When I was a little boy, I felt a girl sleeping inside of me.
“Who are you?” I would whisper.
“I don’t know,” she would answer. “But I’m as pretty as can be. Just don’t let your mother see.”
I was born Eros to Aphrodite, a goddess I worshiped as much as she worshiped me.
A mother made of loneliness and jealousy.
As I grew older, my mother worried I’d find a girl prettier than she.
A girl who would love me for me.
That’s when I first heard about Psyche,
the most beautiful girl there ever could be.
Though even she didn’t see her temporal beauty.
Because love was all she wanted to be.
I longed for this beauty and she longed for me,
but I scared her away in every girl I could see.
For, paradoxically, my wannabe lovers were just like my mother:
a Medusa whose rage forced me to flee.
So, I cried for myself in my sleep.
Life went by in a flurry
and I sacrificed myself to the Furies.
But they only punish the wicked and guilty, not me.
So, I tortured myself like Oedipus: marrying my mother in my dreams.
At last the Fates intervened and sent me a faerie,
who illuminated the beauty I was too blind to see.
But I became as obsessed with her as my mother had been with me.
So my faerie grew frightened, and returned to the spirits of the trees.
Still I loved her, though I couldn’t love me.
For Psyche means soul, and a faerie I’d wanted to be.
But when the ego took over, the soul was forgotten.
Abusing what loved it, rendering the love rotten.
With no one to love I prayed to my mother and she said unto me:
“Go visit the Underworld and bring back a box from Persephone.”
I did as she told me,
for I had no one to hold me.
And watched as,
my half-sister Antigone took her own
my best friend from high school followed with a knife.
while my father was killed by his sorrow,
and my mother died the next morrow.
All that in the year of COVID-19, when I was in Hades and Hades was in me.
I cursed the gods and mythology until stopped by Persephone,
who gave the present most precious to me.
So I opened the box, and what did I see?
But a beauty that was the beauty in me!
For I was a girl as pretty as could be.
I was both Eros and Psyche.
The girl I had loved was the one inside me.
Eros Salvatore is a bi-gender writer and filmmaker living in Bellingham, Washington who sometimes identifies as a trans woman and sometimes not. They have been published in the journals Anti-Heroin Chic and The Blue Nib among others, and have shown two short films in festivals. They have a BA from Humboldt State University. Their work can be seen, heard and read at https://erossalvatore.com/