Hands That Hold The Lyre
Andreas lives alone in the house by the shore and his mother does not call.
He remembers his old life in Thessaloniki often, the bubbling social life of a man thought to be handsome and eligible. There had been something both fantastic and dark about those days, pursued by women who interested him with wit and ideals, but were never able to capture his heart. He could have easily gone his entire life faking his emotions away into the wind, casting them onto the blue seas and marrying one of those sweet, lovely women.
Even if he couldn't love them, he could care. It would have simply been a trade – achieving normalcy in exchange for the pain of being unfulfilled.
He could not take his eyes from the glisten of the men who lived around him, could not ignore the way he was entranced by their strong jaws and low laughs. Tall enough to touch the ceilings and strong enough to lift the heavy, Andreas's stomach curled in weak when he saw the smile of a handsome man.
There were seven years spent ignoring it, seven years of adulthood after a youth stifling the signs. His life had become a sequence of hiding, though he was so buried in concealing his love of men that he didn't put enough time into faking it for the women. The two simply couldn't be balanced, and voices started to wonder by the time his age began to tip close to thirty. Relatives wondered if he'd ever have a child, and he was tempted to ask himself the same question.
Every couple he knew in Thessaloniki was a man, a woman. 1957 brought a warm summer, and he found himself gritting his teeth from the sight of bronzed flesh glowing under the sun. Apollo was casting that light down, his grandmother might have suggested. Apollo chose what shined, and apparently he sought to taunt.
After those seven years, the failure to balance cracked open at the seams of Andreas's mask. He'd looked at a man in town for just too long, with just a bit too much in his brown eyes. Sometimes things could not be faked and sometimes things were so very real that it was impossible to conceal them. The word spread quickly. Ομοφυλόφιλος.
Did Apollo cast light on souls, too?
Andreas didn't stay long after the murmurs slipped beyond his control. His hands were strong and up to labor, but they couldn't keep down his reality. The clues built up and he found himself unable to deny successfully. Silently cast off, not bothering to look to his family or find reassurance from his friends, he came to the small house by the shore where his mother did not call.
Andreas had accepted a lonely life, staring at the sea in its blue depths and thinking of beauty in its other forms – warm summers, thick eyebrows, deep voices, inviting homes. It was all he could do to think, because he knew that they could never be achieved by one of his kind. All he could hope was to find solace in his exile, look for beauties that were allowed to the lonely.
It's this that takes him to the hills, the ones that stay empty all day and grant him something close to freedom. Even if he is alone, he can feel something real. Something that cannot be taken away by sneers or slurs.
It is the tenth time that he goes off that he sees Apollo, standing at the mouth of a small cove by the water. He is unmistakable, though Andreas has never seen him before. His skin is bronze and glows like the sunlight across the rippling waves, his hair dark and curled and his muscles curved like they had been sculpted with great care.
“Have you come to mock me?” Andreas asks, peering over the side of the hill. Waves lap at the god's bare feet, and brown eyes look up at him. “Haven't you done enough to my life?”
“I've come to see you,” he says, and his voice is clear above the crash of water.
“I can't imagine what you'd want with someone like me,” Andreas says, and before he can look up, Apollo is beside him. Andreas's breath is stuck in his throat, his eyes wide and marveling even as he feels this god has ruined him somehow. He is even more beautiful than all the men back home.
Apollo smiles in a bold curve, and the salted wind whips his curls gracefully.
“It is you that I want, in fact,” he says, and Andreas's gut burns hot. He feels the sun on him, warm but not uncomfortable in the humid summer of '58.
“The sun shines kindest on what is loved by Apollo,” Andreas says with a dry mouth. “That is what they tell me.”
In an instant, he can imagine his skin favored by the god's kind lips, the hills becoming the respite for the beating of their solar hearts. Even as he only thinks, it seems just as real as the moment he stands in. Apollo's left hand holds up Andreas's right, and his mouth meets his knuckles. The sensation echoes his daydreams. Olympian brown eyes find his once again.
“They have told you correctly.”