Rachel May, “When Loving Mesperyian”

The whispers of the other gods and goddesses that followed Aphrodite was something she had long since gotten used to. Envy and lust nipped at her heels no matter where she went and her vapid (lovely as they were) devotees had been conned into thinking she often reveled in the attention. And there were the days where she lounged in the spotlight; basked beneath the gazes of mortals and immortals alike; positively bloomed with the affections bestowed upon her by many a bespotted believer.

It was not one of those days.

This was a day of brown hair, of brown eyes, of a plain dress and no shoes. Aphrodite easily blended among a crowd and, should she go with more than a passing glance, all anyone would see was an average face. Her skin clean but not clear, her teeth white but ever so crooked, her eyebrows a tad thick and her lips too thin. Aphrodite was utterly unremarkable and she loved it. Anonymity was an unfamiliar word to the goddess of beauty and she did occasionally slip and forget such a word existed at all. But then there were the moments of clarity, of a fierce longing for an existence of one lover with no despondent husband nor an easily enraged paramour.

(This was not to say she did not care for Hephaestus or Ares. Hephaestus, while distant, took care of her as well as the quiet man could and gave her freedoms any other god would balk at. And Ares, loathe as she was to admit it, had always eased her angers and released the tension from her muscles. She loved them both, but that did not mean that her heart was theirs’.)

However, though she may have been caught between the many gods, Aphrodite had always had an eye on the goddesses as well. Hera had always made Aphrodite itch and she regularly burned with the need to see the God Queen come alive—whether it was by her words or her body (her mouth, her tongue, her fingers); Aphrodite knew there was a wickedness beneath her skin. And Athena was not unlike Hera and Aphrodite wondered how it would feel to coax the witty goddess’ sharp tongue from her mouth.

Artemis and Hestia had already given their minds to her, their bodies unburdened from her touch, and Aphrodite had given them enough fantasies to rule their judgement – that still clouded Artemis’ eyes and burned Hestia’s skin. And while Aphrodite had never refused company from Demeter and Persephone or Hecate and Nyx, she could never commit to them. Sex was merely a pleasurable party trick, an act Aphrodite had perfected the moment she first drew breath.

There was only one god who had claimed Aphrodite and her name was Mesperyian.

A goddess of once renowned beauty, she had been declared more beautiful than even Aphrodite. Mesperyian, daughter of Hades and Persephone, had easily walked the fine line between her mother’s loveliness and her father’s strength. She was known to wander the underworld’s many gardens and had, without contest, snatched a plethora of immortal hearts – one of them being Aphrodite herself. To her vain family, they were all too sure that Aphrodite was wildly jealous and burned with hatred, that she had heard the rumors and was offended, outraged at the very notion of a more beautiful goddess. It was Hephaestus who saw her curiosity and asked her to go and see Mesperyian. Hades had almost turned her away, his eyes filled with suspicion and caution, but she had always been his favorite sister.

When Aphrodite finally met her new niece, her heart swelled. Mesperyian, with hair as black as Hades’ cloak and eyes bluer than Zeus’ precious sky, was, indeed, beautiful. And Aphrodite demanded to have her. All that was beautiful fell within her domain, just as anything loved did—and Mesperyian had both aplenty. Hades could not refuse. Yet, when Mesperyian had been whisked away, there was no vengeance in Aphrodite’s heart and all wondered what the future held for the young Mesperyian.

Most wasted their time away in whispers—all believed Mesperyian lived on borrowed time. Still, the Earth continued on and the two goddesses went with it. Many days saw the two talking and touching, others filled with Mesperyian’s questions as Aphrodite braided her hair and kissed her neck. Some even bore witness to a hiding Aphrodite, watching her lover roam among the mortals, and she couldn’t help but agree with their glazed eyes and wistful sighs.

But there were those who did not like their obvious closeness.

Hephaestus had soon grown lonely once more as his wife no longer thought of him. In return, Ares grew furious at her refusals to lie with him and had lost his ability to lay claim to her heart and body (though he had only ever had one of the them). Together the gods plotted and planned, their need for Aphrodite ruling over any nerves or reservations. Ares stole one of Aphrodite’s most prized combs and Hephaestus changed it to suit their needs. They planted it under the guise of the beautiful goddess and the rest is etched into history.

Mortals will forever look upon this myth in horror—to see the goddess of love wrought with hate was something no one could swallow. Myth murmured into the night, telling all that Aphrodite had charmed Mesperyian with her comb, much like how Hades had charmed her mother with a dazzlingly flower. When Mesperyian slipped the comb into her hair, it sparked to life and a curse of fire forever scarred her face; no longer was she the most beautiful and no longer would Aphrodite pay her any attention. In her rage and grief, she became the goddess of torture and punishment, happily inflicting pain upon any who dared to act in jealousy or envy.

And, for once, myth was correct – but it was unfinished.

Aphrodite, unable to prove their deceit and unwilling to start a godly war, claimed the act as hers’ and went about as she had before – but she never forgot. Her soul was always cold in Hephaestus’ forge just as her body never responded under Ares’ touch. And in the night she would slip into the darkness and into her lover’s bed, into her arms, regaling her of her daily tales. Their love still strong after everything.

Not that anyone knew, of course.

I’m a younger hobbyist writer hoping to make this passion of mine a career. I’ve been writing for around seven years and my inspiration has only grown since! I currently reside in Arizona but I hope to move to LA after university.