Helen (part 1)

I’m Helen, and I’m beautiful.

That’s what they tell me when they see me. They gasp for air, put their hand on their chest, and utter admiringly that I’m the fairest om all women in Sparta, of all women they’ve ever seen, of all women of the entire world. Every sign of beauty they mention, and I’ve got them all. Hands as soft as the skin of a new-born, eyes in which you can drown by just looking at them, lips as sensual as those of Aphrodite.

At least, that’s what they used to tell me. No I’ve grown old, like everyone else, and old age is never beautiful. But once, once all men worshipped me for my face and my body. They lay at my feet. They begged for my attention. Only now I realise that they saw what they expected to see. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If they want to see you as an image of perfection, they will trick their own minds and they will see nothing but sheer beauty.

And yet, beauty does not bring happiness. I had to marry, like every woman has to marry, and there were plenty of men willing to have me in their bed. Of all those men, Menelaus got me. He was strong, not very tall, and proud of his victory. He showed me to all his friends, to all his enemies with whom he drove a trade.
Look at her eyes, at her mouth! Have you ever seen such perfection? And those perfect proportions!
Once, one of his friends slyly asked if I was as good horizontally as vertically. The men laughed. I took revenge by seducing him, that night, but before he could touch me, I turned around and faced my own husband, who was standing there. He had seen that man attempting to touch me, and they never spoke again. He was ruined. That was my victory.

Menelaus was just a man, not interested in what I said or did. I just had to be pretty and that was it. Don’t say a word, Helen. Shut your mouth and smile. Your smile could kill. Oh Helen, like your beauty was treacherous!

It was. Some priests used to scream out loud that beauty caused death, and in the end they were right. I cursed everyone by using my looks.

But it wasn’t just my fault. How many had I spent obeying Menelaus, not saying a single word because that wouldn’t please him? Year after year, I felt the pain of transiency. One day, I thought, I would no longer be as pretty as I am now, and Menelaus would leave me, and I would no longer be loved. Year after year, the mirror started to grow viler, until I was on the edge of being desperate.

One day, it would all be over and I would be that woman who used to be beautiful.

I searched for attention and compliments and affirmation everywhere. Tell me how pretty I am. Tell me, please. Every man had to die of love for me, if not, I could not be happy. I only got my looks. Nothing but the most fading of all things. Every man entering our house had to feel a burning  desire for me.

And that’s why Paris ended up in my bed, and I killed all those men and women who still haunt me in my sleep.

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4 Comments

  1. Good stuff!

    You are on a roll now…

    Reply
  2. You have a real gift for writing and an obvious love of mythology, as does Lily.
    This was REALLY good.

    Reply
    • You make me blush, Lisa! Yes, I love mythology, those stories are so old, and yet they still talk about stuff that keeps people thinking even now… They are a great source of inspiration, and that’s why I use them shamelessly.

      Reply

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