They also published my short story Cupid's Muse in their February edition. Unfortunately something went wrong when they put the magazine together, the entire middle part of my story is missing. They only published the beginning and the ending. The story does no make sense in the magazine. It is not something they can fix, so for those who would like to read the whole story I have posted the full version on my blog.
Cupid's Muse is a different twist of the tale of Cupid and his love for a human girl, Psyche.
Two souls, their love forbidden by the mother Goddess. Cupid, the spreader of love. Born from a sacred womb of splendor and fertility, the son of Venus. Psyche, the human girl Cupid’s heart she owned. His mother, filled with distaste for this mortal, who took the one treasure she loved most. What happens to a simple peasant girl when the Goddess of love hates you?
She wiped the sweat from her brow. Three times now she bent by the water’s edge filling the dreadful heavy bucket. It was to be her last chore of the day, then she could splash in the cool spring’s water. The sweet sound of the songbirds chirped a disorder of melodies. The wooden bucket that splintered two of her fingers that morning splintered another.
“Oh, drat, this stupid old thing.” She took her finger pinched around the skin where a small wooden thorn protruded.
The tweeting birds harmonized. Her back straightened. She honed in on the rustling leaves. A peace and a tranquility only produced by the gods surrounded the river. She smiled.
Feather light arms surrounded her from behind. Her heart fluttered her breathing erratic. She leaned back onto his chest.
“Here allow me to take care of that.” He took her finger and brought it to his lips. The shard disappeared.
“Cupid,” she whispered.
He nestled his head next to hers and kissed her cheek. She swallowed attempting to control her desire.
“You shouldn’t be here, we can’t do this.”
“Oh, fiddle sticks. I am the son of a Goddess. Let anyone on Earth or heaven try to stop me from giving my heart away to Psyche, my love,” Cupid yelled out.
She turned and faced him, “Shhh.” Her fingers pressed onto his lips, “you might anger the Gods.”
He chuckled. Removed her hand and brought his lips in for a quick kiss.
She shoved him away, “You are terrible, and what if father had seen?”
She ran giggling knowing he would pursue. If a kiss is what he wanted she knew a place where no eyes could see. Psyche glanced back, wanting to make sure her suitor followed. His childlike blue eyes glistened from the glare of the river water. The golden in his yellow curls unnatural to the human world, everything about him lured her in. She ran to a nearby cave, took her apron and wiped her face. He sat on a stone one leg crossed over his knee. Cupid smiled playful.
Shocked she glanced behind her where he should have been in pursuit, “How did you get here?”
Cupid stood lanky and tall. Two bird wings flapped out from his back.
“I can fly faster than you can blink,” he said.
His unnatural appendages always awed her. Cupid embraced Psyche and they kissed.
“I must be going,” he pulled back.
“So soon.” She twined her fingers in between his.
“I have mortals to shoot and love to spread, busy day. But I couldn’t stand another minute apart from you. You are like an addictive potion to me. I could kiss your pale cheeks forever.” Cupid hugged his beloved.
“Oh, how our parting brings me such sadness for days. This feeling of bliss fades too quickly.” Psyche rested her head onto his chest. Her brown hair tickled his chin.
“I can help with that,” he pulled away and stepped out into the bright day. A bow materialized in his hand. Cupid reached behind his back and from thin air pulled out an arrow.
Psyche stared at him concerned, “What…what are you going to do?”
“Leave you with a little bit of bliss all day,” he smiled devilishly.
Cupid brought his bow up to eye level, strung the arrow, and aimed for her heart.
“Cupid noo…” she didn’t finish before he let go. The arrow glided with rapid speed toward her heart. Psyche watched as it hit her chest and like a ghost disappeared into her.
Her eyes fluttered and her head filled with images of Cupid. Of him running, tumbling in green meadows, or flying through white clouds.
Cupid walked over to his dazed Psyche, “Sweet daydreams, my love.” He kissed her forehead then flew off.
Psyche stood paralyzed with a feeling of total ecstasy. She knew her chore was left undone, but she didn’t care. Taking her shoes off, she dipped her feet into the cool crisp water and lay back envisioning his tender hands stroking her hair. His lips brushing against hers and his body pressed tightly against her bosom.
“Mmmm…yes my dear Psyche, his love could mesmerize even a maggot like you.”
A voice as sweet as nectar sung in Psyche’s head. She fluttered her eyes open to a site no human should ever be allowed to see without permission.
She rolled over onto her knees, her forehead touching the ground, her arms extended out, “Goddess Venus, forgive me, for I am not worthy to gaze upon thee.”
Venus raised an eye brow, “True.”
She grabbed Psyche by the hair and pulled the girls head up.
“So, you believe you have a right to his heart, uncultured mortal.”
“Our love for each other bears pain like no other when we are apart from one another, surely that proves true love.” Psyche responded.
Venus let go of the girl and stood.
“Humans are meant to serve the Gods, but if you think you are noble enough for a god, then you must prove your worth.”
“I will do as you wish my queen.” Psyche bowed her head once more.
“Three journeys you must endure to collect three items. If you succeed your heart shall be his. Fail and you sleep with the dead. First, go to the palace of the Emperor of China. There you will find a nightingale with a song sweeter that any lullaby on Earth. I desire that nightingale. Next, there is a garden in a castle guarded by a beast, at the very core of that garden a rose bush with roses unequal to any on Earth. Bring me a rose from that bush. Finally, under the pillow of Kore the wife of Pluto, she has a box containing a cream for beauty. That box should be mine, take it.”
“Pluto, my lady, but he is in the underworld. Mortals cannot get there unless dead.”
Venus laughed, “Already a failure.”
And with that the Goddess disappeared.
Psyche traveled for two months to reach the Jade palace of the Emperor. Watching the gate behind a forest of thick junipers, she worried.
“How will I ever get through the gates,” she said aloud to herself.
The golden tipped walls towered high like the size of a giant. The rim of the towers and the walls were lined with green armored foot soldiers each holding a jade spear at attention. Up in the far distance inside the palace the song of the nightingale could be heard from the Emperor’s open window.
“If there is anyone out there who holds love truer than all things human or immortal, aide me tonight so that I may take the nightingale to Venus,” Psyche prayed, then curled up under a tree and slept.
“Psyche…” The west winds blew.
Psyche turned in her sleep.
“Psyche…wake the hour is at hand. If you sleep now your opportunity is lost.” The west winds echoed.
Psyche woke from her sleep. “Who’s there?” she asked.
“It is us, the west winds. Come child I will help your cause.”
With that, the west winds picked up Psyche and lifted her through the air. She floated gracefully landing in front of the Emperor’s open window. His thick green curtains drawn. The night air blew whisking Psyche’s brown long hair around. She tip toed on the glossy marble floor through the curtain. Holding her breath she entered the Emperor’s bed chamber. Under veils of white sheer the old wrinkled man slept. On the other side of the room on a golden perch the brown simple nightingale slumbered. How could she take it without waking the small creature? With great care Psyche crept over to the other side of the room standing in front of the bird.
“Oh, fare creature of song, I plead that you aide me tonight. My heart will be speared by an absence for the one I love, if I do not take you to the Goddess Venus,” Psyche whispered.
The nightingale opened his eyes. Psyche stared into the small black beady spheres. She could see through to his soul, honest and pure, like hers. The bird blinked twice and nodded. Sticking her finger out she allowed the bird to step onto her hand, but the chain and lock attached to the tiny creature’s leg prevented such a task.
“You’re a prisoner here,” Psyche took pity on the nightingale. Quickly she glanced around the room. On a hook, above the pillow of the Emperor, a golden key hung. With great care Psyche tip toed over to it. Holding her breath, she reached over the snoring man and slipped the key off. The Emperor turned and mumbled, but did not wake. Psyche brought the key to the nightingale. A perfect fit. She released the bird and he perched himself on her shoulder. With that she made her way over to the green curtain. As they were almost free, the chain and lock fell from the perch causing a clank on the marble floor. The Emperor woke in time to see the fair maiden stealing his nightingale through the green curtain.
“Guards! Thief!” he screamed.
Outside Psyche and the bird were met with flying jade spears. Protecting the bird with her hands she ducked out of the way of the projectile weapons.
“Oh, west winds help me out of here,” she cried.
The breeze picked up and lifted Psyche through the air and outside the palace walls. When she landed the nightingale flapped out in front of Psyche.
“Thank you for releasing me from the evil Emperor. As promised, I will fly to Venus and sing her my song.” The nightingale flew off.
“Thank you kind creature,” Psyche called after it.
“Follow my winds to the far corner of the land where the west meets the north,” the winds howled.
“Thank you kind spirit of the sky,” Psyche replied.
Psyche followed the winds for another month until there was none. She tracked the North Star to a valley that lay between two monstrous mountains. At the base of that valley a castle of grey stone, covered with green vines, looked deserted, abandoned.
“Surely this cannot be the castle of the beast,” she said to herself. Continuing down the dirt path toward the castle this gate remained wide open. No foot soldiers to greet her, no high walls to climb. The task seemed eerily too easy.
Through the iron gates a magnificent arrangement of green trees shaped like statues surrounded the palace. The grey abandoned structure felt out of place in this green garden of beauty. Psyche cautiously walked around the castle. She knew the garden was guarded by a great beast. Following a path through bushes of honeysuckle, jasmines, sunflowers, gardenias, all blooming full and bright she made her way to the back yard. Psyche marveled how such a mixture of flowers can grow all at once in the same place.
Once she turned the corner of the castle wall, at the very core of the backyard an enormous fountain, with a sparkling red rose bush at its core. The petals shined like rubies, the bush as perfect as perfection itself. Guilt overcame Psyche, how could she bring herself to take something so enchanting? She looked about, not a single living soul around. Taking a deep breath she walked out to the fountain. Removing her shoes she climbed the lip of the cement wall. The crystal blue water a mere foot deep. Her feet, with a soft step, entered the water. She reached up with trembling hands. A growl more ferocious than any Earth bound creature, barreled from the other side of the rose bush. The beast leaped in front of Psyche hitting her across the chest with the back of his black paw. She flew thru the yard landing in a bush of gardenias.
“Bandit!” the black wolf grumbled. Drool dripped from his snout. His razor teeth ivory as the tusk’s on an elephant. Easily, he was the size of a bear. The beast crawled on all fours toward her, stopping above her body, his face inches from hers.
“I have not had a meaty snack for many moons, you will be tasty,” he growled.
“Please kind creature…” Psyche cried, “forgive my bold attempt to take one of your roses, I was sent by the Goddess Venus.”
The beast leaned his head back, “Venus, why would she want one of my roses?”
“It is a quest she has sent me on to gather three of the most splendid items, a song sweeter than a lullaby, a rose whose loveliness compares to no other on Earth, and a cream that creates beauty. If I succeed my heart can once and for all be bound to her son, Cupid. Fail and devouring me will be a fate more appealing than the one she plans for me.”
The beast stepped off her and sat next to her shaking body.
“A quest in the name of love,” the beast said sad as a mourning widow.
“Do…do you know something of love, beast?” Psyche sat herself up.
“Aye that I do. Of the worst kind. How I miss, my Bella.”
Psyche saw pain and sorrow in the yellow eyes of this ferocious monster. A sadness and pity for the creature overcame her and she held his paw. He didn’t shudder away. “What happened?” she asked.
“She was the fairest I had ever laid eyes on, sweeter than sugar itself. I loved her, but look at me she did not deserve a beast,” he lowered his head a tear in his eye, “Her eyes blind to what I really was she gave her love to me willing. Eighty years consumed with a love greater than the universe. But alas she a mortal and I doomed to an immortal life guarding this garden. She passed.”
“I am so sorry,” Psyche petted the black mangled fur.
“No fair child, the gods graced me with a love like no other for eighty years, take the rose and fulfill your quest, be with your Cupid.”
The beast jogged over to the bush and with his snout delicately snapped a rose off. He dropped it into the hands of Psyche.
She kissed his head, “Thank you kind creature.”
She left the garden, castle, and beast behind.
Psyche walked until she came to the cliffs of death that overlooked the vast sea. The east winds blew with force at the top.
“The only way to the underworld, is to die,” she said aloud. Her toes hung over the rim. Below rock formations were splattered with violent ocean waves. She took in a deep breath. Closed her eyes and extended her arms.
“Psyche…” the east winds howled, “You do not have to die. There is another way.”
Psyche opened her eyes, “Yes, oh guiding spirit, I am listening.”
“Let the rose blow in the wind and we shall take it to Venus,” Psyche did as she was commanded.
“Now, climb down the cliff where the ocean meets its base. There you will find an opening. Take the stairs to the gates of Hell.”
“Now, climb down the cliff where the ocean meets its base. There you will find an opening. Take the stairs to the gates of Hell.”
“Thank you, good friend.” Psyche did as she was told and followed the rocky path down to a small beach at the base of the cliff. As the wind predicted a cave opening hidden from plain sight. Removing the torch mounted on the rocky wall she began her stairway descend into the underworld.
The further she went the more it felt like she entered a furnace. The gates were guarded by three sleeping hounds. The dogs smaller than the beast, were still massive in size. Her heart thumped in fear as she crept past them. Not one woke, or even moved. The underworld was no different than a slave camp. Different sections with hideous tortured spirits worked mending the fires, building weapons, or brewing potions. They were labors of evil. At the far end of the underworld a coal palace stood tall and dark.
“Pluto and Kore’s home,” Psyche whispered to herself. She began to make her way toward the castle. Terrified by the frightful sights, her body quivered. Anticipating some sort of resistance. None came. It appeared to Psyche that no one could even see her there. The only thing that the spirits of the underworld see is other spirits. She being human could travel through the underworld undetected. The journey to the palace of coals was easy enough. Psyche passed ghost after ghost, none ever acknowledging her. She walked the halls of the dark castle until she reached the top. Approaching two enormous black metal doors with skulls as door handles, she assumed this was the bed chamber of Pluto and Kore. Terrified of the deed she was about to do, she closed her eyes and envisioned her Cupids smile. That gave her the courage she needed to open the doors.
The red decorated room was empty. Relieved Psyche walked over to the crimson bed covers and pulled down the pillows. As Venus had said a small black box with gold trimmings rested under the pillow. Psyche full of an emotion of accomplishment, smiled with pride.
Grasping the box into her hands she thought of its contents. Beauty equal to Venus’s in the palm of her hand. If she were to be the bride of a God, then shouldn’t he have a bride as gorgeous as his mother? With no thought of the consequences, Psyche opened the box. Inside a white smooth lotion filled the box. Dipping two fingers into the cool cream she applied it all over her face. Instantly a great slumber overcame Psyche, she lay back on the blood red sheets and slept.
On Mount Olympus, at Venus’s house a furious Cupid barges in.
“My good boy, are you finished spreading my love to the humans?” Venus lay out on a bench eating grapes from a golden bowl.
“Mother what have you done with Psyche? I have searched for her high and low?” Cupid demanded red cheeked.
“She is nor more worthy of your heart than a disease infested rat, quit wasting your time with her.” His mother ordered.
“She is simple beauty, something you are incapable of understanding. Her kind and pure way, can teach us gods a lesson or two. Now where is she?”
“I sent her on a quest no human can survive to tell the tale. She is most likely dead by now.”
“No! Mother what have you done!” Cupid fell to his knees.
A gust of wind blew in and with it a nightingale carrying a rose in its mouth. The bird dropped the flower on the goddess’s feet, and then began to sing its sweet song.
Venus stood abruptly, “Impossible!” she screeched.
The south winds howled, “No lady of beauty, Psyche took the nightingale from the Emperor and the rose from the beast as you requested, but now she lies sleeping in the bed chamber of Pluto and Kore. For her human vanity got the better of her and she took of the beauty cream.”
Cupid rose to his feet worried.
“Ha, there you have it. Let Kore take care of that retched child.” Venus waved her had dismissing everyone.
“I will not let you do this,” Cupid stormed off.
Full of rage and concern he marched into the House of Jupiter and knelt before the great king of the sky.
“Oh, great Jupiter, father to my mother, I come with a plea, a favor.” He bowed his head.
“Yes Cupid speak your will,” Jupiter’s thunderous smooth voice echoed in his hallow house.
“My Psyche is asleep in the underworld, by the hand of my mother. She despises Psyche for reasons unfound. Psyche is my love, the very thing every creature god or man desires above all things. Is it unjust that the god meant to spread love to humans be forbidden to find that love himself?”
“Hmm, I agree with you Cupid. Your mother is not in the right on these matters. I have kept a watchful eye on the situation. Who do you think guided the wind spirits to aid Psyche? I sent Pluto and Kore on an errand to the Pyrrenaean Mountains. They will not return for some time, go retrieve Psyche from the underworld and bring her to me.”
“Oh, great God, thank you,” Cupid brought his fist to his heart honoring Jupiter.
“I will speak with your mother,” Jupiter smiled.
Cupid flew off as fast as his wings allowed. Knowing the way to the underworld he glided through the trenches of lava and fire. He found the palace of coals, flew into the bed chamber’s open window. Peaceful and serene Psyche slept.
Cupid caressed her hair with a love more deep than an endless abyss; he leaned down and kissed her cold lips.
She woke confused by his presence, “What happened?”
He stroked her cheek, “Sweet girl, your vanity led you into a foul sleep. I hope a lesson you learned.”
“I thought if I was to be your bride, then you deserved beauty un-parallel,” Psyche glanced down ashamed.
“My love, your beauty to me is un-parallel as it stands, if you think love is about beauty, then a lesson from the god of love is most dyer.”
“Have you not seen what having true beauty can do?” He asked. “A creature whose song is a sweet lullaby, imprisoned because of its lovely melody. A beast, sentenced to guard the most beautiful roses on Earth, every day they remind him of his Belle’s beauty. My dearest Psyche there is nothing more beautiful in my life than my love for you.” He lifted her from the bed.
“Can you ever forgive this foolish human girl?” Psyche asked.
Cupid smiled, “Quite possibly. Come fair Psyche, Jupiter awaits our return. We must make haste.”
Cupid took Psyche into his arms and flew into the clouds of Mount Olympus. There a reluctant Venus stood in the great house of Jupiter.
Psyche and Cupid bowed before the great gods.
“Venus,” Jupiter raised one eyebrow and nodded for her to speak.
She huffed, “Psyche I give you and Cupid my blessing in love and marriage.”
Jupiter spoke, “Do you human girl, Psyche, desire an eternity of immortality as the bride of Cupid?”
Psyche’s heart fluttered. “I do,” she bowed further with a feeling of exaltation towards the great God.
“Then it has been done, arise great Psyche wife of Cupid.” Jupiter flashed the sky with lightening.
Cupid took Psyche into his arms and kissed her fair lips. Psyche overwhelmed with gratitude for the gifts given to her by the Gods, gave her heart completely to Cupid. And so goes the tale of Psyche, a muse for all time to Cupid, the spreader of love.