Dead End Florals

'Theirs is said to be a marriage of tragedy. They call him deformed, warped, a presence that insulted the heavens; while she was the epitome of beauty, of love.

The poets misspoke.''

- L.H.Z // Maybe Aphrodite loved her husband

greek mythos + romcom + romance

setting: flower shop run by persephone/hades

*Cover art is my own. Do not reproduce without permission


2. The Ivy and the Adler Pt 2

Living in hell, proved much more challenging than living amongst mortals.

The challenge among mortals was simply to help them, but not to the point they came back for more,  To be constantly reminded of it and challenged to do nothing about it, proved to infuriate and depress Persephone in equal measure.  She’d always hoped leaving her mother’s influence would do her good, but she’d never imagined hell would be this bad.  

None of this was apparent to Persephone on her first day.  She had been handed the keys to her new establishment by her captor--the idea of lover was disconcerting.  She opened the shop doors and was greeted by the most odd cat she’d ever seen.

She knew he was immortal, obvious by the lack of an abdomen and the open raw flesh that peaked through his blue waistcoat.  He was strangely more aristocratic than she’d ever seen with a cat.  He yawned hugely and arched his back to stetch.  His forked tail thumped on the countertop. “Good morning, my queen.  What can I do for you?”

Persephone was incredulous, “What are you exactly, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“I’m a reanimated werecat.  Now I live here, waiting for my mistress.”  He gestured at a portrait of a snow white cat with her full weight on the grey werecat’s back.  Her snooty expression was a bit disconcerting, but the werecat’s expression was still that of utmost love and adoration.  The letters around the oval portrait spelled out; Choupette.  “Isn’t she a proper aristocat?  Perfectly horrendous.”  He held a rose to her as a toast and the rose immediately flaked into ashes.  The petals breaking off and shimmering into dust.

Persephone smiled.  “I love roses too.”

The werecat mewled appreciatively.  “I’m Maximillian and I’m enchanted to meet your acquaintance.  Perhaps we can grow them here.  The only ones we can acquire are castoffs that flow down the river.  We’ve never been able to grow them here. My lord has charged me with your well being here, but as my queen you are to choose what it is that you will do here.”

“I’m the queen.”  Persephone said slowly.  She was a bit incredulous that her situation had led her to this strange conclusion.  Persephone looked around at the decaying foliage that was anchored to gnarled steel poles.  “I first need to get some bearing.  Why is there a flower shop in the Underworld?”

Maximillian’s tail curled into a question.  He rubbed his face with his paws.  “When souls cross the river they come here to know their time for atonement--how long it is that they stay here before going to the other place, which is back up.  It’s not particularly suited for--”

“Why did he give me the keys?”  Persephone flashed the iron key wrought with an inlaid ruby rose.

The werecat startled, before regaining his composure and continuing on, “The Master preferred you to have accommodations similar to that of your previous life.  There is a reason why the above-dwellers call this hell and in your best interests we feel to expose you to it gradually.”  

    Max--as he bid her to call him--thought it would be best for her to first be acquainted with the merchandise, while he checked out customers.  He levitated to the closed sign and flipped it over with a swish of his forked tail.  The door swung open with a strong draft and a stream of ghostly apparitions steamed in.  They made a grab for whatever stem looked the least dead and clambored into a line at the register.  

Maximillian jumped onto the counter and opened the register draw.  

The customer opened his palm and a whirl of light goldfish emerged.  Max gobbled it up and licked his lips.  Then his body convulsed and he barfed out metal coins that rattled into the register.  After each transaction he closed the register door and a paper receipt printed tracking the shop’s earnings.  

Persephone watched this silently for several moments, then clutching the inventory list clipboard, decided to explore the backroom on her own.  The room was filled with shelves that had mason jars labeled with a strip of duct tape.  Most of the contents were dried plants or flying vermin.  Perse browsed the shelves, cautiously cleaning the dust off some of them and playing with the little animals in others.  She didn’t take them out, as she hadn’t really known what would happen if they did escape.  Unbeknownst to her, as she gingerly set down the plants they started to blossom, little dandelion buds popped up where her step touched the dirt floor.  Eventually she yawned and decided to take a rest on the futon that was near the entrance.

A scorpion’s forked tail extended out and was followed by a sleek black body holding a tray that precariously balanced a teapot and some tuna cakes.  He looked disheartened to see his sleeping mistress.  The tray vanished in a vapor as he put his paws to her forehead.

“Oh my,” he said to himself, “well my queen . . . this is your first time here.  Darkness does take a toll on the soul.  I’d better let Hades know about this.”  His tail extended and lengthened to curl around the cord of an enormous bell that was hidden in the awning of the storeroom.  He pulled it down and the room shook with the sound.  It was like a grandfather clock striking noon.

Persephone didn’t stir.

Maximillian’s ear perked and veered towards footsteps approaching.  He turned and greeted his Master with a lowering of his head.  “Good morning, sir?  How was the judgement hall today?  Not as rowdy as normal I hope?”

“Yes, Max that’s exactly how it was.  I’m more concerned with our new acquisition?”

“You did force her hand sir.  I’m surprised she isn’t crying or angry.  She’s probably even more irritating difficult than you.  You must have come to the conclusion to bring the daughter of the harvest goddess to the one place her power will die.  You’re choking the life out of her.  She’s become emancipated from the Underworld’s drain on her.”

“She’s immortal.”

“She’s a goddess of the living in the land of the dead.  She’s not meant to be here, my liege.  I adored her from the moment I laid eyes on her.  But she belongs in the world of the living, not here watching this world choke the life out of her.”

“This tiredness is temporary.  All my brothers have experienced it during visits.  It will dissipate with time.”

“She’s very weak, sir.  Are you sure this isn’t sudden?”

“She is more powerful than you think.  Her new abilities will take time to fully awaken.  Her mother made sure to dull her abilities for a millennia.  She needs time.”

“She doesn’t look like a god.  More like a washed up mortal that you conned into coming here.”

Hades ignored the kooky cat and scooped up the exhausted woman in his arms.  He disappeared in a sprout of flames.  Maximilian stared open mouthed at the spot where he’d vanished, there was a bed of soft flowering moss.  His tail unconsciously swung around to the moss and finding it was in fact that he smiled.  Max chose that spot to curl into a nap.

A icy fire was brewing in the grate when Hades arrived. There was a three headed dog drooping heavily on the brick before it.  The canine’s powerful legs were twitching as if in his dream he was chasing after something he was enjoying  The house itself was sheathed in tapestries with shifting scenes depicting battles.  There were a mess of black and white photographs on the mantlepiece depicting three brothers, a woman in white, several of the doberman slobbering on the fireplace with Hades. These were punctuated by delicate vases filled with orchids which sat on either side framing the fireplace.  Before the fireplace was a set of matching suede sofas and an armchair.  Between these was a heavy varnish coffee table which held several worn journals, a well thumbed copy of the book of the dead, some glittering black crystals and oddly a white lily encased in a thick display case.  Along with a very large color signed framed photograph of Adele.  The ceiling was a map of the constellations and would shift between that and a world view and a map of the underworld.  It was lit by footprints and nameplates showing what everyone was doing.  

On one wall built into the brick wall was a set of two beds, one stacked on top of the other. It was here that Hades gingerly placed Persephone.  A thick dust settled off her and Hades was startled.  She looked skeletal like the whole aura of spring had been taken from her.  He ran his fingers through her thin limp hair.  He parted her hair when he felt an unnatural metal edge.  On her head was the cold steel of a crown.  The crown glimmered into existence for a few seconds before fading into smoke.

He sighed heavily.



    Persephone felt a pressure on her chest and opened her eyes.  

    It was Max who was seated on his haunches on her stomach.  He yawned hugely.  “Good morning my queen.  I normally wouldn’t wake you like this, but the matter is pressing that you learn about using ether here.”

    “Ether is an old word for magic.”

    “Yes.”  Max mewled coolly.  He swiped his tail across the coffee table and a solid red delicious apple popped into existence.  “Your ether when you adjust to this environment will be much more beautiful than mine.”

    “What do you want me to do, Max?”

    Max’s tail curled into a question mark.  “I want you to try and bring me the apple?  You can sit up, but don’t go and get it.  Bring it to me with ether.”

    Both spent most of the morning watching Persephone damage the apple.  Every time she did this, Max replaced the damaged apple with a new one.  They did this with varying levels of success, at times the apple becoming incinerated or mutating into strange steps.  Persephone was growing more and more frustrated.  The apple finally morphed into a banana before her stomach grumbled loudly.

           The werecat licked his paws in a sort of grooming gesture.  “Oh my, goddess of spring?  I forget you do need sustenance or you will become emancipated again.  What would you like, my lady?  Hades prefers meat.”  As he said this he made a large wooden table appear.  It was heaping with meat.

           Persephone felt bile rise to the back off her throat.  “No, Max.”

           Max’s claws scratched together in a strange clear sound and the table vanished.  He stretched again, making a nail file appear so he could file his claws.

           Persephone shivered.  “This room feels so cramped.  I miss the animals and plants I tended to while working with my mother.  It’s hard when there’s no life, Max.”

           “My queen, you are life itself.  If you want to create something you can.  The exercise was designed to show you that you shouldn’t approach the problem in the old manner.  This isn’t the above world, this is the Underworld.”

           As Max was reiterating this, Hades strode into the room.  Persephone grew very still.

           Max cleared his throat.  “Sir, as I am quite pleased to see you home early.  But its whole’s impossible for you to have finished cleaning the pit of souls in two hours.”

           Hades opened his mouth to respond, but the fireplace lit up into a roaring fire.  Everyone turned towards the heat.  A flaming letter spit out of the fire and landed square in Persephone’s lap.

           Hades exchanged glances with Max.

           Persephone batted out the flames and turned it over.  “It says it’s for me.”

           “It’s probably something that can—”  Max’s words died in his mouth as Persephone opened it.

           “It’s from my mother.”

           Hades sighed deeply.  “I’ll leave you two alone.”  He levitated Maximillan who dropped his nail file and was fairly exasperated at being manhandled by a god.  He struggled before finally submitting to being carried unceremoniously out of the room by Hades.

           Persephone looked down at the aged parchment paper.  She unfurled it and as she did words bleed onto the page.  As they inked out, she could hear Demeter’s voice in her mind.

           Demeter was frantic.  “How are things there?  Did you get enough sleep?  Is it even possible to sleep because it’s so hot?  I know they call it hell for a reason.  Is he beating you?  I knew he would.  I’m trying everything I can to get you out of there.  He’s such a violent person.  Hades is known for ruling the Underworld with such an iron fist.”

           Persephone spoke out loud, not having a pen or a quill appear for her to respond.  “Mother, you’re overreacting.  Everything is fine here.  Hades has been nothing but kind to me.  I haven’t really been out too much to be honest.”

           Demeter’s words burned darker and Persephone let go of the parchment as her hand burned from the intensity of the goddess’s words.  “Are you having intercourse?  You’re much too young to be queen.  I can let Zeus know and we can make it so you can spend some time home with me.”

           “No, mother, I want to be here.”

           “I’ve been hearing from the souls, that your face is ashen.  You look drained.  How do you expect to thrive there if you can’t even last twelve hours without fainting?  How are you going to defend yourself?  There’s nothing living.  How will you eat, my lonesome love bug?”

           “Then I’ll make something living.  I did run Divine Right mother.  Hades made me my own flower shop here in the Underworld.  It’s lovely.  There’s a nice werecat and there are so many things I can try here.”

           “So that’s what he’s having you do.  He stole you from me so he could grow a flower.  He’s playing you and taking advantage of the fact that you can’t do anything.”

           “Mother, I don’t want you meddling in this.  I want to try and make it work.  I don’t want to be weak and known as the pity of Demeter.  I need to do this.”

           “Mom will fix things for you.”

           “I don’t want to talk to you anymore.”

           “I’m doing all of this for you, flower.  You’ll thank me someday.  Don’t you remember how we were?  Wasn’t I happy?”

           After this, the paper curled into itself and disintegrated in Persephone’s hand.  She tilted her hands and the ashes flew away.  Persephone saw the tear trickle into her hands before she felt the tremoring sobs rack her body.  She curled into a ball and let the misery have her.  She hated this situation, she felt like she didn’t have any control over her life and that choices were being made for her that she didn’t understand at all.

           Hades hearing the soft sobbing and was about to confront her, when he felt Maximillian’s claws dig into his arm.  He glared down at the cat.


           “Sir, I need to teach her, before you touch her.”

           “She’s hurt.”

           “No thanks to meddling.  She’s never had freedom before so she’s struggling to figure out what to do with it.  Whatever that woman she calls mother did to her, we don’t know.  A lot of changes are coming to the Underworld and she will be the source.  You cannot help her in this.  She is the flower and you are the tree.  Your roots will choke her if you’re not careful.”

           Max was expecting the ruler to grow angry, but instead Hades was strangely complacent.  “I want to give her a life.”

           Max wiggled out of Hades arms.  The god left as Max paddled up to Persephone and buried himself in her lap.  Persephone initially did not pet him, but as his warmth reached her, she accepted his comforting presence.

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