There Are Maenads in New Hampshire
She was going to let this one go. Usually the men (lost hikers, backpacking frat boys) the Maenads collected from the mountains collapsed predictably during the pre-Bacchanal days they spent penned up in the corner of the cave. They began by yelling and ended huddled, silent and unable to eat. But this one sat cross-legged by the pen's bars and asked her questions.
Had she killed the bear whose skin she wore? Did she have kids? How long had she been here? Was it going to be a real Bacchanal?
He didn't ask, would he be the prey, because he knew. She knew he knew. He was trying to be curious and brave, but if she reached to touch him - his fire-licked red hair, his new scratching of beard- he flicked away from her, and when she gave him food, he couldn't eat. One day she brought him soup; she thought if she asked him questions he might drink it, distracted. He didn't drink, she thought because he could see the moon shadows growing smaller on the cave floor each night, but he answered her, courteous as ever. He told her he was a math teacher, he was twenty-eight, he was a distance runner. He told her, Look at me, and she did. His eyes had gold flecks in their green, and she saw he hoped his running would help him. She began to say, you can't outrun the god, but she stopped. She'd forgotten about hope. She saw him, small and clear in her mind's eye, running down the mountain. There would have to be another, an unexpected, sacrifice.
submitted at 2:58am
19 May 2010