Orpheus does, fingers stopping abruptly on the frets of his guitar, melody in his mind suddenly falling away. Hermes is staring at him with a sour look on his face that Orpheus has come to know means disappointment.
“There’s a storm coming on,” the god says. “And your girl is alone.” His expression softens. “I know you can see how the world could be, but now you have to live in the one that is.”
His voice cracks. “Eurydice?”
Hermes nods toward the door. Orpheus runs out into the storm.
It’s brutal and cold, and Orpheus has barely eaten anything all this time he’s been working on the song; he’s just about to collapse of exhaustion when he hears his name being called. He runs to her against the harshest wind he’s ever felt until Eurydice is in his arms, shivering.
“It’s gone,” she tells him, voice trembling. “Everything we have—my coat, the supplies—they’re gone.”
“We need to get inside,” he says, but they’re both succumbing to the cold, fast, and it’s getting darker every minute that passes. The wind howls in their ears, and for a moment Orpheus thinks he hears voices, singing in eerie harmony. But Eurydice buries her head in his chest and he sees home in the distance, so he keeps walking and doesn’t look back.
Hermes is gone by now, called to bring the train back up top. Orpheus lays Eurydice down by the fire and covers her in as many blankets as possible. The flames are dying down, he realizes, and there’s not much firewood left. He looks at Eurydice again. He almost left her to die out there, all for a stupid song. Who was he to think that he could make spring come again? Who cared about the way the world could be?
This is how it is.
The storm settles down. Orpheus looks out the window and sees a lone figure in a slate black duster walking down the road. Mr. Hades, he thinks, heart leaping into his throat. The god stares at him the same way he had stared at Eurydice on the train platform.
Orpheus slings his guitar over his back and goes out to meet him. “How much will you give me for this?” he says, gesturing to the guitar.
Hades raises an eyebrow. “What would I want with a lyre?”
“I’ll do anything,” Orpheus says. His knees are beginning to buckle under him. “I’ll work in the mines. I’ll work on the wall.”
“Son, you wouldn’t last a day down there,” the god drawls.
“Then I’ll sing,” he croaks. “I’ll sing for your workers to keep them in line. I’ll sing for your wife, to keep her underground. Please…” He glances back at the house—really more of a shack—where Eurydice lies by the dwindling fire. “I can’t let her starve.”
Silence. Then, a quirk of the lips—not really a smile, but the gesture of one. “I suppose I could use a canary.”
Barely awake, Eurydice hears Orpheus come back in from the cold. “Who was that? Mr. Hermes?” she murmurs.
Orpheus pauses, unsure of himself, before answering, “No. It was Hades.”
The shock gives Eurydice a new shot of energy, just enough to bolt up and stare at her lover. “Hades?” she repeats. “Why would Hades be here?”
Slowly, he makes his way over to sit beside her, laying the guitar against the wall. The fingers of his right hand are curled around something Eurydice can’t quite make out. “He was recruiting,” Orpheus says. “Looking for more workers.”
He opens his hand. Four silver coins lie in his palm. It’s more money than either of them could scrounge together in months. Not enough to last them through the winter, but enough to buy two tickets to Hadestown.
Eurydice shrinks back a little, settling deeper into the pile of blankets he had wrapped around her. “Orpheus…”
“Mr. Hades said I could work for him and Lady Persephone and sing for the workers. It would raise morale, he said. You could come with me and work in the factory, and Mr. Hades would provide for both of us.” His gaze flickers over to the last few embers of their fire. “We wouldn’t have to worry about the wind, or the cold, or going hungry. But I wouldn’t go without you.”
He extends his arm out to offer her the coins in his hand, like the time he’d offered her a bouquet of torn-up newspaper or a flower that blossomed from the power of his voice.
A draft comes in through the thin walls of their house. Even under her blankets, she shivers. It’s so cold. It seems like everywhere she goes, the wind follows. But it can’t follow her down there.
“I’m coming,” she says with a nod.
“I’m coming with you,” Orpheus says, smiling.