Cleopatra

DREAMS AND MELANCHOLY

The Queen of the Nile. A goddess beholden to no one. Left to float down the river on her own if she so commands, or to read sci-fi novels in bed with a pack of cigarettes. Joyce is Glory’s mother in PERSEPHONE IN HELL, my novel set in 1968. Glory has stayed up late, waiting for her mother to come home from work. It’s hard to gain Ma’s attention. And Glory’s lonely. She despises her name, hates her life, wishes for an existence she can only imagine.

“Ma?” she wondered. “Have you ever wanted to be rich and famous, like a movie star? Have you ever wanted to be someone besides yourself? If you could be a queen, Ma, who would you be?”

Glory’s mother considered the exhausting day she had just finished. “I suppose Cleopatra,” she replied. “Why? Cleopatra floated down the Nile on her own barge. She could be alone anytime she wanted. She made rules to suit herself.”

Ma took a drag on her Chesterfield and flicked the ashes into the kitchen sink. “Oh, and she drank lovely coconut milk and ate figs dipped in honey. Egypt is hot but not ungodly humid like here in summer. She had the gentle breezes of the Nile to keep her cool. Yes, I’d be Cleopatra if I had a chance.”

Joyce scraped her scrambled eggs onto a plate and took a last drag of her cigarette. She looked for an empty ashtray. Every one of them overflowed. She dropped the butt into a coffee cup left on the table from breakfast. She closed her eyes for a moment and luxuriated in the notion of being all alone.”

Joyce doesn’t mean to neglect Glory. It’s just that she, like her daughter, is broken by the circumstances of her difficult life. And don’t we all wish at times that we could be someone else, anyone else?

 

 

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