Face pillowed on her strong arms, she dreams. The long muscles of her legs twitch as she races around the long-vanished track, outpacing her girl-companions. They are all mothers, now, in the waking world. Even her, once. Now, though, there are only the dreams, brilliant tapestry patched together out of a thousand memories. After the race, a feast, the feast decreed by her father for the winner, roasted meat and bone, slick fat dripping onto the coals of many braziers and ascending in smoke to the gods.
In the way of dreams, by now she is no longer in her racing garb and no longer a child. She reclines comfortably at her father's table, the scent of the black broth, prize of warriors, wafting from boiling bowls, the edge of her hunger growing sharp. In this moment, she is refined, a precious blade from the north. Honed to perfection.
Here in her room, she is no longer sharp and ready, but curled loosely upon the cushions. Her well-muscled hands twitch after the dreamfood, and her rose-tinted lips part, a coral blush rising in her full cheeks. Her breath comes short now, and her muscles strain toward unfathomable delight. Her servants, her guards, turn away, fearful of visions sent by jealous Aphrodite, but we gaze on.
The table is set, groaning with the dishes of her youth, and she tucks in, greedy with long deprivation.
Soft and pungent cheese, drizzled with amber honey. Precious oil carried from the Athenian groves, golden-green and thick, grassy on the tongue. Crumbling wheat-cake and chopped herbs. Grilled figs, sour-sharp olives, tender meat and crisp pomegranate seeds. Wine, oh, wine, black like the sea until mixed with water from her favorite spring, wine that flowed redder than blood, redder than crimson, redder than madder-dyed cloth.
Twice-abducted Helen sleeps through the long, hot days. There, she cannot know regret for her vanished lifetimes. There, in the memory-court of Tyndareus, she devours the bread and wine of dreams. There, no husbands or suitors, no ill-tempered gods, no daughter and no siblings torment her with obligation, and even in the midst of war, there is no one who would grudge her this escape.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, The Lime challenged me with "delicious food is involved", and I challenged Lance with "Detective Puppy and the Case of the Missing Knickerbockers".