The Lost Fable: Butterfly Wings
I took the locket from his hands, it was warm and it tingled as if something important was inside of it. Carefully, I opened it to see five golden arrows with pointy hearts at the ends of them. They were literally emanating light.
"You can't expect me to not call you Cupid after seeing this," I joked unconsciously.
"These are the arrows that I use to make people fall in love. I used some like these on the guys that were following you around."
I gazed into his enchanting blue eyes. "What would happen if I pinch you with one of them?" I asked, momentarily losing myself in his tale. Because it was a tale, right?
He shook his head, smiling at my curiosity. "Nothing. They only work on people who are not in love," he whispered. "I already have my Psyche."
My head was spinning as my thoughts raced trying to make something coherent out of all I had just heard. It wasn't working.
"Ok, let's assume I won't call the police as soon as I get hold of my phone. And let's assume that I sort of believe your nonsense," I said, closing the locket and giving it back to him. Some of my usual practicality came back to me. "You'll have to prove to me that you are Eros."
Something about the look on his face told me he was offended. Maybe it was the scornful expression. "I just showed you my freakin' bow and arrows. What more proof do you want?"
"Anybody can get some glittery mini arrows, even if they look darn good," I stated, completely ignoring the fact that he had made that bow appear out of thin air. Details. "Show me that you can make two people fall in love."
He opened his mouth and closed it twice before ruffling his hair in frustration and mumbling something that sounded like 'I shouldn't even be here'. Then, he looked straight into my eyes.
"Fine. Let's go."
I hadn't expected him to agree, but I also hadn't expected him to back out of my challenge. I realized as we went out of the front door (no redhead boy in sight) that it was silly of me to expect anything from someone I had just met and who, by the way, referred to himself as Eros.
The soft early afternoon breeze hit my face as we exited the house; I was about to ask where exactly we were going when I saw it. All thoughts flew away from me at the sight of the black, expensive looking car parked in the driveway. I was in love.
"What are you standing there for? C'mon, I'll drive to the park."
"That's yours?" I asked as I stepped closer and touched the dark surface of the car in the bewilderment of someone who had to walk or ride the bus everywhere. Somehow, I had it in my head that this Cupid-person would drive something more like a big pink truck with clouds and little hearts painted all over. I kept that to myself. "Why to the park?" I finally mustered, coming out of my reverie.
He shrugged nonchalantly from the other side of the car. "You have a better idea of where to go?"
I eyed him suspiciously. "Can't we just walk somewhere? How old are you anyway? Do you even have a license, Mr. Cupid?"
"Just hop in, Psyche," he mumbled rolling his blue eyes at me.
A small smile formed on my lips involuntarily at his attitude. He should be a little more grateful that I was even allowing him to prove that he wasn't some crazy psycho. Actually, I would love to know why I was doing this.
This situation became more and more ridiculous as time passed.
"So," Eros said, his voice deep, after a couple of minutes of driving. He seemed to know his way around pretty well. "Who shall we pair up?"
I blinked at him as he parked in front of Lannen Park, the one closest to my neighborhood. "We are gonna find a guy for me. Isn't that what you were trying to do before?"
Unexpectedly, he made the car stop and turned at me, his blue eyes wide with—fear? I waited for a retort that never came. Stiffly, he focused back on straightening his parking job. Without a single word, he turned the car off and got out, waiting for me to do so before locking the doors.
I gazed up at his face once we started walking around the park, a glorious extension of green, green grass and flowers, with little shops here and there. My eyes met nothing more than seriousness, not a frown nor a smile, not even a mocking expression.
"Are you OK?" I asked in my baby-sitting voice
"Fine," he replied less than a second later.
I knew he wasn't fine.
I glanced around the park. Kids were running, teenagers smooched in the benches, and old people fed the birds together. Love floated in the air like oversized pheromones. I looked at Eros out of the corner of my eyes and smiled. I guess Love was around, after all.
"What about him?" He asked suddenly while pointing.
My eyes followed his finger and landed on a guy around my age who was swinging wildly on the swings. I flinched.
"No wonder I didn't like any of the guys you sent me," I said half-jokingly. "You have terrible taste."
Eros raised both his eyebrows at me as we kept walking, a slow, lazy smirk spreading on his lips. "I don't think so."
"Well, I think so," I mumbled.
"Why didn't you like them, anyway?" He asked without looking at me. "Do you like somebody else?"
Why didn't I? I would have liked to lie. I knew it would make Eros and all these uncomfortable feelings go away. But I couldn't. Something buried deep inside me didn't let me lie to him, something far beyond myself.
"I don't like anybody else," I said calmly, not looking at him even though I felt his stare. "But," I started before the thought had fully formed in my head. "Why would you even send those guys to me if, as you claim, you are Eros and you love me?"
"Because I didn't want you to know who I was yet," he said and his eyes diverted from mine.
I ignored the urge to shake a real answer out of him—I had no need to start bickering like a three year old. We walked around the park, following the serpentine path that crossed over the grass from the parking lot area to the food shops. The wind kept blowing its soft breeze, refreshing and caressingly, which never failed to make me smile.
"You always did like the wind, didn't you?" Eros said next to me.
I didn't turn to him as we continued our slow stroll. "And I assume that when you say 'always' you refer to all the other Psyches, right?"
"You are all the other Psyches," he stated casually.
My eyes stayed fixed on the shops as I tried to figure out how to reply to something like that. This Eros character was the most disconcerting person I had ever met.
"Zephyrus, right? That was his name," I said, the ring of a lost memory coming back to me.
"Yes," he said gravely. "He was the one who –"
"Kidnapped the first Psyche," I filled in.
"– Helped me take the first Psyche to my palace to hide her away from my mother," he finished defiantly.
"Aphrodite, the goddess of love, huh?"
He nodded, a slightly reluctant look on his face. "She is quite a piece of work."
"Why did you have to hide me—I mean, Psyche—away from Aphrodite?" I kept my face turned away. Had I really said that? Ugh.
Even thought I couldn't see him, I heard the smile in his voice, "Back when I first met you—"
I interrupted. "The first Psyche. Back when you first met her."
He rolled his pretty eyes at me. "Fine. Back when I met the first Psyche, people were starting to worship her because of her beauty. That did not sit well with Mom, who has always had a kind of narcissistic complex—not that I have anything against Narcissus, but he did drown for being so vain, y'know."
"Your Mom was jealous of Psyche," I repeated, more to myself than to him, and I could taste my own fear as I thought of Aphrodite. "But isn't Aphrodite the most beautiful goddess or something? Why would she care about a human girl?"
"Because," Eros said with finality, as if that explained everything. "Greek gods are petty, Psyche. Petty and irresponsible. My mom was, and still is, self-centered. She wanted to be the only one worshiped. So, she sent me to make Psyche fall in love with some ugly creature."
"But you fell in love with her, instead, didn't you?" This had always been my favorite part of the myth, back when I was young and stupid. I looked at Eros. "You loved her, and then she died."
Pain crossed his face, a pain so heartbreaking that it made me hurt.
"She was only a human," he said, his voice merely more than a whisper.
I stayed quiet for a second. "How come, according to you," I let some skepticism leak into my tone, "There is more than one Psyche? You just said that she died."
He seemed to struggle with his response, and I saw the same uncertainty he had shown when he appeared in the kitchen and it made him look approachable. I didn't see some crazy psychopath or some random stalker who claimed to be the god of Love—I saw the guy from GODIVA, who had smiled and wished me happy birthday.
"You are so young," he said eventually, not the response I had expected. Then, he smiled sadly. "I shouldn't even be talking to you right now. It's too early and you are so unprepared for all of this."
I blinked. "What?"
"Nothing," he evaded.
Um, no. That was clearly something.
I stopped walking and planted myself in front of him. "Stop with the half-answers already. What do you mean by 'too young and unprepared'?"
"Psyche—" He started, in the tone of someone who was about to make up an excuse.
"Don't you dare," I narrowed my eyes at him.
He sighed in resignation, his shoulders slumping a little. "She is reborn, Psyche is. Never in the same place or with the same appearance as before, but it's always the same Psyche."
I stared at him, terror at what he meant creeping inside of me. I couldn't bring myself to ask the question burning in the back of my mind. I just couldn't. My eyes unfocused from his tired face, unable to bear it, and, in the mist of all the people walking around , sitting in the grass, and buying overprized snacks, two faces stood in sharp relief against the others.
I didn't know the man, a blond in his late thirties, but I did know the woman. Anne Bariste was the dark-haired, thirty-something attendant of the flower shop where I usually got myself flowers for Valentine's. She was one of those fair-skinned, short, classic beauties that never seemed to age and belonged to a black-and0white movie. If there was someone who deserved to be loved, it was Anne.
"Them," I declared. Eros looked at me in confusion, and expression I took my time to enjoy. "Make those two fall in love."
His gaze followed my fingers and a crooked smile danced on his lips when he spotted my two victims. "Why them?" He sounded amused.
I was glad he didn't look heartbroken anymore.
I answered his question slowly, carefully. "I don't know. They just seem to fit."
He chuckled gravely, as if the laugh came from deep inside. "You have a good eye for this love thing, Psyche."
I eyed his back suspiciously, trying to interpret whatever double meaning that phrase had (and I knew it had one), as he strutted off to hide behind a nearby bush, like a panther ready to jump on its prey.
"I'll do it for you," he whispered when I crouched next to him.
I was about to point out his cheesy-ness, but my words choked in my throat when the bow he had shown me earlier appeared out of nowhere. I watched him pull out an arrow from his locket and, like a fourteen-year-old pubescent boy, the arrow grew.
Crap. I hadn't thought of this.
"Wait. Wait!" Suddenly a lot more scared than I had been a couple of seconds ago. "You can't shoot them."
"It's not gonna hurt them."
"Of course it is! It's a freaking pointy arrow."
He smiled lopsidedly and, in a swift movement, positions the bow and arrow. It seemed natural, like I supposed a skilled archer or a hunter would have looked.
Unlike in movies, no sound came from me when I threw myself at him in a conscious attempt to stop him. The bow slacked and the arrow flew in a curved path to land on the bench where the blond man was sitting. It drilled a hole right next to him—or it would have, if the arrow hadn't disintegrated before actually hitting anything. The man stood up with the determination of a bull and made a straight line toward Anne, who blushed intensely and smiled in all her old school adorableness.
I was baffled.
"While I don't mind having you on top of me, I would prefer if you wouldn't always do it when I'm in the middle of a job."
Sure enough, I had landed in a very ungraceful and non-romantic position on top of him.
"Always?" I asked as I straightened up.
He looked mischievous. "You—or should I say, the other Psyches—" I gave him a look, but he ignored me. "Have been the cause of many bad pairings. I mean, a princess and a frog? Where do you think that came from? Did you know there was a perfectly good prince bathing in the same pond where the frog was?" I stared at him, dumbfounded, and he laughed. "I blame that one on you."
A smile prickled the corners of my mouth. "You are ridiculous." My gaze turned to Anne and the blond man. "I can't believe it worked."
"The arrow was close enough to him to still work." He rubbed the back of his neck, apparently in pain, but a second later he lit up like a kid on sugar. "I have rocking aim, don't I?"
"Don't flatter yourself," I said, standing up. "How do I know it was really your arrow that did it?"
He frowned. "It was obviously my arrow."
I shrugged, feeling like I was only putting off the inevitable, but I couldn't help it. I was scared of him. I jumped a little, snapped out of my musings, by a familiar sound.
Hey, hey, set me free. Stupid Cupid, stop picking on me…
I searched my pockets as my phone rang, the tune getting louder and louder every second I didn't answer. I couldn't feel it vibrating.
"That is your ringtone?" I heard Eros ask, and when I looked up at him I saw my phone in his hand, the ringing getting more and more obnoxious.
"Very funny, Eros," I said, not amused. "Give me my phone back."
I saw a grin spread across his face a second before he flipped my phone open and, right out one of my nightmares, answered.
All blood left my face as fast as it came back when I heard the faint sound of the voice coming from the phone.
"Hey, Sicily! Yes. Yes, she's with me," he laughed. "It's hard to explain. No, she's still in one piece. Fine," he said into the phone and then to me: "You're mother wants to talk to you."
I took the phone from his hands, mine shaking.
"Oh, Psyche. You've finally met him!" My mother exclaimed at the other end of the phone. "Isn't he handsome? Well, of course he's handsome. And what a voice! But you probably can't tell about his voice, can you? Anyway, I just invited him to your birthday dinner; I hope that's ok with you. I called to remind you that it's at six –I thought you would be with your friends, I'd never imagined… oh, this is so exciting! I need to…"
The voice faded off and I faintly heard my mom hanging up. I was confused.
I turned to Eros. "You know my mother?" The disbelief in my voice wasn't intentional.
N/A: Part II is here! I don't have much to say except that 1) I've decided the next part will be the last one of this section, and 2) I didn't take as long as usual to update! Aren't you guys proud?
Also, you should be aware that this multi-chaptered short story will have a sequel Yeah. It's been decided since pretty much forever.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think! Reviews ARE important--I want your feedbackS :D