We could be an opera
if we tell it right.
That night we first kissed —
in the telling, remember
the tree on the hill
and say: “In the dark
the moon followed us home.”
But you wouldn’t let me keep it.
It was just past midnight when the moon fell from the sky.
It landed in the lake south of our barn and slowly began to sink below the surface. I saw it from my place at the window.
Lately I have been unable to sleep and lie in bed beside my husband until his breathing changes to soft snores. Then I move to the chair beside the window from which I can study the night sky.
It seems to me the Universe surely has all the answers hidden somewhere. All we need to do is to look in the right place, ask the right questions, and our little piece of the eternal puzzle will be revealed.
This farm and this life and this man are what I chose. Now I study the stars and wonder— is this all there is?
The life has become harder, the farm has struggled through crop failures and now flooding and the man…..well the man and I appear to have fallen out of love. Or so it seems.
So I sit up at night and look to the sky for answers.
Although the rains have stopped much of the country around here is flooded. Rivers have spilled over their banks and culverts and gulleys run with water. Our lake has risen right up to the barn.
Tonight the muddy lake water has turned to a beautiful fiery gold. It has gathered up the moons’ shine and multiplied it out from the center to reach as far as the water spreads. It is so beautiful I sit and gaze at it for a long while before i notice that the moon is sinking.
I dress quickly, calling my husband’s name as I pull on jeans and a sweatshirt. It takes him moments to wake but when he looks out the window he doesn’t question me, just begins to dress as fast as I. Downstairs we yank on coats and pull our clean mud boots from the closet. In minutes we are standing on the lake shore, wondering what to do.
As the night sky rotates towards dawn we try different solutions. Pulling it with a rope does not work, in fact it causes it to tip and slip further beneath the surface. After three failed attempts I turn to my husband and see the same feeling of despair written on his face. This seems so important to us, so vital for us to do together. There is no thought of calling others to help.
He drags our row-boat from the barn and throws the rope into it. Together we push-off and sail to the middle of the lake where our moon waits patiently. Together we use the rope to lift it easily into the boat . Together we hold the moon up and maneuver back to safe ground.
When we roll the moon out of the boat it lifts gently up into the air and glides back into the night sky. I find myself holding my husband’s hand and when he leans in for a kiss it is the best kiss we have ever shared. I melt into his arms and in the morning I’m still there, snuggled close beside him in our bed.
“What an odd and beautiful dream,” I think and wonder if that is why everything feels so much better this morning.
The love of my life is still sleeping when I tiptoe downstairs to start the coffee.
My first memory is of crouching by the fire, watching my mother throw rune stones. The woman who had come to see us kept her face covered but my mother called her by name as though she could see through cloth. Perhaps she could.
I was fascinated by the runes and longed to feel them in my fingers but I knew to do so would be asking for punishment, swift and sure. Once, and once only, I had touched those runes, gently taking the one which looked like a star into my hand.
“Ior,” my mother said, carefully taking it from me. Then she slapped me hard across the face.
“You do not ever touch my runes,” she said. “They are mine, they carry my energy and to defile them with yours is to put me in danger. Do you understand?”
I stared at her silently, willing the tears away. “I want to learn,” I said simply. She narrowed her eyes and peered at me closely.
“Ior,” she said again. “The water beast. It represents the World Serpent which circles the world at the bottom of the ocean. The Serpent is a dangerous beast; when it moves it can cause the earth to shake and the waters of the ocean to drown the land, ” she said.
“And yet, it is necessary, essential to the growth of crops, the cycle of birth and death, the entire continuation of the world. Even if it could be destroyed the void which followed would be worse than the Serpent’s continuing existence. What does that tell you?” she demanded.
I had not thought to be questioned and took a moment to ponder.
“That Ior has two natures, much like the beasts of the water who also walk on the land.”
There was a pause while my mother studied me.
“So wise for one so young,” she said. “Ior symbolizes the unavoidable hardships and problems with which we must learn to live so that our lives can be tolerable. When it appears it is a reminder that we should not worry about things we cannot change. Sometimes a loss can be transformed into something new.”
Many nights followed that first one as I sat at my mother’s knee while she taught me the art of reading the future. I learned to predict when babies would arrive, how close an approaching raiding party might be and how many would die when they arrived. I predicted storms, and crop failure, and marriages. Many years went by and I became even better than she at reading the stones.
As her health failed I gradually took over her duties in the tribe. Late one evening she called me to her bedside and asked that I read for her. I drew a circle on the dirt floor and cast the runes into it.
“What do they say?” she asked.
“Once more,” I said, and cast again. Then again. And again.
When the Death rune continued to fall from my hand I knew that she did not have much longer among us.
I did not see the rune for Transformation which fell behind it every time.
The rune stones did not show my fate on the night my mother died. But when she rose from her death bead and took them away from me, I read it in her eyes.
From ghoulies and ghosties
and long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
From witches and skellies
and bloodsucking vampires
And things that crawl up your leg,
Dear Lord, deliver us!
From goblins and boogeymen
and phantasms of gore
And things that hide under the bed,
Please Lord, deliver us!
From aliens and chainsaws
and drug lords and dealers
And those that steal innocence,
Our Lord, deliver us!
From kidnappers and thieves
and molesters and rapists
And those who would take what isn’t theirs,
Dear Lord, deliver us!
From abusers and stalkers,
and killers, and murderers of every kind
And those who do harm for their own sake,
Good Lord, deliver us!
For howsoever the monsters change,
we, who must live among them,
continue to need Your protection.
The First Stanza of the above poem is actually the original Scottish prayer, in its entirety; a portion of which is referenced in the Yeah Write prompt for this writing challenge. I have taken the liberty of expanding upon the original in the next six stanzas.
For more fabulous responses to the prompt go to http://yeahwrite.me/fiction-poetry-writing-challenge-185/
She looked deeply into his eyes. He was seated across the table from her, a sputtering candle chaperoning between them.
“Is this your first time?” she asked kindly.
“How did you know?”
“You look nervous. ”
“I am. I’ve never done this before.”
“It’s alright,” she said. “It’s easy and I’m here to take care of you.”
“Thank you. But I don’t need taking care of.”
“Oh, I know. It’s just that – the first time you don’t know what to expect. And I’ve done this……well a lot.”
“You must think I’m so incredibly naive.”
“Not at all. I think you are sweet. It was kind of you to come at such short notice. ”
“No one ever asked before,” he said with a little embarrassed laugh. “I guess I’m not very suited to this, this, er….performance?”
“Don’t be silly,” she said. “You will be wonderful – I can tell.”
“So – what happens next?” he asked.
“Myra!” a strident voice interrupted them. “What is he saying? I know he’s here, you are obviously talking to someone!”
She turned to the rather large woman sitting to her right. “He is asking what we want to know, Mrs. Hamilton.
“Well!” huffed the other woman. “Clearly we want to know if he can contact my husband! Is this personage a dolt?”
Myra cringed and shot a quick glance across the table to see if Charles was offended. He sat calmly, hands folded in front of him.
“Can you hear her?” she whispered.
“No. Is she talking?”
She tried not to allow the relief to show in her voice. “She is asking if you can contact her husband.”
“And I am supposed to know her husband? Because all dead people know all other dead people?” he said.
She couldn’t help laughing. “I shall inquire.”
“Mrs. Hamilton it will help my Spirit Guide if you could tell us something about your husband,” she said. The other woman smiled.
“Well, he was very handsome……and very successful……and left us all too soon,” she murmured. “Also I’d like to know where he left the will? His children – my step-children – are going to contest my ability to inherit anything and it would be such a help if Ernest could just let me know where the will is. He promised me I would inherit everything, you see.”
“She wants to know where Ernest left the will.”
“Ernest?” Charles asked. “Ernest have a last name?”
“Ernest Hamilton. I’ll just ring him up, shall I?”
“Look, Charles, I don’t know how to tell you to find….”
“The will was never written.” Charles intoned in his best sonorous voice.
“He never wrote a will. He lied to her.”
“How do you know?”
“Trust me. I know. Tell her.”
“There is no will, Mrs. Hamilton. Apparently your husband made that up.”
“I KNEW IT!” the other woman shreiked. “BASTARD!”
A long silence settled on the room.
“How we doing so far?” Charles asked
“Ummmm, good, really good. You’re a natural at this.”
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Written for the Yeah Write fiction challenge number 183 . Go to Yeah Write Fiction/Poetry to read all the other awesome entries!
I tried to forgive them. Every year, I tried to forgive them. Until this year. This year I decided to do something about it.
The people who live in the house on Hanford Street are not nice people. They are mean people. They are stingy people. They are maybe even dangerous people.
Something needs to be done about them. And I’m just the kid to do it! This year. Maybe.
You see, even though their house sits out more or less in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by other run-down buildings and weedy grass, it is located in prime Trick or Treat territory. On account of because it is the only house on a really special block. A block that connects the two neighborhoods with the best candy in the whole town. Kids have been known to entirely fill up their pillowcases just by walking back and forth between those two neighborhoods.
But you have to go past the house on Hanford Street to do it. So, of course, you have to dare your buddies to go knock on the door.
We’ve been doing this since I was about six years old. It’s always Charlie that starts it.
“I dare you to go ring their doorbell,” he said that first year. Me and Remy looked at each other and then at him. “YOU go ring their doorbell,” I challenged him back. Of course he wouldn’t.
But some older kids came along then and walked right up on the porch like it was nothing Rang the bell. The door opened. We couldn’t exactly see inside but we saw the kids hold open their pillowcases and they were laughing when they ran by us.
So we got up enough guts to try it. The three of us, all together. We walked up the creaky steps and even when a rat ran across the porch we didn’t scram. We lined up in front of the door and I watched my finger jab the doorbell. The door creaked open and candy fell into our pillowcases. But it was kind of weird, none of us actually saw who put it there. I was so busy looking at the full size Hershey bars (two of them!) going into my stash that I never even looked up.
The next year it was scads of Milk Duds and the year after that Milky Ways AND Snickers bars. A handful each of the little ones – which still adds up to a lot of candy. But the year after that it got strange. They gave out little homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. If my Dad had still been walking the neighborhood with us he never would have let us eat them – there were always news stories about nutcases poisoning kids or slipping razor blades in candy bars. We wolfed the sandwiches right down and didn’t die but it was still disappointing. That’s when I started trying to practice forgiveness.
The year after that it was grapes. About four each. Even worse than sandwiches but we ate them.
“It’s like these folks suddenly got on a health kick!” Charlie complained and of course we agreed with him. I thought the grapes tasted sour.
Last year it was hard-boiled eggs. We threw them out as we ran down the front walk. They made a satisfying splat! sound — which gave us an idea.
This year we brought eggs with us. Raw eggs. A lot of them. These folks needed to be taught a lesson so they would go back to the days of full size Hershey Bars. We egged the whole porch, the front window and even the front door. Then we stood there with our pillowcases and rang the doorbell.
The door opened. A bit of fog curled low around our feet. It was dark inside but somewhere way in the back there was flickering lights, like firelight. It smelled funny, kind of like when you open the garbage can after rain leaks in. And the air was so cold and damp it made me shiver. But not as much as I did when I saw the claws on the feet in front of me. For the first time I looked up at who lived in the House on Hanford Street.
And gosh, to this day I sure wish I never had!
I keep trying to get the badge code to link back but no luck. This also happened on my last post over at Suzanne’s Grammar Ghoul Challenge. I recently changed themes and I’m wondering if somehow that is affecting why I can’t get the badges to link back. So sorry !!!
In the span of a breath, everything changed. We were enjoying a late Manhattan afternoon during the crisp early days of autumn when the city is at it’s finest. One moment she was holding my hand and the next she was running towards an ice cream stand on the opposite side of the street. My heart stopped at the exact instant that my brain registered she had just dashed into heavy traffic. Cars honked and swerved but the truck driver must not have seen her. I screamed her name again, again and then again. There was nothing else I could do.
Sometimes it is the smallest decisions that can change your life forever. We could have stayed at the library a little longer, or left there half an hour earlier. In either case the truck would not have been barreling down the right lane at the exact same moment in time my Emily chose to let go of my hand and run into the street. We could have stayed home that afternoon, baking cookies or puttering in our little garden which took up most of the back yard around the lone scraggly, wildly bent tree. Making mud pies maybe. Emily loved mud pies from the time she could first toddle into a puddle on her own.
But we chose the weekly trip to the library with a promise of ice cream afterwards. We had a game we played on each visit called “Flavor of the Week.” The rules were simple: never choose the same flavor twice. The previous week Emily had tried Peach for the first time and I snuck in an old favorite – Lime sherbet. While we waited on our double scoops I noticed an intriguing new flavor had been added to the list of choices. A handwritten word was scrawled between Lemon and Lime on the menu board. It read: “Lilac.”
“Do you suppose it really tastes like flowers, Em?” I remember asking her. And her excited response “Let’s get it next week, Mama, both of us!” So that was our plan as we walked from the library with another week’s worth of picture books. Lilac Ice Cream for two before we hurried back to the apartment to see Daddy when he got home from work.
It is sometimes necessary to forget in order to survive. But I remember everything about that afternoon. The way the late afternoon sun slanted through the spaces between buildings and glimmered on the traffic, the warm and somehow comforting smell of exhaust fumes and the swizzling sounds of tires swooshing across the pavement. I remember seeing my daughter’s laughing face turn back over her shoulder to call to me “Come on Mama!” as she runs blindly away. The distance between us grows while her golden curls bounce in the wind. Her chubby cheeks are flushed from the walk and her tiny white teeth are bared in a delighted grin.
In this moment of total joy she is almost transcendent in her happiness.
I can’t stop my tears and lately I don’t even try. It could have been so different.
I remember the sound of horns and the squeal of brakes from passing cars while Emily ran on. She was already past the truck and into the other lane of traffic when that truck suddenly swerved around her and stopped abruptly, acting as a barrier between her and the oncoming traffic. She reached the opposite curb and turned back to me, her frightened face finally registering a realization of the danger.
Well, I missed the Speakeasy deadline again – this time by a full day! I’m finding my writing process (read: slow) and required daily obligations (read: job) are interfering far more than they used to. So, not wanting to waste my little effort I’m posting it here for your reading pleasure. Comments most welcome!
The days of the week lined up like buckets, ready to catch whatever fell in. Most weeks it was nothing much. This week it looked like it could be something else.
My morning started out fairly busy for a Monday – lost dogs, a wandering grandma, husband philanderer….still, nothing out of the ordinary. But by lunch time I figured I needed more sleep, I needed a cold beer, and I needed to hire a secretary. What I had were stiletto heels, crimson red lipstick, and a hat with a stinking cute little black veil. I put them all on and headed for the door. On the way out I grabbed Jerry’s gun.
The new client wanted to meet in the park. Ok by me. He said he’d be on the bench by the duck pond.
I hate ducks. But – probably I could avoid the little bastards. The client wanted to talk romance. Just what I needed on a Monday morning. I wondered why I had only downed one cuppa java as I wandered through the park avoiding ducks and looking for the client. Sure enough he was sitting at the Duck Pond. Or at least someone was.
I wandered over and threw some corn in the water. The little misbegotten freaks converged on it immediately and swallowed half the pond whole in order to consume it all. The guy on the bench laughed.
“You want to sit?” he asked.
I sidled over and sat at the far end of the bench. “You wanted to meet?” I muttered.
“I have a job – for someone who thinks romance stinks,” he said.
“That would be me,” I responded and emptied the bag of corn at my feet.
Big mistake. Dozen of the little bastard ducklings swarmed around me – some of them even stepped on me with their hideous nugatory webbed feet. I kept shuddering and pretending I wasn’t.
“I need someone to do a job. Tonight,” my contact breathed.
“What kind of job?”
“My brother….a dare – you want the job I give you the details.”
I thought about it for a minute. “Yeah, sure,” I said.
“Let’s walk,” he said.
* * * * *
After our conversation I felt relieved. Almost guilty even. This would be too easy. Still, it was what the client wanted to pay for and who am I to judge? I thought the guy was as nuts as a pair of yodeling monkeys but I liked him.
I rolled into the Oxley Hotel lobby at exactly 7:08 as planned. Punched the elevator button for the 5th floor and settled in for the slow rise. At room 503 I knocked briefly and wasn’t surprised when the door drifted open underneath my knuckles. The client and his brother sat stiffly on the sofa. There was blood on the floor in front of them.
I came in gun drawn and a hideous snarl making a mockery of my face. “Who the hell are you two,” I demanded and knocked the brother’s chin with the business end of my gun.
He responded appropriately and I winked at my client. Seemed we were headed down the right path.
“I’m looking for Jon Jacob Joseph Jones,” I declared and dared them to snicker under the ferocity of my eyes. “You know where I could find him?”
“NO,” my client said and motioned towards the door. His glance back to the blood-stained carpet told me something had gone wrong.
“What do you want him for?” the brother asked.
“Murder?” I hazarded a guess. “His.”
The two brothers exchanged a glance. I walked farther into the darkened room and took up a position by the window. The room was lighted only by the incremental flashes of neon from a sign hanging just outside the hotel window. Red, white, green…red, white, green….the lights flashed their message.
“Listen you guys,” I started. “I know why you brought me here. Someone has to take the fall. Because there must have been something deep inside you from the very start that let you do this thing, but there’s always been something deep inside me that would never let me do it, – and would never let me be a party to it.”
The brother turned to my client, “Do you have any idea what she is talking about?” he asked.
“Not a clue.”
The neon flashed. We all turned to look out the window. I decided to try again.
“Tell me about it,” I snarled.
The brother broke first.
“We never planned it!” his voice was as shaky as a glass of gin on a teetotaler’s tray. “The guy shows up and says he’s in love with my girl. Wants to marry her! Tells me to bow out of the picture.”
My client interrupted with a cough. “The guy shows up half an hour early and brings a gun with him,” he says. He gives me a look.
“What do you mean early?” the brother asked. I cut him off.
“So what did you tell the swell? You bow out on your girl?”
“Hell, no! I told him to get lost, that I loved her and if anybody was marrying her it wasn’t going to be him!”
I looked at my client and nodded. “So he bought it,” I said.
“Yeah but, then the guy pulled a gun. We didn’t talk about guns so I told him to put it away.” The client wiped a hand over his face which was sweating like a pig on safari.
“So I jumped him,” the brother said. “Tried to get it away from him.”
“Then I jumped both of them – I didn’t plan for anyone to get hurt,” my client said. “The gun went off – damn fool had even loaded it! He went down, dropped dead on that spot,” he said pointing to the bloodstain.
“Where is he now?” I asked
I opened the closet door and peeked in. He was lying in a fetal position, still clutching the gun with both hands. Dead as a door nail, all right.
I looked back at the brothers. They were arguing in whispers. I guessed the jig was up.
“Either one of you touch the gun?” I asked.
“No – I had him in a stranglehold and genius here tackled both of us.”
“So now what?” my client asked.
“Now we leave.”
“That’s it. It was an accident – no need to be part of it, that just gets messy.”
I started for the hallway. “Leave separately. Unseen by management – don’t walk out through the lobby. And for Christ’s sake don’t tell anybody about this!”
At the door I paused.
“One more piece of advice, gents. Don’t meddle with romance – it never works out.” I looked at the brother. “And if you really love her – marry the dame.”
The stairwell was right around the corner. The window on the landing looked out over the neon sign. Red, white, green.
I wondered if I would still get paid.
“I’ve come to love the silence,” she thought and immediately felt surprise. When had that happened and how was it even possible?
She, who would give everything in the world for just one more hour of her daughter’s laughter, how could she have come to relish silence? She remembered the squeals of delight which echoed off the palace walls and bounced up and down the scale of glee. She remembered also the hasty whispers of innocent secrets, the growl of tantrums, the breaths of wishes now left unfulfilled. Oh to hear any of those sounds again instead of all this – nothing! How had she come to love the silence?
Perhaps she had grown weary of the sound of weeping. Her own tears flowed silently. But the cook, the dove-keeper, the maids and footmen, the coach driver and the stable boys – even the palace guardsmen all wept loudly and long. When she could stand it no longer she sent them out again, searching. No matter that everyone had searched for days and days after the girl went missing. No matter that she had sat in her window night after sleepless night crooning all the old familiar lullabies in hopes that somehow her child would hear and follow the sound home. No matter, no matter, no matter. Searching was all they had left. So search they would.
It was the end of the following day, just as the all-seeing Sun was dipping towards his bed, when she saw the shadow of a young girl on the edge of the forest. She stared at it for too long before she realized what it was and turned to question the Sun. He had nearly disappeared before she turned back and watched the story play out in shadow form – Persephone picking narcissus, the ground opening and Hades riding forth in his midnight chariot. His shadow seemed darker than all the rest and as he sprang from the chariot and wrapped his arms around the girl it appeared as if he were the forest itself, entangling the girl in his branches. Demeter could not help a startled groan when the tree-man plucked Persephone’s shadowy form from the hillside and carried her down below the earth. Then the Sun set and all was dark, the story finished.
At that moment Despair walked beside her for the first time and she gave up wanting to live.
She had already departed her body when something began to tear inside it. A surge of feeling without a name washed over her. It was stronger than memory, stronger than regret or fear. She recognized it as the pulse of an enforced loss, delivered by the wrenching away of that which she held most dear. And nothing in the world mattered any longer.
She began walking and as she walked the earth died around her.
Grass shriveled, leaves dropped sullenly from the trees and entire fields of crops withered where they stood. Vegetable gardens and beds of flowers became lush with decay and the bubbling streams and giggling brooks grew silent and dark. She did not notice.
She went into the Palace of the Gods and she shut the door behind her.
This is part two of a retelling of the Persephone and Demeter myth which I started last week. You can find the first part – and a brief explanation – here: https://splendidsass.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/six-little-seeds/
She couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen the stars. Sometimes, when she was trying to forget all she had left behind, the memory would bubble up unbidden: a night sky that once stretched above her for as far as she could see, the flicker of stars twinkling hope.
She sees herself there now, a small figure standing between the ocean and the forest, gazing upwards at the emerging stars. Here is the palace of the gods over which the mountains rise in graceful beneficence. Here are the lush fields and flourishing forests, providing both home and sustenance for all the creatures who walk the land. Here also is the constant push and pull of the sea in all of its blue serenity. There is such peace in these memories of home.
In this place – no, in the memories of this place – lie everything which means happiness to her. In the calls of birds and the echoes of their music; in the tang of both salt air and pine trees as well as in the taste of cinnamon and pomegranate and honey.
From outside the palace by the sea she hears her mother’s voice calling her name. Deep night falls inside the castle as she snuggles close beside her mother, drifting into sleep. She will remember this later when trying to keep herself alive: falling asleep one last time in her mother’s warmth beneath the open window, in the light of the stars.
She wakens early to accept her fate on a day misty with spring. There is a hint of lilac in the salt air. Her mother sleeps late and so she eats alone at the little table in the kitchen under the watchful eye of the cook.
“I’m going to the cove to play with the naiads,” she tells the older woman who sputters a protest ending in a chuckle.
Down the hillside she runs, past the koi pond and the garden which bursts with tiny new green shoots and onto the sandy shore of the cove where her friends wait, splashing in the salty spray sent up by little waves.
By midday the sky has opened a little; a thin sun shines; clouds skim. She decides to return to the palace for the midday meal and promises the naiads to return soon after.
When she climbs the hill she sees a glimmer of white on the edge of the forest and wanders closer in hopes of finding narcissus to gift her mother.
As she approaches the patch of flowers something rumbles from deep in the earth, a sickening sort of grinding and then everything lurches wildly, whips back, lurches more wildly still. The trees start flinging themselves to the ground and she turns to flee, to dive free onto open ground and clutch it, as if riding the back of a whale. Time elongates. Three minutes become a lifetime.
When the jolting ends a rift has swallowed a widening V of ground which disappears into a dark cavernous hole. And from the depths of that dark hole spring forth two black horses pulling a midnight chariot carrying a dark rider from the underworld.
He sits opposite her now, these many months later.
“No light, no light in your bright blue eyes,” she thinks as he presents her with a bowl of fruit. Her favorite, a pomegranate, rests on top.
“Be sure to eat the seeds,” he urges. “They are eternally special.”
The above is my retelling of the beginning of the Persephone myth, written for the Speakeasy Prompt at Yeah Write. Unfortunately I missed that deadline while searching for the perfect image to accompany the story. When Christine suggested I post this in the Moonshine grid I jumped at the chance. Be sure to visit Yeah Write Speakeasy to read all the great stories which followed the same prompts that inspired this story.
For those not familiar with the myth here is a thumb nail version:
Persephone was the daughter of Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest. One day while she was playing, Hades, Lord of the Underworld, saw her and fell in love with her. He took her away to his underworld kingdom and although Demeter searched and searched she could not find her lost child.
Broken-hearted, Demeter wandered the earth, until the all-seeing Sun revealed what had happened. Demeter was so angry that she withdrew herself in loneliness, and the earth ceased to be fertile.
Zeus realized this could not continue and sent a messenger down to Hades to make him release Persephone. Hades grudgingly agreed, but gave Persephone a pomegranate. When she later ate of it, it bound her to the underworld for one month of the year for each seed which she ate. The other months she was allowed to stay with her mother.
While Persephone was in Hades, Demeter refused to let anything grow and winter began. Each year when Persephone emerged from the underground, life would return to the world.