Persephone wakes up in a haze of cocktails and unemployment, and so much debt.
She gets out of bed, she looks in the mirror. Beads from last night’s cabaret are still stuck in her hair and her ruined black dress is draped across the chair in the corner.
Her head hurts.
She goes downstairs to the fridge. She opens it, she closes it. She opens it. She takes out a beer, and it's not nearly cold enough. She drinks some of it, thinks her fridge might be broken.
Even if it is, she doesn't have the money to fix it. She wishes she still smoked.
She turns on the radio. She stares out the front door. She picks up the phone. She calls information, she asks the time, they give it to her, she hangs up. She calls again and asks about classes at a local community college. She calls again and asks about work programs.
She just wants to talk.
She calls again and asks for the number to the La Quinta Inn down on 15. She asks to please make a call to room 206. Persephone doesn’t know the name, she just knows the face.
And the voice.
“Hi! This is the singer that spilled the drink down your shirt at the bar yesterday. I got laid off.”
“You’re supposed to say you’re sorry.”
“What’s your name?”
“I go by Persephone.”
“Yeah, my given name is Kore.”
“What kind of name is that?”
“It’s greek, for maiden. It's what my mother chose for me, I never liked it. So I chose for myself.”
“Well, I go by Hades.”
“Yes. My given name is Aidoneus, after my grandfather. Guess I chose for myself too. So, greek? Are you one of the- ?”
She is. But you don't just casually drop that you're immortal in an already strange conversation.
“Well, I’m sort of…”
“Falling. Like free-fall. Like splat.”
“Are you okay?”
He sounds concerned. She wonders why. People don't really do that anymore.
“I’m thinking bad things about Vegas.”
“That sounds okay.”
“No, it doesn’t feel so good, this is my home. I grew up here.”
"Yes! You were listening. I didn't choose it either, but this is the only home I've ever known."
"If your family could do it, so can you. Grow old somewhere else.”
“I don’t want to grow old.”
She won't. It's a test of sorts. He laughs, and it’s not a beautiful sound, but she doesn’t mind it.
Persephone has her theories about him too.
“I suppose not. So, why are you staying in a motel if you're from around here?”
"I wouldn't say around. It's complicated."
"Always is. Hades?"
"Wanna come over?"
She really is lonely. Not just alone.
He hangs up. She stares at the phone for a while, downs the rest of her beer. She sits by the kitchen counter. She waits.
The sound of sand under tires. The sound of sand under boots. No, not boots. He is a businessman, not a cowboy. He opens the door, and she is no longer alone.
She wants to explain.
“This place feels really fucked up right now. I feel really f-”
She soon finds out he is even better with his tongue when he’s not using it for talking.
Persephone likes that.
But she also likes Las Vegas, despite everything. He does not. It is her home, but not his, she senses that. They don’t talk about it though. They don’t talk much at all.
They share a beer.
He leaves, and she starts calling around to see if anyone is hiring a cabaret singer. This is her only talent, obviously waitressing is out of the question for her. She gets lucky, Hermes hooks her up with a temporary gig at a club around the curb.
Persephone lives to fight another day, while the city buries more souls under the rubble every day. Their time will come and so will the reckoning, but she hopes she won't live to see it. Knows she will.
She also knows it isn't right, but nobody wants to see their city burn.
Hades turns out to be rich. A banker. She won't take his money, and he won't stay in a crumbling city for her. He asks her to move away with him though. She refuses.
He says he has land, away from here. Far from all the desperate people, far from all this noise. Off the grid. She happens to like the grid.
Persephone's never taken the train to go anywhere, and definitely not that far south.
He makes love to her in front of the fire, and she sees her own reflection in the flames. When she looks in his eyes, they seem to burn even brighter. She still won't leave Vegas, and he doesn't ask her again.
He is still there most nights anyway. She doesn't know what he still even pays the motel for since he is as good as living with her.
These are the things they don't say.
The sun sets, the sun rises. It's too late or too early, Persephone doesn't know which. Doesn't care. It’s hot. She stands at the window, looking out at the world below.
She wonders how much time there is left.
"Isn't it even hotter where you're from? If it's south."
She's curious. She's not going so she might as well ask.
"Honestly? Still colder than it is here right now."
"Huh. Darker too, I bet."
"Even a city needs to sleep."
"Not here! Lights never go out, baby."
It's her mantra.
"What if one day they do?"
These are the things they do say.
She has no answer. And eventually, as most things when you're immortal, it comes to pass.
The market crumbles and more people lose their jobs, taking to the streets. Persephone makes a banner that says "Fuck capitalism" in red block letters, but she doesn't go down waving it like everyone else. She hangs it out of her window, she watches. A young girl with black hair shouts her compliments over the noise, she tosses it down to her instead.
Let the youth carry the torch, she is so tired.
Her words disappear in the sea of shades. Persephone looks on from her balcony. It is time, it is not time. It doesn't matter if she's ready.
Las Vegas is burning.
Persephone watches her world disappear as flames rage over the only place she’s ever called home. She would cry, but there is another world waiting for her.
She gets on a train going further south than she's ever been.