Ashanti and Mirou were sitting in the warm afternoon sun, combing long strands of flax fibers and preparing them to be spun.
Mirou looked at Ashanti’s hands, then at her own. Ashanti’s hands were once soft and without the callouses that marked her own palm and fingers. They were the hands of a high priestess, not of a slave; now they were raw, red, and painful to look at.
“Are your hands happy?”
“Now, Mirou? No. But they are learning a new job, here in the sun with you. It was the Gods’ will that I leave behind my writing and my arts. My hands will be happy, in time.”
Mirou looked at Ashanti’s feet. No longer did soft slippers protect them from the bite of sharp stones. Ashanti’s feet still bled, even though she had been sitting and working for several hours.
“Are your feet happy?”
“Now, Mirou? No. They miss dancing under the light of the full moon. When Demeter herself was envious of my pretty brown slippers, I slipped them off my feet and gave them to her. Now she bleeds as if a virgin again, and I am allowed the peace of an old woman. My feet will be happy again, in time.”
Mirou looked at Ashanti’s face. Her once blue eyes were milky-white, clouded over with age.
“Are your eyes happy?”
“Now, Mirou? No. My eyes will never again see the beauty of a sunset, a tiny flower, or my lover’s face. Remember always that Silenus is an angry drunkard, and Hera bears grudges. Together, they conspired to cover my eyes, thus even Apollo’s smallest servants have advantage over me. No matter, I hear as well as ever.”
“Are you happy?”
“Now, Mirou? Yes. I am happy.”
“How, Ashanti? How can you be happy? Your soft hands are in pain, your feet are bleeding, and your eyes are blind.”
“I am still here, Mirou. The Gods are not finished with me yet.”