She tried not to cry out as he placed his palms, freezing side up, over her breasts. She hated when he did it because it always sent a chill through her chest that would nearly stop her heart. The first time he did it, earlier in the year, she instinctively batted his hands away and then immediately regretted that decision as she watched him tower over her while raging at her to leave. And she did, with minimal pay, but when he requested her two weeks later offering to pay her double, she quickly learned how to deal with the coldness of his hands.
She would think of home.
She had spent most of the morning calculating what it would cost for a one way ticket and a taxi from the airport back to the farm; it was close to $1000. That meant only a few more nights like this with Zeus (not his real name). She did not know his real name. She did know about his unhappy wife and two children somewhere upstate, and that he was in shipping and receiving, but by the bundles of cash he carried, she guessed he received more than he shipped. She had nicknamed him Zeus because of his dark skin, white teeth, and his Italian or Greek accent; she did not know how to tell the difference. It was also something she had remembered from school; Zeus was some kind of a god who controlled all the other gods. And that is what her Zeus did, controlled many things and many people, especially in restaurants where every maître'd knew who he was by sight, but would never admit to his being there.
Of course her parents would not know she was coming back. Her mother would forgive her for not writing or calling. She would explain how hard it was to get started in a new city with roommates sneaking out and the piles of bills left behind, leaving out the part about the mediocre office jobs that could not pay as high as entertaining someone for one night. She could easily create some benign employment as easily as it was to spread her legs for money. It was not like she was giving these men her heart. That had always been reserved for the one; the one she was going to meet after she got out of the city – the tarot reader had assured her. She was so close to it, so close she could smell the dirt driveway she had fled down ten years ago with her father’s voice still ringing in her ears to "get out of this house! Now! Whore, get out!"
The words were so clear she thought her father was standing in the room. She stopped for a moment; her heart beating frantically against her chest. She had not thought about that particular memory in a long time, convincing herself that she had somehow rendered it irretrievable. In the midst of Zeus' freezing touch, she tried to shove that memory to the back of her mind, but it would not go. It ended up distracting her so much that Zeus let out a frustrated grunt and wedged both of his hands into her hips to keep her in motion. She had to oblige; there was never any other choice.
* * * *
Persephone Vandegrift currently resides in Seattle, Washington. Fond of all things mythological, her adaptation of The Bacchae of Euripides, Revenge and Sorrow in Thebes, had its debut in the summer of 2009 at Stone Soup Theatre, and was named one of the top six most memorable theatre moments of 2009 by the Seattle Weekly. Most recently she has been published in Lavanderia: A Mixture of Women, Wash, and Word, and was nominated for a Pushcart for her short story, "Dream Baby, Dream" which was included in Notes and Grace Notes Anthology, Root Exposure. Other mythological and historical work can be found via Megalithic Poetry and The Copperfield Review. She is Poetry Editor for Notes and Grace Notes and is hoping to finish a compilation of poetry, flash fiction, and short stories inspired by mythology.