She’s gone, and it’s all my fault. They’re stuck there, and it’s all my fault. I let him in my head, and now I’ve lost everything.
That recurrent thought reverberating through Orpheus’s mind was the only thing there nowadays. There was no music, no lyrics, none of the reckless optimism he once repaired the world with. Just silence. Doubt. A sunken depression that colored the sun grey, and rendered all mortals he came across as inconsequential as shades. None of it mattered without her hand in his, without the liberation of those nameless shades told the same lies he was told. He couldn’t enjoy the seasons he restored. Spring flowers meant nothing to him, even paining him when he came across the rare red carnation. Autumn meant nothing, only bringing the cold that drove his poor Eurydice away. He couldn’t even go back to their little shack on the outskirts of the railroad town Persephone frequented. Every window frame and roof tile was a memory he couldn’t bear to witness again. He was better off forgetting, than living the trauma of losing her again and again. So he walked. Down country roads, through fields of grain, into towns flush with people who remembered his song, who thanked him, who begged him to play again. He would shake his head, and keep walking.
One day, he came across a group of ladies by a river. One of them recognized him.
“You’re that poet? The one who brought the world back into tune? Play us something.”
He shook his head as usual, but these ladies insisted. He spoke for the first time in months, scaring himself with the crackling tarnish covering the silver of his voice.
“I lost my wife. I can’t sing without her.” He muttered. The women laughed. The oldest amongst them stepped forward.
“I’m not quite sure who you think we are son, but we’re the followers of Dionysus. A god you should pay respect to. Play the song for us, show respect for our Lord.” She spat, getting inches away from the poet’s face. Orpheus hung his head.
“I can’t sing. There’s nothing in my head or my heart that wants to. I’m tired, just let me be.” He turned to walk away. He got two steps away before he was pinned to the ground by two of the Maenads, who dragged him back before the eldest one.
“I will ask you one last time, find the song. We want a song or your life. Now!” She screeched.
Orpheus raised up his voice for the first time since he had been in Hadestown, and for the last time in his mortal life.
“That song is dead! It died when I let doubt in my heart! All I have is doubt now! Kill me if you want, but that song will stay dead until the end of time!” He screamed to the ground, knowing the Fates could hear his struggle. They were waiting, biding to see where this would take him. Atropos pulled the shears out of their holster. She was ready.
Orpheus was kicked to the ground, his stomach aching as he was picked up by his extremities. All he could hear was the drunken shouting and chanting of his murderers, and he prayed. Not to any god, but to his wife.
Please let me see you soon.
The eldest Maenad strode forward, holding his head up towards her as she snarled at him.
“Well, poet. If your head has no more songs, I guess you have no more use for it.”
She gripped his hair with a wild grasp that would’ve made Orpheus cry out in pain if he weren’t so tired. She pulled, and Orpheus could feel every bone, every tendon, every scrap of sinew snap as his head was ripped from his body. As he was thrown into the stream, he could see the Maenads render his body to pools of blood and bone. He closed his eyes.
Lachesis held the silvery string taut as she nodded towards Atropos. The eldest fate held those great, blood-soaked scissors aloft before positioning them between the thread of life before her. Clotho looked through this life she had woven, grimacing. She nodded. Atropos let her shears slice through the thread, and it fell away, dematerializing into nothing. Orpheus closed his eyes and sighed, his life sinking away as he drifted on the current of the river.
Hermes cast a net into that river, catching the most precious cargo that the river could ever transport. He sighed, looking over the cold, serene features of young Orpheus. He grabbed the lyre left by the poet when he came above ground and set off to bring the young man to his final resting place. As the sun set, he looked up at the sky, determined to find a place for Orpheus that the mortal world would not make. He settled between Leda’s spot and Hercule’s spot. He cast that golden stringed lyre into the sky. The new stars shone brightly. He smiled to himself, taking a second to look to the sky for his favorite mortal. After that mourning, he resolved to catch the next train to Hadestown.