Poor Persephone, forever young, forever doomed to spend half her life beneath the Earth, in the Underworld, where her beauty is wasted on cold stone and her youth spent in places which will never see sunlight. What does she do, what does she think about, how does she live, does she even have wifi?
We’d like to present “Persephone and the Unhelpful Servant”: a short one-act dramatization of that poor maiden’s cruel and sad existence.
Persephone: Why, why must I sit here and stare at these pomegranate seeds all day?
Servant of the Underworld: Because it is your hunger, it is your longing which feeds a piece of the magic of this place.
Persephone: Why, why must I be tormented so?
Servant of the Underworld: Because nothing comes without a price, my Lady.
Persephone: Why, why am I locked in this room, trapped, helpless, unable to leave?
Servant of the Underworld: What are you talking about? The door’s not locked. It’s not even closed; heck, you can see the bus station from here. You can walk right out at any–
Persephone: Shut up! Just shut up, all right? And get me another pomegranate. Actually, better make it two.
I once wrote an actual play about Hades and Persephone; I left that behind in my past life, but it wasn’t a bad play. I’ve seen more than a few retellings of that myth in the past few years, and they are (rather unsurprisingly) focused on the idea that Persephone actually chooses something of her position.
It seems culturally likely that some of my ancestors practiced arranged marriages. It’s easy, from a modern viewpoint, to see unchosen marriages as automatically being loveless or horrific; but I have to say, having been in a chosen, loving relationship and having it end without either choice or love, I can appreciate the idea of having a marital partner chosen for you. I’m not defending this as a general practice or as a practice for anyone else; just that a bad enough divorce might, I imagine, make any classic overthinker spend some time considering the nature of romantic attraction.
I’ve also lived long enough (it doesn’t seem all that long) to have watched most of the romantic film tropes of my childhood transmute from what was then seen as positivity (persistence against all odds, spontaneity of cleverness, elaborate ploys demonstrating devotion) to, basically, unpleasant weirdness (in retrospect, 80s romantic comedies appear to be stalking, trickery, intoxication, obsession). Have we become more enlightened in our understanding of how two (or more) people might seek love? ….or have we just cut ourselves off from multiple kinds of intimacy out of fear that they might secretly be horrifying and wrong?
Beats me, friend. I’m in a longterm relationship with words, and I’m pretty happy here. You guys can figure out all the smooching bits; I’m going to stay right here read a thesaurus or two.
The unspeakable Villainpunk Jeff Mach frequently seeks new, interesting ways to rewrite this part, and then often ends up just shifting a few words around, going back in time to before he wrote this initially, and hitting “Publish”, so that this is technically new. Don’t tell anyone.
Jeff is a writer and creator who has long aspired to be the sort of person who neither needs to promote his other work at the bottom of his short stories, nor need speak of himself in the third person. Sadly, in both regards, he has failed.