A modern Aridane/Dionysus meeting.
Ariadne leaned on the rough wooden railings, blinking back angry tears. The party continued all around her; people laughing, the clink of glasses, the ceaseless rush of the waves against the shore, a bonfire sending bright sparks into the night sky. As if nothing had happened.
How could she have been so wrong? Blinded by love? Lust? Was Tee really so charming that he’d warped her thoughts and feelings into some obsession she’d been powerless against?
His cowardice meant he hadn’t even been able to say the words outright. I’m leaving you; that was what he should have said, instead of dissembling, making excuses. “It’s been fun, Addy, but…” Tee had shrugged his shoulders and walked away. She’d stared after him, wondering how she could ever have thought him attractive, this reckless youth, this braggart.
She’d known they’d had problems but the breakup still hurt like a stake in the heart. She guessed he’d chosen the party to do the deed so she wouldn’t make a scene, and because all his friends were there to back him up. Most of them had never liked nor trusted her, and she wondered how much influence his friends had had on Tee’s decision.
The pain, though initially overwhelming, soon faded to a dull ache, a burning resentment in her chest. She swallowed her grief and stoked the fire of righteous anger instead. This was her repayment for everything she had done for Tee? The betrayals she was guilty of, the help she’d given him to become rich beyond his wildest dreams. Her parents had been right to distrust him, and yet she’d turned against them, believing Tee to be worthy of her love.
Maybe the rumours were right, she reflected. Maybe he did have something to do with the disappearance of her half-brother – not that his loss was much mourned, for he was monstrous by nature, but still…
How long she had been staring sightlessly out at the sea, she couldn’t say. Minutes. Eons. Until someone rested one denim-clad hip on the railing beside her.
“Are you all right?”
His voice was cultured, gentle and yet powerful. She shrugged.
“I heard about Tee,” he said and she closed her eyes. Of course he had. Her shame was no doubt already being splashed over every social media site. “He’s a jackass,” the denim wearer added.
At that, she shifted her weight and straightened up, a smile quirking one corner of her lips. “He is.”
She assessed the newcomer; average height, brown skin and blue eyes, an unusual combination that she found very attractive.
“I’m Dion.” He swirled the wine in his glass, making the liquid lap against the sides like a sudden squall in a crimson sea.
“I know.” Everyone in their social group knew Dion. His father was a billionaire, and Dion was one of his many bastard sons. Dion had been given a vineyard, and the business was profitable, allowing him to pursue his favoured interests. He was a poet, or at least, his critics said, he wrote poetry. He was in a band too, played guitar, sang wild songs about passion of all kinds.
He held out his glass. “Here. One of my better vintages. The invite said bring a bottle, which seemed stingy, so I brought a crate.” His eyes crinkled when he smiled. Not showing off, as Tee would have been, just wanting everyone to have a good time. Generous, that was that they said about Dion. A little hot-headed sometimes, but in her experience, what man wasn’t?
She accepted the glass and sniffed at the wine which was the colour of her sleeveless dress. The wine smelt of late summer fruits and fertile earth. When she sipped the smooth liquid it was delicious, rich and fruity. Dion watched her with anticipation, delight spreading across his face when she nodded her approval.
“Screw him,” Dion said, apropos of nothing. “Or, you know, don’t screw him ever again. He doesn’t deserve you.”
“You don’t know me.” Her free hand went to her neck, finger and thumb clutching at the silver labyrinthine pendant, a gift from her parents.
“I’ve seen you around. Heard what people say. That you’re brave, and clever, and beautiful. I can see that last one for myself.”
She felt her cheeks burn with unexpected pleasure at his words.
“I want to write a poem for you,” he said earnestly. “About the way your dark hair curls about the curve of your neck.”
She took a gulp of wine, not bothering to savour it this time. “Write me a song,” she challenged. “Something with drums and guitars. Something to dance to.”
Dion laughed. “I shall,” he said, his eyes sparkling.
“Addy,” someone called from the darkness. “We’re going swimming!”
She raised her eyes heavenward. “I hate that nickname,” she told Dion. Tee had insisted on it, and she was damned if she was going to allow it in the future.
Dion leaned in close. “I shall always call you by whatever name you want, Ariadne.”
Her full name on his lips was like a prayer, and as his fingers caressed her pendant, she forget all about Tee, swept away by Dion’s warm presence.
Dion pulled back and stripped off his jacket and t-shirt, revealing a well toned physique. He held out one hand. “I’m going for a swim. Won’t you join me?”
She placed her glass down carefully and nodded. She kicked off her sandals. Still wearing her dress, she let him lead her into the waves, the salt water washing away every last vestige of regret.
When she was waist-deep in the water he stopped, gazed down at her. She couldn’t remember, after, if he’d initiated the kiss or she did.
What she did know was that when their lips met Dion tasted like wine and wild abandon. Adriane clung to him, wrapping her legs around his waist, letting her head tip back to look at the stars and the moon, her hair floating like seaweed behind her.
“Ariadne,” he said throatily. “Ariadne.” In her mind she heard be mine and in her heart she responded, yes.
Notes: There are many variants on the myths surrounding Ariadne, Theseus, and Dionysus. Some identify Ariadne as a goddess in her own right. Dionysus, god of wine and ecstasy is a patron of the arts including theatre, poetry, and music.
The title comes from “Bacchus and Ariadne” by Leigh Hunt (1819): Gave first a look, and then a kiss divine/And said, ‘Be happy, Ariadne mine.’
The title image is a composite from images at Pixabay by two photographers