No god of mine
I met Zeus on a subway bus headed for Jersey. He was wearing ratty clothes, and sipping on a coffee from a vending machine. Others couldn’t see him, just thought he was a homeless bum, but he didn’t carry himself like one, I would know. In the world we live in there are mortal men and self-made gods. In his other hand was a magazine, I couldn’t see the title, but it made him laugh. There was no one else in the car with us.
“Apologies, miss. I simply couldn’t help it. You see, there is this line in the book which resonated with me quite humorously.” Yep. Not an uneducated bum, as people seem to see. He took another sip, not meeting my eyes, but wrapped up in the reality within his hands. “They say Zeus, the king of gods, knew no morals when it came to matrimony, and I can’t help but disagree.”
“It seems that way from the stories.” I muttered out without thinking. There the god before me looked up, almost startled that I had said anything at all, then he laughed again, this time without mirth. He wasn’t mad, it seemed to me, I certainly would have felt the change in temperature as is so often accompanied by his mood swings. But I could see in his stormy blue eyes, he felt a distant kind of pain. One I could relate to, I think.
“Yes, so it does.” He sounded like he wanted to end the conversation there, but the fates wanted otherwise. “Whatever may these things say, always are they far from truth.”
He said it as a proverb more than an opinion, and I couldn’t help but agree. I don’t know much about Zeus the Olympian, but rather Zeus the Titan Killer. Before I could ask anything, the god across from me shook his head.
“I see it in your eyes. You know who I am. It would be trivial to make it like you don’t, young mortal.”
“Then you wanted to talk to me. Why?” Zeus merely looked at me, I could see from the sagged skin underneath his eyes, and light bruising on his temples he was dreading his next words, tied by an unseen force to continue this conversation.
“Want is a funny thing, isn’t it, young mortal? You did not want to enter this particular car at this particular time, yet you did, out of either duty or boredom, I know not.”
“Is that where this conversation is leading, you not wanting to be so... free with your affections?” The god barked a laugh, even less enthusiastic as before. He merely shook his head.
“That is the only thing I did want. I admit it.” He might have seen my look of disgust, but said nothing to indicate it. Seems he was used to the judgement others gave him. “I did not want to marry her. She wanted something I could not give. I tried to change, but I could not. It is my fate to be commander of storms, unprecedented and ever-changing to simply be as fickle as mortals and their alliegences.”
“Is that what you gods hide behind then? Fate and unchanging character?”
“Young mortal... the difference between us is simply this: I am bound by my mistakes, you are not.”
“Why? Because I’m anonymous? Because no one knows who I am?”
“It is because you are not permanent. Not here in this world.” For a while it was quiet, the truth of his words filling the space between us. It was almost unwelcome when his voice rose again. ” I do wonder about death, mortal. I wonder how meaningful my eons of existence would be should it end now, but it will not.”
“To us men, women, children born without the gift of life, that end stirs in us both excitement and dread. To us it is reality.”
“One I do not share with you, then.” He took another sip of his coffee, or perhaps it was some form of ambrosia. “I almost envy it.” Anger welled within me at his caullousness.
“You’re wrong, y’know. About our choices. They do persist. Even if it is for a moment, they do matter. To our famlies, to our friends, to our enemies.”
“That is what I envy, young mortal. You live with consequence, I know nothing of the concept. You live with lessons, learning, and changing. You live with freedom unknown to me. I envy it, young mortal. For all the choices I have ever made, none of them ever mattered. But you young mortal, every single one does. They shape you like potters shape clay, they change you like the seasons change colors. I know nothing of this. How pitiful.”
“It is a wonder we lesser beings look to you gods then.”
“Indeed.” Zeus tossed the cup into air and it vanished. He stood, towering over me. “Young mortal, I have a request.”
“A request? Not a demand? I am shocked.” The immortal before me laughed a final laugh, this time with real joy.
“Do not call us gods.” This time, I was the one to laugh as he vanished into the storm above us. As I stared out fiddling with my chain cross across my wrist I couldn’t help but smile as the clouds began to clear.
“You’re no god of mine.”