He was there when she woke up. She lifted her head and blinked at the stranger in surprise. “Are you all right?” the man asked, his eyes fixed on her.
She nodded but as she sat up she remembered it all–the ship, the long voyage, Theseus. He was a blow to her chest, making it difficult to breathe. She was a fool to love him, to marry him. But he was a king, dazzling her with his power, his wealth. Charming her with his talk of love. So, she had agreed to marry him. And she loved him even as he changed. Making her cry. Wounding her with his accusations, his coldness, his demands. But then, in unexpected moments, he’d surprise her with kisses and tenderness, like in the beginning. In his arms, she believed him. And she forgave him over and over.
Her loyalty and love were absolute–until the very end. Just yesterday, even as his men tied her arms and legs, she was sure it was a mistake. “Does Theseus know about this?” she had demanded, but the men had laughed as they hauled her off the boat and rowed her to the shore in the distance. Then, they dumped her in a heap on the sand. As Theseus and his crew sailed away, she had cried herself to sleep. And now, as the morning sun sparkled off the sand and water of this strange island, she sat up and rubbed her eyes, staring at the handsome man before her, struggling to believe he was real. But he spoke again. His name was Dionysis and this island–Naxos–was his.
She struggled to her feet, swaying.
“Are you sure you’re all right?” he said with concern. “You look very pale.” He touched her shoulder.
She hesitated, taking a measure of him–his curls, his lips, his smile so sincere and so caring. But could she trust him?
“What happened?” he asked again with concern and tenderness and so she told him, the words spilling like sand through her fingers. And afterwards, he extended a cup towards her. “Here take a sip. My wine will bring back your strength. You need to rest and get well again. My house is just beyond the beach. You can stay as long as you like. But I must warn you. I spoil all my guests, especially women as lovely as you.”
His words were a balm, bringing a rush of warmth into her stiff and bruised limbs. And despite the warning circling through her head, she extended her hand, taking the cup from him.
This tale of love is immortalized in this statue from the collection of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I hope you enjoy it!
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