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Down the Rabbit Hole
Paul Kiritsis, PsyD candidate, DPhil., MA (Psychology), MA (History)

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A Contemporary Retelling of Eros and Psyche

Paul Kiritsis - Saturday, February 04, 2012

The story of Eros and Psyche is a second century mythologem told by the Latin writer Apuleius. It appears nowhere else in the classical literature.

 

People usually attain worldwide fame for exhibiting exception skill in a sporting activity or being adroit in a particular avenue of intellectual inquiry, but in a time before this one mortal woman, the daughter of a very prosperous king, acquired the former as the epitome of cosmopolitan femininity and beauty. Hers was a supernal physiognomy that beguiled even the most asexual of individuals. She possessed a divinely proportioned figure that was immensely easy on the eyes and would disarm even the most astute of male intellects. Her face was like the humidity one experiences on a warm moonlight tropical summer’s night, making all who saw it suffer instant bouts of perspiration. Just imagine a hybrid woman sporting physical traits taken from our world famous supermodels–Adriana Lima, Tyra Banks, Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Elle McPherson, Linda Evangelista, Eva Hertzigova, and Helena Christensen. No, imagine the single best feature of each of these painted onto a clay-laden prototype of Eve and then magically animated to life. That was, or is I should say, Psyche.

It would not be incorrect to say that the gorgeous Psyche was more popular than Disneyland or Hollywood during peak holiday season; the single men of this world would all undertake pilgrimages to the walls of the royal palace in hope of catching glimpses of this divine creature as a photographer might travel to the African wilderness seeking that lucrative snapshot of Mother Nature at her most furious and unforgiving. There was even hearsay that Psyche, a mere mortal, was lovelier and far more desirable than the divine frontrunner of beauty and love, the goddess Aphrodite herself. Save for being oversaturated with narcissism and egoism, the gorgeous Olympian would act as if she was the executive editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine, concerning herself with all matters relating to love, beauty, sex and relationships. She would often spy on human beings with Earth-vision goggles especially tailored to tuning into any conversations in which her name, or the names of her associative qualities, might be mentioned. Aphrodite had been keeping a close watch on Psyche for some time, growing incalculably jealous of the attention and adoration that should have been reserved for her alone.

Realising that it wouldn’t be long before she was supplanted as the quintessence of beauty by a mere mortal, Aphrodite decided that the most pertinent course of action would be to consult her own son, Eros, whose arrows could aptly incite personal ruin. She found him rummaging inside one of her personal draws in her private rumpus room:

“What are you doing in here?”

Eros pivoted to face her. “Oops… busted.”

“You know you’re not allowed to look at my personal belongings Eros,” she gasped. “I’ve made that clear to you time and time again. Get away from there.”

“I know mum,” he said. “That’s why I do it.”

“Not funny,” she said. “You need to help me.”

‘What’s this supposed to be,” he said, lifting a black vibrator towards the light.

Her face went scarlet. “Put that back where you found it right now young man.”

“I think you’re getting way too obsessed with human past times and preoccupations,” he said. “You tune into their channel way too often. You even copy their ridiculous inventions.”

“Mine are superior,” Aphrodite said. “They work without batteries.”

 “I’m really worried about you mum,” Eros said. “I think you’re starting to become one.”

“Nonsense,” Aphrodite rebutted.

“You subconsciously want to be one even…”

“Whatever Eros,” she said. “Look, I really need you to do something.”

“I’m not helping you pull the wool over Zeus’s eyes again,” Eros told her. “Next time I don’t think he’ll be as forgiving.”   

‘No, it’s got nothing to do with Zeus,” said Aphrodite. “There’s this girl, a princess, that everyone thinks is gorgeous.”

“Who’s everyone?”

“The humans, who else?” said Aphrodite. “She’s got all the guys pining after her. It’s pukeworthy.”

Eros smiled. “She must be hot.”

“What makes you say that?” Aphrodite asked.  

“Well, you wouldn’t be reacting this way if she wasn’t,” Eros reasoned. “Would you mother dearest?”

“Look, just help me screw her over already,” said Aphrodite. “I’m not letting some cheap tart stuff things up for me. There’s too much at stake.”   

Eros sighed. “So what exactly do you want me to do?”

“Hmm… “Aphrodite sniggered. “I want you to find this bitch and pierce her heart with your deadliest arrow; one that will make her fall madly in love with the ugliest man alive.”

“Sure,” said Eros. “Anything for you mother dearest.”

Aphrodite grinned.

“So where is she?” Eros asked. “What does she look like?”

“Look into my eyes,” Aphrodite said, concurrently facilitating an electrochemical cable between heaven and the ley lines that crisscross the Earth. “Can you see her? She’s the girl crossing the ley connecting Delphi and Olympia right this minute.”

Eros didn’t as much as utter a word.

‘Can you see?” Aphrodite asked.

“Yes, I see her,” Eros answered.

“You will do my bidding tonight,” Aphrodite told him.

“Hmm…”

“You got her location?” Aphrodite asked.

“Yes,” Eros murmured.

“Good,” Aphrodite said, smiling. “I’m so going to enjoy this.”

“Hmm…”

Aphrodite severed the connection mentally and picked up two glasses of nectar, handing one to her son.

“Cheers.”

‘Cheers,” said Eros, lifting his glass towards the direction of the Olympian throne. All the while his heart raced like a runaway horse. 

The state of affairs on planet Earth was somewhat preposterous. Why? Well Psyche was indeed characterised by supernal beauty, charm and purity of soul; in fact, anyone who’d ever journeyed to the royal palace and parked themselves outside its gargantuan walls in hope of catching a glimpse of the princess had obviously been motivated by the aforementioned factors. But despite these physical virtues that gleamed brilliantly like Jupiter in the night skies and separated her from all other women, it was these same traits that kept all possible suitors anchored a safe distance away from her. In other words, her beauty resembled a double-edged blade, able to confer both contentment and desolation. Many handsome gentlemen would tussle with the thought of courting her before resigning themselves to the logic that anyone who radiated such divine beauty was bound to be as dangerous as a rumbling supervolcano and as wily as a snake. What was even more disconcerting for Psyche was that her two older sisters, deemed less fair, gifted and intellectual than herself, were both happily wed to kings of neighbouring states and had become supreme mistresses of their own palaces. This weighed heavy on Psyche’s heart like half a tonne of bricks. Why wasn’t any man interested in her as a prospective partner? Why? The same question troubled her parents, especially her father, who temporarily relinquished his divine duties for the sake of travelling all the way to the Delphic Oracle to receive an honest and divinely-spired answer.

The Pythia, sitting atop a three-legged tripod, breathed in noxious gases rising from the subterranean chasm.  

“Speak,” she prompted.

“I have come for my daughter,” the king said.

“Is she ailed?” the Pythia asked.

“Nobody will wed her.”

“Her name…”

“Psyche.”

After a few seconds of silence, the Pythia blurted out, “The Melian is displeased.”

“Who?”

“The Cytherian, the Cyprian, the foam-born…”

“Aphrodite?” the king asked.

Her voice deepened. “Psyche is the Chosen One.”

“Why?”

“She has been chosen by a divine being of the highest order, even higher than the dimension in which the Olympians reside, to be his wife and mistress.”

“Who is this being?”

She winced, as if an invisible hand was prodding her face. “I see a winged serpent with reptilian skin and the fangs of the African lion. This is one of his many guises.”

The king was mortified. “My beautiful daughter has been chosen by a beast?”

“Yes, Oh king…”

“I can’t give my daughter away to a monstrosity.”

The Pythia ignored him. “After dressing your daughter in the dark veil of mourning, you will deliver her to the high peak near the palace, after which she shall be received by her ethereal suitor.”

“But…”

“Do exactly as I say,” said a deep, masculine voice issuing from the delicate mouth of the Pythia.

The king broke out in gooseflesh. “I will do as you say.”

A disquieting anxiety and sense of foreboding had gripped the poor Psyche from the time her love life had gone preternaturally silent, but to hear her of own fate as it had been spelled out by the most reputable oracle in the Hellenic lands was too much, even for a courageous and stoic woman as her. Psyche locked herself in her quarters for days on end, and might have cried enough tears to fill up the mighty Kourtaliotis river in south-western Crete had it not been for two songbirds which flew onto her windowsill one night and belted out a mystical chorus, reminding her of the possibility of life after death. Armed with this newfound faith and hope, she dressed herself accordingly, kissed her family and friends farewell, and then began walking towards the only place near the palace she knew of that could be described as a high peak. The walk was long and strenuous and before long Psyche was wiping eternally forming beads of sweat from her brow. Exhausted, she stumbled towards a natural edifice likely to offer temporary respite–a boulder that resembled a stone table. Psyche climbed atop and curled into a foetal position, resting her face against its cool surface. A few seconds had barely elapsed and she was sound asleep.  

What happened next was eerie, celestial, mystifying, and miraculous. The lips of Zephyr, the god of the west wind, formed into the shape of an O and he began to blow; he blew hard, harder, and harder still until Psyche split into two beings in the manner that animal cells divine during cellular mitosis. One part of her was liberated from the corporeal plane, then lifted above her own indisposed body and diffused through the corpuscular membrane which separated vibrations of differing frequencies, and hence different realms of existence.

“Can you hear me, Psyche?” a voice echoed. “Can you hear me?”

“I hear you,” she said.

“You hear me?” the voice said.

“Yes.”

“Wonderful,” the voice said. “It worked, just as I thought it would.”

“I’m confused” said Psyche.

“I am the only being that exists here.”

“You are the only being that exists here,” Psyche repeated.

“I will lead,” the voice said, “and you will follow.”

“I will follow,” said Psyche.

“Follow the light of my voice Psyche,” the voice continued. “I am the light at the end of the tunnel and you must follow me.”

“But I can’t see,” said Psyche.

“Don’t try to see with your eyes,” the voice said. “Eyes are instruments that channel a sense of the physical plane and you no longer have use of them because you’re no longer on it. Try to see with your unconscious mind Psyche, your unconscious will.”

“I’ll try."

‘Come deeper into the plenitude and the stillness with me Psyche,” the voice said. “Deeper and deeper with every breath.”

‘I’m going deeper and deeper…”

‘Follow me,” said the voice. “Deeper and deeper into the abyss.”

“I’m following you…”

“Do you see anything?”

“Yes…”

‘What do you see?” the voice asked.

“I see a golden meadow,” Psyche said. “There are many beautiful flowers; bees are pollinating them. There are towering mountains in the background, an alpenglow…”

“Good,” the voice said. “Can you see anything else?”

“Not really.”

“Concentrate on the horizon,” the voice prompted.

“Oh, yes.”

‘What can you see?”

 “Oh, it’s a pearl-coloured palace gilded with silver, gold, rubies, emeralds and every precious stone imaginable,” Psyche said. “There are mighty citadels, and spacious courtyards, and running fountains, and freshwater springs, and aquamarine pools, and lush gardens, and…”

“Go on…”

“It’s all mine,” Psyche continued. “I can feel that it’s mine.”

“How did you know?” the voice asked.

“Intuition,” Psyche said. “I felt it.”

“You learn fast,” the voice said. “Intuition is the most powerful sense of all.”

“How do I get closer?” Psyche asked.

“Will yourself there.”

Psyche concentrated on the palace, urging herself towards it. “I’m there.”

“It’s easy, isn’t it?” the voice asked.

“You sound much closer to me now,” said Psyche. “Almost within arm’s reach.”

“I’m right beside you.”

“Really?”

“Yes,” the voice said. “Don’t you believe me?”

“I believe you,” Psyche said. “I can feel the radiation of your voice, its warmth, its vigour. I believe you.”

“Do you know who I am?”

“The beast?”

“You better believe it.”

“You don’t sound like a beast,” Psyche said. “Or feel like one for that matter.”

“I am occasionally,” the voice chuckled.

“And you’re so warm,” Psyche said. “I can feel the radiation of your voice burning me. It’s the most intense, most powerful, most erotic, most passionate and quixotic thing I’ve ever felt against the skin of my being."

“Oh Psyche,” the voice said. “I’ve been burning feverishly for you from the minute I laid eyes upon you.”

Many months passed before the two elder grief-stricken daughters of the king decided to embark on a commemorative journey to honour their sister who had been lost to the corporeal world. As they trudged uphill, a thick mist descended from the heavens and coiled itself around the mountain like an anaconda about to asphyxiate its prey. They had barely made it to the monolith that resembled a stone table when a languorous sleep overcame the both of them. Then there was a violent schism, a crackling cacophonous noise that issued from beneath their indisposed bodies and ripped through the confines of their inner beings. It spawned a subtle division of consciousness to which they were completely unaware, sweeping their ethereal doubles into a whirling vortex and consequently flushing them into a higher dimension of existence. They awoke on a cosmic shore in which sounds, colours, textures, emotions and feelings, and landscapes were infinitely more beautiful and vibrant, more meaningful, and more titillating than the ones to which they were accustomed. Everything here was intimately connected to and dependent upon everything else, and it was impossible to comprehend or understand anything unless one adopted a bird’s-eye view of creation. This world was a benthic zone in which the weight of any penetrating foreign entity caused ripples that resonated outwards in concentric circles and rendered the autochthonous inhabitants cognizant of its whereabouts.

“Sisters, is that you?” Psyche asked.

“Psyche?” they called out in unison.

“Yes, it’s me,” Psyche said. “How in Zeus’s name did you find me?”

“We just went to the peak where you disappeared,” one of them said. “And then… “

“And then what?” Psyche asked.

“Umm… I can’t really remember. The last I remember is this thick mist,” one said.

“Yeah, and the tiredness,” said the other. “How does one climb such a scoundrel of a peak? I got bitten by so many mosquitoes.”

“It doesn’t really matter you’re here now,” Psyche said. “Can you girls see me yet?”

“Hold on,” said the eldest sister. “For a while my vision was really blurry, as if I was swimming underwater, but now everything is coming to.”

“Can you see me?” Psyche resounded.

“Oh, my Gods,” said the eldest sister. “I do see you. You look, umm…”

“Like a goddess,” said the other.

“What’s that massive thing around your neck?” the eldest inquired.

“It’s called the Heart of Time,” Psyche said.

“It looks like one hell of a giant pearl,” said the younger sister. “The most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen.”

“It was a gift from my husband when we exchanged vows,” said Psyche. “A testament of his love for me, as he himself declares. I watched him skin-dive in one of the deepest parts of the sea to retrieve it from the lips of a giant clam. He had to hold his breath for quite a while. When my husband holds his breath time actually stops.”

“Yeah right,” the younger sister said. “Do you really expect us to believe that? No human can do that.”

“You forget that I’m not married to a human,” said Psyche. “My husband is superhuman. He has risked a great deal for me in the time we’ve been together, including the safety and harmony of the Earth itself.”

“Is that why you named the pearl the Heart of Time?” the eldest asked. “Because time actually stopped?”

‘Yes, literally,” said Psyche.

“What about the splendid palace I see surrounded by stone fountains, and that mountain of riches beyond it, and the gold-ridden land, and the pastures and animals?” asked the eldest sister. “Are they all yours too?”

“Yes,” said Psyche. “This is our home.”

“Where is your husband?” asked the younger sister. “I don’t see… sense him anywhere.”

“He has an infinite amount of pastimes, my dear husband,” said Psyche. “He left this morning to hunt deer, and probably won’t be back until dusk.”

“So you’ve hit the jackpot then,” said the older sister.

“Excuse me?”

“What I mean is that you’ve married someone rich, multi-talented, down-to-earth and genuine, and very loving. What more could a girl want? And if what I’ve seen already is anything to go by, he must be very handsome too. Am I right, Psyche?”

“Umm… he has a chiselled-jaw, aquiline nose, with blue-green eyes and locks of hair that are the colour of the aurora. He is olive-skinned, broad-shouldered and very muscular; we’re about the same height.”

“He sounds like a god,” said the younger sister.

“I bet he feels very nice too, doesn’t he?” said the elder one. “Just the thought of squirming against a physical specimen like that makes my heart race.”

“Which heart are you talking about sister?” asked the other. ‘The one down there?”

“Come on girls,” said Psyche. “You’re getting a bit crass.”

“Stop being so prissy Psyche!” exclaimed the eldest sister. “We used to talk about this kind of stuff all the time back when we were all living at dad’s palace. Since when did you become so proper?”

“Well, that was then,” said Psyche. “You’re talking about my husband. You need to be more respectful.”

“Is he good in bed?” the eldest sister pushed on. ‘He must have great sexual prowess?”

“Well anyone who can make time stand still can probably make eternity feel like an orgasm,” said the younger one. “I’m sure Psyche would agree.”

“He’s the most sensual and intimate being,” Psyche said. “He cuddles me like no other has before, as if embrace was a matter of life and death.”

“Nice,” they both said.

‘It’s a bit difficult sometimes because he’s much taller than me,” said Psyche, “but we find ways around it.”

“Wait a second,” said the eldest sister. “Didn’t you say before that you were the same height?”

“Yeah you did,” said the younger. “You lied to us. What in Zeus’s name is going on Psyche?”

‘Well…”

“Well what?” said the eldest sister. “Do you even know what he looks like? Have you even seen him before? Does he even exist? Or is he a ghost husband, existing only in your own imagination?”

“He exists,” Psyche said. “You can be sure of that.”

“Then why don’t you know what he looks like?” asked the younger sister.

Psyche sighed. “He only comes to me after dusk.”

“So you’ve never seen him in light of day?” asked the oldest sister.

“Nope.”

“And you’ve never asked yourself why he won’t let you see him?”

“Why should I?” asked Psyche. “I trust him.”

“A great quality to have,” the eldest sister said, “but I wouldn’t be so trustworthy and credulous if I were you. Nobody ever hides without a reason.”

“Yeah,” said the younger sister. “There must be something horribly wrong with him. He might be physically scarred or disfigured.”

“Or a snake in the grass…”

“Pretending to be someone or something that he isn’t,” said the eldest sister. “He’ll be really really nice to you until your blind trust and faith in him become second nature.” 

“And then he’ll strike,’ said the younger sister, “sinking his sharp fangs into your throat while you sleep.”

“Exactly,” said the eldest sister. “That’s what the Delphic oracle told dad. Have you forgotten already?”

“No, I haven’t,” said Psyche. “I think about it every day.”

‘Don’t just think Psyche,” said the younger sister. “Act.”

“Exactly,” said the eldest one. “You must expose this fraud for what it is.”

‘What are you implying?” asked Psyche.

“Kill him,” she went on. “Kill the worn-out pretender. Tonight, when he returns from his noonday hunt, have a hand-held butane blow torch and an ice-pick under the bed. When he’s cuddling you, get on top of him. Straddle him.”

“Do it when you’re having sex,” suggested the younger one. “He’ll be disarmed by the pleasure you’re giving him and acutely focused on getting off that he won’t see it coming.”     

“Bend sideways and pull the items out from beneath the bed when you’re riding him,” said the eldest sister. “Make sure you’ve tied his hands to the bedposts first so that he can’t harm or stop you. Use a white silk scarf or something. You would have plenty of those. It will be really kinky and lull him into a false sense of security, as if you were trying to spice up your sex life by engaging something completely different. When that’s all done steadfast light the small butane blow torch so that you can see the monster that has embroiled you for so long and then plunge the ice-pick into his neck and chest repeatedly without remorse..”

“The new blow torches create their own spark at the push of a button and ignite quite easily,” said the younger one.” It will be a piece of cake for you. Rid yourself of the monstrosity and return to us, your family, who love you so dearly.”

“Burn his face with the blow-torch if you have to,” said the eldest sister. “Just get away from him as quickly as you can.”      

“But I love him,” said Psyche. “I can’t just kill him.”

“Yes you can,” said the eldest sister. “If only for your own sanity and peace of mind.”

“He loves me too,” Psyche blurted out.

“Love hurts,” said the eldest sister.

Before Psyche could respond, Zephyr, the west wind, incited a furious tempest which dissipated their contact and sucked her sisters’ etheric doubles back into vacant bodies that were still slumbered near the stone table. Both awoke after their prolonged sleep feeling befuddled, nauseous, and saturated in a spray of perspiration; neither remembered their encounter with Psyche in a preternatural ocean which had been churned into a psychic battleground by a host of disembodied wills and egos.

That afternoon, Psyche sat near a rock pool and recollected all the times she and her husband had conversed. She pried the depository of her memories in search of any clues that might incriminate sinister intent on his part and rescind his integrity. She couldn’t find any; not one. Nevertheless, the seed of doubt planted by her sisters would rear its ugly head from time to time. Just when she thought she had jettisoned the avenue of possible treachery, it would climb up and out from the viscous swamps of her personal unconscious. It made her stomach lurch, her heart race, and a snake of chill to coil along the back of her spine. It spun cobwebs around her judgement and induced temporary dementia. Bewitched by the idea of finally attaining closure, she hurried about the palace collecting implements that would set in motion this unprecedented conspiracy. Once everything was in place, she bathed in a freshwater spring within the palace and doused herself in rose perfume as to make herself especially salacious. Then she crept into her corner of the bed and pulled the covers up, waiting anxiously for his appearance.

She didn’t feel his hands curl around her waist because she had fallen into a light sleep, dreaming of the deceitfulness she was about to endorse. However she was jolted awake once his hands began poking and prodding about her navel. Giggling like a shy schoolgirl, Psyche turned to face him. Sweaty heat emanated from his face and body.

“Did you miss me?” he asked, kissing her shoulders.

“I always miss you my love,” she said, sighing. “There are never enough hours in the night.”  

“Mmm... you smell amazing,” he said. “What are you wearing?”

“Rose perfume.”

“You don’t really need to wear anything Psyche,” he told her. “You have the best natural scent.”

Psyche tittered nervously.

“The best natural scent on the most gorgeous girl in the universe,” he said.

“Did you catch anything today?” Psyche asked.

“A wild deer!” he said proudly. “Took a while, but I got him by the lake when he stopped to drink water. Did you speak with your sisters?”

“Yeah,” said Psyche. ‘It was quite emotional for all three of us. We hadn’t spoken in a long time.”

“I know,” he said, squeezing her breasts. “That’s exactly why I opened up the conduit.”

“Mmm…”

“I did it for you Psyche,” he said. “Only you. I actually don’t trust your sisters as far as I could throw them.”

Psyche put her hand on his chest. “Why not?”

“Because they’re envious types,” he said. “I’ve known plenty of girls like them. They see what you have, and they want it for themselves.”

“They were just concerned for my wellbeing,” said Psyche.

“Or made it seem like they were,” he pointed out.

“Come on,” Psyche said, pulling away from him. “They love me; they wouldn’t try to hurt me.”

“I’ve been around for a while Psyche,” he said, “and let me tell you my love that jealousy abounds in all hearts; little in some, more profuse in others.”

“I’m not naïve,” said Psyche.

“Oh, that I know,” he said, kissing her breasts. “Did they ask anything about me?”

“No.”

 “Did they say anything against me?”

“No.”

“Good,” he said. “I would sever the connection permanently if I ever find out that they’ve been trying to drive a wedge between us.”

“They would never do that,” Psyche said, grabbing his wrists and mounting him.

“What’s going on here,” he said.

“I’m in charge of proceedings tonight soldier.”

“Oh I see,” he chuckled.

Psyche kissed his chest, taking each nipple into her mouth separately and teasing it with her tongue. Then she pulled the covers over them and began flicking her tongue about his thick shaft which began to inflate rapidly like a helium balloon; pinning his hands down with her own, she milked him vigorously like a powerful vacuum cleaner.

“Oh…” he gasped out aloud. “What happened to you?”

Psyche ran her right hand along the side of the king-size bed and pulled out a silk scarf from beneath it as she swirled her tongue around his manhood. His breath hitched, getting heavier and heavier as she bopped up and down on him. Knowing at once that he was harder than a ten-metre long wooden telephone pole, Psyche pushed herself up and aligned their bodies for consummation. Spreading her legs wide open, she impaled herself on her husband’s phallus which was now pointing proudly upwards, and started grinding her body against his rhythmically whilst concurrently running the scarf over his face.

“Oh… that feels so good.”

“Yeah baby,” she said, grinding her pelvis against him. “Give it to me my man.”

‘Where in Zeus’s name has this Psyche been hiding?” he asked. “Where has she been, huh? You’re driving me crazy babe.”

“She’s come to you expecting a big night out like a jack-in-the box,” said Psyche, gasping.

“Oh, yeah…”

Psyche stretched the scarf out, wrapping either end around his wrists and binding them securely to the bedpost. He gestured approval by taking each of her wholesome breasts into his mouth as she keeled over to do so, biting them lightly with his teeth. His incessant thrusting generated tremors of titillation that coursed through her body, incapacitated her, and had the adverse effect of momentarily overriding the higher purpose of the venture. Nonetheless, it wasn’t long before the seed of doubt regarding his true identity sprouted like a thorny weed in her consciousness once more. Acting somewhat mechanically, she rested the side of her face against his powerful chest and continued grinding against him while her hands scuttled beneath the bed in search of her two inert co-conspirators. Once she had the ice-pick firmly in her right hand and the blow torch in her left, she lifted herself vertically and kept riding with both arms stretched upwards towards the ceiling.

“The kinky you is mind-blowing my love,” he panted.

“Yeah?”

“Aha,” he said. “If you actually knew my mother, I would have guessed that she’d been giving tips on how to…"

“Spice things up?”

“Aha…” he huffed. “Oh the Gods… Oh no…” 

“What’s wrong?”

“Oh Psyche… I’m going… to cum,” he gasped. “I’m going to cum… deep inside you…”

“Cum in me,” Psyche cried, bouncing up and down on him.

“Ohh…” he screamed. “Ohh… Ohh…” 

Psyche waited until the second his baby-maker started to spurt inside her like a geyser. Then she lit the blow torch and drew the ice-pick backwards, ready to strike the dishonest monstrosity that was orgasming beneath her. What her prying eyes gazed upon during that split second of a moment left her gobsmacked and breathless; the husband who had fallen madly in love with her wasn’t the vicious beast her sisters had intimated he’d be, but the fairest man she’d ever laid eyes upon. The depth and scope of his beauty made her ache inside; Psyche ached from the shame that comes from having erroneously misjudged and doubted her husband, as well as from the lasciviousness that erupts from making love to such a stunning creature. Inexplicable that he should look exactly the way she described him to her sisters also, as if the fact had been unconsciously known to her from the minute they’d met.

Lost in the vortex of his own orgasm, her husband’s eyes remained closed. But the emanation of sudden light snapped him from his erotic reverie, and within seconds the sheer delight transcribed all over his face transfigured into an expression of pure horror.

“What are you doing?” he cried out.

Psyche screamed, dropping the ice-pick on the floor and the blow-torch onto his chest.

“Ahh… I’m burning.”

“Oh no!” Psyche knocked the blow-torch onto the floor.

“Do you know what you’ve just done, Psyche?”

“I’m so sorry my love,” she sobbed. “I didn’t mean to…”

“You betrayed me,” he said. “I loved you. I believed in you. I had faith in you. I trusted you unconditionally…”

“It was my sisters,” Psyche revealed. “They planted the seed.”

“…and all the while you have merely pretended to reciprocate…”

“No,” she sobbed. “That’s not true.”

“But it is Psyche,” he said. “I, Eros, the God of Love, have done everything in my power to move the stars so that we may be together, but you could not as much as give me the benefit of the doubt…”

“That’s not true,” she repeated.

“And I just cannot be where doubt overrides trust or faith…”

“Please,” she begged. “Let me explain.”

“You explained with your actions.”

Before she could utter as much as a word, Eros dematerialized into thin air. Hence Psyche was left to ponder the ensuing consequences of the tragic mistake just made in cacophonous solitude. As it were her husband was no monster or beast, but the God of Love himself. How was it that she had attracted the fidelity of the Love itself only to be cast down from its starry and melodious heavens by the doubt that was imparted to her by two jealous and resentful sisters? The realization that her sisters’ primary concern had been to hasten her downfall was too great a burden to carry, and she cussed them repeatedly. Then, exhausted by the trauma and lamentable outcome of the ordeal, she slumped against the empty bed and cried herself to sleep.   

Aphrodite lay on the ground perusing the movement of individual stars in the constellation of her birth. They teased her, blowing clouds of confusion about her intellect one minute and delivering blinding sparks of vision and insight the next. The sudden disintegration of her soul relationships with her mortal lovers had been reason to panic, but the stars assured her that a sabbatical was on the horizon through which her yearning for romantic love would finally be realised. There was also a significant celestial event about to transpire like a sunflower coming into bloom; a total lunar eclipse. As she already knew, eclipses almost always signalled a significant change of some sort. When Aphrodite concentrated on the impending image, the stars articulated that there would be an overhaul of the feminine in the anatomy of Love. It was a statement that really confused her. She couldn’t quite discern whether the stars were talking about changes on a cosmic level, or if they were alluding to the psyche of a human or some disembodied entity. Perhaps it was both.

Before she could make any further queries, a loud crackling noise boomed from the constellation of Sagittarius. Aphrodite swiftly changed the trajectory of her concentration to the frequency of the commotion and calculated its overall distance using the electromagnetic sonar atop her head. The entity was extremely luminous, hurtling towards her at supersonic speeds like a burst of radiation from an exploding supernova. The twinkling light grew brighter and brighter, taking on multiple forms as it drew nearer and nearer. It started off as a jade-coloured serpent before morphing into a scaly red gargoyle, a charred human with wings and canine teeth, and finally into a newborn pink-lipped male cherub. The latter fashioned an archery set from the cosmic ether, adopted an aggressive stance, and proceeded to draw back on his bow.

Aphrodite screamed.

“It’s only me,” Eros said, poking her shoulders.  

“You shit!” Aphrodite darted up from the velvet cushions she’d been lying on. “For a second I thought it was Artemis.”

“Why?”

“I think she’s still angry about Hippolytus,” said Aphrodite, trying not to squint. “It’s so bright in here. Can you roll the shutters down for me?”

“Not that bright mum,’ Eros said. “That’s what happens when you get addicted to astral travelling. You should see…”

“What in Zeus’s name happened to your chest?” Aphrodite asked. “You’ve been burnt.”

“I um…was um… ” Eros stuttered. “I was trying to steal one of those glowing plants from the Garden of the Hesperides and got burnt by Ladon on the way out.”

Aphrodite laughed. “You couldn’t like to me if your life depended on it.”

“Yes I could.” Eros blushed.

“Ladon’s fiery breath wouldn’t leave that kind of burn anyway,” Aphrodite reasoned. “That burn was made with some kind of machine or mechanical device, maybe a blow torch.”

“No,” he persisted. “It wasn’t.”

“It was,” she said. “Who burnt you Eros?”

“Umm…”

“I know when you’re lying,” she said. “Tell me the truth or I’ll tell Zeus who was behind his less-than-noble love affairs with despicable women.”

“Fine,’ he said. “It was an accident.”

“With a blow torch?”

“Yes.”

“I was right,” Aphrodite said. “Who did it?”

‘A lover.”

‘A woman no doubt,” Aphrodite said. “So now you’re love life has become a secret too, has it Eros?”

“No, I…”

“We made a pact to never keep secrets from one another!” Aphrodite exclaimed. “Especially when it comes to our love lives. Have you forgotten that?”

“No I just didn’t think…”

“That mother dearest should know lest she put in her two cents worth,” said Aphrodite in an ironic tone. “What’s the girl’s name?”

“Why do you want to know?” Eros asked.

“I want to know who my son is bedding or wedding,” said Aphrodite. “According to the decree of Olympian Zeus, it is my divine right to know.”

“Fine.”

“You can’t consummate the marriage without my consent either.”

“Where does it say that?” Eros asked, gulping. “I’ve never heard that one before.”

“On the tablet of divine laws in the innermost sanctuary of the Great Temple,” said Aphrodite. “You obviously haven’t read them.”

“I didn’t even know that such a thing existed.”

“Because you’re took busy taking divine law into your own hands half the time,” Aphrodite said. “Such impudence!”

“You’re one to talk,” said Eros. “Since when did you ever play by the rules mother?”

“Don’t attempt to change the subject,” said Aphrodite. “Who is your chosen one Eros?”

“She’s a stunner.”

“Who is it?” Aphrodite insisted.

“She’s the most gorgeous thing in the cosmos.”

Aphrodite’s eyes narrowed. “It better not be who I think it is.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that girl that you were supposed to put into place sometime ago,” said Aphrodite. “That girl who everyone thought was the best thing since mint-flavoured nectar and mousse ambrosia… hmm… I can’t quite remember her name.”

“Psyche.”

“Yeah that’s it. How in heaven do you…” Aphrodite’s face turned a pasty white.

“What?”

“It is her, isn’t it?” Aphrodite asked.

“Yeah, it is.”

“You little shit!” Aphrodite exclaimed. “Not only did you not do what I asked of you, you went behind your own mother’s back to fandango with this… this… mortal whore who has used sorcery to bewitch every single male being in heaven and on earth.”

“That’s not true!” Eros snapped at her. “You know it’s not.” 

‘Don’t you dare raise your voice at me young man,” said Aphrodite. “You haven’t done so all your life, now’s not the time or place to start.”

“Then don’t the woman I love,” he said.

“The woman you love?” Aphrodite asked, feeling the fiery anger diffuse out from her temples. “How can you love her she’s just a mortal for Zeus’s sake?”

“She is all soul,” said Eros. “Nothing compares to her.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, really…”

“Well now she’ll have to deal with me,” said Aphrodite. “In person.”

“I won’t let you…”

Aphrodite scooped up a handful of skin-rejuvenating sleeping dust from her Ourania make-up kit and threw it at Eros. The expression of angst on his face quickly transmuted into one of pure astonishment as its instantaneous effects took hold. Eros didn’t have any time to react, let alone mutter another word of objection. A debilitating torpor took hold of his conscious and he dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes.

“Sweet dreams my boy,” Aphrodite mocked, running her hands through his golden hair. “By the time you awake, mother dearest will have disentangled the mess you’ve made by sending that girl Psyche to the dreaded depths of Tartarus from whence there is no return.”

Psyche sat beside a stone fountain in the spacious courtyard, pondering on what course of action might win back Eros’s heart. Thus far none of her hymns or prayers to the gods and goddesses of Olympus had been addressed. At night she would compose masterful poems praising their omniscience and insurmountable powers in hope of impressing and provoking communication with them through dreams or visions, but all her efforts seemed to fall on deaf ears. Was this a premonition of the calm before the storm? Perhaps she had incurred such wrath that no divine being was willing to put their own rumination and peace of mind on the line for the greater good of reuniting her with her estranged husband.

Lost in the eruptions of her unconscious, Psyche remained oblivious of a supernatural phenomenon unravelling directly beside her; emerging from the pressurized body of water that spewed forth from the gilded head of a winged griffin was a colourless protoplasm that congealed into an anthropomorphic being. Within seconds the translucency characteristic of many liquids was jettisoned for an opaque rose-tinted patina. It then differentiated into a full-fledged living form, as if it were being sculpted on a potter’s wheel by an invisible hand; ridges and depressions around the nose, eyebrows, lips, chin, and cheekbones all formed, hair sprouted from the head, and the eyes phosphoresced with a deep turquoise colour.

“Feeling rather depressed today are we?” a mechanical voice asked from the stone fountain.

Psyche jumped.

“So deep in thought there…”

 “Who are you?” Psyche asked, trying to mask the tremor in her voice. “What do you what here?”

“I am the mother of the husband you once had, or hoped to have,” it cackled.

“You are Eros’s mother?”

“Yes,” it said. “I am she who is known as the Melian, the Cytherean, and the Cyprian… I am the fairest in heaven and on the earth… Queen, Lady, Mistress…”

“Aphrodite?”

“In the flesh.”

“Where is my husband?” asked Psyche.

“Recovering from the terrible burns you gave him,” said Aphrodite, discarding her robotic vocals. “Not that you’ll ever see him again.”

“I love him.”

“Shut up,” said Aphrodite. “You hurt him. You hurt him badly.”

“I know.”

 I could strike you down right where you stand,” said Aphrodite, “or char you alive for having done that.”

“It was an accident,” Psyche blurted.

“Shut up,” Aphrodite repeated. “You are nothing but a witch who beguiles everyone into believing that you’re the most desirable creature on the planet. You’re a cock-trapping whore.”

“Please…”

“Do you honestly think you could ever hold as much as a twisted candle up to my fairest beauty? Do you think that you could ever compare to me?”

“No.”

“You’re lying,” said Aphrodite. “You’re a lying, ugly mole of a witch.”

“I am.”

“Don’t you dare patronise me,” said Aphrodite.

“I’m not,” said Psyche. “I am genuine.”

“Then admit that you’re ugly.”

”I am a nobody,” Psyche sniffled. “I am nothing, an insignificant speck of dust on the island shores of your divine beauty. If humans have ever thought me to be beautiful, it is because I reflect an infinitesimal shard of your infinite majesty. In attempting to draw to myself your transcendence, of which I am unworthy, makes me as ugly and miserable a creature as Medusa.”

“Very good,” said Aphrodite, grinning.

Psyche sighed. “Will Eros fully recover from the burns?”

“Yes,” said Aphrodite. “Not that it will be of much or any help to you. Not where you’re going.”    

“What are you going to do to me?” asked Psyche.

“You’re going to a place from whence there is no return,” said Aphrodite, “to fornicate with the Titans, the scum of the Underworld.”

“Tartarus?”

“Yes.”

“Please don’t do that,” Psyche begged. “I’ll do anything… I’ll be your servant for the rest of my days.”

“I have a better idea,” said Aphrodite. “Let’s play Divine Game.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s one of my favourites,” Aphrodite sniggered.  “I ask you five questions relating to the gods. If you answer all five correctly, you are forgiven your treason. If not, you will be tossed to the depths of Tartarus like a purpled fruit.”

“Fine, I accept your challenge.”

“Let’s see if you’re as fair as you think you are,” said Aphrodite. ‘First question: what does Life wish to accomplish?”

Psyche hesitated for a while before answering, “Immortality."

Aphrodite frowned. “What is the essence of immortality then?”

“Friction, opposition, struggle, conflict...”

“Name the single most sought after condition that is but a by-product of immortality,” Aphrodite prompted.

“Um… knowle… No, wait.”

‘What were you about to say?”

“Wait.”

“Answer the question Psyche.”

“Freedom.”

Aphrodite’s face reddened like a radish. “How did you know that? You’re cheating.”

“I’m not,” said Psyche. “How does one actually cheat in this sort of game?”

“You tell me.”

“I’m not,” Psyche insisted.

“Liar.”

Aphrodite made a swirling motion in the air with her right hand and an hourglass appeared.

“Time,” said Psyche.

“That’s right ill—favoured girl. You mortals measure it with clocks and hourglasses. How do I measure it?” Aphrodite asked, fluttering her eyelids.

“You don’t,” said Psyche. “You live in a timeless zone.”

Aphrodite grabbed the levitating hourglass with granular red sands running through it and hurled it at Psyche with all her might. Psyche possessed great reflexes and swung clear with plenty of time to spare. The instrument crash-landed on a wooden table and shattered into little pieces.

The goddess didn’t’ look at all content with the way things were panning out; she clicked her fingers and a swinging pendulum appeared.

“What might this symbolize?”

“Eternal recurrence,” Psyche blurted. “The pendulum moves back and forth, back and forth, just as everything happens over and over and over again.”

‘Someone is helping you,” said Aphrodite. “I can sense it.”

“No.”

Aphrodite exhaled a cloud of dust which formed into horse-drawn carriage mounted by two individuals; a driver and a master.

“What is this?”

“The sixth question,” said Psyche. “You’ve already put forth five, and I believe I answered all of them correctly.”

“Oh, really? Well now it’s ten.”

 ‘Why?”

“Cause I said so,” said Aphrodite, scowling. “Now answer the question.”

“It’s an allegory for the human being,” said Psyche. “The carriage is the body, the horse is a stand in for the person’s feelings or emotions, the coachman is the intellect, and the master is the conscious.”

“You’re cheating!” screamed Aphrodite, stepping towards Psyche and grabbing tufts of her hair. “Someone is telling you the answers!”

“Let go! Please!”

“Admit that you’re cheating.”

“I’m not.”

“What’s this over here?” Aphrodite yanked the chain with the giant pearl from Psyche’s neck, severing it.

“No!”

She held the pearl up in the air. “I know what this is.”

“The Heart of Time,” said Psyche. “It’s from a giant clam in the deepest part of the ocean.”

“A present from Eros, no doubt.”

“Give it back to me, please.”

“No.”

Psyche watched as Aphrodite generated an interdimensional portal over the sea by muttering a few unintelligible words under her breath. The goddess then flung the heavy pearl through with a sidereal sweeping motion that mimicked the technique of javelin throwing before breaking out in wild fits of laugher.

Listing to a goddess take pleasure from inducing misfortune upon a mere mortal was like a human taunting an animal by starving it to death. It angered Psyche beyond reckoning. It blew the fuse mediating the psychic transistor within the vehicle of her own conscious, leaving a lesser automaton as the only driver. She had just been driven to the precipice of fatalism, enough to realize that if she was to be swept into the infernal waters of chaos it might as well be on her own terms. Acting partly from a bubbling rage beneath her skin and partly from a heartfelt desire to vindicate her love for Eros, she charged through the dimensional rip, screaming at the top of her lungs, before Aphrodite could dematerialize it.    

Everything transpired within the space of a few seconds. One minute she was at the mercy of Aphrodite’s will in the exotic gardens of her own home and the next she was thrashing about in the middle of the ocean somewhere. Her heart thumped so loud she thought it might burst out of her chest. She tried to scoop the pearl out of the water, but the motion of trying to ensnaring it in the clasp of her hand merely pushed it further away. All she could do was watch as her most prized possession sunk deeper and deeper into the abyss.

Psyche did her best to remain afloat. She flapped her arms about, screaming for help until fatigue finally benumbed her limbs enough for the sea to swallow her whole. Even though she could hold her breath for extended periods of time, she knew that she’d have to inhale at some point. The burning sensation expanded in her lungs like helium gas, trying to enfeeble the willpower to stay alive and let natural processes take their course. For a while there was nothing but a whirling sensation as she spun around in circles with her eyes firmly clenched. She sunk lower and lower into the infernal regions, closer and closer to death. Luckily for Psyche the latter never came, for a pair of familiar hands fastened themselves tightly around her waist and propelled her aloft at the speed of a bullet train. She wheezed for breath as they broke the surface.

Psyche awoke to the sound of lapping waves. There was a warm hand resting on her shoulder. Acting out of pure impulse, she pivoted to see who was beside her. Psyche shuddered. She squeezed her eyes shut and opened them again, wondering whether she’d become permanently entangled in a nightmarish ordeal or whether she’d finally passed into the next world. The mirage didn’t disappear.

“Yes, it’s me Psyche,” said Eros.

“Dear Zeus!” Psyche exclaimed, throwing her arms around him and planting kisses on his mouth. “Is it really you?”

“From head to toe,” he teased. “You ought to be a bit less impulsive and a lot more considerate of others, my love. I almost lost you back there.”

“I couldn’t bear the thought of losing…”

“What’s wrong?”

Psyche winced. “I think I did lose it. My…”

Eros opened his clenched hand. “Is this what you thought you’d lost?”

“How did you…”

“I dived for it after bringing you back here,” said Eros.

“How did you find me?”

“I followed you through the portal,” said Eros, “before mum could destroy it.”

“You got through without being noticed?” Psyche asked.

“We have ways of moving undetected.” said Eros, winking. “I learnt from the best!”

“Your mum doesn’t really like me.”

“A lot of daughter-in-laws have that problem,” said Eros. “She’ll get over it, eventually. When it comes to the partners of her own children, my mum’s painstakingly high standards are enough to scare away even the boldest of nymphs.”

“She’ll never accept me.”

“You’re wrong,” said Eros. “She actually thinks very highly of you.”

“That’s a pretty odd way of showing approval, don’t you think?” asked Psyche. “She was trying to find any excuse in the divine rulebook to kill me.”

“But she didn’t,” Eros pointed out.

“What’s your point?”

“It’s her way of testing you,” said Eros. “I know it’s rather cruel, taunting and severe, but that’s the way she measures love.”

“By terrorizing them?”

“It’s the only way she knows how,” said Eros. “Look what she did to me. She drugged me so that I couldn’t interfere with her plans or try to see you.”

Psyche sighed. “I’m taking your word for it.”

“Why, what’s changed from before?” asked Eros.

“I trust you.”

“I know,” he said. “I know that you love me too.”

“You do?” Her eyes were sultry.

“I do,” he said. “Who would willingly go through the motions of forfeiting their life for another Psyche? Who?”

Psyche smiled. “A madwoman.”

“A woman in love.”

“I’m crazy.”

“One’s of love’s many by-products.” Eros embraced her, sliding his hand over her breast. “Another is hot sex… you know…”

“Hmm…”

His fingers orbited her nipple before squeezed gently. “…like the good time you were showing me before you decided to break the spell with your ice-pick and blow torch…”   

“Dear Zeus…”

“I spoke to him via microchip earlier,” said Eros.

“You did?”

“Before crossing worlds,” said Eros. “He tuned into mum’s Divine Game and was quite impressed with your knowledge of divinity. He’s going to make you an immortal.”

Psyche’s eyes widened. “Really?”

 “Aha,” Eros nodded. “Your baptism is tomorrow morning.”

“Oh, the mighty Zeus!”

“You’re going to eat ambrosia and drink nectar.”

“I’ve heard that it tastes a bit like Lindt chocolate,” said Psyche.

“The ambrosia? Yeah, it does,’ said Eros. “Once you taste that you’re stuck with me forever.”

Psyche smiled. “Literally huh?”

“Yes.”

“I think can live with that,” she said, running her hand against his thigh.

“Me too my love.”

“Tomorrow is still aeons away,” said Psyche. “What are we going to do to fill up the time?”

“How about some loving? Let’s pick up where we left off.”

“But how will we get home?” asked Psyche.

“Leave that to me!”

Psyche felt the Eros’s grip around her waist tighten and in the space of a microsecond they were back inside the comfort of their accustomed bedroom. This time around there was no hiccup, no doubt boiling to the surface of her conscious mind and spoiling their bliss. This time it was like one superheated jet of passion exploding from a subterranean vent somewhere; she was the progenitor of the pressurised force, he the water pumping through the vent. They interpenetrated and sublimed into one another like solute and solvent. They rode through waves of titillation like a pod of mating dolphins and enacted acrobatic somersaults that propelled them onto unprecedented fringing reefs and left them marooned there for hours at a time. The encounter was miraculous and vigorous, fiery and energetic, earth-shattering and blissful, impulsive and instant; it was, well, the procreation, accomplishment, and multiplication of new life.

Hence after entwining around one another like a couple of baby lianas, Eros and Psyche, love and soul, were destined to partake of the same being, to grow towards the pocket of glorious sunlight that is that being, and to experiment together with the polychromatic and multidimensional unity that is being.      

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