I wake up when it’s dark, but not because it emulates death. Same room, same black. The curtains are drawn though they don’t have to be; the lights outside are long gone, abandoned. Lanterns broke, plants burned with hate and acid, fireflies killed with teeth. The sun is still out somewhere. He’s forgotten about me and I don’t really mind. Residues of heat meant for greater things, like a stoic prison guard giving food to someone they’ve never seen before. I won’t freeze to death, at least.
The penumbral outline of my heavy legs plummet and crash through the floor. Past the worms in the dirt that think of me as filth, past the bones and fossils of things the earth cared to preserve, into the overgrown halls of Persephone. She plucks at my legs as a lyre; her hands are spindly and beautiful, her sighs are honey, its strings an elegy of the chthonic that causes death. As is what she is ought to do; I will never know what is desired of me. Yet, I know that an audience and an indulgence is not what I seek.
I rise up, my pillars retreating from Hades’s reach; heavensward, stopping halfway. There’s not a lot to revere in my purgatorial pit-stop. Simple furniture, simple appliances, simple ghosts. An abandoned haunted house of a studio apartment angry spirits would consider a place to return home to. The ambience of creaking floorboards made of emptied coffins and the pondering smacks of my lips, the clatter of a cheap laptop keyboard are the only sounds. No scribbling or scraping of the pens, pencils, and papers disordering my coffee table and paintless walls. Shipments of tools I don’t know how to use anymore.
“You’re not doing anything with your life,” hisses the shrill, deceiving voice of purpose directly into my ear. A concerned adult form that doesn’t know the first thing about importance, slithering around a body and mind capable of independence. I am in an underworld. “Drink of Lethe and forget what you do, know only what needs to be done.” Charon rests his head on his hand and watches, amused, from Styx. His mouth hums hymns and coins thrum within a small satchel of my earnings. His boat waits on the riverbank, for me to step away from the serpent that cannot respect me. The ferryman asks me about my day and I tell him it’s been fine. We talk about the weather.
The sun rises, not in recognition of me or of my surviving another day. The mythologies of daybreak spare no heroism for those struggling to get by. But the grand, incandescent celestialities are not anyone’s measure of worth: we are not planets, we are mice. My whiskers vibrate when I meet someone alike, my gray fur is warm and my squeaks are delighted. Pride is found within quotidian struggle and the continuous success thereof. I have enough drachmas to pay for food and to pay Charon never to abandon me. I am myself and I get by. I am content. There is a vibration in my pocket.
I check my phone and smile at the text.