This story is by Gianna Savarese and was part of our 2023 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Shhhh!” Todd shushes loudly. His plea for me to be quiet could barely be heard over our incessant giggling. The door to the hotel room swings open and we stumble in. Making our way across the room, we lean on each other trying to stay afloat in the sea of champagne we swallowed at our wedding.
“Nice!” I exclaim as I hold up a bottle of wine the hotel left for us.
“Open it, Ms. Brady.” Todd smiles jumping onto the bed.
“I’m not sure if I want to take your name. I want to keep my name, it makes me feel close to my Greek family.” After a few tries, I get the bottle open and begin to skip over to him.
“You can do whatever you want – oh my gosh are you bleeding?” Todd looks me up and down.
“No – oh no.” I see the drops of red all over my white dress and I erupt in giggles.
“The wine bottle.” I point to the bottle and the small crack on it.
“Shoot, I’m sorry about your dress.” Todd’s face turns to meet mine.
“Don’t be, honestly I don’t even want to look at it anymore.” I try to shove a sultry look onto my face, “I don’t even want to wear it anymore.”
“Oh yeah?” He asks. I nod. He begins to loosen the back of my corset and leans in for a kiss.
“What did you say?” I yank my head back. Todd gives me a puzzled expression in return.
“Nothing.” He replies with certainty. I shrug and lean in.
I pull back, but say nothing. The voice was so clear to me. When I turn back to Todd my mind goes red.
Anger is beating in my heart, but I can’t pinpoint why. My hand begins involuntarily choking the neck of the wine bottle. When I turn back to confused Todd, it makes sense. I have never felt more hatred towards one person in my whole life. As he offers me a hesitant smile and all I want is to slice his head right off.
I have to kill him.
“Babe?” Todd backs up.
I smack the wine bottle into the corner of the table and it shatters. Wine spills out all over my dress.
“What are you doing?” Todd’s voice waivers.
My dress swishes around me as I turn to face him. Wine soaked. Crazed smile. Ready.
I lurch towards him, but am interrupted by the door being opened.
“Shoot. You were quick to do it.” A woman’s voice trails in from the hall. We both turn to face her; my hand tightens on the wine bottle.
A short curly haired woman enters the room with a sigh. A deep blue sparkly gown clings to her curves and flows down to the ground. Behind the slit a silver shoe dips in and out of the light as she walks towards me.
“Wine bottle me.” She holds out her hand and puts her other hand on her hip.
“Who are you?” I ask, shielding the wine bottle behind me. Part of me still wants to use it, but I’m not sure on who yet.
“Oh are you still feeling stabby? That’s ok, you can hold it if it makes you feel better. You,” she turns to Todd, “should scram. You know she tried to kill you, right?” The woman motions her head to the door while locking eyes with Todd.
Todd gets up and runs out the room. I start to follow him, but the woman grabs my shoulder. Her navy nails pinch me as she pushes me onto the bed.
“Let him go, trust me.” She sits next to me.
“Who are you?” I repeat as I lower myself to the bed.
“I’m your cousin, Ophelia. I’m with the family from Greece.” A small smile inches on her face.
“Why are you here? What was that… feeling I just had?” The past few minutes play back to me in slow motion.
“You are a descendant of Danaus. He was a king known for having his daughters kill their husbands on their wedding nights. Now, every descendant of those women kills their husband on their wedding night. You are a descendant, hence the psychotic behavior.” Our eyes both scan the remains of glass and wine that is all over the hotel room.
“Why haven’t I heard anything about it before now?” This story sounds too outlandish to be true.
“You are the first girl of many generations from the daughter of Danaus that you are a descendant of. There are other descendants out there. You mostly see them on the news or in jail though.” Ophelia says and I glance down to see she has no ring on her finger. Maybe she hasn’t gone through it yet, or maybe she has.
“So, whenever I see Todd… I want to murder him?” I begin to see my life differently. Todd and I divorce, are never able to see each other again, and this crazy night turns into a story he tells at parties.
“There is a cure.” Ophelia reveals a statue in her hand.
“This is Danaus. All you need to do is say this phrase and he will relieve you of your duty.” She hands me a small piece of paper with something in Greek written on it. The paper and the statue both give off a thick perfume, almost like pomegranate.
“Ok, I’ll try … η ψυχή μου για τη δική της, μόλις γίνει.” The statue illuminates with a blue light.
“That was too easy.” Ophelia’s grin widens to a deranged smile. A wind begins swirling up the curtains and rippling through the wine stained sheets.
“What, what are you talking about?” I stand up and back away from her. “Ophelia?”
“My name is actually Gorgophone. I am a daughter of Danaus. Something I left out was there was one sister who didn’t kill her husband. She defied our father and was honored for it. I did everything he said and got eternal suffering, while my sister, Hypermestra, got praise. I was patient though. I waited until a descendant of hers was engaged and I pitched Hades my plan. He always coveted Hypermestra’s soul. You have a piece of that soul within you, and he craves it. So, you needed to read the words, saying you will trade your soul for mine, then kill your husband to seal the deal.” She walks over to the window looking down at the world she so desperately wants to return to.
“You know what makes this plan easier?” She turns to me with fire behind her eyes. The wind picks up with every word she says. I try to inch to the door to escape. She charges towards me and swings the door open.
“Your husband,” she yanks Todd out from the hallway, “Was too stupid to leave you!” She cackles as Todd shuffles to my side.
The voice returns.
“Todd, get out of here, I can’t control it.” My vision goes red again, my hands start to ache for a weapon to hold. Gorgophone slips me the wine bottle and before I can stop myself, my arm begins to raise it to Todd’s neck.
“I’m not leaving you with her.” Todd pretends to be brave, but I can see his body trembling. I rest the wine bottle at his neck drawing blood.
“I don’t want to do this, you have to believe me.” tears start streaming down, but I can’t decipher if they are from sorrow or anger.
“Here, I will help you.” Gorgophone runs back over to my side and presses my hand harder onto the wine bottle.
“You have a choice, remember? Like she said about her sister. Right?” Todd chokes out while blood starts to trickle down his throat onto the floor.
“Right!” I grip the bottle tighter.
“Get it over with!’ Gorgophone yells in my ear.
My arm jolts backwards and stabs Gorgophone in the throat. Blood begins streaming out of her neck. She stifles backward and all of her pores open with blood seeping out of them.
“What have you done?” She falls to her knees and disappears in the puddle of her blood. The wind immediately halts.
Todd and I both stare at the puddle where she used to stand and look at each other in awe. No more anger pulses through me.
“I am so sorry, I can’t even begin to -” I start.
“It’s alright. I know it wasn’t you, just get me to a hospital.” Todd begins to stand and leans on my side.
“Now that you know your family was a bunch of psychopath murderers…you sure you don’t want my last name?” Todd jokes while I get my phone out to call 911.
Tears start trickling faster down my face. A laugh falls out of my mouth.
“I’ll consider it.”