Photo courtesy of Emily Jane Street (via Luminous Creatures Summer of Super Short Stories Week One)
The ruby red, rounded shape was there waiting first thing in the morning; strategically set on top of the sheets, when she woke. Truthfully speaking, she has been expecting it for days, having dreamt of the grove of trees from which the junction of the rivers stems and the thick roots topped by the white funnel shaped blooms amidst the swarms of squeaking shadows.
It is his way of playing, though as far as she is concerned, things are properly played out by this point in time. She needs no outsized reminder of his enforced obligations. “Hellfire!” she says, before the corners of her mouth twitch slightly at the words. “And damnation indeed,” she adds, to an empty room. She splits the fruit in a swift downward motion, causing a dribble of juice to stain the covers. The seeds are packed in tightly amidst the flesh, so she has to dig a little with her nails to pull them out, right from the centre. She counts a sparse translucent six; no more, no less. “Figures,” she says, toying with a pip between her fingers, before raising it aloft and swallowing it down. She shudders as she does so, frowning slightly. “Pigging pomegranates! Still sour, then.” She pushes one after another after another passed her lips in quick succession, once she has stilled herself from swallowing the first. Red stains her fingers, which she licks clean, wiping the sticky residue against her dark dress, irrespective of whether it shows or not against the dark fabric. Their bitterness leaves its aftertaste on her lips, as the seeds churn in her stomach, refusing to settle fully. She knows of old when and where the sensation will cease.
Sephy sits, waiting for her escort into darkness; possibly Darkness himself, though she is most used to the company of obol-eyed Charon on her lengthy descents. Easier to send someone who can’t answer back to challenge, query or quandary, she suspects. She has never been trusted to walk the sections of the realm alone on entry, though left to her own devices on leaving. “Take me to my husband,” she mutters beneath her breath, rolling her eyes. He tends to keep her waiting, despite the early fruity wake up call.
She feels them already – the simple skeletons, the frozen, the eternally blood-spattered alike. Soon she will – must- pass amongst them again. It is small consolation that she must serve only three months. They do not – cannot – care, though for a time they are her people, without being capable of answering as such.
The door in front of Sephy opens and her eyes acknowledge the figure crossing the threshold. She crosses to him, holding out her hand to take his. They clasp palms and the bony fingers close firmly around her own. Sephy nods. “Ready,” she says. “Again.” The journey into the heart of Hades is long, capable of seeming to encompass one’s lifetime, though Sephy knows the truth. She will endure this cycle forever on repeat.
This one was written for a new flash fiction competition running over the summer at the Luminous Creatures website. The challenge involves writing a flash fiction story of up to 500 words based on the picutre prompt. The fruit in the picture led me to writing a take on Persephone and pomegranate seeds.