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her phantom beside

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In the dusklight she shines a gentle gold, the world's most beautiful woman, the world's most coveted trophy. She is draped in blue, like she knows her body belongs to the godly sky.

Even the curls of her hair are touched with homesickness - but her eyes hold the worst of it. A woman is a war, and she knows this well. Her two halves pulling apart at the place where her ribs meet - the need to run, to touch and taste a world beyond the shadow of men and their captive hearts, and this new, raw ache - a need for solid, familiar comfort which seems so far now that even the map of the sky has changed.

She does not realise she's crying until the first tear lands wetly on her upturned palm and Helen aches for something she no longer has language for (and almost no one can speak her language anyhow, they speak in touch, a hand here, a brush of a body there.)

As the tears fall a storm preys upon the distant ocean and in Cassandra's mind's eye Helen is the lightning bolt, pure gold and alight with pain.

Helen's whole self enveloped in the bruises of a war fought across her body as if it were a country to conquer. She is so starved for the presence of women, because she cannot bite her words for the violence-drunk men any longer. She wants to hiss her curses like a sorceress, to whisper her tears into the lap of her maidens and share the pain until it grows thin enough to shoulder.

In the dark, in the hidden space, where no one has even thought to look, Cassandra whispers “For Helen.”

And perhaps just this once, the men will listen.