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The Works of Warfare

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A wife prays for her husband, a queen for her king.

Her days always start with sacrifices for the war's swift conclusion, and her lord husband's victorious return. The sacrifice always goes willingly; the priests never risk bad omens, and drug the grain the night before.

She watches in silence, the people whispering at her. She pretends she never hears them call her sister a whore. She pretends to watch the beasts' death, day by day, and remembers her lost, sweet daughter.

A mother prays for her child. Klytemnestra watches the priest's bright axe gleam and considers her husband's return.

*

Her maids come to her, telling her she must remarry for the sake of her son, and that of the kingdom. Who will keep the boy safe in a house filled only with women and old men?

She smiles and tries to appear simple, saying that all shall be as the gods will. A new husband would kill her son before the year was out, and everyone knows it.

Her maids watch her rip her day's weaving from the loom, destroying her hard work, their faces hard and no longer servile.

Penelope winds the thread up. Her husband will return.