They will call you Medusa, and freeze you in a cast of bronze, of marble, glazed upon wood and flattened between the pages of books. He who will come to your island to decapitate you will be hailed a hero, and your head will adorn the shield of Athena. He will be Perseus, the slayer of monsters, and you will be Medusa, the slain. He will stand forever in a piazza in Firenze with his sword in one hand and your head in the other, raised high for all to see- the token of his victory.
They will forget that you were conceived a protector, and that protectors sometimes need to be as fierce and terrifying as the monsters that they protect against. They will forget that it was Poseidon who raped you in the temple of Athena, and that it was the goddess, in her fury, who transformed your beautiful hair into venomous serpents, and your beautiful face into something so grotesque that it would turn onlookers into stone.
The moment your head leaves your body, they will forget that you once had a heart- and how it must have beat and cried and pounded against its cage of bones when the sea god assaulted you against Athena’s sacred stones. They will forget to wonder about the sort of world these cruel gods have fashioned, where a god commits rape and bloodshed, and the goddess sees fit to punish his victim instead.
Your head on the Aegis will become a symbol, a caution, a warning: vulnerability invites violation, but strength repels affection. That is your legacy, then: the impossible line that we must walk now, the choice we must make between being beautiful and vulnerable and innocent, risking danger in the hopes of being claimed, protected, and loved- or being fierce and powerful and branded a monster, carved in stone for all to spurn.
Thousands of years later and here I stand, gazing into your bronze eyes, half closed in death. My own hands unfreeze, and drift to my pen. Sorrow is many things- the waves of grief that move in a sea of silence, the dance between a troubled mind and a steady hand, the beating of melancholy against an exterior of calm- but it is never stillness. Only apathy is stillness.
They will call you Medusa, the Monstrous. Those who have come to you in intrigue, and with apathy again have flown; who have come and gone and never known, the sorrow of being strong and being left alone. Those who think they have seen a villain, a monster, a venomous old crone, who petrified her victims from skin through flesh to bone.
But long before they laid eyes on you, their hearts already were stone.
And if you are a monster, then so am I. I was assaulted even before I could be beautiful, before I could count thirteen years in the world, before I could have known that what is so often construed as monstrosity, is in fact the fierceness of a creature that refuses to be wounded again. Like an ill tempered dog that was once a playful and trusting pup, that has been kicked and pelted with stones one time too many, that now roams the streets alone, gaunt and haunted, hunting for a home.