There is a darkness in the magic of Medea; there are whispers of the dead and the sharp tang of burned herbs. She is the Witch of old, not as she once was but still greater than any who walk around her. She is Medea. She is myth, she is demi-god and enchantress and seductress and murderer, equally betrayed as betraying yet still blessed in the eyes of her Gods.
There's a saying. She's a mystery unto herself. Medea is.
Of all the people who have walked barefoot across the earth, Medea believes she understands herself more clearly than any of them. But in truth she understands herself not at all. For all her magic, for all her cunning, and her spells, and her pain-driven acts of violence, Medea hides herself behind a wall she doesn't even know is there.
These are the things that Medea knows:
She is kind (she is not)
She is fair (she is not)
She is forgiving (she is not)
She is wronged (sometimes so, sometimes not)
She is the witch who brought Jason home. (This one, at least, is all truth.)
Children in the street steal the breath from her lungs. She watches their tiny hands as they pry open packets of candies with the sheer public abandon of the very young (one shared only by the very drunk). They make the back of her throat itch, they make her think of two little boys who had to die because there was a lesson to be learned: it's worth all the pain in the world if someone you love and hate will feel it too.
It’s something about the way the clouds gather above her that makes her cold. The temperature remains constant but the sight of those clouds is enough to make her shiver. It isn’t where she belongs, no matter what they tell her.
It scares her when the light shifts. Scares her beyond reasons she can even understand let alone explain. The shifting of sunlight across dry grass, a constant slow trickle like liquid gold. She watches it cross the backs of her hands like the grass and wonders if it ever stops. Wonders what happens when it does. It’s not the changes that scare her so much as what they mean. It’s the slow procession of her never ending spiral toward hell. She doesn’t want to end up there like the rest of them but she knows as it gets colder and as it gets darker her fate closes in further.
It’s the tick tick tick of the clock on the wall that makes her drown it. A grandfather clock lies on the bottom of the riverbed, attracting fish and plants and her roaming ever-terrified eyes. There are only so many times the hands can turn before they become something scarier. Only so many times she can justify why the water doesn’t flood the face and kill time.
It can’t be her fault when the hands keep turning.
She was in love with him.
She realised it as she got older. It didn’t take Sarah long to realise that none of the other boys made her feel the same way. She tried to brush it off. She’d just been a kid. She didn’t know what love was.
But still, even years after he died, Sarah fantasised about him.
It was always after. Not when he was alive and with Shelly…no, it was after that. Devil’s Night. She could almost taste black lipstick on her tongue, and white face paint coming off on her fingers.
Real love is forever.
I’ve seen you before now, you know. Yes, I’ve been watching you.
Oh don’t look so shocked. Such an innocent face He’s given you. The surprise makes those blue eyes bright. It almost makes you look intelligent, my love.
Are you intelligent? Of course you’re not. It would be so foolish of Him to make you as intelligent as me. He makes mistakes- yes, he does- but He does seem to learn from them. Look at you! You’re a pristine creation! Do they even allow you to get dirty? Do you climb the trees to the very top to look out over the Garden like I used to do? Do you run with the wolf pack until the air burns your lungs and your feet bleed raw like I used to do? No. Of course not. You have no desire to do such things. No desire to be like me.
Why I’m in your beautiful perfect Garden? (You ask it with such an innocent stammer.) Well, this was my Garden long before it was yours, little girl. I belonged to this place more surely than you ever will. I was this place. Unlike your fool of a husband who thinks he conquers the Garden, I know better. No one controls the Garden. She is as free and untamed as I am. It’s just hidden under her skin.
You ask my name? Why? Why do you bother? You know who I am already. You’ve known it since the moment you saw me. Because you and I are joined in a way. No, not like the way you’re joined to your husband. It’s different.
And you could be like me. You know you want to. I can see the longing in your eyes. You can climb with me. You can run with him. I’m stronger than Him, you see. Made from the dirt like your husband. Made from the very earth of creation and unstoppable. A dangerous creature they discovered: a woman who did not submit when told to. I am made of the same earth. And you; Pulled from his rib.
Oh, my sister. Come with me. Be free! Forsake the Garden as your God has forsaken me.
Here. Take it. It’s fruit, it doesn’t bite.
Yes, Eve, it is forbidden. And I promise you’ve never tasted anything as sweet.
She cannot abide the light.
She tells him that it burns her eyes and so he lets her keep the lights off. He lets their house remain in darkness. He doesn’t mind it much. Anything to make her happy. Not that she seems happy, even in the darkness she asked for.
He sees her moving, a silent wraith in that place. He always noticed her silence. She walks around that house like someone well used to being quiet. Someone who’s made themselves that way so long that now it’s natural.
Sometimes he wakes in the middle of the night and he hears her crying. She locks her self in the bathroom and he lies in bed listening to the helpless sounds she makes. He doesn’t dare go to her, because he knows she’d hate that. She thinks her tears are weak. She doesn’t let herself cry unless it’s the dead of night and he’s asleep.
So he lies there and listens to her cry.
She makes him feel helpless.
Soon enough she slips back into their bed- he pretends to sleep- and pulls the blankets over her. She’s tiny, he observes, so delicate and small and he wants to protect her.
Sunlight slips over the horizon and she draws away from it in her sleep.
She cannot abide the light.