Thursday, November 22, 2012

Medusa's Desire By E.B. Black (Chapter 1)

She prayed to be rescued, but her god raped her instead.



"I'm tired of your attitude," Phorcys, Medy's father, said. "You need to be taught a lesson."

Medy barely dodged the vase he threw at her head. It shattered into clay pieces behind her. Maybe she should have held her tongue, but he was taking their dinner money and leaving them to starve. Her father inched towards her as she backed up against the living room wall.

Her blue eyes flashed. "Maybe I'd treat you like a man if you would act like one. Or is throwing vases how you earn respect?"

He hiccupped as he stared at her. He was drunk again. "Get over here and say that. See what happens."

Before she could retort, he charged her, hands outstretched. She dodged to the right of his clumsy attempt to choke her.

Medy crossed her arms. "And you wonder why I hate being in this family."

"I provide for you, don't I?" Phorcys puffed out his chest.

"Actually, you don't. We take care of ourselves, selling all our stuff to pay your debts!" She stomped in the direction of her room.

Her mother, Ceto, was already on her hands and knees, scooping up the broken pieces of the vase. She could have sold it for several drachmas. The family was running out of valuables to pawn to pay off gambling debts. Medy refused to help her.

Instead, she sat on the bed in her room and brushed her soft hair. The golden strands got caught in her comb. She waited for her mother to give up on fixing the vase and follow. Ceto closed the door behind her.

"I'm leaving," Medy announced.

"Again?" Ceto sighed. "You wander the streets too much. People are starting to gossip."

Medy stripped off her clothes and reached for the violet chiton, or short robe, folded in her closet. "I have to fetch some water. We don't have servants to do it for us now."

Ceto pressed her lips together, accenting the wrinkles on her face. "I know you're angry with your father, but you come from a noble family. You leave for hours, much longer than it takes to go to the watering hole. I know you are up to no good and you can't behave this way if you expect to find a husband."

Medy pulled out two brass clips from her dresser and fastened the shoulders of her chiton together. The soft folds flowed over her full curves. "I don't want to find a husband. Father ruined your life through marriage and I refuse to be destroyed in the same way."

"You're a fool," Ceto spat. "Without a chaperone, you could be raped. Even servants travel in pairs to protect their virginities, but you're practically begging for it."

Medy narrowed her eyes. "The only way a man will ever have me is against my will. They might as well come and get it."

She didn't mean a word of what she was saying, but was tired of the nagging. Her mother thought Medy's good looks were a waste and she agreed. Medy hated how men would turn to stare at her and proclaim that she had eyes so blue they must have been kissed by Poseidon. She didn't care whether her hair glowed like Apollo's or whether she had the body of Aphrodite. She wanted to be left alone to live her life how she pleased.

Ceto had once been beautiful like Medy, which allowed her to marry above the farmer's station she'd been born into. When she met Phorcys, he hadn't been the laughingstock of the upper class. She married for money and not love, but now she was old and wrinkly, her hands callused from scrubbing floors. She wore pretty shoes and clothes to pretend her looks weren't gone, but the truth was both her beauty and money were fading. All that was left was a man who resented her.

Medy splashed some water onto her hands and feet to wash the dirt away. She almost didn't bother. The roads were dusty and she'd be filthy again in ten minutes.

"Please try harder for me." Ceto's lower lip quivered. "You don't know what it's like to go hungry. When you depend on the rain, sometimes there are droughts and you don't eat. I can't be forced into that life again and you could never handle it."

Medy's heart squeezed. She could hear the trembling in her mother's voice. "I don't care," she lied.

"Aischylos seems to like you," Ceto continued as if Medy had said nothing. "He's always staring at you and he's rich. Wouldn't it be nice to marry him?"

Medy hated to see her mother so helpless. In Sparta, women could own land. They knew how to use weapons and could hunt for their own food. She envied them.

It made no sense that Athena would allow this in her own city. Her spear and plate armor showed strength. She went to war with men and made fools of them, but the women in her city were controlled by them.

Poseidon had once tried to bribe the people of Athens with the ocean. Blue and calm, it gave them fish to eat, but Athena gave them olives. They used olive oil to cook everything. This gift was why she was their patron goddess and not him: she had given them the most valuable gift. When Medy ate olives, she thought about Athena's intelligence and strove to be strong as well.

The door opened and Stheno, Medy's dark-haired older sister, limped into the room. "Where are you going?" she mumbled as she squinted at Medy's violet robes. She had poor vision and could see nothing. That didn't stop the look of envy from taking over her face.

"I'm just fetching some water," she said.

"Can I come with?" Her older sister, Euryale, had followed Stheno into the room. She had an upturned nose that made her look like a pig and slender lips pressed together in a frown.

"No," Medy said. She was more protective of her older sisters than she was of herself. Where she went was no place for them to be.

Stheno narrowed her eyes further. "You aren't going to go meet Aischylos, are you?"

Ceto smirked. "Maybe she will."

Stheno was in love with Aischylos. They had played together as children, building forts and kicking over sandcastles on the beach for years. They would still be good friends if Ceto didn't think it was improper for them to be alone.

Unfortunately, Aischylos had forgotten her. During puberty, Medy had blossomed and now her sisters were forced to live in her shadow. They wished to be married, but no one had ever asked. Medy despised the idea, but got proposed to on the streets.

Her mother didn't help their jealousy with the ideas she put in Stheno's head about how Medy and Aischylos were practically a couple.

"I'm not meeting anyone," Medy said.

Ceto stomped her foot. "Why not? If you're going to ruin your reputation, you might as well do it with a man like him!"

Stheno crossed her arms. "You're always gone too long to be doing nothing. You're probably stealing people's husbands and breaking their hearts. Just because you're prettier than Aphrodite, doesn't mean you have the right to hurt people."

Ceto's eyes flashed. "Do not speak blasphemy in this house! You never know who could be listening. Medy is beautiful, but Aphrodite is moreso."

Stheno rolled her eyes.

Euryale swayed on her feet as if she were about to collapse. "I want to come with." She fell to the bed, leaning back with her hand lying dramatically across her forehead. "I'm stuck in this house all the time and I'm bored. Father won't take me anywhere. I promise not to tell anyone about your secret lovers."

Medy grasped the pail. She stood straight and raised her chin. "No man will ever hold that kind of power over me. I have nothing to hide, but I do need to go."

She pushed them aside, her eyebrows furrowed and her stride long.

What Medy was doing was much worse than meeting a secret lover. It would give her mother a heart attack if she had known. She was meeting trouble in the form of prostitutes.

She passed several food stands around the agora. With a bit of money, she bought a loaf of bread. She ripped it in half and took a large bite. She was tempted to fetch her water now. After all, she was thirsty, but she preferred not to bother with it until she was on her way back home.

The crowd surrounding her kicked up dirt as they shuffled past. Several men pushed her aside and she was forced to jump out of the way as a mule walked by. Men shouted from the stands about precious metals, cloth, and weapons. The smell of cooking goat meat hit her nose and made her stomach rumble in pleasure.

A filthy building emerged far ahead. Cithara stood in the front. She was rather pretty for a whore. She wasn't missing any of her teeth or hair. She was slender, but you couldn't see her ribs. Her baby face and black curls were the kind men sought in Athens, but she had few curves to speak of.

Medy handed her the uneaten half of the loaf when she arrived. Cithara promptly gave it back and jiggled her purse. It rattled with coins. "Business has been kind to me lately." She laughed. "I don't need any of your charity today."

Medy's eyes clouded with envy. If only she had control of her own money as Cithara did. She had been forced to beg her father for the one measly coin she had. Prostitutes were the only women in Athens allowed to own possessions, but they were also forbidden to marry, which Medy didn't mind at all.

Her thoughts were interrupted as she was poked in the arm by a nearly naked young man. His ribs stuck out and his limbs were long and gangly. His face was handsome and his grin childish. He had shaved off all the hair on his body with a knife.

"Hello Antonius," Medy said.

"I wouldn't mind a bit of bread," Antonius said. "If you're giving it away."

Medy smiled and handed it to him. "Here you go."

Antonius spoke with his mouth full. "Thanks, Medy. I haven't gotten many customers lately, probably because my body isn't as muscular as it used to be. I don't know if that's a good thing or not. I'm starving, but at least my ass has stopped bleeding. I can sit down again!"

When Medy first met the prostitutes, some of them had been drinking in the tavern. She was shocked by their language, but so fascinated that she engaged them in conversation. They spoke of things she had never heard of and wasn't supposed to know.

Antonius was the son of a prostitute. Most male prostitutes were either runaway slaves or bastards of some kind. They tended to die off young or were forced to live a life of crime when they got too old for men to take pleasure in them anymore. They shaved their faces and bodies with sharpened rocks or knives to make their careers last longer, but that could only get them so far.

Cithara unpinned half of her chiton, revealing her small breast and half of her collar bone as the folds fell to her waist on one side. Several men passing by stared in admiration. A mother covered the eyes of her teenage son. Cithara's shoulder and upper arm were covered in bruises.

"What happened?" Medy asked.

"I got into a fight." She smirked. "This woman was jealous because she found out her husband has been visiting me.

"I got these bruises because she caught me by surprise, but as soon as I recovered, I made sure she'd never return again. If there's one thing besides sex that I can do, it's fight."

Antonius laughed. "I wonder what she would have done if she found out that I'd been fucked by him, too."

"It would have been almost as bad as the time I hid behind that chair when another man's wife came to visit me. I thought she would kill me. It turned out that she had been watching her husband come home satisfied day after day and wanted to try it for herself. I gave her the first orgasm she'd ever received with my tongue. Her husband wasn't too happy-lost both of them as customers in the end."

The three of them laughed. Medy had never experienced an orgasm. She wondered what it was like, but didn't want to seem ignorant by asking them.

"Stop being a good-for-nothing and get to work!" A short woman, very pregnant and clothed in rags, shouted at them. She had emerged from the brothel. "If you're going to be showing off your breasts, save it for the customers!"

Ambrosia was a prostitute who had become so bored since she got pregnant that she started yelling at all the other whores. She didn't get much work now that she was with child, except the occasional fetishist, but normally, she was very good at her job. She had been nicknamed Ambrosia by her clientele because of the tasty flavor they claimed dripped from her nether regions. As good as the drink of the gods, they said.

They were quiet until she wandered back inside. Cithara sighed unhappily. "I hope I never wind up like her. I can't afford a baby. Every morning, after I sleep with a man, I jump up and down so high that my feet touch my ass. It's supposed to dislodge the seed so I can't get pregnant and so far, it's worked."

As they talked, even with half of Cithara's chiton down, a man approached Medy, blind to all but her. He looked her up and down. She cowered under his intense gaze. He grabbed her hand roughly and put some coins into it. "You'll do very nicely."

Cithara yanked the coins away and threw them in his face. "Leave her alone. She's not for sale." She walked up to him and rubbed against him with her top still down. "Me, on the other hand…" She traced along his chest with her finger and fluttered her eyelashes. "…I'm here any time you need me."

"No, thanks. Not for the price I was offering." He shoved her and walked off.

Cithara's eyebrows met as she crossed her arms. She glared at Medy. "You're really bad for business. Not all of us could be born with creamy skin and silky hair."

"I'm sorry," Medy said.

Cithara's face relaxed and she waved her hand. "It's all right. I'm getting kind of tired of this job, anyway."

"What do you mean?"

"I wish I could settle down like a normal woman." Cithara sighed. "I hate the way some of the men force me to do things or handle me too roughly. I want my body to be my own.

"Not to mention that there's this guy I met-"

Medy crossed her arms. "No man is worth losing all this freedom. You can be wealthy, you can be your own person, but not if you fall in love and get married. Then you become someone else's property and any of the money you've earned here through your hard work becomes his. He can beat you, cheat on you, mistreat you, refuse to feed you, and you'll have to put up with all of it, just like my mother. Do you know how much I wish I could be like you?"

"I'd trade lives with you any day," Cithara said. "To be able to marry a rich man-a noble-and never have to work a day in my life again. It sounds like the kind of rest I need."

"It's not as great as you think it is," Medy insisted. "No one's life is."

Cithara shrugged. "I suppose you're right. After all, this guy I fell in love with, he's a slave in Athena's temple. Maybe I would marry him if he were a free man, but as he is, the dream is impossible."

"I thought all people who worked in Athena's temple were to remain virgins for life," Medy said.

"That's only the priestesses." Cithara giggled. "Besides, you'd be surprised at where whores can work their way into." She winked.

Medy laughed.

"Of course, we never actually have sex inside the temple. That would be sacrilegious."

Medy rolled her eyes at Cithara's sudden modesty. "Of course."

Cithara raised one eyebrow. "You know, for all your talk about how you wished you could have my life, I don't believe you. Why not run away and become a prostitute yourself? If you really wanted it, you would have done it by now."

"I can't abandon my family," Medy said. "They'd be forced to deal with my father without me and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."

Cithara nodded. "And I think you're kind of nervous about losing your virginity. You've been taught to value it, so it's hard for you to let go. My own father raped me when I was ten. Lying with a man never seemed like a big deal to me after that."

Medy blushed. "It's not that. I just don't like the idea of having something else taken from me. My father already took all the rest of the things I have: money, happiness, freedom. This is the one thing that I have left that no man can have without my permission."

"They can take it from you by force if they want to," Cithara said.

"Not if you're a noble like me."

"Barely a noble, you mean."

Medy glared. "Either way, they won't touch me and I can continue to dangle the thing they all want most over their heads for the rest of the time I am beautiful."

Cithara rubbed her chin. "You know, you gave me a wonderful idea. I know how you can earn a living without being a prostitute and help me with my business all at the same time."

Medy narrowed her eyes, suddenly wary. "What do you mean? How?"

"You know all those men who want to sleep with you?"

Medy nodded her head.

"Well, maybe they would pay for you to watch while they slept with me."

"Sounds easy enough, watching from afar." Medy wasn't sure why that was supposed to be pleasurable.

"You don't know what I mean, do you?" Cithara chuckled. "You'd have to take your clothes off and rub yourself."

Medy blushed again. "Do you mean stroke myself where I think you do? I could never-"

"Oh, come on," Cithara said. "You can't lose your virginity with your finger. A lot of noble women would be cheating on their husbands if it counted as sex. I wouldn't let the customers near you. I'll rip off their dicks if they try. We'd both get paid. You could give your family the money they need and it would all be legal."

Medy knew that Cithara couldn't guarantee her safety. She had seen several prostitutes beaten by men, including Cithara herself, but her heart pounded with the kind of excitement she felt when she knew she was going to do something that was a bad idea. "Won't I lose my hymen, though?"

Cithara's mouth dropped open. "You mean-you've never pleasured yourself before?"

Medy shook her head.

"If you rub just the outer lips of it, you won't damage anything. Besides, it's not like you really need proof of your virginity. You don't plan to get married."

Medy shrugged. "I guess you're right, but I'm unsure."

"Even if you change your mind, you can always stain the sheet with pig's blood. Many less scrupulous women have done the same on their honeymoon."

Medy traced the ground with her foot. "I don't know."

"Come on! Try it one time," Cithara said. "And if you hate it, you never have to do it again. It will be beneficial to both of us."


            "Good," Cithara said. "We'll start tomorrow."

Read Chapter Two

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