Sunday Scribbling: Misspent Youth-Psyche
Ed Note: Thanks to everyone who commented below. Things...have been better. And if you don't have anything nice to say... Anyway, I didn't intend to come back, but I couldn't resist this prompt. My story is a bit of a retelling of the Cupid/Psyche myth. Happy Thanksgiving (belated!)
Beauty was the coin of my realm and I was beautiful—or so they said. “Don't waste it,” my abuela warned. “Beauty misspent is like youth...gone forever.” But I couldn't help it...I was looking for something. I wanted to see this beauty that everyone else swore they saw. When I looked, I could see shiny, pretty things, but in pieces—boxed away from me. “You have eyes like cuentos.” My abuelo said. Like gems. Or stories. So I drifted in and out of bars, lured by the glitter of hard lined men who fell before me and swore, “Oh, baby, baby, I want to wor-ship!” But when I squinted past their electric lust, I saw the darkened temples they left behind them, full of dust and despair. And I steered clear. My coins wouldn't go too far here. I moved on.
And my Mami and Papi—no help there. “You are so beautiful, mija,” they would say, pursed lips disapproving, like I had gotten away with something.
So it was no surprise when I fell for the Dragon and his promises of “everything, baby.” I shivered on the mountaintop, white dress lapping against my bare ankles, and waited.
But the Dragon...he never showed. Maybe it was all too easy.
Someone Else came and gave me shelter. And we rose and fell and I could see myself, whole. It didn't even matter that I couldn't see his face because I could feel the beauty for the first time, and it was in him, and oh, I wanted to wor-ship.
Only one thing. The coins, again. “We gotta save it all up...now. No seeking because what will you find?” And I ran my hand over his eyelids and saved up the words that would have fallen spendthrift from my mouth.
But I couldn't keep my cuento eyes closed forever, and the voices—the ones that hate on through to the other side—curled up under the spent sheets and hissed their doom song. “What is he hiding? Is he a monster? Are you?”
I had to look, I had to, and the candle shook. One, two, three drops of wax round like coins, and he was gone, in a wordless sigh like smoke.
And then I broke all of the worthless mirrors. I sat in the middle of a pile of useless gold, my heart a barren field. And my records played until until the needle slipped, hissed its nothing song.
Then I gathered up, me to me, and went to search.
Mami and Papi shook their heads and closed the door.
Abuelo and Abuela tried to make me hide, wait until it passed. And so I ran.
I dug my fingers in the ground and the ants ran around them, their spindly legs tapping out urgent rhythms. “Give us some coins,” they said, and so I did, and watched as they glinted off into the earth.
The reeds gave covered me with golden fleece during the rimy night, and whispered secrets into my dreams, twirling around my coins while I slept.
But I was still lost. And so I looked to what I thought was real—back to the world of bars and men. If I couldn't see him, I wanted to be seen. I threw my money around now, but it didn't do any good. The men glanced twice and waited and moved past me. The women whispered of beauty's resurrecting potion, sold for a price. And I paid it.
When I finally woke, fog choked the walls, which grew thick honeysuckle vines and the air swooned as he walked in. And all I could see was my anger, and all of the youth and beauty that I'd thrown away.
“I got no more coins. Beauty's dead.” I said, defiant. “Nothing left to lose, nothing to save. But if I did...I wouldn't close my eyes and turn away again.”
He said nothing, just held out his arms with that sidelong grin, and then the fog burned away and I could see burnished gold at the base of every vine that grew. And I knew. Useless coins might be seeds, after all, and a misspent youth the tilling of a seeming barren field.
And your field, even yours, can shatter into a million violet flowers, and bloom.
To read more tales of misspent youth, go here.