The Fall of Helen
He left me there as he ran to follow my sister.
Paris? Wasn’t he the prince of Troy? But he can’t be. If he was, why will he be here? Being here is just the same as asking for a death wish. No people from the Trojan Empire would wish to be in our land. My father despised every one of them, most especially their king.
I have tried finding in the history books the reason why my father hated Zeus but it seemed that he ordered the historians to omit that information. I wonder what really happened… His hatred seemed to be something so deep that he can’t let go.
With that thought it mind, I proceeded to the kitchen to ask for food to be delivered to my room. As I was walking, I heard the officials talking about something. They were whispering so softly that what reached my hearing were only fragments of their discussions.
I decided to let it go since I had no intention of involving myself in political matters. I had better things to do than to indulge myself over talks about warfare and territorial claims.
Days passed by and all I did is read books about Mycenae and to engage in a friendly debate with my only friend Anaktoria.
One day, my father asked for my presence.
“Good afternoon, father,” I said and bowed down before him. In front of all the people, I wasn’t allowed to call him Papa. I was only allowed to call him father in front of our people… or rather his people.
He acknowledged my presence and then proceeded to what he wanted to tell me. But before beginning, he ordered for his servants to leave the room. His royal guards stayed; he was sure that they would not blab for doing so means getting beheaded. Part of the oath they took, I presume.
“Did you do what you were supposed to do?” he asked me.
I was not allowed to blush in front of the king so I answered straight, instead.
He nodded his head and then continued. “I see,” he said. “Hades,” he called his right hand. He trusted Hades more than he trusted his own family. At first it felt awful but then we learned to deal with the reality. For Papa, the empire will come first, and then his family. Well, at least he knew his priority.
Hades came and stood beside me.
“Yes, my King?”
“Prepare an itinerary for Helen. She’ll go first thing in the morning and make sure she’ll be bringing chests of gold with her,” he admonished.
Hades bowed his head down. “Is that all, my King?”
Father nodded and then motioned for him to leave. When Hades left, he continued talking to me. For years I have been living with my father but I could never get used to how coldly he treated everyone including my mother.
“Do you think you’re pregnant?”
“I have no idea, father,” I answered. I was instructed to never lie to the King.
He just nodded his head and put his hand under his chin, as if thinking of some other ways to place his claim of his much-desired Mycenae. I stood there for seconds with sweat appearing on my neck.
“Go there and make sure you’re pregnant when you return,” he said. “I’ll call for the royal doctor. Ask him for ways that will get you pregnant faster. Our empire needs this, Helen.”
I just nodded my head even though I was starting to feel dirty.
After that, he made me go back to my room. As I was on my way back, I heard a loud thump coming from my sister’s room. Our rooms were connected by a door that we had always kept locked. Since I knew of her escapades with her man, before I drift to sleep, I make sure that the locks were closed and that there’s no way that man can enter my room.
I was already a married woman and having a male entered my room would mar my reputation. And I didn’t think Menelaus’ father would be very much delighted if such news would be made.
I was lying in my bed reading about the history of Mycenae when I heard loud noises coming from the veranda.
“Paris?” I asked as I saw him lying flat on the floor.
I looked at the veranda just beside mine and there, I saw Hades looking around as if he was finding something… or rather someone. I turned my gaze at Paris who was still on my floor. Maybe Hades was there to tutor Polly. I had always envied her since she’s got everything I wanted for myself. Hades was one of the smartest men alive in our empire and I had always wanted him to teach me but father wouldn’t hear any of it.
But with Polly…
Hades looked at me. “Is everything alright?”
I was frozen. Oh, crap! Was I harboring a fugitive? It felt like it!
I didn’t know what to say. I was there, unable to say something, anything.
“Helen?” Hades said once again.
What made me answer was Paris pulling on my dress. “Ah… yes, Hades. Everything is fine,” I answered with a smile. I think I was pretty convincing because after that, he returned inside my sister’s room while I was left there, processing how I just lied to the King’s right hand.
“Is he gone?” the man on my floor asked.
My heart was beating wildly. I just lied! Shit!
I did not know what came in me but I kicked him in the gut when I was sure no one would hear him.
He cursed under his breath and looked at me—or more like glared at me. “What was that for?” he said, holding his stomach that I had just assaulted.
“You made me lie!” I hissed.
He stood up but then I pushed him down again. There were guards roaming around and I was afraid they would see me with him. It would be a big scandal seeing a man inside my room!
“Shit!” he said. “Why do you keep on pushing me?” he said.
I glared at him and then made him crawl his way inside my room.
“Why the crap are you in my room?” I questioned him.
He straightened his pants and even sat on my bed! He had the audacity to even cross his legs! The nerve of this guy!
“Hmm, so this is the room of Helen of Troy,” he said as he roamed his eyes. “You’re reading about the Mycenaean Empire?”
I snatched the book away from his hand and he just laughed at me.
“So feisty, huh,” he said.
I pointed at the door. “Get out of my room,” I said but then I realized that it might not be that good of an idea since there were guards who patrol outside our rooms sometimes.
Crap this situation! How the heck did Polly manage to pull this crap?
“If someone sees you in here, I’ll kill you,” I threatened him.
He just lied flat on his back. “Let’s just wait for Hades to finish teaching Polly, alright?”
He’s calling him Hades… He’s got some nerves.
I walked towards the door and made sure it was locked. “Get out of my bed,” I ordered him.
He just laughed at me like I was some circus freak. “Why are you so hot, Helen? Just chill, will you?” he said as he ran his hand through his curly hair.
I tuned him out as I continued reading my books. I sent a text to Polly asking her to inform me when Hade’s already done with her. Every moment spent with this man was making my heart jump with anxiety.
“Won’t you ask me about me?” he said out of a sudden.
Shaking my head, I said, “I’m not interested.”
“You’re rather frank.”
But reading my book seemed like too impossible in the presence of this intruder. He kept on blabbing things I wasn’t interested in.
“Because what? Come on, stop answering in fragments, Helen of Sparta.”
Him calling me Helen of Sparta made me feel something I can’t quite pinpoint at. It felt something weird but I didn’t entertain the idea further. I just needed him out of my room.
“I’m not interested in any man except for Menelaus.”
It felt insulting when he laughed at my answer.
“You’re traveling a boring path, my Queen.”
“Don’t call me that,” I reprimanded him.
His forehead creased. “What? My Queen?”
“Yes,” I admonished. “Only Menelaus is allowed to call me that.”
When will Hades finish? I wanted this man out of my room!
“Why not?” he asked. He kept on asking!
“Just because! And stop asking me questions! I don’t even know you!”
He smiled at then crossed his arms. “Then try knowing me?” he suggested.
I can’t believe what I was hearing! Was he being serious? He looked so! He even looked at me with such gaze and spoke with such intensity that I felt scared.
“Helen of Sparta, I have always heard how strong willed you are but seeing you now, I beg to differ.” He had just been in my room in less than an hour but he already said plenty of things I had never thought I would ever hear. “You’re not yet married but it felt like you have already lost your freedom… Why?”
I was tempted to tell him that he was wrong, that I was already married and my freedom was long gone but I can’t.
Closing my eyes and balling my fists, I asked him, “What can I say to make you stop asking questions?”
He smiled at me.
“Nothing,” he said and then stood up. “I think Hades’ done. See you around, Helen,” he said and then began walking out the veranda.
I saw him looking down checking if there were guards. He was preparing to jump over when he turned to look at me.
“You are more than what they are treating you, Helen of Sparta. Don’t let them veer you away from the success that you are.”
That was just the beginning of the list of incidents where Paris appeared before me. I felt like I will see him just almost every day that I started feeling anxious.
“Polly,” I called my sister after we shared a meal. Mama and Papa just left and we were there.
“What?” she said, not really wanting to talk to me.
I lowered my voice down. “Can’t you and Paris meet somewhere else?” I suggested. I can’t have him walking around! He’ll give me heart attack!
She glared at me. “What? You’re not the Queen yet you’re already bossing me around!”
“It’s not like that—”
She cut me off by raising her hand. “No, you listen, Helen. Until you’re carrying the child of Menelaus, you’re no better than I am. We’re still on the same ground, you hear me?”
“Why are you so mad at me?” I asked her. “I’m just looking after you! Does father even know him let alone approve of him?”
She reached for the champagne flute and grasped it so tightly that it almost shattered into pieces. “Shove your nose elsewhere, Helen.”
“I said shut it! Paris is not just any man, alright! I want him!”
She walked out on me. Was she serious with him? But I thought she was to marry a future King like Menelaus… How can she fall in love with a commoner like Paris? Was she asking for death for the two of them?
Her love for Paris will be the death of him.