Persephone

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CHAPTER 289

I am seven years old. I’m sitting in my grade two classroom, and it’s What Does Your Name Mean Day. All of the other kids have normal names.

Caitlin means innocence and purity, and comes from Catherine.

Adam is the Hebrew word for ‘man’.

Boring. Not soon enough, my turn comes. I get up in front of the class and clear my throat.

“My name is Persephone,” I say proudly, and there are a few snickers amongst my classmates. I scowl, and my teacher, Ms. Halloway, makes a noise of disapproval. The class quiets down and I clear my throat again.

“My name is Persephone,” I say again, this time with no snickers. Thank you very fucking much, class. “It means girl or maiden. But there’s a story that goes with my name.” I smile. I love telling stories. “A long time ago, when it was summer all year round, a woman named Demeter and her daughter lived in a house in the forest. Demeter was the goddess of the harvest, and liked flowers and plants so much that she lived on earth instead of Mount Olympus with the other gods and goddesses.

“The daughter’s name was Persephone, and she was the most beautiful and most happy girl in the land. Her favourite thing to do was to go out and pick flowers.

“But one day, she went out to pick flowers, and didn’t come home. Demeter was really, really worried, and started traveling around the world, asking everyone she saw if they’d seen Persephone. It took her years and years and years, and she couldn’t find her daughter.

“She was so mad that she cursed the world, and made all of the flowers and plants go away. She made it winter all the time.

“She went back up to Mount Olympus and found out that there had been a huge mistake. Cupid, the god of love, had accidentally shot Hades with one of his arrows. Hades was the god of the Underworld, and the first woman he saw was Persephone, so he kidnapped her down to hell.” At this, I notice that my classmates are all wide-eyed. Even Ms. Halloway looks nervous. That’s probably just because I said the word hell. Stupid Mommy, sending me to a Catholic school. These people are all crazy.

I ignore my teacher and continue, “Zeus told Demeter that Persephone could be saved, but only if she hasn’t eaten anything in the Underworld. Demeter was pretty scared, since she didn’t think that her daughter could have gone so long without eating. But it was worth a try.

“So Zeus sent Spring, one of the season Goddesses, down to talk to Hades. She arrived and found out that Persephone was Queen of the dead, and Spring was a little scared. Persephone didn’t look like she used to.

“She asked if Persephone had eaten anything, and Hades said that she’d sucked the juice off of six pomegranate seeds. Spring didn’t think that this was technically eating, but Hades did, and they argued for a long time.

“Persephone didn’t know what to do. She missed her flowers, and her mother, but she kind of liked being Queen, even if it was Queen of the dead. So she decided that she would spend six months of every year in the Underworld, and six months with her mom.

“So, when she’s in the Underworld, the world becomes cold and icy, and when she comes to live with her mom, the flowers bloom. And that’s where the seasons come from.” I pause, and smile sweetly at Ms. Halloway. “And that’s what my name means.” I skip back to my seat, and the whole class is buzzing.

“Is that really where the seasons come from?”

“You’re a Queen, Persephone?”

“Hey, your majesty!”

“If she stayed with her mom all year round it would be summertime all the time!”

Ms. Halloway clears her throat. “That was very interesting, Persephone.” She smiles thinly at the class. “That’s actually an old Greek myth, passed down through the ages.”

“Like Jesus?” One of the kids asks.

“No, Jesus isn’t a myth.” My teacher looks nervous and I try not to laugh.

Even at this age, I’m a shit disturber.

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