The Inlet at Aulis
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They say that salt water can cure anything - sweat, tears, or the sea. To wash out mouths, and wounds, and veins, and keep them clean - no bacteria, nor viruses, nor all other deadly things can survive the osmolarity there.

They say that salt water is almost like holy water, nature-blessed.

The day is hot, and heavy. The girders of the bridge are not quite a pain, but certainly a discomfort, to touch. You are glad you wore trousers, as you sit on the walkway and rest your arms on the lower rung of the railing, feet dangling out over the inlet. It is blue, today, under the sun, a mirror-bright blue that hides all the brown weeds and clotted leaves along the banks.

They tell stories, about women and water. There are seals that live only a kilometer or so down this inlet, and tourists buy frozen chunks of fish and feed them off the docks, laughing and cringing and trying to steady their tablets and take overexposed pictures, snapping their fingers to try and get the seals to look at the camera as though they know anything about human gestures. It probably only make them jealous - for are they not Sedna’s children, dropped originally into the water from that basalt axe blade, coats dappled with blood from blunted hands?

That is irreverent to think; Sedna’s jealousy is more serious than anything else. Her anger is killing, and her jealousy is starvation - as a woman’s should be, right? You don’t get to take that away from her, this woman twice-betrayed by her men. Her fury is righteous, and if one of those seals grabbed a tourist’s wrist in its fangs and dragged them into the water to drown that would only be proof that they deserved drowning, as much a monster as a bird wearing human hide.

One of your toes worries at the other heel, pushing on the cardboard of your sneakers. Your socks, sweated through before you had even walked three blocks from your house this morning, itch around your ankles. You swing your leg slightly, and it slips off - a small blotch of purple-and-grey soaring down, to blend with the surface without even a splash.
The Virginia creepers mound over a chain-link fence lining a small park on the bank of the inlet; a mother walking with her young child passes them, and he reaches out to touch the leaves. Ah, but there are no berries on that one, no grapes; Dionysus will not reveal himself from the damp and churned-up earth below, take a seat beside a girl whose tunic-sleeves are smudged with kohl and tears because her betrothed left her sleeping in the sand, only black sails on the horizon. There will be no crown bestowed, no queenship - no glory rising from the male cruelty, no wonderful reclamation of her power, guiding the world into a safer new era.

And the sun slips down to just the right angle, and the waters are set aflame: a blaze of white, of glittering silver, of amber and orange and citrine like a funeral pyre, a holocaust of moonlight that no-one can move past until it has swallowed them up entirely, you entirely. You know it is only the physical properties of mirrors that make that shining road lead always away, but it seems to reveal something truer, the remembrance of that True Pacific always lingering somewhere just beyond the horizon, unstainable, pure, and purifying.

They also tell stories about this: there are wounds that will not heal. The Fisher King, emptying his waters of fish and continuing to wonder why the land will not flourish, why the people starve; Philoctetes, serpent-bitten and exiled. You are not ill, that you deserve healing, or holiness - merely broken. A plastic star, crammed through the circle’s hole of a toddler’s toy puzzle.

You get up, clinging to the top bar. For a brief moment, you close your eyes into the sunlight, imagining: a smell of wild yeast and wine, strong arms come to bear you up and carry you away on wings of wind and the glitter of the reflection, to far-distant lands where no-one would know you or anything of your life. Where you would be allowed to start over again. Where you could have just one more, one last, final attempt at resetting your warped soul.

But you do not live in a story. You have never lived in a story. You do not deserve to be strong, to be a queen, to rule yourself; there is a reason why sacrifices are offered.

Along with being pure, the sea is always cold in its depths. Your palms may have been burning when curled around the railing, but released, the air they cup is cool, as it rises like a wave to meet you.

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