My hands smell of rust, of red and rot and blood. I wonder how much of it is seepage from my torn heart, and how much is what I have spilled in my rash deeds of vengeance.
Even with shaking hands, it was almost overly simple. All my life, I grew up practicing in the ways of herbs. When the Argonauts were on their quest for the Fleece, I shielded Jason from the igneous breath of the bulls with a handmixed unguent; I alone soothed the sleepless dragon into catatonia with my potions of mandrake and poppy. Thus it was little trouble to create a poison, slowly and irreversibly and excruciatingly fatal to the unpracticed touch, invisible and insoluble, and coat a dozen spools of varicoloured thread with it. Every king's daughter can embroider; in my trunks sat bejeweled robes, the image of the gifts of the sun god, and now with my poisoned thread I wove into it elaborate patterns, scenes of life and health and blossoming flora. My needle stabbed the cloth with my subtle lies; I felt no remorse. Carefully disguised as a prim and preening Greek noblewoman, to grant the package a plausible anonymity, my hands placed the package in the hands of a messenger who would carry it to her: Glauce, king's-daughter, witch and blasphemer. I almost wished I could be at court to see her body burn in that gown as it felt like my body was burning.
Even after this, my veins ran with grief, and it leaked through the cracks and hissed over all my insides. I could not stem the hunger for vengeance, the shaking tide of abyssal loss and vehement rage that wrested control of my very soul from me. It was my broken heart that led me to my last revenge.
I did not see my children—my Mermerus, my Pheres, the gold and silver apples of my eye. I did not see their deep sky eyes, eyes that bled innocence; nor their spattering of fiery freckles; nor their long curls, golden like the fleece that I had once held in my hands before Jason carried it away in triumph. Blinded by my fury, I did not see my sons.
When I looked at them, I saw only half the heart of Jason—the heart that had bound to mine, that had ripped my own in two. My love for him may have been a curse, a blessing sent to him by fickle Aphrodite for him to use in his lordly quest and then toss aside like a woman's bloody rags—but still it bound me. I screamed, I sobbed, I tore my hair out. The richest sacrifices that we had in the house, I slaughtered on the gods' altars. I pleaded with them to return him to me, to throw him at my feet, for him to be once more entranced by my beauty and my cunning and the memory of all the times I had saved him. But there was only silence from whatever cold cosmos in which they dwelled. I wondered if the gods had been turned to stone, just like my husband seemed to have been, and I was the only one left alive, with feeling and torment.
No—when I looked at my children, it was not them that my eyes beheld.
My own hands grasped their fragile flesh, my woman's fingers delicate by the standard of most that take life in this fashion, but still too strong for their lily-colored necks. The pale hollows of their throats turned purple as my senseless wrenching tore their veins. I think they must have cried out—surely they could not know what I did, or why—even I did not fully know, at the time—but if their pleas existed, if their terror took voice, I had no ears to hear them. My own broken heartbeat, resounding arrhythmically in my ears, was my world.
My sons have flown from my arms to Hades', and I have no heart left with which to grieve them.
I have slain them, and my hands reek. If I am ever to be whole again, I must flee. I cannot stay here, with blood congealing on the walls. Circe absolved me once when I murdered my brother (again, in order that Jason might be rescued; now it seems a bitter sacrifice, though it was once an entrancing necessity), but I know there is no forgiveness for this. Nor do I want any.
I have only to run.