Disclaimer: Glass Mask is © Miuchi Suzue, Hakusensha, etc.. This is a nonprofit fanwork.

Persephone

She sets down the script, leans back in her chair, and thinks to herself, What irony.

It is a new production by a famous playwright. A famous retelling of an ancient Greek myth. The writer and director had begged her to play the lead and, infected with their enthusiasm and confident in their reputation, she had agreed.

Now she can only laugh at herself.

This isn't acting at all.

The play's name is Persephone.

Maya doesn't need to become Persephone. She already is Persephone.

It will be interesting . . . to act without a mask.

--

"You stole me away and separated me from my mother! Why?!"

"I love you."

No, Maya thinks. "This is wrong," she says abruptly. "Hades would never say that – not so easily. He has his position, his pride. He's not allowed to be vulnerable."

The playwright rushes forward hastily. It's a routine the cast has grown accustomed to already.

"Is Kitajima Maya always this demanding?" a minor player asks, wiping sweat from his brow.

"Mmm," the seasoned actor playing Hades responds, watching his leading actress argue calmly with the playwright whose head bobs up and down, "only on herself. She's rather driven this time around."

"But, don't you think," an actress playing one of Persephone's handmaidens interjects, "that we're somehow, the play and all of us, coming closer to the truth."

"Perhaps Kitajima Maya's truth," Hades says, smiling, but before he can say anything more the director calls the end of the break.

He glances at the new lines the playwright has scrawled on his script. Walking forward, his eyes meet Persephone's, cold and accusing. No, he amends,Persephone's truth.

"You stole me away and separated me from my mother! Why?!"

His lips curl with gentle mockery. "Perhaps it amused me to do so."

--

The play opens to a sold-out audience. Across town, Himekawa Ayumi is starring in another new, sold-out production. Expectations for both are high. They do not disappoint. But comparisons can wait for later; in Maya's theatre there is no room for the world of men, inhabited as it is with the lives of the Gods themselves.

--

"Return my daughter to me!"

"Mother," Persephone says, stepping forward and taking Hades's hand, "I ate."

"No, how can this be? Core-"

"I cast that name aside. It is fit only for a maiden who knows nothing of life, of despair, of love."

There is a stillness in the air as she speaks. "Mother, Hades has taken me as his bride."

"And you mean to accept him," Demeter says dully.

Persephone moves away, turns her eyes to the audience who draw a collective breath.

Her eyes look directly at him where he stands at the rear of the theatre, leaning against the wall.

Their gazes connect and he cannot look away.

"There is no longer any way for me to return to the person I once was. I am no longer a child. All I can do is be faithful to myself and the truth of my own feelings. The instant he finally revealed his identity to me, I knew he would do the same. And so I ate."

Demeter says something in reply and there is a flurry of movement as Zeus arrives on stage. Masumi can no longer hear the words, can no longer see the action. He has eyes only for her, proud and tall as a goddess on the stage.

Something like pain blossoms sharply in his heart.

Your lessons are too strict, Maya.

Applause rises, a thunderous wave of sound. On its currents a single purple rose crashes down before her bowed head. She raises her face; her eyes find him watching her. She does not smile but she takes the rose solemnly in hand. Softly, softly, he smiles.

The cast takes another bow. When Maya raises her eyes again, he is gone.

--

The roses are waiting for her backstage. Tied around the bouquet with a red string is a pomegranate. The card reads:

To my Persephone,

Who never fails to make the seasons change and transform Winter into Spring.

-MH

She traces the initials with her fingers and shuts her eyes against the suddenly falling tears. With a steady hand, she lifts the pomegranate to her lips and takes a bite.