In the darkness, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless, heavy dusk. Their hands meet, and light spills in a flood like a hundred golden urns pouring out of the sun.
I found myself grinning until my cheeks hurt, my scalp prickling till I thought it might lift off my head. My tongue ran away from me, giddy with freedom. This, and this, and this, I said to him. I did not have to fear that I spoke too much. I did not have to worry that I was too slender, or too slow. This and this and this! I taught him how to skip stones, and he taught me how to carve wood. I could feel every nerve in my body, every brush of air against my skin.
Odysseus inclines his head. True. But fame is a strange thing. Some men gain glory after they die, while others fade. What is admired in one generation is abhorred in another. He spread his broad hands. We cannot say who will survive the holocaust of memory. Who knows? He smiles. Perhaps one day even I will be famous. Perhaps more famous than you.
He is a weapon, a killer. Do not forget it. You can use a spear as a walking stick, but that will not change its nature.
He looked different in sleep, beautiful but cold as moonlight. I found myself wishing he would wake so that I might watch the life return.
He knew, but it was not enough. The sorrow was so large it threatened to tear through my skin. When he died, all things swift and beautiful and bright would be buried with him.
Above us, the constellations spun and the moon paced her weary course. We lay stricken and sleepless as the hours passed.
There is no law that gods must be fair, Achilles,” Chiron said. “And perhaps it is the greater grief, after all, to be left on earth when another is gone. Do you think?”“Perhaps,” Achilles admitted.I listened and did not speak. Achilles’ eyes were bright in the firelight, his face drawn sharply by the flickering shadows. I would know it in dark or disguise, I told myself. I would know it even in madness.
There is no law that gods must be fair, Achilles,” Chiron said. “And perhaps it is the greater grief, after all, to be left on earth when another is gone. Do you think?
Peleus acknowledged this. Yet other boys will be envious that you have chosen such a one. What will you tell them? I will tell them nothing. The answer came with no hesitation, clear and crisp. It is not for them to say what I will do.