Sweet summer child, that is absolutely something that I can do!
Anyone who wants to skip a poorly retold story of a ludicrously hot young asshole and a woman who is cursed to accidentally hit on people should press J on their keyboard now, as this is a long post. Historical / literary info under the Read More!
Our story begins with the birth of a beautiful, bouncing baby boy. Well, actually, our story begins with a man named Teiresias, who used to be a woman who used to be a man and was cursed with blindness by Hera and blessed with prophecy by Zeus for daring to say that women enjoyed sexy times more than men, but that’s another myth for another day.
Anyway, back to the adorable bundle of joy. One day, this baby’s mother, a smoking hot nymph named Liriope, goes over to old man Teiresias and asks him “you’re old as balls, will my sweet baby Narcissus grow to be as old as you?” and Teiresias nods sagely and says “yeah, he’ll be fine to claim a state pension, as long as he never comes to know himself, if you get what I mean” and Liriope just shrugs and says “I actually have no idea what you mean, but I’m sure I’ll find out” and Teiresias does a really enigmatic thing with his arms and says “but you have to find yourself first” and Liriope frowns and she’s like “is that part of the prophecy, or” and Teiresias is like “look, lady, I don’t even want this job, just let me have some fun with it” and Liriope looks at him really strangely and walks away with her ridiculously adorable baby.
16 years later, that adorable baby boy is no longer an adorable baby boy, because that is how time works. Instead, Narcissus is a tantalisingly hot piece of man. It’s actually ridiculous how attractive he is. All over the realm, there are literally hordes of women and scores of dudes just overheating with lust for his perfectly sculpted cheekbones and the way his hair curls alluringly at the nape of his neck. There is no way of exaggerating just how incredibly, incredibly good-looking this guy is. Imagine every single beautiful thing you’ve ever seen: a rose-hued dawn; an oil-slick sea under a sky threaded with silver; a full box of pizza with the steam still rising off it. Narcissus is all of those things and more. Unfortunately, he’s also a massive arsehole. Whenever one of the millions of girls and boys who want to climb him like a tree eventually plucks up the courage to tell him, he just gags and pretends to throw up, and then starts laughing until they leave in floods of noisy tears, and then he shakes his head and says something like “my wit is as sharp as my cheekbones” and then he high fives himself, because he has embraced a poetic kind of solitude and also it’s hard to make friends when you’re that much of a vain dick.
Narcissus lives on Mount Kithairon, near a forest because he’s basically Snow White apart from the hideous personality defects. In these woods there also lives a nymph named Echo. Echo lays eyes upon Narcissus one day while he’s out frolicking in a manly fashion in the woods, and being a sentient being with both eyes and a pulse, she immediately falls in love and starts fantasising about getting married to him and having his genetically superior children and maybe getting a mortgage and living in wedded bliss until their kids leave for college and the love dies. However, there’s a slight hitch in her plan, and that’s the incredibly inconvenient curse that was placed on her a while ago by Hera.
Around the time Narcissus was first growing beautiful golden tufts of hair under his armpits and staring lustfully at inanimate objects, Echo was playing wingman to Zeus. Basically, Zeus would pick up a honey with legs up to their armpits and an apparent incapability of experiencing basic fear, seeing as Hera, Zeus’ wife, has a really bad habit of viciously murdering and maiming Zeus’ lovers and their extended families. Anyway, when Zeus picked up his saucy companions, he’d go and find Echo and be like “yo, if Hera comes looking for me, can you distract her? I’ll need, like, ten minutes max, you can totally do it, I have complete faith in your bullshitting abilities” and Echo would be like “if I decline, you’ll fry me to death with a lightning bolt, won’t you” and Zeus would say “got it in one, sweet-cheeks, now go and talk to my wife about the political situation in Crete or some shit like that, I don’t know what women talk about these days apart from how good I look in these jeans” and then he’d bugger off and go and make sweet, adulterous love to his latest squeeze, probably in the form of an animal, because that’s how Zeus rolls.
This arrangement worked like a charm for a while, until one day Hera suddenly remembered that actually, she wasn’t a total fucking idiot, and she immediately caught on to what Echo was doing. Echo was like “look, Zeus made me do it, it was a choice between joining his clique or joining his hit-list and honestly I regret the choice I made” and Hera just raised a perfectly groomed eyebrow and said “damn straight you should, you’re on my hit-list now and trust me, my hit-list is way worse than his, for a start I don’t give gift bags” and Echo tries to say something like “you don’t even get a gift bag when you join his clique, what a scam” except what actually came out of her mouth was “give gift bags”, and then Hera cackled evilly and she was like ”I am so diabolical and attractive, good luck helping Zeus distract me now when all you can do is repeat the last few words you hear!” and Echo was like “words you hear” and Hera nodded and said “yeah, words you hear, now run along and tell my husband… oh, I don’t know, I guess just tell him whatever he tells you, seeing as that’s all you can do” and Echo was like “you can do” and Hera just grinned and said “damn straight I can do, I’m the fucking head honcho around here, now run along” and Echo, more humiliated than Hades at a marriage counselling session, ran off and hid in the woods, probably mournfully howling “run along” as she did so, and that was that.
So, back to the present day and the slammin’ bod of Narcissus. Echo, as previously mentioned, totally wants to cut herself a generous slice and serve it for all three courses, but as it turns out, it’s pretty hard to flirt successfully when your pick-up lines are limited to ceaseless repetition, and the object of your affection is about as talkative as post-Apollo Daphne. Therefore, Echo spends most of her days creeping around the place, staring at Narcissus’ abs.
One day, Narcissus is taking some time out of his busy schedule of being devastatingly attractive and being insanely easy on the eye, and he decides to take a masculine stroll down past the river. Echo follows him, because apparently boundaries aren’t a thing in Ancient Greece, and after a little while, Narcissus gets hopelessly lost, because apparently a sense of direction isn’t a thing in Ancient Greece either. While she’s following him, Echo makes a sound, and immediately shit goes down.
Terrified, like a woman who’s just come face to face with Hera, Narcissus is like “is anybody there?” and Echo is like “shit, shit, I fucked up, I fucked up everything”, except what she actually says is “is anybody there?” and Narcissus rolls his eyes because he’s 16 years old and being teased is his second worst thing ever, after his mum going into his bedroom without his permission, and he says “well, no fucking shit, obviously there’s someone here, I literally just asked you that” and Echo is like “asked you that” and Narcissus grits his pearly, perfectly aligned teeth and says “I’m going to knock your block off, just you come here” and Echo is like “you come here” and Narcissus shakes his wonderfully glossy mane and he’s like “no, you come here” and Echo decides fuck it, enough is enough, and she leaps out of the bushes and beams manically and cries “come here!”, and she’s so overcome with lust at seeing him close-up in high definition that she can’t stop herself from throwing her arms around his neck and basically fawning all over him, living the absolute dream.
For 10 seconds, anyway, because Narcissus is totally grossed out by this creepy girl touching him, and he shoves her off and he’s like “whoa, whoa, sweetheart, don’t touch what you can’t afford, you’re not invited to enjoy this body” and Echo just silently wills him to say something else, anything else so that she doesn’t have to repeat that, but Narcissus just stands there and looks at her and so Echo sighs and says “enjoy this body” and Narcissus wrinkles his adorable and yet rugged button nose and says “I don’t want to enjoy your body, I thought I made that like really clear” and Echo nods forlornly and says “really clear” and then she just runs away, because avoiding conflict is another of her trademarks.
Over the next few months, Echo continues her creepy stalking addiction, and eventually she literally wastes away from sadness, because as we all know, a woman is nothing without the love of a man. Luckily her consciousness remains, and so she’s still able to follow Narcissus around like a bad smell. Unluckily, this means that she gets to watch Narcissus act like a total fucking douche about a hundred more times, just rejecting all these well-meaning people who want to maybe stroke his face a few times and have him tell them that they’re pretty, and eventually, one rejected nice guy decides that enough is enough. His manly pride wounded, he raises his fist to the sky, probably knocking off his fedora in the process, and says “Narcissus has friend-zoned one too many of us! I hope the fucker falls in love one day with someone who’ll never love him back. Then he’ll know what it’s like to live under the cruel haze of inadequacy, or something like that. I am so alone.”
So, a few days later, Narcissus is out hunting in the woods with a group of his less attractive bros, and he suddenly realises how thirsty he is. Actually thirsty, that is. It’s not euphemistic. So he jumps gracefully off his trusty steed and goes to the nearest spring, and he’s about to take a nice long sip of water when he spies this goddamn vision of loveliness in the spring, and immediately he’s just like “oh my days, this must be what love feels like, or perhaps it’s just teenage arousal, but either way, I want to get on that” and so he just sits there, staring into the spring, saying stuff like “babe, your hair is like spun silk, I could run my hands through it and give you a scalp massage at the same time because that’s the kind of boyfriend I’d be”, but the image in the water doesn’t respond and Narcissus is like “this must be how all those people I rejected felt, don’t make me feel empathy, just love me”
but obviously, the image doesn’t reply because it’s just Narcissus’ fucking reflection, and this entire time Echo is just watching him like ‘holy shit, and to think this is the man I’m in love with, he’s certainly something to look at but there’s absolutely jack shit going on upstairs’. At one point, Narcissus leans in to try and give the hot boy in the pool a cheeky smooch, and the water is disturbed and the reflection fades away, and Narcissus panics and he’s like “whoa, whoa, I’m sorry, I moved too fast, we can take it slow, baby, just come back to me” and the water stills again and the reflection returns and Narcissus smiles wanly and says “this is enough for me, baby, we don’t ever have to touch, just let me look at you” and by god, does he look. For weeks, he just sits there like a teenage girl waiting for One Direction ticket announcements, staring into the spring and sighing wistfully.
Eventually, he just starts to waste away staring lovelorn at his own reflection. Instead of doing the normal thing and doing things that are necessary for life, such as eating, he literally just lies by the water and stares at himself, because Narcissus is nothing if not committed. He’s so committed that he ultimately ends up dying, because that’s the sort of thing you should be willing to do for love. With one last melodramatic sigh, he whispers “I just don’t get it, I’m a hot hunk of beefcake, everyone else wanted me but you… farewell” and then he just keels over and dies the lamest death that anyone has ever died. Echo, who’s been doing her usual routine of standing unnervingly near and watching, says “farewell”, which for once is not an inappropriate thing to say and would probably make a really great line of dialogue in a Nicholas Sparks novel, and then she watches as his body turns into a bed of fucking white and yellow flowers, because if anyone’s corpse is going to do that, it’s Narcissus’.
Somewhere, probably in a strip-club far away, Teiresias says “I fucking told you so”.
More mythological goodness can be found here, here and here. The latter two links also allow you to follow my progress in writing a whole actual book. Thrilling.