A Letter From Eurydice
By Basma Parkar
Yesterday, I had the chance to get out of here, to be back in the world of the living.
A messenger came to me with a message from Lady Persephone herself. She wanted to see me. As I followed the messenger to the Lady's chambers, I wondered what she could want from me. Audience with the Lord and the Lady of the Underworld was usually reserved only for the best of heroes or for the worst of sinners.
The messenger departed after showing me in. Persephone was pacing the floor. She stopped and turned to look at me when I entered. Her expression was inscrutable. She motioned me to sit down and took a seat herself. This room smelt different from the rest of the Underworld. It smelt of spring flowers and pomegranates.
'Your husband is here,' she said. My heart, if it were still beating, would have skipped a beat. 'He is not dead. In fact, he is here to take you back with him,' she added. She must have seen the confusion on my face because she continued. 'His grief upon losing you has been so great that his lamentations have shaken the foundation of the living world above. All creatures feel his pain. Even the Gods have been moved by his music steeped in sorrow. He travelled here with Apollo's blessing, breaking all natural laws. After he got here he told us all about the great love you shared, how you spent all your time together, how he would sing and play his music for you and how you would dance for him.'
There was a faraway look in her eyes now.
'He played his lyre for us. No song has ever moved me so much as that one filled with the pain of separation. And so he has proven himself worthy to win you back. Lord Hades and I have decided to let you go. There is a condition though - one more test. He must walk ahead of you until you both are out of here. If he looks back before you reach the light, you will be lost to him for ever. So, on you go.' She was smiling now and showing me the way out.
With a bow and a word of thanks, I backed out of the room. There was an upheaval of emotions in my heart. He was standing there, Orpheus, my husband. What he must have gone through, getting here. His love for me had brought him here. His love for me had produced music so powerful that the Lord of the Underworld had been obliged to give me up. And thinking so, I started my journey back into the upper world, walking a few paces behind him.
I remembered the day I had died. It had been a few days after we were married. I had gone into the woods with the other nymphs. I'm sure you remember it, you were there too. As we were dancing, that snake came from nowhere and before I knew it I had stepped on it. It turned on me in a flash and buried its fangs in me. I felt my life force draining from me.
And now we were walking out of this world of the dead, of souls and spirits.
I remembered my life before that. How I had met Orpheus in those very woods and how charmed I was with his music. He could make you forget yourself with it. A blessing from Apollo, everyone called it. Love blossomed between us, and still under the spell of his music I had said yes when he asked me to marry him.
And now I was walking behind him, following him into the world that we had shared.
I remembered that after we were married, he would play his music for me, and for all that would listen. It was like a celebration every time he did. Even the birds and the animals and the trees would dance along. I would cook and clean and draw water from the well. And he would play his music.
And now my feet were slowing down. I was still following him, but my steps were smaller.
I remembered the annoyance and the disappointment. I mean, sure, his music was out of this world, but what was else was he good for? He never helped around the house. I couldn't remember a decent conversation we had. When the music wasn't there, nothing else was there.
And now we were almost at the end of the long dark road. As the light of the world beyond came into sight, I felt a heavy weight settle on my chest. My feet dragged. I stopped. I watched him go into the light and then turn back.
I only had a glimpse of his face before I was pulled back into the depths of Hades, back where I belonged.
By Basma Parkar