Drabble prompt: Quiet Me (because I'm trying to write that right now and it's hellish, so I thought I'd share my pain <3)
(Because I am always & forever on a Greek kick, here: have Athena & Odysseus, post-raftwreck, on the shore of Scherie. Not entirely sure this fits Quiet Me, but it’s what happened.)
Odysseus can still feel the cold grasping hands of the waves tugging at his body, even though he has collapsed on the sand, even though the water has receded to only lap at his toes; the water seems to be in his veins after so many days in the sea. He has coughed up what must be enough to fill this entire delta afresh, and now he stands, his legs wobbling and threatening to capsize his body like the wrecked raft. Slowly he turns to face the ocean he escaped, and unwinds Ino’s veil from about his naked chest. His waterlogged arm can only throw it into the shallows, but it disappears all the same, back to the nymph. He does not even have the strength to thank her.
Half on feet, half on knees, he makes his way up the beach, his lungs full of saltwater and his eyes brimming with more. His breaths are coughing sobs, and he trails blood on to the sand. At the line where the trees begin, even his knees fail him, and he falls to the sand, naked and shivering in the night winds, eyes closed against his own exhaustion.
“Wily Odysseus,” says a voice from above him, “do you mean to let yourself die on this beach? Will you be so ungrateful to me, when there is shelter so close?”
Odysseus blinks open his eyes to see grey-eyed Athena crouched before him, her robes clean against the dark sand, her face beautiful and terrible in its own light. He can only shake his head, and cough up water in a sob yet again.
She reaches out a hand to touch his beard, stiff with salt, and then near his eyes, and her voice now is softer than he has ever heard it. "My hotheaded hero,“ she says, almost smiling. "Poseidon has enough salt water in the world; do not add to his store.”
“First among gods,” Odysseus acknowledges, voice hoarse, and Athena rises in a smooth movement. Odysseus, muscles screaming, struggles to stand. "What would you have me do?“
She does smile then, the same clever smile that bends nations and breaks lesser men. "Use what comes to you,” she says. "You will know.“
And then she is gone, a waft of warm air spilling toward him from her absence, and when he breathes in, his lungs feel finally clear. His legs hold him the few short steps to the trees, to the blanket of leaves waiting to shield him, to the sleep that claims him immediately.
Invisible, Pallas Athene lays a hand on his face once more, waits until his breath quiets, and then is gone.
(PS. I will always share writerly pain. Thank you!)