TOSSED ABOUT IN THE careening truck, breathing in the reek of blood as the swaying carcasses brushed her, Ariadne awoke.
Blinking, she looked around her. She looked down at her hands. She started laughing, and she couldn’t seem to stop the shrill laughter, even when the truck stopped, the stupefied driver opened the back, and she climbed out filthy with ashes and blood, tangled ringlets falling over her face. She was still laughing, a hoarse crow-cawing as she staggered past stunned village faces and hands making the sign of the cross. Finally she stumbled into the shade of an olive grove.
Above the rock terraces, a spring spilled into a rock-dammed pool. She tore off her filthy rags and plunged in. She wanted to swim down forever into the clear cold, wash away the smell of blood and her own human corruption. She emerged gasping for air. Shivering, she rinsed the threadbare skirt and blouse, beating them against the rocks and spreading them over branches to dry, then huddling into exhausted sleep.
It was afternoon when she awoke. She pulled on the damp clothing and set out, her mind strangely light and clear now. But the compulsion was still there, beating with her heartbeat, shivering up from the damaged earth to fill her with a terrible sorrow and rage and pity, and she had to return to the cave on Parnassos. She knew the forces were too great for her, but that didn’t matter.
She found a crossroad with signs, and set out steadily walking, raising a hand to passing trucks or the rare electric car. Silent laughter mocked her, but her feet were set on the road and there was no turning back. Pride. Fatal hubris. Had Oedipus known, set upon this same ancient road, it would have made no difference. Ariadne could only accept the call of the mountain, the call of her own flesh and blood.
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