Helen (part 3)

I shouldn’t have done it. What was I thinking? I shouldn’t have entered that ship.

The first days, I was way too nauseous to talk to people, let alone to see Paris. The sea was rough. I felt like nearly dying there. But that was just the first five days. Then things got better, maybe the gods suddenly felt mercy, though I doubt it. If anything, they must have known what was going to happen – and who could agree upon war? I felt something terrible coming, I could almost sense it in the air. I had left Menelaus, I was cursed, there was no hope. Which man would accept his wife leaving him this way? The thoughts hammered in my head as I moved along with the ship. There was no turning back, and by the moment I started to get used to the ship, Menelaus must have known what had happened. What would he do? Would he search for me? Would he chase us?

Thoughts, thoughts, they always cause regret, and regret always comes too late. There was no turning back. It throttled me. I was the one who tried to talk to Paris. I was the one who tried to relive our past moments. But there was always an excuse. Something always had to be done when I asked him to come over to my cabin. Meanwhile, he walked around the deck and obviously felt good about himself. Look what I’ve done. I conquered the most beautiful woman alive and got her to the point of leaving her husband in the worst way possible. Look what I, Paris, prince of Troy,  have done! Though I tried to push the thoughts away, I could no longer be blind for the fact that he did not love me at all. I was his trophy, and nothing more. All the time we spent on the ship, we haven’t spent one night together. Paris was always elsewhere. There weren’t even other women. If they weren’t possible trophies, they simply weren’t worth watching.

I lacked nothing. I had everything I wanted, food, wine, servants. But this life was even worse than my former life. Here, I really had nothing more to say, no one was interested in what that treacherous woman said, and even my beauty had become worthless. What did looks matter when being locked up the entire time? Though he did not care about me anymore, Paris absolutely wanted to preclude my escape. The only people I saw for days and days were my female servants, who despised me for my actions, as I started to despise myself too.

I had no choice though. I became a Troyan princess, living in a grand and luxurious palace. Everyone treated me courteously, but they never really talked to me, nor did they attempt to find out who I was, what I felt, why I had left Menelaus for Paris. I don’t know if they liked Paris. He turned out to be a strange combination of haughtiness and narcissism. All people he spoke with, were treated as servants. Fighting wasn’t for him, he declared. I’m Paris, and I’m a prince! Soon I’ll be a king. Look at what I’ve achieved in my brief life! I’m glorious! Meanwhile I saw the Greek coming and fighting and dying, one of them being Menelaus. Paralysed by the idea of men dying for me, unfaithful wife, I locked myself up and lived in my own world. The irony of men fighting to get me back, when in fact there was nothing I begged for more than returning.

Yes, I’ve caused the death of many people. But that war wasn’t for me, was it? I was just the trigger. Right? I still want to believe that. I still want to close my eyes to the horror I’ve caused to both the Greek and the Troyan people. It can’t be true that one woman can cause such pain and grief. It can’t be.

Day after day. Month after month. Year after year.

Nothing but war. Everywhere I looked. Guilt seemed to be dripping of me all the time. Let it go away. Make it go away. Make them go away! Leave the beach! Leave Troy! Take me with you again. Please, take me with you. I don’t want to be Paris’ wife. Did I ever really want that? I tried to find happiness – did I believe I could find it in his arms, in his bed, in his palace? I should have known better. But pretty women don’t have to be smart. Right?

Years passed by, I had destroyed all mirrors. And then, all of sudden, like someone had cared about my prayers, the war was fought, the Greek had won. I heard it happening, I heard them running around everywhere, destroying Troy, burning down the houses of innocent people. I felt strangely calm. Of course I had thought of the possibility that they were ordered to kill me, but I did not care – anything but this everlasting war. They did not kill me. They took me with them and brought me to Menelaus, whom I didn’t dare to face. With my eyes fixed on the floor, he said: “You will return to Sparta with us.” I will! I thought. I will return – something I’ve been hoping for since I arrived here! “You’re still my wife”, he said, and watched my face carefully. “You’re still beautiful – I had not expected that.” He had spoken and left the room.

No one treated me like a princess anymore. No one cared about my looks. I was wearing a white sheet of guilt, and yet, I was glad I was no longer the eulogized woman I had once been. I was guilty and I was treated rightfully. No longer the beautiful Helen. No longer fear of mirrors.

And I grew old. I got ugly and forgotten. People still talk about the Troyan war now, but in a few years, everything will be over and I’ll be an atom in history, a name that appeared during the war, but people will forget me and my once beautiful face, and I’ll be, somehow, forgiven.

*The End*

Helen (part 2)

Paris was different. I knew he was a vain prince, and actually, he looked like one. I had never seen a man with such soft hands and such a feminine body. He didn’t seem to touch weapons, ever, and he confirmed that later on. “I’m no warrior”, he said. “I’m a prince. Fighting is for those who aren’t princes.” He used to laugh when saying that.

But at first, I didn’t even care about him. To me, he was just like all the other men – praising me for my beauty, eager on money and trade. I did what I used to do when a man had dinner together with us. I wore a veil and one of my best dresses, in which I could hardly breathe. He could see but my ladylike hands, taking a bit of food, just a tiny little bit, and making it disappear behind the veil. At that point, I had already captured his attention, but the real praising and drooling came when Menelaus proudly removed my veil. I just sat there, looking at my hands in my lap, like a real vestal wife.
“She has to be the living image of Aphrodite!” Paris said. “What a beauty – how can you even trust the men entering your house, Menelaus?”
Menelaus snorted. “I keep an eye on her.”
“Surely”, Paris smiled. “Otherwise things would go wrong, wouldn’t they?”
I don’t think Menelaus understood this words, but when remembering them now, I realise it was a warning.

Paris was the first one to listen to what I said. He asked my opinion on matters, talked with me, didn’t just stare. It touched me, it hurt me to feel how I had missed that for years already. At the same time, he didn’t seem to be interested in me as a woman. He treated me like a man. That caused Menelaus to trust him with me, and one day he told us he had to leave for Crete, an emergency. He’d be back soon.

He trusted us, the fool.

That night, Paris entered my room. I was lying awake, wondering if he’d do that. He surely did. He told me I drove him crazy, my beauty haunted him, he repeated my words every night, I was a creature of the gods…
“I could love you until the day I die”, he declared. “If only you weren’t married already…”
Please understand that I had never heard such words before. I was vulnerable. Please understand that.
“Would you love me when I’m old?” I asked him.
“I would love no matter what. Whether you’re old or missing an eye or a leg… Just the tiniest piece of your body is so beautiful that it doesn’t matter what the rest of you looks like. One golden hair of you and everyone loves you. One sliver of your finger nail and the world bows down for your enchanting beauty, Helen. Why are you scared?”

If I had been smarter, older, happier, I would have laughed at him for saying these things, but at that moment, those words gave me exactly what I was searching for. My beauty would not go away. He’d love me forever.

So I gave in, I surrendered. He was the first man who ended up in my bed. I seduced the others, but always denied them what they really wanted. I could not deny Paris anything. Maybe I already felt that even trying was in vain. Paris always got what he wanted. He pushed me so far that one night, I left my house, I left my life and entered the greatest nightmare I’ve ever lived. I thought I was desperate, but until that day, my life had been the happiest it would ever get.

“Do you love me, Helen?”
“Of course, how could I not love you?”
“Will you love me as long as I love you?”
“Longer, Paris.”
“No, really.”
“If I cut off you arms and your legs, will you still love me anyway?”
“I want to be more than my body. My body is but beauty. I am more than a pretty creature. I want to be able to love just because I love, Paris.”

It’s only now that I can see the horror I’ve caused. But when entering the ship, I believed I would be happy – finally.

*more to come soon!*

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.