“you’re dying.” he told me. “they can help you. they can make you strong like me.”
i followed him. i was dying. cancer: the silent killer, or so they say. they were dying too, but not like me. he told me that they needed me like i needed them. Hercules instructed me as i followed the ritual from the old epics. i set the same fires as odyesseus had set, just in pennsylvania, not greece.
Hercules’s bronzed arms are crossed over his chest as i burn the best bigmac the mcdonalds on the corner could give me. the fries fall in as 12 homeless people start to wander towards me. i dump soda on the fire but it only burns brighter, turning green. the homeless people crowd near the fire, watching the food turn into smoke as i toss in the holy oil doused hay.
the green fire burns higher and brighter. i turn and the homeless people have transformed into divine auras and i feel dizzy.
“just a little bit of your hair,” Hercules urges, walking closer to the fire, to the man in the center.
I have scissors in my left hand. I have 3 inches of hair in my right hand.
A beautiful woman, though I cannot make out just what she looks like, she passes a pearl to the man in the center.
“now whisper it..” Hercules commands from the semicircle facing me.
‘it’ was the ancient greek word for heal–“epoúlo̱si̱”.
i toss my hair into the flames.
warmth hits me from the inside as the divine homeless people warm their hands over the fire. i feel like i’m boiling, but its calm, like a simmer. more divine homeless people try to warm their hands but the 12 beat most of them away. some smaller divine homeless people stay near the skirts of the 12.
something is growing in Hercules’ arms. i am shrinking. it is growing quickly, i am melting quickly. i see it’s face as i melt. its me. i turn to bones and awaken on the other side of the circle, in the arms of Hercules.
“toss the bones in the fire!” Hercules mumbles. “bones, bones” “fire, fire” “toss, toss” the voices whisper.
i toss the bones into the flame and as they turn to ash, the fire sputters out.
facing me are 12 people draped in togas and chiltons, with countless other beautiful beings behind them. the man in the center kneels. people seem shocked, he was their ruler and he bowed to me. me, a small kid from pennsylvania. all of the divine beings bow before me.
“You’re cancer free! It’s amazing, I’ve never seen anything like it!” my doctor exclaims. He doesn’t know that this is my new body, that’s why it has no cancer. That is why my curly hair is not missing three inches. It’s because I am blessed.
I walk from the office outside and flowers bloom around me. Persephone smiles, handing me a lily of the valley. Thanos gave a dog back to a little girl, minutes after a truck had taken it. I trip over a chunk of diamonds that Hades had drawn towards me.
I never have a break. Even Deimos and Phobos bow to me. Fountain waters spring into wine as I pass from a snap of Diyonisus’s fingers.
I have everything, yet I have nothing. Life is terrible when you are the only one who believes in the Greek gods.
I try to knock on Hades’s door, but Thanos never lets me in. I can’t go a day without the gods trying to hard too please me for believing.
It is my ever long Field of Punishment, but they believe it is Elysium. Not for me.
i whisper “télos”
it is ancient greek for end.