by Megan Hay
“Icarus,” your father says and your name holds a strange sort of heaviness as it travels across the air to where you sit, playing idly with a knife as you most certainly avoid work that is just a little too mundane.
“What?” you ask, shifting in the chair that creaks with the action. It takes a moment for you to focus enough to answer. You’re just so Gods damn bored.
“You need to be more careful,” he says, his tone still the same and it takes only a fraction for you to know what he means, to understand. He knows he knows he knows he knows-
“I’m always careful Father,” you say easily, the words coming natural, calm, as if your heart isn’t racing and your head isn’t spinning. He doesn’t know. The denial comes to you instantly. You’ve been too careful. He can’t know. It’s fine. It’s still a secret. It’s fine. Why wouldn’t it be? You’ve done everything you can. He doesn’t know.
But the thing is, you’ve never been the best of liars, especially to yourself. So you know. He knows. This secret, eighteen months in the making, is no longer a secret and if it gets out, you will either be ruined or embraced because having a male lover is wrong, but being in a god’s favor...your thoughts are all over the place. You don’t know. It hurts to breathe. Why does it hurt to breathe?
“Of course,” is all he says, before turning back to his project. His words are impossibly loud.
There is nothing more said but that silence...that silence says a lot. It is also unbelievably suffocating, makes you want to claw at your chest because there’s something against, something that is pressing down, pressing down further and further -
You take a deep breath.
The worry, the disbelief, the fear, it all begins to slowly diminish.
You just have to remember that you’re Apollo’s. You’re untouchable.
“You’re beautiful,” you breathe, unable to get enough. You will never be able to get enough of his body, which is more beautiful than any of Phidias’ sculptures. When you worship, it’s never in a temple but here, in bed with him.
He laughs, a sound that rumbles deep in his chest. “I know,” he agrees, shifting slightly. Glancing up, you study his eyes, memoized by the gold flecks that were notable in a sea of blue. He makes your head spin.
“Like what you see?” he teases, and heat floods your cheeks. He laughs again, that sound that is so absolutely beautiful. He reaches down, running his knuckles along the side of your face.
“Of course I do,” you murmur, unable to deny it. You don’t want to. Let him know the power he wields over you.
Smiling, he shifts, wraps his arms around your waist and digs his fingers into your hips. It is an action full of tenderness yet you know that there will be bruises on your pale skin come morning. He forgets his own strength and somehow, that’s alright. Everything is alright when you’re with him. “Let me,” he purrs, digging his fingers even deeper into your tender skin.”Show you things you’ll like much more than this face of mine.”
“Alright,” you breathe, breathless again for the second time in a day but not for the same reasons. Never for the same reasons. How bright he makes the world seem.
Months pass before you’re reminded of the conversation, of the warning, between you and your father. You have lulled yourself into a belief. of security or your lover, to be exact, has done so. The divinity you can taste on his lips makes you lose all kinds of sense.
“Here,” your father says as he comes in one afternoon. He’s working on something for the King, something he shares very little about. You don’t mind. His work holds very little interest to you. Though he holds hope that one day you will take over for him, you know that you will never. Crete will never offer you what you want. You are too great for this little city.
Glancing up, you find he’s offering a leather bound book. You take it, brows furrowing as you flip through pages of words that hold no interest to you. You wonder carelessly through it, not entirely sure what you’re looking for until you are.
It’s underlined, empathising its perceived importance and the more you read, the more you want to laugh. He worries far too much.
Doesn’t your father realize that when a god loves you, nothing matters anymore but that?
He is reading to you, but you can’t focus on the words he speaks. His voice is musical, magical, more than you can define. Sprawled across the bed, your dusty blond hair tangled beneath you, you watch him, fixated on his brilliance, his beauty, his long fingers. He is perfection, if that exists.
“You’re not listening,” he says, teasing, and his words snap you back to reality.
Laughing, you pull at the sheets, a pathetic attempt at modesty. “Your beauty amazes me,” you admit, glancing at him through your lashes. You are rewarded with one of those smiles that he gives to no one but you and warmth spreads throughout your chest.
“I know,” he agrees, coming to the bed to join you. He wraps himself around you, fingers touching, reaching, touching your skin as if he has never felt you before. He has, more times than you can count. “Let me try something.”
“What?” you ask, breathless as his fingers ran across your ribs. You bit your lip, wondering if you remembered how to breathe or not. You’re not sure.
“Let me read the poetry of your skin instead,” he says, looking up, meeting your eyes and quickly consuming your world.
Gods always do what they want.
“What are these?” you ask, seeing something on the table when you come on. You don’t often take note of what your father does for work, invents for fun, but it’s not every day you see a pair of large wings such as these.
“Just a project,” your father dismisses, but you don’t pay much attention to what exactly he is saying. The way the feathers feel against your fingertips...what would it be like to reach the skies, touch the sun? What would it be like to see the heavens?
“I see,” you murmured, fingernails scraping against dried wax. You do see, better than ever before.
“It’s too dangerous,” he says, for at least the third time, but just as before, you shake your head, teeth clenched together. This isn’t fair, what he’s asking, and he knows it.
“You can’t leave me here,” you say, because you haven’t been apart for twenty-four months, spending every day, every waking hour that you can possibly, with him. Besides, you don’t need to be protected. You’re not some damsel and you’re not in distress.
He sighs, presses his forehead against yours. His eyes, impossibly beautiful, try to make you give in. “Despite everything, you’re not one of us,” he says softly. “And this is business among us Gods.”
You take a deep breath, another. “I’ll stay,” you murmured finally.
You’ve gotten to be a better liar.
The wings are heavier than you thought they would be but you pay this to mind as your pull their harness over your shoulders. They will get you to your destination and that’s all that matters. You will show them all that the sky is yours and Apollo is as well.
They will never underestimate you, or mortals, again.
You don’t realize it, not at first, because the skies are endless and the feel of flying is more breathtaking than just about anything else, but the sun...sweat is gathering along the back of your neck, running down your spine. It’s hot, far hotter than it was a few moments ago.
The thought crosses your mind but doesn’t linger. You’re too captivated with these feelings to think about much else. Is this how a god feels? Perhaps. You’ve always been more than the life you were born in.
Something catches your eye, something gray falls towards the sea and it takes a moment for you to understand. By the time you do, it’s too late. It’s much too late because the sweat you felt was wax and more and more feathers are falling, disappearing into the depths of the water below you.-
“Apollo,” you gasp, a prayer, a promise...an apology...because it’s over. It’s over-
“Bring him back,” Apollo screams, slamming his hands against the ground. Over and over, he slams his hands, uncaring when the skin tears and blood runs freely. “Damn you Poseidon, bring him back!” He is shaking, collapsed to the sand, more man than god.
Poseidon laughs, looking down at him. He almost pities this fallen, pathetic excuse of what he used to be. “He could never understand that he was not on our level.” He turns, walking towards the sea once more.
Apollo sinks completely to the ground. It is over, it is over and Icarus is gone, never to be seen again. He doesn’t know how to go on from here.
Author: Megan Hay