“For the Love of Goddess”

by Josie Rerecich

        “Please, Daedalus. I really need your help!”
        The greatest inventor of ancient Greece barely glanced up from his blueprints. “I am a very busy man, and in the employ of King Minos. I have too much to do to worry about a lovesick guard like you, Damianos.”
        “She wouldn’t love me unless I can write a love poem dedicated to her,” Damianos argued.
        “Have you tried actually writing this poem yourself?” Daedalus asked flippantly.
        “Nothing I write turns out right!” Damianos threw his hands up exasperatedly.
        “Not my problem.”
        Damianos folded his arms. “And here I thought you were the greatest inventor of all time. But perhaps inventing a pen that can write poetry by itself is too difficult, even for Daedalus.”
        Daedalus spun around. “How dare you!” he cried. “I can invent anything! In fact, I already invented such a pen, just to prove that it could be done.”
        “I don’t believe you.”
        “It’s true!” Daedalus flung open a desk drawer and pulled out a glimmering bronze pen. “Just tap this pen to your heart and then fill it with ink. The pen will start writing the moment it touches the paper.”
        Damianos snatched the pen from the inventor’s hand. “Thank you!” the guard cried as he ran out the door.
        “And don’t bother me again until after I’m done building the labyrinth,” Daedalus called out.
        The pen worked exactly as Daedalus had described.
        During the second half of his lunch break, Damianos walked halfway up the tallest hill he could find. Kneeling on the soft grass, Damianos placed the poem he wrote to his crush on the ground in front of him.
        Then Damianos began to pray.
        “Goddess Erato, Muse of Love Poetry,” he whispered. “I present this offering to you, a love poem I wrote about the woman I love.”
        Suddenly a gentle breeze blew. The air shimmered and a beautiful woman appeared out of thin air. “Guard Damianos, why are you offering such a poem to me?” Erato asked, arching her perfectly lovely eyebrow. “Shouldn’t you be giving it to the woman you love?”
        “I am,” Damianos grinned.
        Frowning in exquisite confusion, Erato glanced at the poem. Her gorgeous eyes widened as she picked it up and read.
        “I am the woman you love?” she asked.
        Damianos’ grin grew wider. “Yes.”
        Erato shook her head. “But how can this be? I don’t remember us ever meeting.”
        “We met years ago,” Damianos replied quickly. No way he was going to tell a goddess that he fell for her because of one statue. “Also, I haven’t written anything in quite a while. So we haven’t seen each other recently.”
        “I see,” Erato smiled. Then she glanced at the clear sky. “I have to go. Another writer is calling me. But I would like to see you again, Damianos.”
        “Maybe someday,” said Damianos.
        “No,” Erato shook her head, still smiling. “Let’s meet again tonight at midnight. I don’t want to wait years to see you once again.”
        Damianos’ grin couldn’t get much bigger by this point. “See you at midnight, then.”
        The rest of the day was spent in a fog. Damianos had no idea how he finished his shift guarding King Minos. Damianos barely saw the labyrinth Daedalus unveiled that afternoon. And Damianos barely heard Minos’ rant at the emergency guard meeting that was called immediately after the unveiling.
        Now Damianos snuck out of the palace and back to the hill. It was finally time to see the love of his life again.
        Spreading a picnic blanket on the grass, Damianos poured two glasses of wine in preparation for his date.
        Suddenly the wind started up. But unlike last time, this breeze was so strong it blew the wine glasses away.
        “Why? Why did you lie to me?” Erato screamed, Damianos’ poem to her crumpled in her hand.
        “We’ve never met before today. You’ve never even written a love poem by yourself!”
        “Erato, I can explain!” Damianos cried desperately.    
        “Then explain.” Erato switched to a deathly calm, the howling wind dying like it never existed.
        Damianos took a deep breath, and began to tell his story.   
        “And I thought that once I met you, I could write a beautiful love poem for you without this pen’s help.” Damianos concluded. “I wanted to meet you so badly, but without your help, I could never be a poet.”  
        Erato sighed, shaking her head. “Don’t you understand? A muse can only do so much.”
        Damianos stared blankly at her. Erato groaned.
        “What I mean is,” she continued tightly. “Man needs to trust himself to write creatively without a muse’s help. Even if Man thinks his writings aren’t worth putting down, he still has to start before a muse can come to help him.”
        Erato turned away. “And now I must be going.”
        Damianos looked up at her so sharply his neck cracked. “But will I ever see you again?”
        Erato began walking away. She had been standing at the very top of the hill, so it looked like Erato was climbing up nothing. “Not unless you heed my advice.”
        The air shimmered, and the muse vanished.
        Damianos ran to Daedalus’ office. The inventor would help him. Maybe he had a device that could contact Mount Olympus, or a machine that could wipe the memory of a goddess.
        “Guard! Where have you been?” Recognizing the voice, Damianos immediately turned and saluted.
        King Minos glared at Damianos. “Just be glad I don’t fire you on the spot. You may have not been there when I arrested Daedalus, but you can still redeem yourself.”
        Damianos didn’t make a sound. In the presence of the king, it was always better to keep your words to yourself.
        Something that Daedalus always had trouble doing.
        “Clean out Daedalus’ office, and dispose of all his gadgets and doohickeys,” Minos commanded. Before Damianos could even blink in response, King Minos turned and walked away.
        Putting the last box of Daedalus’ inventions out for garbage pickup, Damianos put his hands deep in his pockets and stretched his aching back.
        The tips of Damianos’ fingers touched the bronze pen in his right pocket.
        Pulling it out, Damianos took one last look at the instrument that brought him to his beloved Erato… and ultimately pulled them apart.
        Walking back into Daedalus’ office, Damianos threw the pen into the lit fireplace, watching it melt in the heat.
The desk where Daedalus stared at his blueprints all day was still there. Minos had his other guards check it earlier for installed booby traps, but none were found.
        Damianos sat at the desk. Opening a drawer, he pulled out a piece of paper and a completely ordinary pen… and began to write.
        All of a sudden, Damianos felt Erato’s presence, looking over his shoulder as she read his love poem.

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October 11, 2018

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