“Can I pet your snakes?”
“You can try,” said the Goddess. “They will either like you or they won’t. It’s risky, but it’s worth it.”
I held out my hand and dark, tiny, v-shaped tongues, flicked across my skin, picking up my sent. I let the snakes touch me until I felt as if they had given me their permission to pet them.
“They are so beautiful,” I said, running my finger down their backs.
“Well, I think so,” she smiled. “That’s why I wear them. That and it cuts down on guys hitting on me.”
“I can only imagine, I laughed, looking at her. “Is it true that if a person looks at you they turn to stone.”
“Sometimes,” said Medusa. “I wouldn’t do that to someone who wasn’t trying to kill me, of course, but people don’t seem to know that. I mean, you’re looking at me.”
“You’re gorgeous,” I said, smiling at her. “So often your pictures depict you at ugly and snarling.”
“Well most men make strong women look ugly whenever they stand up to them. Women who don’t treat men like gods are punished. Personally, I don’t care what they do, I can kill them in a second. No one messes with me, right my darlings?” she said, patting her snakes gently. The snakes wriggled and hissed and then slid down to her shoulders and lap.
“Must be nice.”
“They hunt me down, no matter where I go. Always trying to cut off my head, or some other weird thing. They just can’t stand having me around,” she said. “I see you have my image in sliver, around your neck.”
“I do,” I said, reaching for my necklace. “I’ve worn you for years.”
“You do know that I’m a gorgon, don’t you?”
“I do, actually, but the the label is unfair. You are not dreadful and you are certainly not repulsive, but the men who labeled you are both.”
She laughed and the snakes seemed to become more alert.
“Why are your sisters Stheno and Euryale immortal while you are not?”
Medusa shrugged. “No idea, but I’m so sick of Perseus following me. He keeps asking me to marry him and I keep saying no, so now he just wants to kill me. He said if he can’t have me, no one will. I think the next time he looks at me I’m going to turn him to stone and just get it over with.”
“I hate guys like that.”
“Don’t we all,” she said, her toga a mass of living serpents.
“Do you mind if they come by you?” She asked, looking at her snakes. “They seem to be quite taken with you.”
“Sure,” I said happily, and the snakes immediately stared crawling all over me. “Oh, I love this one,” I sighed, kissing the lovely snake winding herself around my neck.”
“That’s Dea,” she said. “She’s a sweetheart.”
“Is she poisonous?”
“They all are.”
“I think they’re wonderful.”
“They know that,” she laughed, watching the snakes slide over me. “Rats, there he is again.”
I looked across the street and Perseus was staring at her. I got up, snakes dropping to the grass and bench, and walked over to him. I took the sword from his hand and said, “What IS your problem?”
“I love her but she…”
“…just wants to be left alone.”
“Yes,” he moaned. “Look at her, she’s perfect.”
“Are you afraid of snakes?” I asked him.
“Not really,” he said, never taking his eyes off of Medusa. “Admittedly, there are a lot of them and they are always hanging around.”
“Was that a pun?”
“You know your chances of getting her attention would be increased if you would just leave her alone, don’t you.”
“I can’t stand being away from her.”
“Then why do you want to kill her?”
“So I don’t have to think about living without her,” said Perseus.
“Aside from the fact that that is insane, I have a better idea,” I said, smiling.
“Why don’t you kill YOURSELF? That way you won’t have to think about anything ever again and the person who has done absolutely nothing to you, can live happily ever after.”
“It’s the manly and right thing to do.”
“It would be easier to kill her.”
“You’re pathetic, you know,” I sighed. She’s innocent. You, on the other hand are guilty of stalking and terrorizing her, among other things. You are the problem, not her. Just kill yourself and get it over with. That’s the win-win situation for everyone. Besides if you truly loved her you would want her to be HAPPY.”
“But I don’t want to die,” he whined.
“NEITHER DOES SHE!” I shouted at him.
Dea, sensing danger, lashed out at Perseus and bit him on the lip. Perseus, looked at me, then at the snake. “I don’t even know who you are,” he said softly, falling to his knees.”
I bent down and said, “I’m just a woman who has another woman’s back.”
Perseus died on the sidewalk. His body disintegrated. Medusa walked over to me and stared down at the spot where he had just been. “How cool was that?” she said.
“Well, he won’t bother you any longer.”
“As a thank you, and if she’s willing, I’d like to let Dea stay with you. She’ll want be around your neck, every now and then, and. I’m afraid and she’ll probably want to sleep next to you for your body heat. Other than that, she can take care of herself.”
Dea agreed to stay with me. I thanked Medusa and gave her open ended visiting rights. She thanked me for taking Perseus out and we bumped fists.
“Friends?” she asked.
“Definitely,” I said, smiling. “I hope to see you again soon.”
“You will,” she said, kissing Dea goodbye.
I waved and then turned to go back to work. “Love you Dea,” I whispered, kissing her tail.
“I love you too,” she hissed.
“You can talk?”
“Well, of course I can talk and you better walk faster, or you’ll be late.”