They whisper about me, their voices low, hushed, but still I hear. I hear their words, dipped in honey, but still sour, still false, still just stories. They say that Zeus fathered me, and therefore, I am the most beautiful woman in the world, part goddess even. The men watch me, desire building behind each lingering look, and I pity them for they do not love me, they lust for me, and such lust, will never be satisfied. The women look at me, hatefully, envy running hot through their veins and I do not blame their anger, for it is their lovers and husbands that lust for me. The children, too young, to understand, lust or love, only know legend, and they whisper stories about me. All, because of my beauty, my so-called beauty. I do not see the beauty they speak of. They rave about my golden hair that falls in soft curls past my milky shoulders, my eyes, the color of the ocean's laughter, my sweet rose lips, my body, that glows with perfection.those are their words, not mine. For when I look into the glass, I do not see perfection, nor do I see a Queen or the most beautiful woman in the world, I see myself. I am Queen Helen of Sparta, to them, but to myself, I am just Helen. In the looking glass, in the quiet of my own bedchamber, the only place their whispers cannot touch me, I am truly just Helen.

"I hate him, Armenia, I truly hate him." I whispered, trying not to let the tears building in my eyes fall. My maidservant turned her face to study me.

"You can hate him, my Queen, as long as you obey him." Her words were true, but they angered me, just the same.

"What kind of husband, what kind of man, would parade his wife around in this manner?" I asked, the words flying from my mouth before I could stop them. The flimsy material I was wearing clung to every curve of my body, and I closed my eyes, allowing Armenia to paint them and snap jewels into my hair.

"A king, my Queen, a king displays his wife in this manner."

"And I am his wife." I whispered quietly, I had known these horrible words to be true for so long, yet a cold hand still gripped my heart at the thought. Would I never be in love? Would I never know the touch of someone's hand, the touch of someone's hand that I could not resist? Was I doomed to be Menelaus' wife, his prize until the end of my time?

"Menelaus." She trailed off, unable to come up with anything that would lessen this humiliation.

"Is a pig, a cowardly pig, what will this prove to the Trojans, what?" I knew the answer, and so did she.

"That he has the most beautiful woman in the world as his wife and they do not, that is what it will prove, it's all a game of intimidation, that the men play." She moved forward to place rose glaze on my lips.

"Will he stop at nothing to break me? I am like a horse, a wild horse that he must break, must cripple, I don't even remember who I am anymore."

"You are the Queen of Sparta."
"I am Helen."

"You are Queen Helen of Sparta, and you haven't eaten in days, Maggie told me to ask you to eat a little, before you go."

"I cannot eat." I pushed away the plate she offered with a shaking hand.

"You must. You must stop torturing yourself, you barely even talked today, you just sat there, my Queen, you are.so sad, so." She stopped, knowing she had crossed the line, her hand over her mouth, but she was right. I was a hollow empty shell now. He was close to breaking me.

"I used to be happy, Armenia, did you know that? Do you remember?" I asked her, clutching her hand to my cheek, begging for her to remember, for someone to remember that this hollow shell I had become, wasn't what I had always been. I had laughed, I had danced, I had been happy.once.

"Yes, my Queen.you were happy." She answered, her eyes wide and afraid. I had frightened her. I pulled back and stood, walking so that I could gaze out on the ocean. The ocean calmed me, reminded me that I still was myself, I still was Helen and nothing.not Menelaus' greed or my loneliness, could change that.

"I used to dance on that beach." I said, slowly, testing the words, my hand motioning to the glistening sand.

"Dance?"

"At night, when no one would see me, I would sneak out and dance.under the moonlight, and I would pretend that someday a Prince would come and rescue me, take me away from this place and from Menelaus." I closed my eyes, listening to the rhythm of the waves, lapping the shore.

I heard Armenia stand, walking closer, interested now. "When you were already married to the King?"

"When I was married to him, I was a child, barely fifteen.I needed an imaginary Prince to stay alive. I would fall exhausted to the sand and just imagine what he would look like, how he would taste, smell, how he would make me feel."

"He never came." She said, simply, stating a fact that I already knew, yet I felt a twist of the bitter blade that was already deep in my heart.

"No, he never came. And I lost hope, lost my childhood fantasies and grew up, can you imagine? At eighteen summers, I am now grownup."

A knock on the door shook us both. She stepped back and looked down, ready to say the words, she knew I would loathe hearing, but I walked in front of her, titling my chin up, ready for what was about to take place.

"How do you do it?" A voice came from behind me, quivering with wonder and confusion, and admiration.

"I numb myself to everything around me."

"Numb yourself? And it works?"

"If it didn't, I would already be dead from the pain." I gave her a reassuring smile and turned to leave.

"My Queen?" I turned around to see my crown in her hands; she walked forward swiftly and settled on my head, then, I was ready.