made men disappear, but she hadn’t known the true tale. Medusa had been punished despite being the victim of her own tale, and it had caused a number of warriors who believed they could defeat a monster to wander into their unfortunate ends. Vivienne was cursed by Athena to be unable to see, but Medusa was cursed by Athena to never be seen. In her eyes, it was as if they were made for each other. “My name is Vivienne.”
“What a beautiful name to go with a lovely face.” Medusa leaned in, she was close to Vivienne’s face now and their hands continued to touch. Their fingertips lingered while Medusa gently ran her fingertips along Vivienne’s bruised and calloused hands. “Who are you, Vivienne? What did our goddess give to you?” Medusa was hardly an inch away from Vivienne’s face at this point. The electricity in the air around them made the hair on Vivienne’s arms stand at attention.
“I can sing. But she took my heart when she took my eyes, but I’ll never get it back.” Her head dropped, but Medusa’s hand came to her chin, lifting it up. Vivienne could feel Medusa’s eyes staring back at her, and she was taken aback.
“Sing for me then, and I’ll show you your heart.” Medusa removed her hand from Vivienne’s chin, leaning back as she folded her arms across her chest. Her pale skin glistening with moisture with the flickering candles of the subtle room. Mortal comforts no longer seemed relevant to a Gorgon like Medusa, but she had made sure Vivienne had comfort in order to recover. She was just as alone as Vivienne was, but at least for a moment in time they would have each other. They would be able to see and be seen by each other. Vivienne began to sing, if only to please her savior.
“Without eyes to see,
No ears to hear,
A heart can’t beat,
Unless her lips are near.
My love, My love,
Hear my whispers,
Start my heart again,
Love me for eternity."
She stopped singing, followed by a gentle clap. Medusa leaned forward, placing her hands on Vivienne’s thighs, a smile growing across her face as her snakes hissed excitedly. “Oh, my darling Vivi. That was indeed a beautiful song. How about another?” Vivienne was frozen. She hadn’t felt so close to someone in so long. No one had ever heard her sing before. She was finally being heard, and it was all she had ever wanted. Vivienne wasn’t a believer in love at first sight, especially considering she could no longer see. Although there was something else happening between her and Medusa, as strange and ludicrous as it seemed.
“I would like to rest now, actually…” Vivienne turned her face away from Medusa who leaned back. “But tomorrow, maybe?” And with a snicker, Medusa left the room and Vivienne closed her eyes and drifted off into sleep where she saw Medusa once more. The dream was intimate, and while Vivienne had never seen Medusa’s face, her mind had fabricated an image for her. The two souls intertwined and became one temporarily, and then there was bliss. Vivienne was infatuated with her, there was no doubt, although she couldn’t wrap her head around why or how. Was it just the loneliness? Was it the interest Medusa took in her gift, regardless of her missing sight? When the morning came, Medusa’s voice woke Vivienne from her sleep.
“How’s my sweet little songbird doing?” Medusa’s hand ran across Vivienne’s back as she sat up, almost as if to let her know where she was. “Do you have a song for me, or do I need to coerce you a bit?” Medusa laughed, but so did Vivienne. They shared that moment, followed by a gentle touch of their hands, and then something strange occurred. Vivienne embraced Medusa, and the two held each other tightly. Medusa’s snakes brushed gently against Vivienne’s cheeks, but they caused her no harm. Medusa’s red eyes softened, and then she squeezed Vivienne tightly. Vivienne sobbed in Medusa’s arms while the Gorgon gently ran her hands through her hair. “It’s okay, my love. Athena has given us each other as a gift.”
“Then I will sing you a million songs, if that is true and we are here for each other.” Vivienne pulled away, her eyes staring where she knew Medusa’s face was, her hands reaching up to feel her face. She wanted to examine every dimple and analyze every crevice and inch of her body. She wanted to truly see her. Then there was a moment of hesitation between them, their noses just a hair away from each other. They could feel the warm breath twirling together, their lips separated by a thin vale of nothingness until they became one. Their lips touched, and they filled the space between them before drifting into that singular moment of perfection.
“My eyes did not see,
But my heart was never blind,
My light would not burn out,
She was my heartbeat,
My love was hers,
Eternity could not break us,
Our heart was eternal,
Our curse was our gift.
Love is all.”
[To be Continued?]