The Hubris Of Theodora
Deslea R. Judd
DISCLAIMER: Characters not mine. Interpretation mine.
ARCHIVE: Sure, just keep my name and headers.
SPOILERS/TIMEFRAME: The Truth post-ep.
CATEGORY/KEYWORDS: Angst, romance, Knowle/ Shannon.
SUMMARY: "She was Theodora. He was her Justinian, pure of heart, but weak of mind and spirit." A short, rather strange post-modern legend written for a challenge.
MORE FIC: http://fiction.deslea.com
FEEDBACK: Love the stuff. firstname.lastname@example.org
AWARDS/ELIGIBILITY: Spooky Awards 2003 eligible.
Lines. Colour. Unblemished by the passage of time. Markings long unseen by human eyes. Long untouched by human hands.
Shaking fingertips brush the wall. Woman and orb. Light and faith. Moon and water. "Ixchel," she murmurs. The sacred name. It is not her belief, but she bows her head in honour of those who came before her.
She finds another image. Voltan. Her husband. God of the earth. That makes her smile. A thin, trembling smile that becomes a sob.
"He was my Voltan," she says aloud in this chamber that has lain silent for millennia.
She turns to the pool of water. She marvels as she always marvels at the idiosyncrasies of nature. In the middle of the desert, water springs from nothingness, moving and vital and timeless. Sparing this cavern, leaving wastelands to die. It seems so beautiful. So terrible.
She unbuttons her dress. It falls to the earthen floor. She slips into the dark, fathomless depths. Her heart feels weighted. Heavy. Tears come. The water cradles her and keeps her warm.
She remembers swimming with whales. Stroking their flesh. No fear. She thought they could do anything. She thought they would live forever. She called him her Sobek. He called her his mermaid, his muse. She teased him for his lack of imagination. He teased her for her wealth of trivia. They splashed and laughed, and then they came ashore and made love under the stars.
She remembers walking with him in Constantinople. By then, they knew what was coming. Their path was set. Their future was arranged. She was Theodora. He was her Justinian, pure of heart, but weak of mind and spirit. She begged him to leave with her, but he refused. He was willing to forfeit their rightful place in the defence of the world because he feared that which he did not understand.
She remembers fighting him in Greece. She was Athene. He was her Ares. Lover no more, but brother and foe. They fought, as they would fight again and again. Sometimes she feared they would fight until the end of time. His touch was brutal where it had once been kind. And she cannot reproach him for that, for she was no different, no better. Her cause was more just, but she no longer believes such things matter.
She remembers that last night in New Mexico. He was her Bel, her blinding sun, her warmth. Bodies rose and fell in the dark, joined and united once more. Again, she begged him to join her. Abandon their war and fight at her side.
Maybe, he said. Maybe.
He was still afraid, because he knew then what she knows now. That life was not theirs forever. Not as long as there lived those who knew how to bring about their destruction.
She thinks his final act was not to defy her, but to protect them both. She doesn't know, not for sure, but she likes to think so.
She breaks the surface of the water. Rises up. Sits there on the earthen floor. Hurting. Drained. She looks at the etchings on the wall, and she is overcome. How many people passed through this cavern? How many years has it stood untouched? She understands at last their insignificance. The folly of their pride.
She is no immortal, no goddess, no queen, and he wasn't her god or her king. She is just Shannon, he was just her Knowle, and he is lost to her.
She reaches out. Touches the wall. Voltan, she thinks. How fitting, when Knowle is somewhere within these earthen walls.
"He was mine," she whispers to a deity that isn't hers. "And now he's yours."
She rises up. Puts on her clothes. And then she leaves the presence of the gods, just another mortal once more.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Yeah, I know, it's a weird one. It was written for the Haven's 'Tell Us a Story' Challenge. I'm quite happy with it, but I freely admit to its oddness. I don't normally do elements challenges, but the frame of reference for this one intrigued me. The challenge was to write a folktale or myth (among other possibilities) including the following elements. I've interpreted the elements pretty loosely - some are conceptual rather than verbatim.
something or someone getting, being or becoming organized