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It’s all Greek to me!

I recently submitted a short story to Word in Your Ear on a theme using a chosen photograph. Here it is – how’s your Greek Mythology?

Oceanic Whispers
Rose Senior


The silvery cave on an isolated shore of the wine dark Aegean sea, was a haven for Nereus’ girls; a place they came to for peace and quiet and solace; a place where they could enjoy the oceanic ambrosia their kind-hearted father provided for them; a place where they knew they were safe.

Ione, Dero and Clio were here now, eager to catch up on the gossip and bitch about the injustices of their world before having to rejoin it. They were lucky to be able to do this under the protective aegis of their ancient oceanic parents. Out in the harsher new regime of the Olympians, a comment criticising the now established godly order would most likely attract one of Zeus’s thunderbolts and they all knew that electricity and water did bad things to the complexion.

All of Nereus’ children were beautiful and he loved them with equal measure, as he loved his wife; Doris the bountiful. And bountiful she was, providing him with fifty daughters. It should have been a burden to protect and look after the interests of so many females, but Nereus, the gentle and most virtuous of the Titans, did not see it as such. His only concern was for his unfortunate only son Nerites, whose forays above the waves caught the attention of male and female Olympian alike. Aphrodite tried and failed to get him to come with her to Olympus and he earned the hatred of Helios for being a better charioteer. Not only that, he also had to deal with the apparently unwelcome amorous attentions of that upstart Poseidon, although there was now some doubt on who had tried to seduce whom. Nereus was not sure what he had spawned in his son, but was grateful he had inherited a shape shifting ability to protect him from Olympian wrath when he finally outstayed his welcome above the waves. The boy now spent most of his time pretending to be a hermit crab, only occasionally coming out of his shell to molest the occasional hermaphroditic mollusc. What a disappointment. Nereus had hoped the spell his son spent with Poseidon would improve relations between their families. He had already given the old sea goat his second best trident and one of his daughters, Amphitrite, in an attempt to keep the peace between them. Other Titans had not fared so well in the hostile takeover by the children now residing on Mount Olympus. Chronos tried to eat his errant offspring and look where that got him. Nereus hoped that by being reasonable and conciliatory as well as being a thoroughly nice person would ensure the safety of his family and by default, also himself. Flowing like water around the problem was what he did best, after all. So far it seemed to have worked, although the concessions he gave Poseidon were not always popular with Doris or the girls.

Today, Ione, Dero and Clio were chilling for a while in their favourite part of the family cave after a particularly stressful trip to the island of Thera. Poseidon expected to take an attractive retinue with him when he was away on business and they went with him as part of their father’s peace agreement. When he wasn’t ravishing nymphs and mortals or irritating his wife, the new sea god usually went around shaking the mortals who lived on his shores out of their complacency with the help of the occasional earthquake. The mortals living on that volcanic island had seriously pissed him off with their refusal to offer credit where he thought credit was due. The canny among them had seen the writing on the fresco and hot footed it to the nearest mainland before the earthshaker vented his spleen, but the inhabitants of Crete were not so lucky. They hadn’t seen it coming. The wave that quake generated was enough to wipe out his entire cult there. The girls were not sure he had thought that far ahead in his hot headed determination to make his point on Thera. At this rate, he would only have Atlantis to sing his praises.

Clio settled herself onto the cave floor and handed Ione one of the ambrosial eggs. Dero produced some straws for them all to drink with.

“Poor Amphi, having to put up with that temper of his all the time.” She said, poking her straw in through the gelatinous shell and beginning to suck at the delicious contents. A sphere of ambrosia always made things seem better than they were.

“I think father chose her because she has the steadiest temperament of us all.” Clio suggested, doing the same. Their father had no choice but to give up one of his daughters to the Olympian supplanter of his realm. “He should count himself lucky she is not a harridan like Juno when she finds out about Zeus’ infidelities.”

“The difference is that Juno loves her husband in a way Amphi never will.” Dero said. “Our sister is just grateful for the respite when Poseidon goes off on one of his jollies. He’s as bad as Zeus with his conquests, but because Amphi doesn’t make a fuss, it’s usually soon water under the bridge and forgotten.”

“Juno does make a fuss.” Clio said. They all nodded their agreement and drank until the pearlescent sphere shrivelled up.

“And Zeus is such a show off.” Ione reminded, reaching for another. “Turning into animals and showering his women with gold dust in order to have his way with them.”

“I think that Medusa business made our brother in law think twice about where he poked his trident.” Dero mused. “Athena was the wrong Olympian to annoy. He seems to have chosen less obvious targets and places for his pleasures just lately.”

“Poor Medusa.” Clio considered. “She got the blame for that. Us girls always get the blame. It’s not fair.” She pouted.

“Males!” Dero snorted with disdain. “If grandmother Gaia was still in charge, the world would be a far more civilised place. According to Mother, nothing’s been the same on the earth since Hades kidnapped Demeter’s daughter.”

“The Golden Age will come again.” Ione seemed confident. “The mortals won’t put up with it. From what I hear from our cousins in the rivers and lakes, they’re already making their own minds up as to who’s in charge and it isn’t the residents of Mount Olympus.”

“Good job we’re immortal and can hide from them in the oceans, girls.” Clio put in. “Those mortals model themselves on Zeus and his family. They’ll make even more of a mess of things before Mother Gaia finally comes out of retirement and sorts everything out.”

“Maybe Daddy could be persuaded to flood the land again and speed the process along.” Dero wondered.

“And that worked so well last time.” Clio said.

Ione shrugged. “Maybe this business on Thera will shake them up for a while.”

“Perhaps.” Dero agreed. “But in the meantime we ought to report in and tell Daddy what Poseidon’s had us doing this time.”

“I suspect he already knows.” Ione crumpled up the last ambrosia shell in her fist until it fragmented into silver sand and slipped through her fingers. “Daddy always knows, but he prefers to sit in his study reading the family histories. He lets it all wash over him these days because he wants the quiet life. If you want anything done you’d be better off talking to Mother.”

“If you want a thing done properly, you’d better get a female to do it.” Clio agreed. “We’re so much more than decorations for the males to enjoy. I wish Daddy would stand up to the Olympians more.”

“He does his best.” Dero sighed. “If we want to see any change around here, we had better start making plans of our own.” She rose elegantly to her delicate, pale, unshod feet. “This meal break is over. It’s time to make that report and think about what we are going to do next.”

The three nereids drifted from their silvery, enclosed haven and back out into the world. Who knew what kind of future waited for them all?

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