The Fruits of Faith


“Papa?”

I call out to him for I know for sure it is he who I was talking to wasn’t it? But no answer comes and, though I am eager to go to Nerite’s Seashell, I am suddenly concerned for my Papa! What has become of him? Is he still up in the forest canopy or has he suffered a bad turn with all the ‘divine’ madness that has just transpired?

“P-Papa?” I call out to him again weakly as my worry grows.

Just then, I see a shifting shadow against the forest backdrop. It looks like the shadow of Eros, with wings, but much, much taller and much bigger! I see what I think are golden eyes blink at me from the shadow’s head, but then the whole apparition vanishes as if it was never there! Then from the forest behind where the winged shadow was standing I hear a voice call out.

“ALEXIS! Oh, by the Holy Mother, you are alright!” I hear the voice at a distance and see a familiar figure come out from under all the undergrowth of the dense forest. Papa looks a bit disheveled but none the worse for wear! Thanks, indeed, be to God!

“Papa!” I exclaim in joy at seeing him!

He comes shuffling as quickly as he can through the bracken strewn sand and I come to meet him. I feel a slight tug on my body as I rise but gently pull against it in my rush to embrace my father! I think I’ve caught the edge of my wrap on something where I’d been sitting in the diamond dust sand.

We fly into each other’s arms and he holds me close for what seems like several minutes, though it might be only a minute in all. He kisses my hair and slicks it back while staring into my eyes. That’s when his expression changes.

“You look . . . different. Such a haunted look and yet you look so . . . radiant! What happened out here on this beach and . . . what is this?” He reaches down and picks up something in his hand that is draped over me. That’s when I too notice it having come back to my senses from seeing my father safe.

I am wrapped in a silvery-white wrap that glitters in the sun. I’m amazed by the garment for I’ve never seen material like the stuff it is made of before in my life! Then I wonder . . .

I quickly look back to where I’d been sitting protected by Gaia’s Diamond Glass Bubble and notice that the diamond dust from which it was made is completely gone! Then I look back at the gauzy garment and see that it . . . shimmers with millions of tiny little diamonds enmeshed into the material! I realize then that this was to be a permanent gift to me by the Earth Mother! She had secretly and quietly formed the wrap for me from the dust and placed it one me. It is beautiful beyond compare and somehow I know that should I ever need protection again . . . this garment would help somehow.

“I have never seen its like before. Where did it come from?” My Papa asks as he continues to fondle the garment with deepening amazement.

“From the Earth, Papa.” That is all I know to say to him about it. Somehow, I know to say any more would just confuse things.

He looks at me quizzically but then he lifts his head and sees many other strange things that cause him to look shocked and then . . . horrified!

“T-that is Veloúdo, is it not?” Papa says with a sad creak in his voice.

“W-why does he lay there so still? Has he fallen asleep from exhaustion? He carried me down here when the ‘fireworks’ started up. He bounded down here so fast I hardly had a chance to know I was moving after he forced me to mount him.” My father says wonderingly.

“N-no, Papa. He . . . is not asleep. He’s . . .” I start to say but then Papa finishes it with sad resignation.

“Dead.”

Papa then sighs a shuddering sigh. Apparently the last of the Shadowcats had managed to bond with my Papa too. He grieves for the creature nearly as much as I do.

“Who would . . . do such a thing? He was the last of his kind! What monster could do that to one so precious? Also, where is Pan?” My father looks around but only sees other things that cause his eyes to grow wider!

“By God, what happened out here, Alexis? What madness happened here?” Papa asks this while stepping tentatively closer to the site of the terrible Battle of the Gods. He sees the blackened sands, the twisted trees, the great circle of boulders, and of course Velvet’s bloody resting place. Coming closer to the remains of the great cat my Papa kneels beside him and lays a gentle hand on his silken fur stroking it lovingly. Then he genuflects and I see him murmur a prayer and can just hear him whispering in Old Greek. He kisses his Greek Cross around his neck and then removes it and places it on Velvet’s body, bestowing upon the noble creature my Papa’s most prized possession in faith.

Raising to his feet he stares in shock as he looks through the circle of boulders to see the two large beings laying unconscious upon the ground. I can see my father shiver as with a chill and then stumble back!

I rush over to support him. He has a look of total terror on his face!

“W-who are these two guys, huh? Who are they? Why are they so . . . big! Wh-who?” I stroke my father’s back trying to calm him. His instincts know exactly who the two are and his mortal fear is an artifact of genetic memory. He trembles in fear as if seeing a slavering bear in front of him ready to charge!

“You know already, Papa, but you have no cause to fear. They were on my side when . . . the others struck.” I cannot help but get a shiver myself as strobing photographic memories of my recent experiences comes back to me.

“You are telling me that these two are . . . more gods? Like . . . Pan is. Are these two . . . really?” He fumbles with words because the dawning realization that Pan, Krakens, Merpeople, and giant Shadowcats aren’t the only myths being proven to be true today.

“It is true, Papa. That one is Poseidon and that one is Zeus. Both were defeated by the god Ares and the goddess Aphrodite. She was the one that made my memory go from me. She used the Waters of the Styx River in Hades to destroy my memories of Nerites. That’s what Pan had been talking about last night.” I explain as if recounting a trip to Disneyland.

“Its all true, Papa. All the Greek Myths . . . they were true!” I assure him which makes his astonishment turn to shock which then causes my Papa to sink down into the sand and sit there flabbergasted. He then gets a very stern look on his face. He looks at his fingers and then at the cross laying on Velvet’s pelt

“Do you think, then, that what St. Paul taught us about the One True God and our Blessed Savior, The Christ, is the lie and what we worshiped before was the truth?” Papa asks this with a direness in his voice as if my answer could destroy his whole living conception of everything. That he has lived his life believing lies rather than a truth that was always considered the lies of Satan himself.

“No. I don’t think St. Paul was wrong at all. These gods here haven’t been heard from since the time of St. Paul. The gods of our ancestors were told that they could no longer interact with us. Zeus called it the Sacred Aegis and it was put in place by . . . the God of gods . . . as they recon him.” I explained.

“If you remember the readings, none of the Scriptures ever said that these gods weren’t true, they just said that they could not be before the One God. Apparently, these beings were messing up big time and the Big Guy had to step in and take care of things Himself!” I am amazed at how much I’d apprehended from the short and cryptic conversations had during the Divine Discussion between Zeus, Poseidon and the others.

“Wait . . . Zeus told you this? He SPOKE to you?” Now my Papa was double-amazed.

“Well . . . yes, Papa. Well, not directly to me, exactly, but I was listening when he and Poseidon and the others talked about it. Zeus was terrified by what might happen now that the Aegis has been broken and the gods of Olympus have made themselves known to mankind again. I guess that was forbidden!” I recount the gist of the conversation before the fighting started.

“Other than the God of gods, what could possibly make these beings so afraid?” My father asks.

“Zeus spoke of a . . . Destroyer. A being that can bring Death to all things. It was really quite a chilling thing and I had no real idea what he could have been talking about. When Hades came I figured Zeus was talking about him as he actually passed a Judgement upon Aphrodite and then executed that judgement by casting her into the Underworld with him. But . . .” I ramble on watching my Papa’s mouth gape bigger and bigger.

“HADES?” My father is appalled, terrified, and seemingly anxiety ridden over my having met the god of the Underworld personally.

“Yes, Papa. Hades. He put an end to all this, but . . . somehow I don’t think he was the Destroyer Zeus was talking about. Neither of the brother gods seemed to give much thought to their older brother at all. They shouldn’t have written him off . . . Hades saved all of our lives and possibly the world!” I find my eyes resting on the place where the rent in the earth had been where Hades cast Aphrodite down.

“I always likened Hades to the Devil or the Ancients conception of him. Imagine that he did something ‘good’ for a change!” Papa mused.

“Hades was in no way evil. Fearsome, but not evil. He even . . . winked at me!” I blink at the memory still having trouble believing I saw what I saw.

“. . . Winked? Hehehe!” Papa had to chuckle at that.

“But, the Destroyer? What could they have meant by the ‘Destoryer’, Papa? They talked about black wings. Is it some kind of bird? Did Great-Grandpapa ever talk about a great destroying bird or whatever?” I ask my Papa who sits in the sand and thinks for a moment tapping his lip while looking at the blackened sand.

“Wings you say? Wow . . . !” my Papa looks up into the sky as if he actually could ‘see’ something there.

“What is it Papa?” I look up too wondering what he could be looking at as the sun was rising on this cool, clear, desolate morning.

“The Muslims call him Azrael, The Executor Of God’s Wrath. The Scriptures in the Old Testament called him the Destroying Angel or the Angel of Death. It was the dark shadow of his wings that passed over Egypt as the last curse upon the Egyptians. His passing shadow gathered the souls of all first born sons from households not protected by the lamb’s blood on the doors. He left a great impression upon the Egyptians from that time on and they seemed to have developed a special understanding of him. For instance, some in the Coptic tradition referred to him as the ‘Bearer of Sorrows’ and revered him as the greatest of the Cherubim. According to them, he was even greater that Michael the Archangel and is the only one of the Angelic Host capable of executing God’s justice upon Lucifer when comes the Judgement Day. The Coptics regularly held Masses of Veneration for the Sorrowful Angel, as was their term of endearment for him.” My father explains so wisely.

“The Angel of Death? The gods of Olympus fear . . . him?” I am amazed by this mixing of faiths. Never had I considered that Angels could be more powerful than gods, but . . . then again there were supposed to be no gods like these at all!

“I suppose they do if that is the ‘Destroyer’ they fear. It would make sense if what you say is true about what the Aegis thing is.” My father continues to look into the sky as if he is watching for something to appear. Something possibly very dreadful!

I make to distract him from his spooky worries.

“How did you come by this knowledge, Papa?” I ask.

“Your Great-Uncle Josephus was a priest at St. Spyridon’s in San Diego many years ago. I’d visit with him often, particularly during their Greek Festival. He had many books in many languages of the Eastern Mediterranean. So much wisdom none in the West have ever cared to read about. Ah well. We talked a lot about such things until the early hours of the morning over glasses of ouzo.” My Papa shrugs.

He then stands and scans the beach as if to catch any other wonders he may have missed. He looks beyond the shore and sees the nine figures floating there over the sea. He mouths something about there being more of them. Then he looks away from them and his eyes widen then squint as if trying to see something better on the beach. I see he has spied my treasured Seashell in the surf.

“What a stupendous seashell, Alexis. Never have I seen its like! It is HUGE! Whatever could it . . .?” Then he catches himself.

“Wait a minute! What did you say happened to this Aphrodite that you said caused much of this wreckage and misery?” He turns to me with a concerned look.

My smile must catch him by surprise as he looks at me like I’ve suddenly taken leave of my senses. His worried question seems to infer that Aphrodite is . . . back somehow. Because: Aphrodite, sea shores, and seashells, etc.

“It is not Aphrodite, Papa. I know that much. She likes giant scallops anyway. Not giant . . . nerite shells.” My smile becomes more conspiratorial as I wait for Papa to ‘get it’. He is my Papa, so of course he does!

“Nerites?” He looks at me in wonder.

“Nerites!” I nod excitedly.

“The one you were dreaming about last night that you kept calling to so piteously?” My Papa’s concern starts to transform into a small measure of joy.

“Yes, Papa. The very one!” I look with yearning toward the Seashell now with my eagerness to go to it returning with a vengeance.

“The one you were talking to in your dream did not seem to have been a seashell, however.” my Papa points out. My expression sags for it is true. The vision of Nerites was of him in full glory, not humiliated again by being cast into this beautifully enameled prison.

“When he came here today he was not like that. You should have seen him, Papa! He . . . ” My voice cracks with emotion and tears come. My Papa sees this and rests his hand on my back and rubs to ease my sorrow. I look up at him briefly and try to smile to regain my composure but I see that he feels badly for bringing this up.

“He was what, my son?” Papa asks with tender concern and patience.

“He was glorious, Papa! He was so brave and true! He saved my life again, but then . . .” My Papa taps me a bit to get me to pause.

“He saved your life . . . again?” Papa looks suddenly horrified. I guess I’d forgotten that I’d forgotten what I’d forgotten about what had happened before. It was all back now like I’d always known it. I suppose that Styx spell was completely broken with Aphrodite gone.

“Yeah, again. Aphrodite attacked me before when I was down in Poseidon’s Rest. Nerites blocked her. Then, this time, Ares tried to shoot me and Nerites destroyed his gun.” I recount all this as if it is common knowledge.

“Oh Sweet Mother of God, Alexis! I . . . had no idea this experience was so dire for you. I thought you were something of a bystander in all this, but . . . they attacked you?” My father gets a shudder in his voice and his shaking hand leaves my back. I look at him with sympathy.

“I’m sorry, Papa. These things are just coming to me now. I think that the Curse of Styx is gone finally. It’s all back. Every memory, both grand and terrible. So, yes, I was in danger from both Ares and Aphrodite. They blamed me for undoing Aphrodite’s curse on Nerites. Aphrodite was the one that broke the Sacred Aegis. She was the one to act in anger and hatred toward a man again. If, indeed, I am a man at all anymore. I can’t really be sure now.” It is true, after all that I have experienced, know, and can do . . . I can’t really say I’m part of the human race anymore. Not in any modern way of thinking anyway. Maybe the Ancient Greeks might have considered me a Demi-God or Nymph or something now. I can transform into a merman so I suppose I’m really a Neriad.

“Why of course you are a man! A very young and very silly man, but a man still! Whatever gifts were given you to swim the seas as you do may only be temporary. Miracles happen and now you’ve experienced quite a few, I should think. They still can’t change what you were born to be: my son and a very special man.” My Papa hugs me close and I return the affection. It is needed comfort. Something that grounds me in reality. Something that I’ve needed for a terribly long time. It is something unconditionally and truly.

But then I look back at Nerites’ Seashell on the beach once more. The sadness from before fills me again. This sadness that as a result of my experiences of late I seem to have even less belief now than I did when I knew nothing of any of these Olympians and other things. One would think that I’d have perfect faith in gods and powers such that I could easily walk right over to that Seashell and reverse again Aphrodite’s curse just like before.

But, having seen so much destroyed and so much falter in the names of these powerful beings, my faith in such powers is virtually gone. I can’t imagine, even with as much joy as it would bring me, that I could stand to have Nerites standing before me in the flesh again. My foolish heart aches for just that, but my soul quakes at the ramifications of doing that again. Something in me tells me that this is what is intended and needed. That is why everything has come full circle. The order of the universe has been put back in place again. Nerites is back in his Seashell, the gods are neutralized and cannot interfere with human affairs in their present state, my father yet lives and by some manner we will return to our normal lives as men of this world again. All of this will have been just a bad dream and I may even be able to convince myself of that in time.

In a way, this whole experience has been a Siren’s Song. A seduction that has pulled me away from the ordinary sea and on to this extraordinary island of surreality. I stand lovelorn and lost on this shore and the promises of the Prince of Sirens are as quiet now as are his songs and lullabies. Like Odysseus, I will need to resist the Song so that I can continue to live as the ordinary man I was always meant to be. Only by resisting can I ever get back to ‘Home’ whatever that may mean for me.

However . . .

“Is that . . . Eros up there? Our Eros?” My Papa strains to see the winged god hanging in the air with the nine others. Yes, but of course it is Eros. Who else would it be?

Eros . . . the god! But then, if I was always meant to live a normal life like the one I had before all of this happened then why did I have . . . a living, breathing god as my best friend since childhood? Eros . . . had been with me since the very beginning and all that time he had been the original Eros! Not just a cute boy named after him.

“Its TRUE then!” My Papa had to cover his mouth with his hand as it quivered a bit.

“What’s true, Papa?” Now he’s the one being enigmatic.

“I know you’ve had a lot on your plate of late, my darling boy, and I would hate to burden you with more, but, alas, this seems to be the time for it.” My father bids me to sit with him. Reluctantly I do so, not knowing if I could really take any more surprises today.

“G-go on, Papa. I’m listening.” I don’t know if I want to hear this, but I suppose I need to for my poor Papa seems suddenly very haunted by something.

“Well . . . there’s no real way to put this gently, I suppose . . .” My Papa hesitates.

“Please tell me, Papa. I will need to know now that you have started telling me.” I put on a brave face. Somehow, something in me, something deep and old, already knows the answer.

“It’s you and Eros. You both . . . were adopted. Adopted at the same time. Adopted when an old lady came to us one day while here on Crete and said that she could not feed you two anymore. She was too poor. She begged our family to take you two babes and raise you as our own for she said she was to die soon, poor thing.” Papa says quietly with a distant rasp as he speaks of far off memories.

“We could not take you both. At the time we couldn’t afford it, but I knew of an old childhood friend of mine nearby who’s wife was barren and both had always wanted a child. To Mr. and Mrs. Athenikas we bestowed Eros while we kept you. They kept the name of their boy as the old woman had given it to him. She bid us to . . . change your name to Alexis but she would not tell us why.” My father recounted mysteriously.

“Whaaat?” Of all the things I’d experienced today . . . THIS was the most profound and disturbing! Adopted? Adopted and . . .

“Eros? He’s my brother isn’t he?” My feelings tell me to ask.

“Yes. Yes he is. The old woman, if indeed she really was an old woman, said as much.” My father tells me as he looks to Eros in the distance, hovering there with his wings folded in his coma-like sleep.

“Ok. Whao! This is like . . .” I stand and have to walk away a bit trying to process as many of these things as I can. The whirling constellation of them is almost beyond counting.

I turn to my Papa with a look that he must find difficult to look at. Is it shame I see? Guilt? Should he feel these things? Am I angry about not knowing these things?

The answer is no. I’m not angry at all. I’m glad to have been kept ignorant of this stuff. I always felt like the weird one in the family anyway, but it never really mattered. I was loved and . . . loved selflessly.

“W-what was my original name, Papa?” I ask meekly suddenly taking an interest in my feet.

“. . . Anteros.” Papa says simply after a pause.

The name should mean something to me, but, in all honesty, it doesn’t. I never heard of that name before in Mythology. It was something my Great-Grandfather never spoke about.

“That was a perfectly nice name. I wonder why the old woman wanted me to be named Alexis?” I shrug. This is not a deep dark mystery to me. It really doesn’t make any sense. I’ve known any number of boys named Anteros as well as Eros. I always thought it was just another favorite name Greeks like to give their sons.

“I didn’t understand that either until this day. I thought, only, that she wanted you to have your own name and not one with a past. Perhaps, you and Eros were bastards and Anteros had been your illegitimate father’s name. I thought it something mundane like that. Until now. Until this moment when I see Eros . . . our Eros . . . hanging there in mid air with his very wings folded behind his back.” My Papa says with a measure of portent.

“What does that mean to me?” I still don’t understand.

“As Eros is the Eros you are Anteros . . . the Anteros!” He looks at me in wonder.

“But, what does that even mean? Who am I if I am ‘the’ Anteros?” For I have no clue at all, strange as it may be. My Great-Grand Papa was very thorough in teaching me almost every Greek Myth there was. But, like I said, he said nothing of “the” Anteros!

“My sweet, majestic, magnificent adopted son, for whom I have given my heart, my muscle, and my very life . . . you are the Anteros: The God of Selfless Love. The Lord of Agape and the Avenger of Love Unrequited or Injured. YOU are the God of True Love!” My Papa kneels before me and bows his head.

“With every day you’ve lived with us you’ve held true to what you are. You’ve always been first to pick up the young child and dust him off and kiss his hurts when he falls and skins his knee. You’ve always been the first to not only help an old lady across a street but then go in and help her buy her groceries. You have always been the one to sooth the broken hearts of your earthly siblings as well as complete strangers. Those that have come to know you and love you have always worshiped you and looked up to you for that. To myself and your mother . . . you have always been the light that gives special joy to our home the minute you walk through the door with that matchless smile upon your beautiful face.” My father rises and hesitantly ‘dares’ to reach for my face to cradle it.

“You are LIVING love! You are what the world has been missing for a very long time.” He pulls me into a hug that I’ve never felt him give before. It is reverent and it leaves me more confused than I’ve ever been.

Did my Papa just call me a ‘god’? Hearing such a thing you’d think I’d gain some huge swollen head full of self-adulation, but no, I feel more like everything I’ve ever known about my life is a lie! That . . . nothing makes sense now. A god and . . . Eros is my . . . brother? My BROTHER?

That actually is the only thing out of what my Papa just told me that makes any kind of sense. Eros has always been there for me. Always! Then I found out he had wings, and he was there being the same old Eros as always. Then there was the time on that cliff, he pulled me from suicide in the wisest way possible . . . by letting it be MY own idea to do so!

But then a cold chill shivers down my spine. It actually causes my teeth to chatter a bit. My Papa mistakes this for my being in shock by his sudden revelations to me.

“It is a great deal for you to take in right now, I know. Especially after all that we’ve been through these past few days. But, hopefully, this truth I’m telling you can put some of this into some kind of context that’s acceptable. Because, you must accept it as true . . . for it is. By my soul I know it is so, my beloved Anteros.” My Papa holds my shoulders to steady me.

“Alexis, Papa . . . please.” I beg with an absence in my voice as I continue to ponder these things. I don’t allow my Papa to correct me as I continue vocalizing my internal dialog.

“I-if Eros is my brother or was . . .” I look over to my blonde lifelong companion who hovers there in divine traction still as death. I do not know but he may be dead from the looks of it which brings a lump of grief to my throat.

“T-that means that. . . Aphrodite was my . . . real Mom?” Given voice, the revelation I speak with my own words haunts me and freezes me to the core. It would make Ares my father too if the myths on godly lineage are as true as everything else I’m discovering is true about these myths. Ares was Eros’ sire so he must be mine as well. The horror!

“I do not know if it is true of gods or not, Alexis, but parents sometimes define us by becoming the examples we least want to follow as much as the ones we do want to follow. Your parents chose dark paths from what I have seen here. It is possible that before you came to us that you knew this and that’s why you humbled yourself to live as we do. Both you and Eros reduced yourselves to children for a purpose. I believe that purpose has to do with restoring love to the world, somehow.” My father says.

Purpose? I never had a purpose except getting a degree in college or working for Papa on his boat. I never had great plans for anything. I looked for a normal life where I’d possibly marry and have kids. I’d work my Papa’s fishing lines until he needed me to take over the business. These humble things were my only dreams of life. Not being some weird ‘god of selfless love’ or whatever!

A thought came to me that continued to cast doubt onto what my father was saying. I do not think he is lying to me, but he may have been mistaken about what the old woman was telling him about us. But, this one thought was a monkey wrench in the works of all of this.

“How is it that Eros kept knowledge of his godhood where, um . . . I did not, Papa? Eros has known all along who he was. Why not so with me?” I ask.

“Oh, son, I cannot say. When we went to America I lost track of the Athenikas and also Eros. It weighed on me greatly as I was loathe to separate you from your brother. But, at the time, it became necessary because things were becoming difficult on Crete. Crete is a poor place, Alexis, and sometimes poor places breed trouble. So we left trouble behind, taking us all on my ship. Your poor Mama was so seasick through that voyage. You . . . delighted in the sea though.” My father recollects with fondness.

“When Eros came to visit us for the first time on that Christmas, I remember he was alone then. He was a teenager like he is now, even though I was still a child. If he was near my age when we were adopted then I wonder what happened that he ‘grew’ so quickly where I did not?” I too recount things that now make very little sense with what my father is telling me.

“I will not even pretend to understand how these gods do things. I was just as surprised and confused then as you are now. I have been all these years up until this day. It was my first clue that things were not all they seemed to be with you two that day when Eros showed up as he was and still is. But then, it didn’t matter really. He came back into your life and watched after you every day like the big brother he is to you. He even attended high school with you and helped you through that. Interestingly, you never really questioned why he never aged beyond the appearance of his sixteen year old self. He insisted that you live as ‘normal’ a life as possible regardless of what your mother and I saw happening with him. Eros also made us promise not to make a big deal about it for your sake. Being a god, he must have ‘pulled the wool’ over our eyes too so that we could accept his strange ways without question. He willed us into complacency, I guess.” My father rubs his forehead as if remembering a headache he once had.

“Wow!” Is all I can say. Its true, I never really questioned Eros’ lack of aging. He was always just ‘Eros’. He was always just there. A constant I took for granted who would always be there and always be the way he was, because he never changed!

“Yeah . . . wow is right.” My Papa chuckles.

“Can you tell me what happened on that beach back on Crete now? Do you remember finally?” Papa asks me softly as he looks over at the great Seashell on the shore.

“Sure. I remember it all now. Its so vivid a memory that it is amazing that Styx would make me forget it so easily.” I muse as I look toward the Seashell myself.

“I went down to the cove . . .” I begin.

“Ah, yes, the one I found you asleep on. Calypsos Caves I think it’s called.” Papa remembers the name. I knew it had been something whimsically ‘mythic’.

“Yeah. That’s the one. Anyway, I went down there thinking I would bathe in the sea when I saw that. . . ” and I pointed to the Seashell.

“It was just lying there on the beach just like it’s doing now. It was just as big, stark, and strange as it looks now, too. It seemed even bigger somehow because the cove was much smaller than this shore. I found it so beautiful, you know how I love seashells, and so I went to get a closer look.” I say remembering and as I recount these things I find myself drawing closer to the Seashell now as it rests next to the surf. My Papa follows behind me cautiously as he keeps an eye on all the ‘other’ gods.

“Up close, I found it the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. It shimmered with so many colors. It looked like someone had taken a patch of sunset and solidified it right on the beach. Just like it looks like right here.” I continued and came to stand right beside the most beautiful thing I had ever seen until I saw what was inside.

My Papa, who comes closer ever so carefully, has his expression change from one of concern to one of being enamored. “Ohhh! You are so right! It is just about the loveliest thing I’ve ever seen! I’ve never seen anything quite like it before! It looks like it’s glowing from the inside!” He exclaims in wonder.

“Actually, it is, kind of. Watch . . .” and so I lay my hand on the surface. There again, the liquid fire under the smooth enamel comes to life, but in a way more lethargic than when last I did it. I am disappointed.

My Papa is too amazed to notice my reaction however. He’d not seen how alive the colors had been the first time! How they almost reached out begging for me to touch the Seashell again! Now, the reaction is only slight. It bodes ill for my hopes and proves true what I fear has happened. My faith has been broken! Without that innocent opening of my heart the Seashell can’t react to me the same way it did the first time. I’ve seen too much and have been injured, somehow, in my spirit.

“The colors inside under the enamel move like thick Jello wherever you touch! I’ve never seen anything do that before! Not even octopi!” My father touches the Seashell now and gets a similar lackluster reaction.

Nerites is reacting to me the same way he is reacting to my father. It’s like we’re both . . . strangers to him now. I find myself sink next to the Seashell with my hand still pressed against it. My heavy heart weighs me down. I know now what happened before won’t happen again. I’ve lost him forever. I’m just not strong enough to break Aphrodite’s spell again. Despite her being cast into the Underworld, what she has done cannot be undone . . . at least not by me. Not anymore.

I look up and I notice that the colors don’t even move with my hand anymore. They have lost touch with me. I might as well not even be here at all. A single tear slides down my cheek and I snuffle without meaning to make so much noise.

My father looks down and sees me and is surprised by my sudden downheartedness. To him, this is the prize of my victory. The consummation of all my dreams and longings he’s suffered with me throughout the year since I first encountered the Seashell at Calypso’s Caves.

“For what reason do you weep, my son? What troubles you now?” He is gentle still though I wonder if my moping is beginning to wear his patience thin with me. I could wear the patience of St. Nicolas thin, I think. I just continue with my story. The point I’ll make should drive home my current state of grief.

“I had the urge to press my cheek up next to the Seashell’s surface, like this . . .” and I do this again. The surface is so cold and hard now. Nothing like the ‘skinlike’ feel of the shell on that long ago day. My father watches me intently expecting something to happen. Another miracle, perhaps.

“I then got the urge to kiss it. Silly, I thought it was. So Silly . . .” I turn and kiss the shell again . . . and nothing at all happens. I choke up and begin to sob.

“This was the point when he came forth wasn’t it?” my Papa, now realizing the situation, comes to pet my hair soothingly since he is having to stand there and watch my heart break completely right in front of him.

“Y-yes. I-I fell back in, like, an ecstasy of some kind. I think I passed (sob) out and when I woke . . . when I wo-oke . . .” the sobs came harder now beyond anything I’ve ever cried like in my life. My father tries to take and hold me in comfort but I find all I can do is spread my arms and embrace the cold, cold hardness of the dead shell. My Papa hasn’t the strength to pry me away and so he relents, panting from the exertion.

The sobs cough out of me as I realize that this time Nerites may very well be dead. The hatred behind Aphrodite’s curse must have been even more potent this time than it had been that first time eons ago when she did it to him then. Those last waves of color I saw as my hands passed over the Seashell’s surface just moments ago were the last stirrings of life for my heart’s other half. I see that the shell has turned a cold dull blue now. He had waited just long enough to say goodbye to me and now he is no more!

NOOOOOOOOO-oooooo!” I wail and the sound shatters across the island and the nearby sea in echoes! It is the god-call. It is the voice of Anteros, my true self. It is the sound of Love’s own heart breaking.

The sound of the pain in it makes my poor father clutch at his own heart and begin to sob in empathy. I pray that I have not killed him too. I should have to destroy this earth if that were the case. My grief has a power to it. I am causing the environment around to change. Dark clouds begin to gather and distant thunder can be heard with a few bright sparks of lightning. Rain begins to fall and a sharp cold wind begins to tug at my flowing diamond-silk wrap.

“My son! What is happening? This sudden tempest . . . it’s unnatural! It could become dangerous for us here! We should leave! We should . . .” but then Papa realizes that neither one of us are wet. Everything around us is becoming drenched and flooded, but not us and not the dead shell. We are dry under a dome of solid invisible force.

I must not want to get wet except with my own tears.

“I shall never leave this beach again, Papa. This is all I have left of him. My only joy will be to rest here by the Seashell for all the years the world has left, however blessedly few those may be now.” I almost pray that the Destroyer does come and end all of this. Without Nerites there can be no Joy. What good is living if there is no joy in it? This world will lose its zest for life and its will to survive will fail. Love’s death from Joy’s passing will be the end of life on this earth. Thank God! What is life if there is no love to bring it forth and help it grow and what is love if there is no joy to give it purpose.

Then, something inside me lights! It is a small fire on the inside no bigger than an ember, but it is one that grows hotter by the second. It is a refusal to let things end this way. It is a desire to have hope where there is none. It is a memory of a future that will come, but only if I want it to. It is a warmth that breaks through the ice of my current acceptance of grief and it is a warmth that feels like a certain childlike innocence that denies this acceptance. It is a voice. A single voice.

It says: “No! I don’t want this!

I stop crying my eyes out then. I mouth the words. Then I say the words. I say them out loud.

No. I don’t want this.” I say this and I lift myself off the dead shell. I see where my tears have pooled there. They seem to shimmer with blue scintillations rather like the tears I have seen in the eyes of . . . other gods.

This, didn’t happen. This, is a lie. I am opening my eyes and seeing this differently. I believe Nerites is right here with me and he is alive. I know it to be so. It is so.” With that I smear the shimmering tears across the face of the deadened shell and lean down. My lips connect with the cold, cold wet salty surface. This is no sweet tentative boy’s kiss. This is a kiss of a wholly different kind. This is the firm and willful kiss of a GOD!

At first, nothing happens. But I know that this isn’t the way things will be. This is a lie. This is not the reality that I want. The reality that I want is the one I believe in. I believe in a world with Nerites in it. This seashell will not defy this truth. This seashell . . . will BREAK.

Where my kiss has fallen the dead shell there spiderwebs into a thousand little cracks that spread out over its entire opaque surface. The shell holds its form stubbornly.

“Aphrodite is not here. Her is not my will. Obey.” I tell the shell and with a sharp tap of my fingers on the heart of the cracking spider web the seashell shatters into a million pieces.

The shell falls around a figure tightly curled into the fetal position. The figure’s long blonde hair seems wet and matted. His flesh seems blue and lifeless. The human in me fears that I am still too late. That in the seashell or no, Nerites is still dead and beyond my power to save.

But, the Divine Faith in me bids me to open my eyes and only see Nerites alive and in my arms with my kiss upon his lips. The Faith requires that I let go of fear and only know victory over the illusion of the death before me.

So, I kneel down into the shards of the shattered seashell. I lift my Nerites up into my arms. He is light as a feather and there is no effort at all in my lifting him up. I cradle him in my arms and lift his limp neck so that his expressionless face comes near mine.

He is the love I never knew I needed until he found me. He is the piece that I was sent to find and could only do so by humbling myself to know love as only mortal man can know it. Brief, precious, complete . . . and completely wedded to faith! The promise of Death only makes the love sweeter because it is an eternity that has to be started in such a infinitesimally small space of time. True Selfless Love does not die and so Death cannot contain it. So Death must release true love’s expression as spirits free of time. The soul a man has must be made of true love to exist at all.

Gods are locked into time while not having to be a part of it. Immortal, love loses its meaning for us. We must do as mortals do. We must find love only to lose it again and then regain it purely through faith. When Eros’ hot love burns out from lack of faith it is then that Anteros’ love must arise from the ashes. It comes back when a stronger faith is found after lessons in pain and sacrifice.

“You are not dead, but sleeping. Arise and join with me, Nerites, Son of Poseidon and Prince of Sirens. Arise for Love is calling you back awake. Arise and become Love’s Joy once and for always. Arise and complete me. Arise!” There I place the gentlest of kisses upon lips made artificially cold by lesser powers. There into that kiss I breathe my breath into him.

Then I FEEL it! It is a suction that draws my breath right from my immortal lungs. The Breath of Life pulls from me. Nerites inhales it as I exhale in the long divine gasp.

Slowly color returns to his blue-gray skin. A flush of light seems to seep through every muscle, bone, and sinew. His breathing at first is labored but begins to stabalize. After a sigh of seeming relief, he opens his glowing green-blue eyes and I see them smile along with his tender lips.

“Alexis . . . I-I finally found you! I found you . . .!” He reaches a hand up to cup my cheek and I lean into it and kiss it.

“No, my Joy . . . we have found each other.” I then bring him easily to his feet which astonishes him a bit for he realizes that no mortal can lift him so easily.

“You, you are Divine now?” He asks with an excited smile.

“No more so than you are, my sweet God of Joy.” We then take each other in for the most passionate kiss in our immortal lives. As the intensity of our kiss expands so do my own wings. They unfold from my back like gossamer butterfly wings of every color. The tendrils of these wings spread out across the beach of Pan’s Island and they reach out like sunset vapors toward the nine unconscious gods over the sea.

Where my flowing wings touch Aphrodite’s spells are broken. The Divine Host awakens all at once sighing with the shared bliss of my reunion with Nerites. Through his kiss, Nerites feeds me his never-ending joy in his love for me and that joy then flows out from me to cover all within the reach of my gossamer wings.

“By Jove! What a remarkable way to wake up from a nap! I feel tingly all over!” Zeus is the first to speak . . . and it is exceedingly strange to hear such bubbly comments coming from his dour visage.

NERITES!! ALEXIS!!” In two long bounds, as if he is still under the ocean, Poseidon leaps at us and embraces us both.

“But . . . alas! This is not the Alexis I knew from the deep waters: the sweet youth who delighted in my gifts and hospitality. This is a long lost Child of Eternity!” Poseidon gently runs his fingers through the trailing and flowing gauze of my wings. I am not astonished by them. I have missed them. All we Eroties are gifted with wings though my brother and I are foremost with these gifts.

I am Anteros. I allow myself to remember this now. I turn and smile at my Papa who sits dumbstruck by the beauty, glory, and transcendent joy that he has raised for a good portion of his mortal life. My smile rewards his soul with the courage that this love and this joy will not die with his body. It will go on and it will go on with the rest of my family and all mortal men as it was in the beginning and will ever be unto endless eternity.

“Indeed he be an alexis, my dear water logged brother. He is an alexis of true love. He is an alexis of true faith as well. A defender and a reclaimant of Divine Love. Behold brothers, children, mortal fathers alike! Behold thee all Alexis Anteros, God and Defender of Love and usurper of Aphrodite’s failed queenship over her dominion. Cast down, the Goddess of Hate now resides with my eldest brother to be judged ever more in Tartarus as will be her unholy consort, Ares the Damned.” Zeus proclaims as he takes the ruling scepter from the disgorging sands with his mighty hand! With a shake, the Thunderbolt flares and a blue arc of it reaches to touch my forehead!

There is no pain, only . . . expansion of consiousness! At once, the world through my eyes turns a shade of sapphire and then patterns emerge. Spiderwebs of connection between the other gods, Nerites, my Papa . . . even Pan who is a distance from us but coming quickly. There are patterns, bright red-pink and shimmering that tie him from behind to the pack of Neriads chasing him lustily. Hehehehe! These are connections of attraction in erotic love.

Yellow filaments attach us all to greater or lesser extents. The are the bonds of the special love between friends. They sparkle like sunlight on water and some shine a bit brighter between certain individuals than others. Interestingly, a line of bright yellow and of throbbing red-pink connects me to Pan. So, he really did fancy me in that way! How naughty!

But then there are more lustrous blue strands that connect me to my Papa and to Poseidon. This azure bonds are of another kind of love. A familial kind that is a gentle paternal regard for me and for Nerites.

Zeus seems to have a darker royal blue version of these bonds to every one of us. These are patterns of divine love. Father of gods in truth, he does care for us all in his way. This royal love shine also seems to permeate everything around us, actually. It seems to come from everywhere at once and is only concentrated through Zeus. Was this the influence of the Overgod? The God of Gods? Yahweh? Brahma? The Great Spirit? God the Father? The Creator and Source of all life given any number of names throughout time and in many cultures? It is an amazing thought that perhaps I can, at last, see this all consuming influence everywhere! Like a force or an all encompassing personality binding us all together as one family in love!

But, it is between Nerites and I that there is the brightest and most dazzling connection. It is a pulsing, dancing, glittering line of connection that looks more like a rope than a line. It is a kind of love deeper than erotic or familial. It is a love given special strength by the Divine Love that comes to fortify it. It is a life line! It is a connection of souls. It is the emerald fire of a true and complete love. A sum of all other kinds of love put together. It is a circuit between he and I. An energy that I give and he receives and then he takes and passes it back to me forming an eternally intense loop.

An odd, purple line connects me and my winged fraternal twin. I feel the connection ‘twang’ as Eros awakens and takes notice of what has become of me. He breaks from his aimless floating among the other gods who are waking up too. He soars down toward me and nearly knocks me off my feet in his embrace!

Brother!” His white feathered wings enfold me along with his arms and my gossamer wings retract from my surroundings and gently cover him as well.

He holds me away from him to look into my eyes. His shimmer with the Olympian Blue glow as mine must as well for he touches my cheek just below my eye with one gentle thumb.

“You’re fully an Olympian now, Anteros. Your idea worked! When you caused all but me to forget you so that you could come be among the mortals without interference so that you could learn to love as they loved, you worked a miracle in guile! Hehehe! I’m glad the gamble paid off! Mom was finally exposed as the fraud she is! I hate to say it, but I’m glad to see our own mom and dad gone for a while. They were making a terrible mess of things.” Eros smirked. I look sad, however.

“They are no longer any kin to me. I have to cut them off and leave them to their fates in the Underworld below. Hopefully, Hades can re-adjust them to being a better god and goddess. I don’t know what role they’d play now though. Other things are replacing them even now.” I turn, with that, to my Nerites who steps forth to join us in a group hug.

Pulling away but still keeping both hands on me, Nerites smiles that giddy smile of boundless Joy that he now embodies. “I . . . feel so honoured that the God of Love should be the one to rescue me from the Goddess of Love. But, though you now show your true colours in your fullness of grace, it is the little Alexis I met on that cove’s beach that I am in love with. Tell me he is still there under your true nature, Alexis?” Nerites’ joy dims a bit at the possible loss to my true self of the simple boy that I appeared to be to him when we first met.

The wisdom is that I could not have done anything to save Nerites as the God Anteros. Aphrodite’s curse could only be broken by a simple heart filled with pure love and childlike faith. The first and most important unleashing of Nerites was the work of a simple boy in love with a not so simple Seashell and the ever so amazing being inside that Seashell. Alexis loves Nerites because Nerites is Nerites, not because he is a god of anything else.

“I am Alexis first and always to you, Nerites, my one true love. It is little Alexis that yearns for you. All the rest of what I am is simply window-dressing next to him . . . and wings! Hehehe! It is not the most important part of me. You are the most important part of me, Nerites! For now and for always, you made me open my eyes and you made me see what true love could be! You did that. . . and that brings me joy without end!” My speech earns me a bigger and stronger kiss by his ever smiling lips!

“Then so let it be known, here and now, Nerites, son of Poseidon, rider of waves, and Love’s True Gift: be you made Joy Divine. Be you the first god of transcendent joy! Be you the conduit and the reward for all love through Holy Anteros.” There is another shake of Zeus’ mighty Thunderbolt and a blue arc reaches out to touch Nerites’ forehead and I stand back in shock and wonderment as Nerites, one time lowly god of seashells and mollusks, is remade into Nerites, Olympian God of Joy.

Opening his eyes, Nerites mirrors my own eyes with the color of Olympian Blue. We are Olympians now, the both of us, and we are the mandated guardians of love and joy until the time comes when we are not longer needed to be such.

We embrace as equals in power and in authority, but not only. We embrace as parts of the same whole. We are the completion of a circuit long broken. We are Love and Joy together and only together can we be thus.

From this point on, all things will improve. All things will get better and better . . .

. . . for everyone who loves with an open heart, with a child’s faith, and with perfect joy!

Epilogue

Time no longer passes for me atop Mount Olympus where the clouds always gather into rosy fingered dawnlike twilight.

The scent of Ganymede’s Jasmine scents the Garden of Delights with heavenly tones of lemon blossoms, orange blossoms, roses, and gladiolas. The Ambrosia Tree sings to me through its leaves old songs of remembered joys. Older than are all the gods and titans alike, the Ambrosia Tree was once called the Tree of Knowledge. Its fruit divided gods from men when Olympus was Eden and Eden was the name of this world now called Earth.

All who eat of the Ambrosia Tree in good faith have eternal life and are made gods and are sustained as such. Now, I guard this tree and make The Garden of Delights my favorite resting and loving place.

Nerites lays on his special patch of velvet grass petting the black pelt of Veloúdo Bastet, God of all Cats. Veloúdo grooms his own fur with his long raking pink tongue and sometimes grooms Nerites hair too sending it into scraggly tufts from time to time. Nerites doesn’t mind in the least and continues to hum and quietly sing his sparklingly happy little ditties to himself and to anyone around who can hear him.

“By the way that new pet of your grooms your hair it is a wonder that you aren’t snatched completely bald, Nerites.” A low feminine voice intones from the moon-gate entrance to the Garden.

“Hehehehe! It would grow back if that were to happen. It makes Veloúdo happy to lick my hair. I’d lick his too if he liked that but he always looks at me strange when I try.” Nerites’ infectious giggle causes the great and ever so serious Goddess of Wisdom to smirk despite herself. I have noticed that she has had less cause to be so deadly serious all the time since Nerites and I moved to Olympus. Artemis insists that Athena never smiled once in the past 2000 years until we showed up. Now she does so with regularity even though she tries not to.

She glides forward with her majestic white robes girdled with gold rings and buckles that glitter in the half-light. Her Olympian Blue eyes seem to shine brightest among all the gods save Zeus himself. It would be no wonder, she is basically a living extension of Zeus. She seems to be that part of him that is his rational mind and keeper of his wisdom. Once, when wars needed guidence, she was pressed into helping in their just resolutions. Now, she no longer has that burden. For that reason she now never wears the Athenian Helm. Her beautiful golden brown hair is allowed to be free of constraint, though she still keeps her hair tied neatly up in a bun at the back of her fair head.

She strides toward me, taller than I am by five feet. She has come to attach herself to me as my ‘girlfriend’ or female lover. Nerites is my prime consort, but the others have found me irresistible and have formed their own particular love bonds with me. I encourage it. True Love has no place for jealousy or possessiveness. That was Aphrodite’s curse. It is a curse I have sought to weed out from the world of men and gods these many months since my crossover to Olympus.

But, as for Athena, she has formed the strongest bond with me next to Nerites. Her purview is Wisdom and she has ever sought to temper that aspect with Love, but could never get any cooperation from Aphrodite to do so. I was later to find that this was due largely to Ares who was jealous of Athena being his co-reagent in war. Athena only sought for the peaceful and equitable resolution of conflicts through war while Ares gloried in the pure hateful destruction it caused.

I asked Athena after Ares. I always wondered why he was the way he was. She told me that he had been the God of Arms and the Holy Defender of the Gods. He was the one to drive off dark forces that would ever seek to assail Olympus. Dark Powers roam the earth older even than the gods and they have always sought to corrupt or destroy the gods so that they could take over and finally destroy Earth and all life on it to prove it to be . . . The Creator’s mistake.

Ares was seduced by one of these powers that the Olympians came to know as the Black Dragon. They knew nothing more about this horrible entity other than that it was strong enough to corrupt the noblest of the gods and turn him to evil. Zeus did not have the heart to destroy Ares as he always hoped that Ares would ‘snap out of it’ one day. That day never came and Ares, instead, corrupted Aphrodite and turned love to hate in the world making the world a darker place than even the Black Dragon had managed to make it. Hence, the Sacred Aegis was mandated. Now that Aegis is a Sacred Gate. By the will of the Power, we gods can be sent as messengers and missionaries into the world of men. From time to time, we are called in if a problem arises that needs a stronger hand than an angel can give or if the temporal ramifications of a certain corruption can cause further damage to history and the vitality of mankind. We have become a sort of Divine ‘Special Forces’ unit, if you will.

I was given a special job. I was to help ‘clean up’ places where love goes wrong due to Aphrodite’s failures. I am sent in, especially, if that love is pure, strong, and potentially perfect but in danger of being lost. Such loves in the world are very powerful. They are lights in the darkness that inspire the kindling of lights in other relationships. I am sent, every now and then, to correct a troubled relationship that has the potential of shining brightly enough to inspire love elsewhere. I call these relationships ‘Seeds of Love’.

I must suddenly get a troubled look on my face for Athena bends down to look me in the eye from the side. Her usual sour expression returns as she sees this as anything that concerns me will concern her greatly. Nerites never concerns himself with anything, because to concern him would be a great sin. Joy can’t exist where concern exists. Athena, ever the shield, intercepts my concerns before they can bother Nerites. It is probably what prompted her to come to me.

Looking into the Ambrosia Tree I sometimes see things where patterns are interrupted or broken by something. The Tree is the very Tree of Knowledge so it can show me where it knows when evil has come to visit something that challenges true love. Such a challenge is happening now. Darkness is about ready to consume an innocently bright but terribly broken heart.

The Tree shows me the vision now and I share that vision with Athena who contemplates it with me.

There is a boy on a bridge, he is no more than fourteen or fifteen years old, and he has been convinced that to end his boundless suffering he must kill himself. So blinded is he by the pain of the sparking, bleeding, and injured connection he has with his beloved that he cannot see that his death will only rupture love, life, and joy for all around him. His death will become a sucking black hole of despair that will draw not only his beloved into its vortex, but so many others that he influences now and will influence in the future if he continues to be.

I see that the pain of his injury is a dire. It would kill him anyway if he didn’t cut his life short. It would kill him because the connection he shares with his beloved is of the same bright emerald radiance as my connection is to Nerites. Only his has nearly been severed through and the boy’s very lifeforce is bleeding out of the injured connection. What is more, the life of the other he is bonded to bleeds out to mix with the boy’s vitality.

That other is also a boy. This may be part of the problem. In the warped human culture in which he lives in America, they both figure they are in danger if their secret love for each other is ever discoverd. Yet, together they long to be because they were made for each other. Indeed, their connection in True Love is a Seed of Love that can change many hearts and un-warp many mistaken conceptions of what love must be. By their true love for one another, their love will be magnified a thousand fold as their lives unfold together. They will influence a multitude of other people when their story of love is finally told in full. It is no wonder, then, that an Umbra of the Black Dragon has stalked these two and sown seeds of its own for the destruction of their love. They are a threat to the Darkness with their Light.

Even now, the other boy struggles desperately to replace what he has lost with this boy on the bridge. He tries to make another love connection with anyone else he can find that shows interest. But, he will never find a replacement for his one True Love. Deep down, he knows this, and if this boy knows that the love of his life has taken his own life on account of the loss of the love they shared, the other boy will die likewise. The despair will be too much. The Darkness will have consumed them both and many others besides.

They are just children! How vile a thing to play with their hearts like this! How cruelly the Umbra has toyed with their lives and made their love so seemingly impossible! Now, the Shadow is nearly victorious. It has driven the boy to the edge of the bridge I now see him on. He is building his courage to end his misery at long last. He is so filled with guilt, despair, and heartbreak that I cannot help but feel a shimmering tear fall down my own cheek as I look into his precious little life.

“Little One, how little you know and how fearful you are of what is to come. Don’t you know, he loves you still? He will always love you. You are listening to lies!” But there is not time to reach out to counter the Umbra’s black councel.

I am fortunate that I see an opportunity to quickly put an end to this tragedy. I see a thin green thread of connection leading away from the boy on the bridge and to another boy who rides his bike nearby. I see, what must be, a Guardian prompting the boy to ride his bike in a certain direction, carefully. This Guardian, unable to stop the Darkness from transpiring has set things up so that I can do what needs to be done. I ‘pluck’ the strand of connection between the boy on the bridge and the new boy on the bike. The one on the bike is getting closer.

Be quick now. A friend needs you. Move quickly!” I speak into the resonance of the connection between the two boys. The one on the bike won’t hear this as a ‘voice’, per say, but he will feel the urge to move. I see his big blue eyes widen in sudden worry and then he puts his legs in gear and rides as fast as his young legs can propel him!

My faith in their bond is not tested. The boy on the bike is just in time. The boy on the bridge was just priming himself to jump when the boy on the bike uses the momentum of his speed to jump off his bike and tackle the boy on the bridge and pull him away from certain death.

The Umbra, frustrated, rises to bring some other calamity into play, but it never has the chance. A shaft of golden light passes through the heart of the evil thing and with a twisted inhuman screech it evaporates. I look over and see Athena retrieving her mystical javelin from the branches of the Ambrosia Tree. She has a look of determined satisfaction.

I look back to the vision before me and smile. The shimmering bond between the boys brightens a bit. This act has made it much stronger and yet it will never have the strength of the bond between the rescued boy and his promised beloved in the distance. Already, though, the new boy is giving strength so that the bond of True Love will heal soon. This boy from the bike is a Guardian in the making. Even though some may see what he does in the days to come as being cruel and jealous, they will be born of a singular purpose: to heal and restore the heart of his much loved friend who’s life he has just saved today.

So, the boy on the bike says to his dear friend: “BRANDON! DUDE! WHAT THE FUCK, MAN? Why were you gonna do that for? Goddammit!” the Guardian Boy actually holds the boy he has saved close in a shuddering embrace as he realizes what might have happened if he had not been there.

“Stevie! S-tevie? W-why did you stop me? I need to go. I just c-can’t do this anymore, you know? I just . . . CAN’T!” Brandon starts to cry uncontrollably into Stevie’s shoulder with wrenching sobs.

“Sure you can, Buddy. I’m here for ya, now. Whatever it is, we’ll get through this together! I promise!”

Such a promise made in love . . . is always kept.

The Seashell

Published January 13, 2019