Three of my classmates in the cult of Calliope have already graduated, but I wasn't as attached to them as I am Marissa. There was Lavinia, who sang so high that I’d always have to block out my ears during concerts; she went last Winter. Then there was Annelie, one of Illiana’s best friends and therefore of no bother to me whatsoever, and finally Chyra, who was rumoured to have had a panic attack right before her ceremony and had to be forced over to the human world; just a couple of weeks ago. It’s not as if I didn’t know this day was coming for Marissa, we all know it, we count down the days, either in panic or excitement, but we all know it’s inevitable. I can barely comprehend that my day will come soon after this one, I'm in such a flurry as I race across the acropolis that my thoughts are like grains of sand in water being poured away, lost and of little import.
Akantha could be running faster, only she's weighed down by her heavy attire, hoisting up the folds of her peplos just to keep up with me, but of course a tutor of Calliope could never run in such an undignified manner. I, on the other hand am more worried about missing the ceremony than I am about looking like a dignified apprentice, or even a young woman for that matter. It doesn't bother me if my chiton has ridden up at the back or if my curls look like horns; I'm getting to this graduation.
The temple looks truly magical in Dawn's light, the skyline shining behind the marmoreal pillars, the muscles and folds of the pediment figures - depicting the Nine receiving the first fruits of Ideón – so intricate that it seems they’ll detach from the stone and come to life. I look dead ahead and see with horror in my heart that the grand golden doors are beginning to close, the last noble stragglers heading in, undoubtedly most of them sponsors who have never been anything to me but an indignant swish of fine fabric or a high, condescending chortle. I narrow my eyes and realise who's pushing the door with great effort, the fibula of his chiton undone so that he is topless, his arms hard and tense as the door scrapes across the ground. Happiness springs in my heart as I recognise the wispy blonde curls exactly like mine, the figure that I know so well but am forbidden to talk to in passing. A familiar guilt passes over me, but now is not the time.
I pick up my pace until my feet are throbbing through the thin soles of my sandals, whilst Akantha calls louder for me to slow down. I feel each stride ricochet through my ankles, but I hurry on, leaping up the marble steps at an unladylike stride of two at a time, at such a speed that I nearly slam into him, all the while calling out,
"Thatty! Brother! Wait!"