Atlas, then Phaedos, by rhetoric
Word Count: 770
Atlas stood beside the motorcycle, her eyes wide. He had been attempting to coax her onto it for roughly five minutes. “If you’re too frightened, Atlas, we will just have to wait for everyone to return with the car.”
She glanced to him and hoped he could not read her as well as she thought he could. She didn’t want anyone else to take her. Her finger twitched nervously as she reached out to grip his shoulder. She gave him a wary look but, without letting herself hesitate, swung herself onto the bike behind him. As she put on the helmet he handed her, she told herself it had to be like the transport bikes in Atlantis; but she knew she was wrong, the transport bikes at home were quiet and comfortable, they were not lithe and dangerous looking the way Phaedos’ ‘motorcycle’ was. He kick started the engine and she clung to him.
The bike moved so quickly that Atlas was certain she was going to fall off; the country roads they took into the city sped by so swiftly she could not focus on anything around her. She wondered how Phaedos was able to navigate so smoothly when she wanted nothing more than to stare at the backs of her eyelids until they stopped moving. She could feel her nails digging into the muscles beneath his shirt, but he didn’t show any signs of discomfort.
They sat upon the bench beside each other, their backs against a brick wall as they watched the tigers roam their artificial habitat. Atlas scooped a spoonful of black raspberry ice cream into her mouth quietly, the inside of her lips stained a deep purple They had spent two hours wandering the zoo on foot; she’d seen every exhibit available, twice. The conversations had been easy and relaxed, as were the silences, and he felt as if certain pieces inside of him were falling into place.
He’d gotten to thinking, some time between the giraffes and the flamingos, that she deserved to know the truth about him. He’d grown accustomed to keeping things to himself and the prospect of divulging information he had kept to himself for years seemed like a risk he wasn’t certain he wanted to take. Besides, he wondered, what would he even start with? However, there was a strong, nagging pull in his mind to tell her, and he didn't think he could ignore it.
“Do you have no questions for me, Atlas? You do not worry whatever about my past or my intentions?” The questions were out before he could stop them but part of him was glad for that. He may never have gotten the conversation started otherwise.
She turned her eyes to him and rolled her shoulders. “Do you have no questions for me, Phaedos? You do not worry whatever about my past or my intentions?”
My, she was a clever one, he thought to himself. He wondered how long she'd known, how soon after their meeting she had been able to peg him for the puppet of fate that he was. “So you know who I am?” He was only mildly astonished; he should have guessed that she knew as much as, or more, about him than he knew of her. How could he have been so foolish as to think he would be the only one to recognize the events?
“Of course I know who you are, Anicetus, son of Heracles.” She slipped a spoonful of ice cream between her lips and smiled at him.
He could not help but return the gesture. “You are not upset that I did not introduce myself properly in the beginning?”
The look on her face said that she had not thought about it. She paused, mulling over the question, and shrugged again. “People change over time, Phaedos,” she said, “it is reasonable to assume that the names they are called by would change, too. No one thing is set in stone, not even a prophecy; if we cannot recognize something without being given the proper name then we are not worthy to recognize it at all.”
He let the discussion rest for a long while. Eventually, she rose to dispense of her empty ice cream dish. It was her movement that pulled him out of his thoughts. He looked up at her, the sun shining behind her silhouette, burning into his eyes. In the shadowy, golden light, she glowed - her hair lit up with the mirrored yellow light, her eyes gleaming as if they alone could warm the planet she stood upon. He asked, "Does Elseron know?"