Hercules, by Pooja Hiremath

Storage Box by Eugene Zeng

Look alike, if I squint, but you’re not. A lion’s mane cropped like a soldier, spring-colored eyes mottled with warm soil and dewy green leaves, your brute strength is replaced by a sharper tongue. Not repenting with twelve labors, the luxury to craft illusions is your specialty.

I don’t know what inspires you.

Social calls to make, medicine cups in the back pocket of your jeans, words that are soured by flavored vodka are long forgotten by the time the sun’s rays wake you up.

But I remember.

The first nights you couldn’t sleep so you weren’t around as much. You’d found Megara and you fought the walking dead under the guidance of Theseus. I was, by chance, under the golden apple tree, penning letters of plea to forget an old love when you caught my eye. From a distance, you kept glancing – I kept glancing? Our eyes met and you asked what I was writing.

Storage Box by Eugene Zeng
Storage Box by Eugene Zeng

We shared a bite of wasabi chocolate; I was more smitten than I let on, your frequent thumbs up our check in points. You held me up and you let me fall in one fell swoop. The picnics we shared crumbled to memory dust, the gusts of time blowing it away – for you. For me, like a refillable water bottle and the need to stay hydrated, our short-lived escapades run in loops.

I chose to play chess, made the first move even after you refused. It was my insurance policy with Theseus, but my lack of faith cost me us. I hadn’t read the fine print and my coverage left me more broke. Theseus’s resolve was biased. Your cousin told me I was a diamond meant for someone else. A thorn in my heart, the surgical removal had to be precise, but all it did was leave a needlepoint hole. The princess that I am, I could feel it like the pea.

Desperate for amends, I saw it happening again sitting under the golden apple tree. I penned letters to you, to not to forget you, and you caught her eye. This time, I saw you not look away.

-Pooja Hiremath