Mog Azavedo wrote us a short story inspired by Greek mythology
For me, writing is a way to process my day-to-day life. Above all it is a coping mechanism. I like playing with words and creating a world that’s different to ours in a subtle way. Magical realism is a thread woven through most of my stories.
I have always been interested in Greek mythology, ever since I was a child, and the figures in it have become characters that are quite dear to me. Narcissus in particular fascinates me. In this story, I tried to put him in a world that exists between ours and his.
The surface rippled when his finger pierced through the veil of water that held his reflection. What a wicked thing, he thought to himself. Such a wicked thing for mortals to be confined to and subjugated by. He could feel it then, the gods upon their mountain, laughing down at him.
His finger poked and pointed again, distorting an already distorted image even more until he could no longer distinguish his features from the miniature waves. His nose was the first to go, then the curves of his lips, yet his eyes clung to their image like moss to a stone. No matter how mangled the shape became the embers lying dormant within retained enough of their likeliness to keep his attention. He hated it.
Others had always praised his unearthly beauty but more so than that he himself had taken pride in it. Beauty. It was his one true skill, inadvertently tied to his self-worth and perception of the world. Whenever he failed or strayed, he was always easily placated.
At least I’m beautiful, he’d think to himself, applying a fresh coat of red to his lips and stepping out. The night embraced him and welcomed him as much as the day did, and as of late he couldn’t find the heaviness to sleep.
So he stayed up, painting portraits of himself or on himself, yellows and blues turning into the sweet succulent green of the grass under his very feet, bowing for him with every step he took. It dried and flaked, sticking uncomfortably to the dark hairs on his arms and he’d wash it off with furious strokes.
So nights bled into days into nights into days once more. He’d lost all direction, floating like a leaf through a river with the turbulence of a highway. His days were for painting, his nights for wandering and dancing, sweet ambrosia accompanying him wherever he went in a small baggie.
Lights flicker like a heartbeat, shrill over the sound of the base that reverberates through his teeth. His body sways directionless, shoulders bumping and chafing against German tourists and wide-pupilled locals.
Empty eyes, half-lidded now, scan the floor lazily but his mind is bustling. It’s deafening and drowning, it takes the air right out of his lungs as he thinks. It’s supposed to be a time of reverie, a testament to the conquering of the body over the soul but all he can do is think.
Every recent misstep and faux pas is laid out on the very skin that makes up his lids, the red shapes seen only when they are closed all mocking him. Deep breath, one two, deep breath.
Every lackluster locked gaze poses a threat to him, suddenly. They can see through him, he suspects. His lipstick is smudged and the next moment he is pushing himself through the crowd, earrings glinting in the strobe light, desperate for a breath of fresh air and nicotine.
Rather than helping, however, it only helps to solidify the dread that had been building up in his chest, a heavy log pushing down on his heart and lungs. He slipped, catching himself only just, pulling at the fabric of a stranger’s acid washed jeans jacket.
Immediately the stranger shrugs him off, causing him to fall to the floor and meet eyes that leak with disdain. “Watch where you’re going, you fag,” come the biting words but he feels a giggle bubble up in his throat.
Narcissus looked up at the stranger and scoffed:
“a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, bitch”