The loom hums under the swift and dextrous touch of her hands. I watch in silence as she pulls the shuttle back and forth through the warp, filling in the design: a soon-to-be colourful display of birds. I’ve always been charmed by how much of herself Electra invests into everything, including her weaving. As soon as the first chilly breeze of autumn blew in Mycenae, she gifted me a fine woolen cloak - she had been working on it in secret to surprise me.
“It’s already looking beautiful,” I say and her entire body jolts at the sound of my voice. “May I help you?”
I approach her and she moves to the left, giving me space to stand beside her.
“Alright,” she says quietly and hands me a second shuttle, “you can work on the peacock. I’ve marked the blue feathers with a stitch.”
I was expecting her to be bitter, resentful, furious at me for the things I said - why else would she have spent so many days avoiding me? But there is no anger in her voice, no hateful spark in her eyes when she averts them from me. She stares intently at her hands as they begin to tremble, their previous agility abandoning them.
“You haven’t spoken to me in days,” I say, combing down the blue thread on the warp. “I’ve missed you.”
Her fingers freeze, leaving the shuttle suspended on the tapestry.
“I’m sorry,” she mumbles. “I… couldn’t bring myself to face you.”
At last she turns to look at me. “How can you possibly like me, Cassandra? Do I not remind you of him?”
Of course, I should have known. Electra hasn’t spoken to me in days, not because she has been angry or offended, but because she feels ashamed of everything she once held dear.
Gently, I brush a curl off her forehead. “I prefer to look beyond appearances. You might resemble him but there is so much goodness in your heart.”
“For months on end I praised him, mourned him, defended him and you listened… How could you bear it?”
“The man in your stories and the man in my nightmares were nothing alike. You were alone and suffering, you held onto his memory to survive.”
“Your suffering was much greater than mine.”
“There is no point in comparing.” I wrap my arms around her waist, pulling her closer, and I feel her tense muscles relax. “Besides, you and I aren’t all that different. You think I don't know what it's like to be marginalized, ignored, mistreated by your own family? What it's like to have a complicated relationship with your dead father and still grieve for him?”
“Your father wasn't like mine.”
“Well… I know he had many concubines - several of them were battle trophies. I never thought much of it until I was brought to the same fate.”
Electra nods thoughtfully, a look of profound realization on her face.
“Men and their wars,” she says. “My mother curses them. She says there aren’t any victories or defeats among us women; only pain.”
I cannot suppress a smile of surprise. “Your mother?”
“Yes… After everything you said, I felt like I might have been unfair with her. These past few days we’ve been talking again.”
“I still find it difficult to trust her but we’re both making an effort. And she says she’s got Aegisthus back in line now.”
The vibrant light in her eyes magnetizes me. There isn’t a trace of that spiteful look on her features - like a mask of ice, it has melted away. Leaning forward, I plant a fleeting kiss on her cheek.
She reverently touches the spot where I kissed her, flustered all of a sudden. “What was that for?”
“I’m proud of you. You’ve changed so much since the day I first met you.”
Her expression shifts from astonishment to delight. She lays her hands on my shoulders and I tug at her waist, tightening my grip. An irrepressible desire has washed over me: I want our bodies to become entwined, inseparable, in an embrace so firm that we can never be unraveled.
“If I have changed at all,” says Electra, drawing lines on my back with her fingertips, “and if this change has truly been for the better, I can only attribute it to one person.”
Her right hand travels up my neck, traces my jaw and then the outline of my lips. “I’d like to kiss you too,” she whispers. “But not on the cheek. May I?”
I nod almost desperately and Electra’s mouth crashes into mine. There is a tenderness in her passion, the ever-burning fire inside her fills me with a pleasant warmth. She has gathered my pieces, assembled me again from my fragmented state, and with the sweetness of her kiss she seals me back together, rendering me complete.