Harmony – A short story

5 July 2023



The waters of the Lethe flow in ribbons, washing over me so quickly I thought I imagined it, yet they cut so deep I can feel every part of my soul as it threads itself together again, clean and new. Flashbacks of everything and nothing blow through my mind: special days, tedious weeks, lucky months, long years. Talking, throwing, catching. Laughing, singing, dancing.

Dancing. That was how it started, wasn’t it? A wooden horse positioned defiantly in front of our gates -a gift, a surrender, a victory, it was beautifully carved, a gleaming russet colour which crowds came to admire, and its chest swelled with pride, its eyes glinting with promises of safety after so many years of turmoil and terror. The streets were alive with screams of joy, giddy laughter, and songs whose harmonies reached every crevice of the city. It seemed that I linked arms with every person in Troy that night, as we opened the gates and danced without fear for the first time in years.

In the hour that followed everything slowed, became blissfully hazy and unfocused. Exclamations of “Thank you, Harmonia, thank you Nike! Bring our men home, Lady Hestia!” echoed throughout the city as we searched for the faces of our army, more desperate now than before to be reunited with our loved ones. But somewhere in amongst the chaos, there was an uncertainty that lingered, a question that extinguished our burning joy within minutes – why could we not find our warriors? Why could we not find our fathers, our husbands, our brothers and sons? Then, as if an answer from the Gods, came the shouts.

The Greeks were clever, we knew this. But clearly we had underestimated the levels of deception they could reach, unlike the brutish strength and combative skill they usually displayed. A masterful plans to smuggle themselves into the city in the form of an equine gift. “They’re attacking!” someone cried, “men have already been lost!”. And this was when everything -when I- fell apart.

Panicked commands from neighbours and adults resounded in my ears while fulgurant, evil fire was blazing through the city. Men who seemed to be made of muscle were tearing through the streets with their weapons, their facial expressions almost inhuman as they ran and ran, shattering homes and hearts as they went. Realisation hurled itself at my chest and I threw myself into an alleyway, the nearest point of protection from the pandemonium unfolding around me. I want my brother, I remember thinking I will be killed without his protection.

I was not wrong.


Girls were not raised as fighters in Troy- I was weak, an easy target. I cannot live without him, My love for my brother was unconditional, and no words could possibly explain just how much I wanted him alive, as well as needed him. Please, Gods, I prayed. Let him not be dead-let me find him in the midst of this tumultuous night. It was with this surge of desperation that I tumbled out of the alleyway and into the smoke.

It slithered into my lungs like a demon of madness, choking me on every level possible. The floor was no longer visible, covered in a mass of scarlet, and as I ran I kicked up dust and blood. It seemed an impossible task, finding my brother in this novel world of noise and disharmony, More than once was nearly trampled by rioters, if not noticed, in which case I would scramble away with newfound speed. Ragged breaths filled my chest: I was sure I was dying. When, suddenly, a string of strangled sounds crawled into my ears, the voice-for I assumed it was a voice-cracking with disuse.

A song stopped running. Wait.

The notes grew more certain now, an unforgiving but soulful tune which seemed to freeze the blood in my body. The words were indistinguishable, but still I shivered at the purity of this voice, and slowly, I sunk to the ground, eyes closed. The blood soaked me, dying my clothes and skin a vivid red, but I found that I no longer cared, for now the only thing in my world was this shrill melody that bounced off the walls of the buildings, creating echoes inside the caves of my mind. Look up. I opened my eyes, and found no shock in the image in front of me.

For poised regally on their thrones were the Gods themselves, terrifyingly beautiful as ever. “Your brother has not been killed yet,” one of them spoke, in a voice like velvet. Pause. “This is not news to you”, the source repeated. This was the voice of the singer, I was sure, However, I could not tell which deity had spoken, for they remained petrifyingly still. I chose not to reply. “You are fragile, now, yes. But you can still live”.

My thoughts were blank, and their words washed over me meaninglessly-surely I am dead already, I wondered. Why am I being asked to spell out a destiny already threaded by the Fates? Why should I stay on this world just to watch my people win wars that never truly end, and run from our losses? Is it my duty to the world to stay always as the useless girl, the dying girl? There is no peace, no harmony for me here.

“We need you to make a decision”, the voice cut through my train of thought, and I could have sworn there was a hint of irritation betrayed in the tone, if the Gods were not so guarded and unreadable.

No matter.

I had made up my mind.

I closed my eyes for the second time, for the last time, and spoke not with words but the willpower of my thoughts.

Take me to Charon.


Ally, NLCS Student – Winner of the Classics’ Week Middle School Creative Writing Competition

This was taken from the latest edition of Vesta which you can read here.


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