The Narcissus Flower
by Serene Autumn
The Myth of Narcissus is well known. Everyone has their own story about that beautiful man who drowned in his own reflection.
My name is Echo. I am a Mountain nymph, doomed to repeat the words and stories of others. This was my punishment for crossing the goddess Hera. I am here to share with you the true tale of my beloved Narcissus. I could only watch his life from afar and was powerless to change his fate.
Over time, I noticed he had eyes for another, a woman who matched Narcissus in both beauty and grace but surpassed him in bravery and skill. Narcissus’ glorious twin sister Persephone, from her golden locks of hair to her sleight muscular frame, could have been a mirror to her gorgeous brother.
Narcissus was orphaned very young, and it quickly became obvious that, without Persephone, he would have never survived. I didn’t care about his flaws though; every year I watched him, my love for him grew.
Life was difficult for the twins, but their good looks and Persephone’s adeptness with a bow got them through.
One harvest season, though, things got rough. Winter was around the corner, and they hadn’t snared enough game to buy the grain and preserves to get them through winter. Narcissus was feeling more useless than ever as his sister struggled to feed both of them.
“I’m so sorry I’m no good at anything,” Narcissus whimpered on their way in the door after an unsuccessful hunt.
“It’s fine, Narcissus,” Persephone consoled him while she began skinning a rabbit she had caught. “I can take care of us, really.”
“That’s just it, though, isn’t it?” Narcissus began to cry. He ran out the door, into the woods, his mind racing with confusing thoughts of love and disappointment.
Narcissus heard a shriek from behind him, and he stopped in his tracks. Turning around he ran back, thinking, Persephone, please be all right!
Persephone was not all right; she had been gored badly by a giant boar. Without thinking, Narcissus angrily threw a rock at the monster, which was now rooting around in a nearby bush. It struck the pig in the head with a solid thwack. Riled up, the hog charged at him full tilt and knocked Narcissus unconscious.
Pain was the first thing Narcissus noticed, but when he opened his eyes, he saw his sister looking back at him. She was covered in blood but smiling. “You’re okay,” she sighed. “Thank the gods. I love you, Narcissus.”
“I love you more,” he returned, choking back tears as he watched the life drain from Persephone’s eyes.
Days passed after the funeral. He saw a physician for his injuries, but Narcissus would be irreparably scarred and hunched over for the rest of his life. Narcissus began frequenting my reflecting pool, searching for an echo of his sister.
“I can’t even look at you in my reflection anymore,” Narcissus lamented. “The gods have seen fit to take the very memory of you away from me. All I see looking back at me is your sad face, contorted in pain!” He swiped helplessly at the water to erase the twisted image in front of him.
Suddenly, it occurred to Narcissus that it didn’t have to be this way. I was filled with dread when he began climbing a cliff on the deep side of the reflecting pool.
“I’ll see you soon, my love,” was the last thing Narcissus ever said before diving into the water and sinking into the abyss.
I wept at the edge of the water and, from the tears, grew a new species of flower with delicate white and yellow petals that came to be known as the Narcissus Daffodil.
* * *
Narcissus woke up sputtering, clutching at his chest frantically next to a wide river. Down a long tunnel, Narcissus could see a ferry slowly making its way to him, but he felt no fear. Narcissus knew he had to find Persephone, no matter what. All Narcissus could think of as the boat approached was being at her side, seeing her smile, and hearing her laugh just one more time.
Three figures appeared out of the mist on the small ship, Narcissus recognized one of them immediately.
Persephone was more dazzling than ever; she was wearing a fine, elaborately embroidered red linen chiton wedding dress, Violets strung through her luxurious curls, and her body was lavishly adorned with jewels.
The first of the other two was obviously the ferryman, in his long hooded robe. The remaining passenger, however, caused chills to run down Narcissus’ spine. Hades sat next to Persephone, holding her hand in his.
Hades had brazenly chosen to follow wedding tradition and wore no clothing. Narcissus felt minuscule in his presence.
The boat docked, and the bride and groom debarked without a word. Narcissus felt compelled to bow deeply as they approached.
Hades looked down at the young man in front of him and thought for a moment with a sneer, putting his long slender arm over Persephone’s shoulder.
“Out of love for your sister, I will give you a choice, Narcissus,” Hades said. “Call it my wedding present to you, my dear.” Hades kissed Persephone passionately.
“I can return you to life, Narcissus. I can give you back your looks, and you will be back in the natural weave of fate. Or you can stay with us forever, but you will remain disfigured and ugly.”
“I don’t care about beauty as long as I’m with her!” Narcissus proclaimed without a trace of doubt.
Persephone smiled sadly at her brother in that moment, leaning into her husband’s embrace.
Hades smiled a toothy grin. “Welcome home, brother-in-law.”
Copyright © 2018 by Serene Autumn