The Fabric of Time

"By Olympos, you must be Odysseus' little girl then. Let me look at you. You do have your mother's eyes and her quick intelligence," said the sea captain with the sort of twinkle in his eye expressive of both delight and knowing.

"I came here because I had heard that Odysseus had returned. I strongly doubt that your mother could be dead. She's too wiley and stubborn for that. Perhaps she is detained on some desert island by a group of savages or whatnot. Mark my words she'll return if she has to chew through chains to do it. She can do anything.

"In any case I am Mentes and I rule the seafaring nation of Taphos. My family and your family are long time friends. You just go ask your grandpa Laertes if you doubt my word. I remember the days when Odysseus and I would be sitting here as you and I are, swapping bad puns and swilling even worse wine, before she shipped out to the Trojan wars. We have not seen one another since that time." Mentes sadly shook his head in reminiscence.

Mentes then with a sweep of his arm asked, "Now who are these men revelling and making gluttons of themselves at your expense? They embarass even an old sea captain. Is there a wedding or a celebration happening?"

Telemakhe rolled her eyes, "If only...not" Telemakhe took a few breaths to let go of a head of steam that automatically rose with the question.

"While this house was run by my good mother, Odysseus, it was always rich in both goods and goodwill. Now that the war is over and she has been lost to human knowledge these many years, the house has been descended upon by suitors who would have my hand in marriage and take over the rule of Ithaka. As if I couldn't rule it myself, thank you. But I am not old enough nor strong enough to remove their presence without threat to my life, and my gentle father, an artist of high repute, is hardly the man to forcibly extricate them. So they proceed to eat us out of house and home while waiting for my decision as to which of them shall become the next king.

"For a while we held the suitors off with a ruse my father, Penelopos, concocted. We made them agree to wait until he had finished a wedding tapestry. Each night we unravelled the tapestry while they slept, only to re-weave it the next day. They eventually caught on to the trick and soon may no longer be willing to wait.

"I really wish I knew what to do now," finished Telemakhe. She glanced meaningfully at Mentes, her frank smile evanescing into a sorrowful line.

Mentes Fresh.

Copyright © 1998 Katherine Phelps