7. "The Routine"

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Centering Briseis,
Enslaved to Achilles:

He wakes with violence.
            Kicking!
     Thrashing!
          Rolling!
   Screaming!
       Violence!
Sitting upright,
     covered in sweat,
          panting,
  as if from running a race.

I wake in fear.
     I've come to expect his night-terrors.
     I know to roll and dodge
          away from his swinging arms.
My hand goes to my jaw,
     still sore from a prior day
          when he meant me no harm.

"Another bad dream?"
     I would ask,
          to start the nighttime routine,
          to pry some small detail out of him,
               sometimes,
     before he retreats to the next room
          to confide in his Patroclus.

     Iphis would join me then,
          a funny girl,
          the war bride of Patroclus.
               She is providing me valuable tutelage on,
                    as she puts it,
          "How to be successfully enslaved."
     Who was she before she was taken?
          "It doesn't matter,"
               she once told me,
          "I'll never again see the family of my childhood.
               Nor shall you.
               Nor shall the other new girl,
                    Chryseis.
               Her father came with a ransom,
                    did you hear?"

          I nodded.
     The camp was abuzz with gossip
          about the tears of priestly Chryses,
               on his knees before Agamemnon,
               offering gold enough to ransom three princes,
                    and barely escaping with his own life.
          about the rage of the Achaean overlord
               that any other man should stake a claim
                    to his new favorite bed-warmer
               or any other of his rightfully earned prizes.
          about the bruises of Chryseis Astynome,
          about the welts of Chryseis Astynome,
          about the swelling belly of Chryseis Astynome.
               I can almost feel sorry for her.

     To end our routine,
          I would fall asleep beside Iphis
          and wake beside Achilles
     to the light of a new day.

But tonight,
     the routine varies.
"Another bad dream?"
          I ask,
     and Achilles says,
"The worst."
     And he trembles.
     And he cries.
     And he stays.

"What of Patroclus?"
     I ask.

"In this dream,
     he dies,"
          Achilles speaks.
     And he turns away.
     And he pulls the blanket tight.
     And he says nothing more.

Author Commentary:

An author commentary for this installment is available to subscribers of the free Mythoversal Newsletter.

EPIC CYCLE ROADMAP:

* The Kypria
* The Iliad
* The Posthomerica
* Tales of Nostos
* The Odyssey
* The Telegony
* The Aeneid
  Rage is the first book of the Iliad. Amazons is the first book of the Posthomerica.
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