“Who is she?”
“Who is whom?”
“The woman who keeps breathing your name up above.”
“She is a woman.”
“I know as much. What woman?”
“That is none of your concern.”
“Have I not ordered you to train the armies in preparation for War? Why do you dally and listen for the prayers that echo across the empty sky?”
“As your General, you know I have done all you have asked and more… and as your sister, I take no small delight in the color of your cheeks—”
“I trained every Amazon on Themyscira, my Queen. I know the timbre of their voices, the cadence of their speech. This is no Amazon who so profoundly grieves your death.”
“Death has made you bold, sister.”
“You remember me poorly then… I have been as bold since I raced you to the surface of the sea.”
“She is a woman. From Man’s World. She has a kind heart. And a strong spirit. And...”
“And her eyes dance like starlight.”
Martha Kent opens her eyes.
The ceiling above is flickering with shadows, as if from a candle left unattended. Martha blinks and raises her head, wondering if perhaps she’d forgotten…
And then there is the muted ring of steel from outside, and she remembers.
Very well. Tell me, then, what it is you want, Martha Kent.
Martha sits up, pushing aside the silky sheets and heavy bedcover, and her feet swing over the side of the bed to touch cold stone. A loose cotton robe she’s never seen before whispers over her skin, and she runs a hand through her tangled hair as she makes her way across the floor, following the sound to a tall, narrow window covered over with heavy velvet drapes. Her fingertips brush lightly over the expensive material, then she cautiously tugs it aside an inch, peering through the crack to the world outside.
It is just dawn. The sky is that peculiar shade of quiet grey that is so familiar to her: it is the same light that Jonathan would stroll into every morning, hat in hand, whistling like the farmer he was; the same light that she would glimpse through the window over the kitchen sink before she hurried down the hall to wake her sleepy son up for school…
The horizon is glowing like embers in the fire. Dark, jagged mountains line the edge of the world like brushstrokes, and the light rising up from behind their towering peaks gives the illusion that the world beyond is ablaze. Martha stares at the smoky wisps of clouds rolling over the cliffs, and shivers. The forest that stretches down from the foothills is full of shadows, barely visible in the stifling haze. But there, at a distance, at the edge of the city, is a long field of green. And upon that field is a figure in golden armor.
It is her.
She is there, a sword in each hand, battling five warriors at once. Women in armor observe from the sidelines, weapons in hand, itching for their turn. And when one, or all of the Queen’s assailants go flying, they rush forward to take the place of their fallen comrades. They are so far off, and Martha’s eyes are so old, yet it is as if she is standing there beside them, privy to each blow and scuffle and grunt and jabbed heel or elbow and muttered curse…
What would they do, if they brought their Queen to her knees? Would she accept defeat, even as they had her at their mercy? Or would she continue to fight, fists against steel, helpless rage against raw power?
There is a shout, and Martha startles, nearly dropping the wadded up ball of velvet curtain she had been gripping too tightly in her fists. She winces and hastily smooths it out between her palms, hoping desperately that it is not wrinkled—
A warrior in dark armor breaks ranks from the bystanders, and the rest of the women lower their weapons and begin to mill about, roughly embracing and congratulating one another, collecting weapons from the grass, helping themselves to pitchers of water. The Queen throws back her head, her glittering smile of triumph visible even from the palace window. The warrior who had shouted approaches and claps her shoulder, offering her a jug of something that is certainly stronger than water, judging by its dark, rich color. They drink together, watching as the last of the warriors make their way to other parts of the training field, or into the city streets lined with homes and shops.
The dark-armored warrior seizes the pitcher from the Queen and downs the rest of the wine, ignoring her ruler’s indignant look. But she raises her arm, her face still half concealed with the finest Themysciran bronze, and points—and Martha lets out a small gasp of fear, because the Amazonian General is pointing directly at her.
Hippolyta flashes an apologetic smile in her direction, then bats the General’s hand aside, seizes the pitcher from her, and tosses it to a waiting attendant. And the shorter Amazon’s laugher is left in her Queen’s wake, as she steps forward, and then she is there, as suddenly as if she’d teleported, alighting onto Martha Kent’s window frame in less than a second
Martha drops the curtains with a gasp and backs away as the Queen steps down into the room, taller than the tallest man in Kansas—and more powerful, too, than the most powerful being on Earth. Her presence permeates the room, pushing against her with almost tangible force, and Martha swallows hard, unable to look the goddess in the face.
A hint of a confused smile lifts the corner of the Queen’s mouth, and Martha takes a deep breath. She’s kissed those lips, felt those strong arms around her, touched that golden hair. This is the woman who rescued her, who she’s been thinking about without end for the last three weeks, and who brought her here. There’s nothing to be afraid of...
“Are you well?” Hippolyta’s eyes have darkened as they flicker over her petrified face, and Martha raises a hand, waving it aimlessly.
“It’s fine. It’s, you just...”
Sometimes at night, she still remembers the aliens that strolled towards her across her front lawn, demanding the Codex… or the car that waited for her by the dumpster behind the diner, and that terrifying flight in a cramped box, that long, long hour, waiting for Superman...
“Come here,” Martha says, her voice trembling, but she opens her arms, and a woman brighter than the sun itself steps forward, kneels down at her feet, her face upturned, and she wraps her strong, armor-clad arms around her waist. And Martha works her hands through that golden hair, plants a tender kiss on that cold forehead, and frowns.
“Do gods not... sweat?”
And Hippolyta laughs.
“Are you disappointed?” she teases, reaching up to tuck a strand of gray hair behind her ear.
“I’m a farmgirl, Your Majesty… if we don’t sweat, we don’t eat.”
The words sound terribly awkward in her own ears. The woman is thousands of years old—surely she knows everything there is to know about farming, and the human cooling system, and the way in which a woman dances around another woman, drawing her softly and sweetly into her own world. The Queen smiles, clearly enjoying the effect she’s having on Martha’s racing heart, and she leans forward.
“Are you hungry?” she asks, her voice a low, seductive murmur in her ear.
Martha stares. A flush is spreading over her cheeks, and something is clenching uncomfortably in her insides—her heart, perhaps, or somewhere lower—these brazen, shameless Amazons, and their magnificent Queen with her hands planted firmly on her hips, and her wide, knowing smile...
“They will be serving the morning meal soon,” she continues, an eyebrow raised at Martha’s eager silence. “I have instructed them to prepare food for you, if you wish to partake—”
“Oh! Yes, yes, I would like, yes, breakfast sounds wonderful,” Martha says quickly, looking away, staring across the room, trying to avoid the piercing eyes that are missing none of her embarrassment.
Hippolyta’s hand reaches up to cup her burning cheek, and she gently tips her head down, and Martha leans forward and closes her eyes as the Queen’s lips meet hers. Her breath is cold, her lips are cold, her palm is cold, and Martha shivers as her other hand settles on her waist, a thumb lightly circling her hip bone… but her gasps are certainly not from the cold.
Too late, she realizes the woman has risen to her feet, and she is pressed flush against frosty armor, her head almost parallel with the stone floor as she is leaned over backwards, laughing helplessly as gravity itself becomes meaningless in the arms of a goddess…
And then Hippolyta pulls away, just slightly, just enough for her to lean in and brush Martha’s lips again with her own.
And then she is set her upright, and Martha clings to those muscled forearms as she plants her feet onto the ground, and then the Queen steps away and sweeps her hand across the room.
“I will meet you outside.”
And then she is gone, leaving Martha stunned and alone. For a long moment, she simply stands, her living heart thudding happily out to the quiet room, then she runs a hand through her hair again, just to have something to do, just to distract herself from the burning in her lower belly—
The Queen had gestured toward the bed, where a simple wooden wardrobe stands, and where Martha’s Kansas clothes are laid out over a chair. She steps forward, almost as if in a daze, and her hands have already outstretched towards her plaid shirt before she realizes what she is doing.
What will the other Amazons think…
She saw them down below, hair braided, armor gleaming, and those who were not warriors were strolling the streets in elegant robes and tunics—and Martha is going to sit down to eat with them while wearing worn jeans and an old shirt and her yard-work sneakers? She wouldn’t even go to lunch with a coworker in a getup like that.
Martha mutters and tosses aside the shirt, smoothing a hand down the fine cotton of her night robe, then she pulls open the wardrobe. There are only a few outfits hanging within, all simple and beautiful, with yards and folds of material, and slim silver or gold belts. They are displayed like the clothes on the Sears mannequins, but when Martha pulls one towards her, it is only a clever metalwork frame underneath. She presses the linen tunic up against her body and stares at her reflection in the mirror.
And the likeness of Martha Kent stares back at her.
Every morning in Kansas, she would glance at herself in the mirror as she combed her hair and brushed her teeth, but she never looked at herself too closely. There was always something pulling her along: bills to pay, a dog to feed, a house to clean, a truck to repair, a farm to upkeep, customers to help, diners to serve…
But now, her face is flushed, and her eyes are shining, as if she can’t stop smiling. The goddess woman had tucked her hair behind her ears, but it still spills down over her shoulders, brushing against white cotton and bare skin. She had always lingered over the worry lines in her forehead, the wrinkles in the corners of her eyes, the sagging skin around her neck, but today, it’s as if the stress of that world and that life have fallen away: Clark is alive, the invaders were dead, or driven out—or whatever had happened to them, and everything was going to be okay.
And there is someone... someone who cares about her.
Martha whirls around, clutching the material against her body. An Amazon is standing behind her, tall and beautiful, her head upright and back straight like a free woman, but her hand is outstretched, and she says without judgement,
“May I assist you?”
And Martha wavers for a moment. But in all her years as a farmer’s wife, and all her days as a saleswoman at Sears, she’s never worn Ancient Greek garb, and already, she can see that the garment must be draped in a particular fashion, the fabric gathered and belted in a way that no one has ever worn clothes in the United States outside of Shakespeare plays. And the Amazon’s eyes are kind, respectful. Martha looks away, then nods tightly.
“Is… is this appropriate for breakfast?”
The Amazon looks surprised as she takes the tunic from Martha’s hands and spreads it out over the rumpled bed sheets.
“There is no code of dress. Io, the blacksmith, often arrives to the morning meal with nothing but a hammer.”
Martha stares as the woman nonchalantly slips the night robe from her shoulders and drapes the long sheet of linen over her body in its place.
“...will she be there today? Like that?” she asks, her voice high and squeaky from the rush of unwanted images flooding her mind. The Amazon fastening the golden belt around her waist laughs softly, then steps away.
“Her Majesty requested that we do nothing to upset her guest from Man’s World.” Dark, knowing eyes meet hers in the mirror, then a bronzed arm reaches out to pluck the night robe from the bed, hanging it up in the wardrobe’s depths. “Io has been instructed to be dressed.”
Martha breathes a sigh of relief, and the Amazon turns and stares at her curiously.
“What is it, is my dress…?” Martha asks, glancing at her reflection in the mirror and then down at her own outfit.
“No, it is… you are alive,” the girl says hesitantly, as if she’s afraid that she’s mistaken.
“Yes? What about it?”
The Amazon is staring at her, as if she’s seen a ghost, Martha Kent thinks, a hint of a smile touching her lips, but it drops again once more as she realizes that the girl is still staring uncertainly at her.
“Is there something wrong with that?” Martha finally asks, reaching out and laying a hand on her cold arm. “It’s all right, dear. I’d really rather you told me if there’s a problem.”
The Amazon shakes her head, but not before Martha catches a glimpse of the wonder creeping into her eyes.
“She must truly love you, my lady.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that—”
“Come now,” the Amazon says, ignoring her modest self-depreciation, closing the wardrobe with a click, and beckoning her across the room to the archway. “Our Queen is waiting.”