By: Mark Kodama
Each step creaked as he ascended the stairs. His footsteps were light on the carpet. The door knob to her bedroom clicked. He lifted her thick cotton comforter and slipped into her bed. The mattress sagged and creaked. Her room was pitch black except for the moonlight from the window that cast both light and shadow on her comforter. She could feel his breath on her neck and him smell her hair. Her back was turned to him. He smelled of soap from the fresh shower. He touched her hair and then her face. He kissed the back of her head.
She could feel him pull down her pajama bottom and then her panties. When he was done he kissed the back of her head and then quietly left. The door clicked when he left the room.
Miriam awoke with a start. Was it a memory or a dream? She looked her plain white room in the institution. It was already morning, sunlight flooded the room. She could feel the wetness of her panties. She looked at the digital clock on her nightstand. It was already 9:30 a.m. There was a photograph of a her brother Liam kneeling dressed in his military fatigues and wearing mirrored avatar sunglasses. The right top corner of the photograph was dog-eared. Liam had died in the fighting in Afghanistan. Her big brother always had been her protector.
Her father and mother were coming to see her in the afternoon today. The nurse would be soon coming with her medications. The pills always made her feel woozy.
The nurse came in.
‘Good morning babe,’ she said. She was a pretty woman about her age 27. She wore a clean white uniform, not a hair out of place. Her make up was tastefully done. She was half Japanese and half Italian. Her lips were ruby red.
‘Good morning,’ Miriam said and smiled.
‘How are you feeling this morning?’ the nurse asked.
‘I am feeling very good this morning,’ Miriam replied.
‘What book are you reading,’ the nurse asked.
‘Lolita,’ Miriam said.
‘Wasn’t that an old movie?’ the nurse asked.
‘Yes. I think so,’ Miriam said. ‘A Stanley Kubrick classic, starred James Mason and Peter Sellers.’
‘Well, before my time,’ the nurse said.
‘Before my time too,’ Miriam replied and laughed.
The nurse smiled, her eyes dancing and then involuntarily turned her head away. She touched her hair and then lightly touched her breasts in a sexy subtle way as if adjusting her bra which was too tight for her large but firm breasts.
‘Well what drugs did you bring me today?’ Miriam asked.
‘Go ask Alice,’ the nurse said.
‘Well, one pill makes you larger and one makes you small and ones that mother gives you don’t do anything at all,’ Mariam said.
‘Oh, look your carafe is empty,’ the nurse said. ‘I will fill it.’
Miriam looked at the nurse’s curved hips as she left the room.
The Amazon stood at the edge of the valley and lifted her bronze sword to the sky. Her blond hair flowed out from under her blond helmet and over silver and bronze cuirass. She prayed to Hera, queen of the gods and goddesses, for the strength to slay the dragon. She slew a lamb by cutting its throat before skinning it and removing its entrails. She then roasted its fat wrapped thighs on an open fire before offering the meat to the gods. She then poured wine from her wine skin into the fire.
The God Helios drove his chariot upward into the blue cloudless sky toward its zenith. He wore a black U.S, Amy beret and had an M-16 slung over his shoulder. A breeze blew her long dirty blond hair across her helmeted face.
‘Victory or death,’ she could hear the god say to her as he looked down from his chariot.
Marriam spoke into the radio strapped to her right shoulder “Roger that.”
Miriam met her father and mother in the lobby. They seemed to look so much older. They both had a shock of white hair. His hair was short and neat, not a hair out of place. He dressed in a gray suit with a tasteful yellow silk tie. He always wore colored suspenders. His expensive new shoes were perfectly shined. His gold watch was tasteful but not ostentatious. He was still handsome and quick.
Her hair was perfectly coifed, not a hair out of place. Her pants suit was tasteful and her finger nails immaculate.
Her father kissed Miriam on the cheek, followed by her mother.
‘How are you Sweetheart?’ father said.
‘Yes, how are you Miriam?’ her mother echoed.
‘I feel great,’ Miriam said.
Her mother took Miriam’s hands in her hands. She very subtly pushed Miriam’s long sleeves partly back so she could see the fresh scars on her wrist.
‘You look great,’ father said. He was carrying a bag of books in his left hand as he leaned on his cane with his right hand. He smiled warmly but his eyes were sad. She could smell the familiar scent of lavender soap.
‘Oh, I bought you these,’ he said.
‘Oh, my books,’ Miriam said and smiled.
‘Yes,’ father said. ‘And some new ones too. There is a new translation of the Iliad and I brought your Loeb classic in the ancient Greek. I just finished Prescott’s History of the Conquest of Mexico. I thought you would enjoy it.’
‘What are you reading now Dad?’
‘Well, now that I am retired from the bench I thought I would read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.‘
‘Punishing!’ Miriam said.
The both laughed and then suddenly realized mother was standing there. There was an awkward silence.
‘Well, I was reading all about President Trump in People Magazine,’ mother said.
‘Oh yes,’ father said. ‘What did the article say?’
‘I don’t quite remember,’ mother said. ‘Now that I think about it I think the article was about Ivanka Trump.’
‘Oh,’ Miriam said.
‘Are they feeding you well?’ father said.
‘Well, they should,’ mother said. ‘Our insurance only covers 80 percent of the costs here.’
‘You must eat well, honey,’ father said.
Her mother was silent, a little angry.
‘Get better,’ he said, his voice cracking, his eyes red with tears. ‘I love you.’
She bent her head down. Tears flowed from her eyes.
‘Come home soon,’ he said softly.
She ascended the dirt road up the mountain. In some places, the edge of the road dropped 500 feet into the gorge below. The weather turned cold and it began to first sleet and then snow.
The north wind chilled to the bone and the air became thin, making it hard to breathe. Her armor, sword and shield weighed heavy on her arms.
She stopped to rest. She was half way up the mountain. Suddenly, Helios called to her.
‘Miriam, why so tired? You have tasks to complete and prophecies to fulfill. Get up.’
Miriam immediately stood up. With renewed energy, she continued up the mountain.
When they brought her dinner in on a white tray, it was beef stew, with a salad, roll and apple juice. It was not the beef Bourguignon that she and her dad made but it would more than do. Miriam did not realize how hungry she was.
After dinner she settled down by reading Nabokov’s Lolita. She could hear the music in her mind from the movie. After she was done with the book, she could scratch it off her reading list.
The cave was surrounded by a jumble of gray Cyclopean rocks. A small pine tree resembling a bonsai plant marked its entrance. Her heart raced but she felt no fear.
‘Thank you Hera for your trust in me,’ Miriam said, raising her sword to the sky. ‘Queen Goddess. I am here to conquer or die.’
Helios was riding his chariot in the sky. He raised his M-16 to the sky.
She lit a torch and she was soon charging into the mouth of the cave. She ran down the long entrance, deeper and deeper into the cave until the cave opened into a large vault.
Water dripped from the giant stalagmites that hung down from the vast cave ceiling into a large steaming underground pond.
Suddenly, from the still waters of the pond, a large green and red dragon emerged. He knocked the sword from Miriam’s hands and ripped her silver and bronze cuirass from body, exposing her naked body.
Miriam tried to grab her sword which was just out of her reach. The dragon grabbed her right ankle with his slimy mouth and began to drag helplessly Miriam towards him.
He was too strong and began to pull the naked Miriam toward the steaming pond. As he pulled her toward the pond, she could smell soap.
She began repeatedly hitting the dragon on his head with her shield, every time striking him harder. Finally, she could hear his skull crack.
Helios called to her. “You can do it Mirriam. Kill him.”
The dragon loosened his grip on her ankle and finally his jaw turned slack. He began breathing heavily.
Miriam ran and grabbed her sword. With a mighty swing, she cut off his head. Blood gushed from his body. Miriam held his head up in triumph.
After 60 days, the hospital released Miriam to her parents’ custody. He dad and mom came to pick her up on the day of her release. Her father leaned on his cane as he opened the front passenger door for her. Miriam sat in front with her father on the way home and mother sat in back.
Miriam and her father talked about Homer and the heroes of Greece while her mother read her People Magazine.