The room spins. The ceiling falls. The floor criticises my dress sense. I did this to myself, I know that, but it doesn’t undo that last whisky sour.
A gentle mist lingers in a city peppered with skyscrapers and too many people, and I stumble into the nearest parked taxi. My perfume is heavy, smells of concrete and sulphur, and immediately fills the space. The driver leans on the arm rest and turns back to look at me, asks where to take me.
“Away from here,” I say.
His brow furrows at my eyewear, but I pay him no heed. If it wasn’t for these matte black sunglasses, he’d be solid as a rock right about now. Plus, they hide the bloodshot eyes and puffy eyelids. Great for Gorgons and Hangovers. Title of my autobiography.
Time bleeds together like a well shaken Cosmopolitan. A vague memory of—
The clink of champagne glasses as the waiter brings over two drinks. They fizz and bubble, and when they touch my lips a jolt of electricity pulses through my teeth.
“What are we celebrating?” Stacey asks, holding her glass away from her body like it may bite her.
“Celebrating. Commiserating. Passing the time. Isn’t it all the same?”
Stacey puts down her drink, untouched, and carries on talking about her husband (so busy at work) and her children (they say the funniest things!) and I nod at all the right intervals and smile vacantly, though I can’t help but feel like I’m encouraging a smart pet. A dog who fetches a stick from far away, or a cat that gets his shit directly into the litter tray.
“So, are you seeing anyone at the moment?” she asks as the salad arrives.
His eyes are piercing and blue, and his jaw is sharper than a Sunday crossword puzzle, yet he has all the intelligence of a mouldy piece of cheese, and his conversation makes the snakes that hide beneath the silk red headscarf atop my head drift off into slumber. I could take him back to my bedroom and show him the things I’ve learnt over the decades, but the boredom drips off me and I can hardly muster the excitement.
I get up and leave mid-conversation, and as he calls after me, I stroll to the bar and approach a young waiter, blonde and sleek and with hands way too big for his body, which I adore. He asks what I want to drink, and I lean seductively across the bar.
“Vodka. On the Rocks,” I say, with a wink. I get no reaction from him. My comedy is wasted in a place like this. Where’s Zeus at a time like this? He loved a pun.
The taxi ambles along in silence, and the driver attempts conversation. “So, you from around here?”
The island I’m from is oceans away and aeons past, but I reply affirmatively to save myself the hassle of explaining.
“Lived here long?”
The city rambles by. They’re all the same really; Paris, New York, Rome, Athens, this one… Strip away the colours and the buildings, the smells and the language, and all that’s left is life, death, corruption, greed, desperation and desire. Nothing has changed. Nothing ever does.
“Depends on the perspective. From your point of view, yes. From my own…” I linger, and I think of the ocean. Think of home. “Barely a drop in the sea.”
The island was a lush green; bathed in emerald and marble. Despite the centuries, I remember it vividly. My days were spent among my sisters, and we revelled and we bathed and we enjoyed the pleasures that came with immortality and power. Legends decreed the snakes and the stony gaze a curse; in fact it was a uniqueness. It made me memorable and stand out from the crowd. No one remembers my sister’s names. I barely do.
I remember Perseus, however. How could I forget? He crept onto our island like a thief in the night, hunted me with his shard of mirror and bravado to spare. I hunted him in return, watched him from afar and marvelled at his beauty, at his muscles, at his zeal and courage. Our stalking turned to flirting, and the battle we should have done turned to a wrestle of flesh and passion, him taking me where my eyes could not see him, and I complied in full.
After, as we lay amongst the bushes and watched the sun rise, he told me of his mission and we laughed at the absurdity of it. To satisfy his quest, I let him take the decapitated head of my sister, and I fled the island never to return.
Five thousand years, give or take a decade or two. Stacey is still talking, back on her children. She’ll be dead soon. Her kids too. Relatively speaking, that is. And then I’ll have to make new friends all over again. I order another cocktail. This one is on fire, a layer of flame dancing atop my glass. Prometheus stole fire from the Gods; I get mine with the service charge.
I put my hand out for a taxi, and stumble slightly. Stacey catches me by my shoulder, and the snakes wave back and forth. Like they’re starting a Mexican Wave, and I belch out a laugh.
“You really put those drinks away at lunch, huh?” Stacey says. It’s not a question. The accusation lingers in the air like a bad smell. I briefly consider taking off my sunglasses. That would teach her. “You know,” she continues, “I don’t want you going down a dark path. Maybe you need to go home and take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror…”
I prod a finger at her chest. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
The taxi moves ever onward. The driver asks what I’ve been doing.
Celebrating. Commiserating. Passing the time. There’s so much time to pass.
Samuel Edwards writes silly words and foolish stories, all in a vain attempt to be respected and adored. Please don’t hold it against him. He has a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree from the University of Leeds, and is studying for a Masters in Creative Writing. Samuel writes primarily to impress his pet cat, a feat he will never accomplish. Previously published in Vestal Review, Door is a Jar and Flash Fiction Magazine, among others.