I followed her into death. I followed the rocky pathways into Hades where the mist twisted into the shades of the dead watching me from the gloom in silence. But I wanted more than silence. I wanted to sing and play music again, my voice echoing through our house as she closed her eyes and smiled. Music was life to me and without it our house had become as lifeless as her tomb.
She stood on the river bank, under a thorny tree with branches like dark bones, and did not recognise me. The old oracle had warned me of this – that the dead have no memories of the living just as the living only have memories of the dead. When I put my hand on hers, it felt as cold as it had when I found her with two red marks of a viper bite on her ankle. “We’ll have music again,” I said and despite the oracle’s warning I believe she smiled.
I unhitched the rope from my belt and knotted it around her wrist. Then I tugged it gently and led her back along the paths. The oracle had also warned me not to glance back at her as we fled. So I looked ahead and felt for the tightness of the rope and listened for her faint footsteps on the dust as we climbed towards the shaft of sunlight that pierced the darkness.
“We will have music.”
As I stepped into the light, the rope snapped taut. Without thinking, I turned and saw her in the shadows, her eyes wide as if now she was about to step back into the light, she finally recognised me. Then she faded back into darkness and I was alone. The rope dropped to the ground where it lay on the grass coiled like a snake. It was the third warning the oracle had told me, the one ignored as I hurried out of the temple. Desire would not lead us through death, only love.
Here at the entrance to the underworld, the birds did not sing.
Follow AV Laidlaw on Twitter: @AVLaidlaw