This month’s first Flash Friday featured the Greek hero, Ganymede. I’ve also written several poems about this guy, including this tanka poem here. As you can probably guess, I’m a little obsessed with this one. I thought it would be a good place to start off Myth of the Month Monday. The story of Ganymede is one of the more, shall we say, messed up ones out of the Greek Canon. And there are Greek Myths about a dude who chops off his son’s arm and tries to feed it to the gods (more on that another day). So I’m going to try to be a bit light about this.
Handel had once been sure of many things, but now he was only sure of one: humans were not meant to have wings. His new appendages barely fit in his cage. Handel could feel every tendon and muscle and ligament in his wings as they ached in protest from being put in the tiny cage. And his wing itched, but every time he tried to scratch it, his talons would pierce his skin. His once crisp white feathers were sticky with dried blood.
They told him that there would be no side effects. Handel chose to believe them, even as he heard the observation room’s doors lock behind the scientists. His belief had only started to waiver when his back roared in agony and his fingernails grew and hardened into heavy claws before his eyes. He felt heavier.
The scientists had shuttled him from the observation room to his current cage. They had been speaking latin, but he understood from the shock in their faces that he hadn’t been meant to survive the procedure that made him what he was now. He had understood one other word: griffon.
Griffons hadn’t been real until Handel, and now his creators didn’t know what to do with him.
Handel saw someone twice a day when they fed him. It was always raw meat. He wasn’t sure what animal it came from. He was ashamed of how easily he ate it. The person who brought him his food always wore a hazmat suit, and never spoke. Handel could smell their disgust in the air with his new predator senses. He couldn’t blame them. Handel was acutely aware of how he smelled, and his limbs. His tail was continuous getting caught in the bars when he flicked it. He was just as disgusted with his inner world. The animal in him hungered, could hear every noise and smell every scent. The animal in him wanted flesh, wanted to rip and tear. At the same time, the animal in him wanted to fly.
At first Handel had thought that the animal in him hated the cage, but he knew now that it was only him. Humans weren’t meant to be in cages, he thought, it did things to them.
But Handel wasn’t human anymore.
Author’s note: I realized that I posted my flash Friday piece, “Ganymede” a week early, so I decided to treat you guys to two flash fiction pieces this month! This piece was written to get some ideas onto the page for a longer piece. I hope you enjoy it, and if you like it, don’t forget to like and comment! 🙂
Kelsey J. Mills
God bless the bastards,
Whose souls tread where demons would say
Bless those beautiful bastions of burning bleeding hatred.
Those who put all else below them.
Dust to dust are we,
Born into wedlock of our humanity.
God bless the bastards.
If they can be saved,
Then I am a saint.
I have been bad about posting in my PTSDiaries. This is due to a combination of symptom reduction and life events. I recently moved away from home to the first time, got a new job, and I attended a writing conference, one contests, got published and generally had a good summer. The therapy worked well, too, and I’ve had a reduction in symptoms.
Note that I said “reduction” and not “elimination”. I still have nightmares. I couldn’t handle reading over materials on abuse for work–I couldn’t deal with how clinical they made it all. Abuse must be quantified and categorized, of course, but it’s also so deeply personal and deeply emotional that when I read clinical text on abuse it really bothers me. I still have nightmares. I still evaluate everyone I meet, especially men, as potential threats first and see any positive attention from a man I don’t know well as grooming. It’s not over.
That’s not to say that the therapy was ineffective. I loved my therapist and I honestly miss going to see her once a week. The staff at the clinic were so positive and kind that I always left with a good feeling. I also made some decent art, which I will upload in the next PTSDiaries. In PTSDiaries Seven, I mentioned that during my exposure therapy I could feel R. assaulting me all over again. My panic attacks are getting better. At the end of the therapy, I felt the emotions without physical sensations, but they were easy to sit with and move past. I think the therapy did it’s job.
I’m still angry. I’m not angry at the world in general, though. I’m angry at R. I’m angry at all the people who turned their backs on me. I’m angry at the adults who I told who did nothing. And I deserve that anger. It’s controlled, and it reminds me of why I do stuff like this: to help people who are going through things.
R. is no longer my monster. He is my ghost: he exists, and he haunts me, but I can leave him behind, and he can be exorcised.
Ganymede’s hands shook as he lowered the jewelled pitcher to the lip of Apollo’s goblet. The ambrosia’s scent was still heady after thirty years on Mount Olympus. The liquid splashed over the goblet onto the sun god’s hand.
“Forgive me, my lord!” Ganymede cried, jumping back as if stung by a wasp.
Apollo raised his eyebrow, not getting up from his throne. “Why do you jump like this, Ganymede?”
Ganymede never realised that Apollo knew his name. “I spilled your beverage, my lord.”
Apollo laughed, “Come now boy. I will drink ambrosia forever, what’s a few drops?”
Apollo’s voice sounded like his father’s. His voice brought back memories of dark rooms and broken bones. Spilled drops of blood.
“Not a thing, my lord, not a thing.” Apollo watched, confused, as Ganymede set the pitcher beside his goblet and walked away. Ganymede felt the sun on his face as he left the throne room and stepped out onto the balcony over looking the earth.
Thirty years and he still could not forget Zeus’s voice, long after the god had grown tired of him and his forever youthful body. Long after Zeus stopped taking him to the dark room where not even Helios could see them. The sun stung his eyes.
His hands still shook, thirty years later.
(Looks like I was a day late–sorry friends! More on Ganymede on Monday)
I’ve heard writers from all levels and all genres (except maybe poetry) praise the character sheet. “All hail the ultimate characterization resource,” they cry, waving sheets of paper and tablets in the air, “for it shall guide us through the dark times of writers block!” I myself have recently turned to character sheets, as I found myself stuck with writing my short stories.
My feelings are mixed.
They were very helpful…for stories where I didn’t have clear pictures of each character in my head. For the ones where I did, I found them tedious. I found that it didn’t inspire me to know about a character’s childhood, for example, when I already knew how their present was unfolding. I also found that most character sheets were made for novel length work, which they are extremely helpful for by the way, but this didn’t help me with my short work. I found myself Frankensteining the sheet I was using to pick out what was most useful. Not that I’m lazy (spoiler alert: I really can be) but I wished there was a specific sheet to use.
What about you guys? Do you like character sheets? What kind of work do you use them for? Let me know in the comments or on twitter or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!