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*