It’s a strange thing. The loss of sight, I mean. One second I was there, clearing the island of beasts and buying gifts for the love of my life - Or so I believed, I thought I loved her. Then I realised how deceptive she was. Or maybe I was the problem. Maybe I just wanted someone to control. But I’m not going to blame myself for this. As the son of Poseidon, I’ve always believed I could do whatever I wanted to. That’s what everyone else thought. It’s funny really; people believe I can walk on water. Just because I’m the son of a God, doesn’t mean I have the same abilities. In reality, I swim, just like any other ordinary person.
“I hear you like swimming?”
Kedalion’s voice comes from above me. I’d almost forgotten he was there, apart from the occasional yell of directions and the constant weight upon my shoulders.
“I like swimming” I say, not really in the mood for a conversation. I realise I’m still bitter about being blinded by the King of the island where I used to live. The next few moments pass in silence, I’m aware that he’s waiting for more of an explanation, but I’m not sure what to say.
“It’s…peaceful. I like the clear blue colour of the ocean. And besides, My Father is the God of water, what did you expect? It’s one of the things I’m going to miss-“
My head hits the cold, metal object before I notice that it’s a lamppost. I’m suddenly angry. I should have seen it. I should be able to see. The roar of laughter irritates me further.
“You’re supposed to tell me!”
“I was enjoying your story,” he protests “Besides, self-pity gets you nowhere, better if you learn that lesson early.”
I clench my fists. He was sent to guide me, not to act as a friend. Some people don’t seem to understand the difference. Friends are there because they want to be, they could choose to walk out but prefer to stick by you. Kedalion, however, this…this wasn’t a friendship, he was simply a convenience, sent to help, direct and remain as distant as possible.
“Are we there yet?” I ask, all too aware that I sound like an impatient child.
“Patience, patience,” his tone is mocking. I ignore it.
I focus on imagining the land around me. The streets I’d walked down several times per day for the past several years. I realise that I should have memorised the place by now, but I still have no idea where I’m actually walking, but I’m guessing it isn’t the town centre. It’s quiet. Too quiet. Apart from Kedalion’s heavy breathing, the only other sound that can be heard is the crunching of gravel beneath my feet; the rest is left to my imagination. I think of the gravel path that leads to the beach, one I have walked many times in the long summer days. I think of the feeling of sand under my feet. Striding deeper into the golden masses, slowly being consumed, toes, feet and ankles hidden by the tiny grains, each step getting closer to the sea. Glyfada and Piraeus, possibly my favourite places in the whole of Greece. Glyfada is a town, with the best beach I can ever remember going to, the place where I spent an infinite number of evenings watching the distant sun set across the horizon, the rays glimmering across the swaying depths of the water and creating the illusion of a million silver lights glistening in front of me. Piraeus is a port on the East coast of the Saronic Gulf, the place where I spent many days of my childhood learning the art of rafting and yacht building, each day seeming endless. I’m suddenly dismayed as I feel raindrops hit my shoulders, slowly at first, then faster. They keep coming, making my clothes get heavier as they become saturated with water. I do like water; don’t get me wrong, that’s the whole idea of swimming. Only I prefer choosing when I get wet.
“Kedalion,” I grunt “How much longer?”
“Well, think about it. We’re heading towards the God of Sunlight, and we’re currently in the middle of a downpour.”
“Do you have to be so sarcastic?” I retort.
“Do you have to be so pessimistic?” He mimics my tone, “I was trying to cheer you up, but since that didn’t work then how about this – There’s a rainbow in front of us, that’s where the sun and rain meet. We’ll be back in the sunlight soon enough, and once that happens then we’re almost there”
“Really?” I reply, my tone hopeful. I’m imagining a spectrum of colours, like an oil spill, or the refraction of light passing through glass at a strange angle. It’s a pretty sight; I just wish it could be a reality once more. I know memories of events can fade, but can memories of colour?
“Maybe, maybe not. It’s up to you what you believe. In a way, that makes you lucky.”
The spectrum of colours I was imagining suddenly fades to grey, the life disappearing, drawn out by some unseen force.
“Lucky? You call this lucky? Seeing darkness constantly. Always rubbing your eyes to see if you’re actually awake. Constantly feeling around for a light switch that doesn’t even exist. Hearing people speak, even the minor things that you didn’t even like, rubbed in your face. I’d actually die of happiness if I saw a spider right now -” I pause as something tickles my shoulder. I yelp slightly as it moves. Crawling. Kedalion’s immature giggling gives it away, for a second I was absolutely terrified.
“Big guy like you hunting beasts and swimming in the same oceans as sharks. And you’re scared of spiders?”
“Lots of people are,” I shrug, suddenly embarrassed. He erupts into laughter, his entire body shaking upon my shoulders. “You…” I pause, thinking of every expletive or offensive name that I can come up with.
“Go on, say it,” he taunts, “Just remember that there are plenty more lampposts along here for you to walk into.” I realise that he’s right, the fight suddenly leaving me. I don’t have the strength anymore; instead, I join in with his laughter.
“You know how many times I’ve walked down here?” He says after a while, his tone suddenly serious.
“Am I supposed to guess?”
“Nah, don’t bother, we’d be here forever. I’ll just tell you; once. This is my second time. Hephaestus doesn’t take pity on many people. He’s a God of fire; it’s easier for him to destroy someone than to help them. And don’t forget that your dad’s the God of Water. Fire and Water are natural enemies. He liked you though, admired your courage. And apparently your optimism, which I believe I’m yet to see. Just letting you know you’re one of the lucky ones, kid. You’d better believe it!”
Something changes. It’s a subtle change. The darkness shifts and somehow becomes less threatening. At once, I notice that the rain had stopped some time ago. My clothes are almost dry. The ground changes too, it’s softer. More like grass than the harsh crunching sound of gravel. It’s louder as well, not deafening loudness but like daily chatter, the ringing of mobile phones and movements of everyday life, the rustling of sweet wrappers and the starting of car engines. My father wouldn’t approve of it here, he’d say it’s a far cry from the place he grew up and the things he was taught. It’s like stepping into a different world, one that is ignited by energy and passion rather than being the dying embers of a flame.
“Any chance of a glass of water?” I ask Kedalion, who’s become unusually silent.
“Speak about irony!” He exclaims “Besides, you owe me one… I led you here”
“Yeah… And I brought you here. Eleven hours of walking and carrying your weight while you sat being annoying and doing… well, hardly anything”
“Call it even then?”
“Deal,” I agree “Now, how about that drink?”
“Later. You’ve got someone to meet first.” He clears his throat, “Helios, good Sir, this is Orion, Son of Poseidon. We were sent here by Hephaestus.”
Unsure of what to do, I hold my hand out. A handshake usually follows these types of formal introductions. He’s standing closer than I assumed, and my hand strikes his chest. He’s tall, I figure, before pulling my hand back and letting it hover mid-air while attempting an apologetic smile. I hear a quiet laughter as his hand takes mine.
“Yes. Orion, I have been expecting you, Hephaestus told me about your circumstances, quite unfortunate if I do say so myself.”
“But Sir,” Kedalion interrupts, “that’s very negative. I’ve been trying to abolish pessimism the entire way here!”
“Very well then,” The figure moves, but I’m unsure how. I wish I could see his face “Stay very still,” he orders. I resist the urge to laugh, thinking it sounds like one of those ridiculous things teenagers say in movies before they kiss someone. He taps my shoulder with something; presumably a stick of some kind and it was barely noticeable.
It shocks me what follows. Pain. Torture. It’s like an electric shock, the slight numbness, followed by the tingling sensation that seems to intensify as the seconds drag on. Shoulders, legs, feet, lower body, tingling and jerking uncontrollably. Upper body, arms, face, it seems to last forever. I sigh with relief as the pain changes to numbness in my limbs, instead centring round my eyes. I would describe it as a blinding pain, but now I know that being blind isn’t painful, just annoying and infuriating. So I’ll settle for ‘burning pain’. I think I pass out, somehow falling to the floor. The shock of the scorching ground startles me. I was expecting cold and dampness, not to the point where I’m almost incinerated by the stones like a piece of meat being thrown into a fire. I leap up, dizziness takes over and I stagger forward. The sound of laughter makes me open my eyes. Open my eyes? I think. I rub my eyes and blink a few times, sure enough, the hazy images of Kedalion and Helios stand before me. For a while, I’m unable to do anything but stare and think about how different they looked to the characters I’d created – Finding out that Kedalion’s only three feet tall with shoulder length blonde hair and green eyes, rather than the lazy guy with the rounded stomach and alcohol breath that I’d imagined was a large surprise. Helios was pretty much how I’d assumed, around seven feet tall, short brown curly hair, large build, tanned skin and the kind of majestic clothing that my father wore, full of rich reds and purples and the deep shades of blue associated with royalty. He holds a weapon too, a sword tucked in a tan coloured pouch around his waist, the silver tip glinting in the sunlight and making it seem even more deadly. He holds a shield across his chest as if seeking the protection of a gladiator before a fight to death in the arena. The object that he hit me with seemed nothing more than a twig, a walking stick that that would struggle to support the weight of the average household cat. It looks as though he tore it from the nearest tree when I arrived. I blink again. The light suddenly appearing too bright after a seemingly endless darkness, but still, I smile.
“Welcome back!” Kedalion grins, “Now, how about that drink?”
“I’d love to. Would you like to join us, Sir Helios? I can’t explain how grateful I am.”
He laughs, a gentle sound similar to that of a wise grandfather listening to the tales of the newer generation, soothing and supportive.
“I’d love to, but I have a land and people to protect. ’Tis my duty, my friend!” He smiles. “Besides, you wouldn’t want hindrance from an old man like me. Alas, I must leave now, But I bid you farewell and safety on all of your travels.”
I watch as his figure fades into the distance, watch as he reaches the crowds of people who part for him, watch as he eventually disappears from sight.
I turn to Kedalion
“Protect them from what?” I whisper as he shrugs his shoulders.
“Not sure. But I guess it’s time to head back, it will be sunset soon… Any chance of a lift up?” His green eyes are pleading, I sigh and lift him back onto my shoulders “Thanks, it’s a rather long way home.” He says with a mischievous grin, similar to that of a daring child. We finally stop for a drink, and I feel like rejoicing at the cool sensation of liquid flowing down my throat giving me a sudden burst of energy. We walk in the opposite direction to the crowds, and hear the faint voice of Helios addressing the people
“Good people, followers, friends and guests, we are gathered here today…” Either he starts to speak more quietly, or my hearing is deteriorating. I’m unsure which, but instead I focus on the stone gates ahead of us. A part of me wants to stay; another part of me can’t wait to leave. The gate is the border and it’s taller than it seemed with grey stones on each side that are slightly blackened with dirt or old age. A series of cast iron bars stand between the posts, clearly looked after as no rust can be seen. The word ‘farewell’ has been etched into the stone. Kedalion is suddenly restless, moving around upon my shoulder as if he’s looking for something, he abruptly pauses
“Wait… wait! I’ve got to take a photo” He exclaims, holding up an object that looks like a mobile phone. That surprises me.
“You have a phone?” I respond in a disbelieving tone.
“Of course. Everybody does, don’t they? Now… do you have any idea how to work this thing?”
I stifle a giggle, realising that he’s as clueless as I am. I figure he just wants to fit into the modern day society, and become a part of some tourist attraction, although I know perfectly well that one can cope without endless amount of new technology. I step through the gate, looking back at the sight I missed when I entered the kingdom and the sign above the gate saying ‘Welcome to Sunrise’.
“Goodbye Sunrise,” I mutter as I turn away “and thank you,” I add as I step onto the trail of dirt leading back to normality. I stifle a yawn. I don’t mention that I’m tired, or that each step is weary and slow. I don’t complain, I just walk. After all, what does the son of a God have to complain about?