Another creative response, only this time it was inspired by Sandeep Parmar’s Eidolon. I’ve also been reading Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles in my downtime, so that has definitely had an influence on this. Hope you enjoy:
At night, he dreams of war.
He dreams of ancient soldiers charging with him across a field, dirt kicking up behind their heels. He dreams of the same soldiers clad in muscled chest cuirasses as bronze as their tanned skin.
He dreams of iron weapons colliding over and over again in heavy, humid air. He dreams of spears sliding across wooden shields and shattering kneecaps. He dreams of bodies that splinter with the force of these blows, of limbs that snap in half.
He dreams of blood splattered across wet mud, dripping thickly into boot prints left in the ashen soil. He dreams of a young boy, too slender and weak to be a soldier himself, who moves close behind him as he carves a path through filthy corpses, felling soldiers with every stride.
Soon enough, he dreams of the boy falling, cut down by a man twice his size. He feels anger and grief split through his body, blooming hot beneath his skin like the crimson blood that spills from the boy’s throat.
When he inevitably wakes, sweating as though he had just stepped off the battlefield, he sees the boy beside him. This boy is just as slight and delicate as the one in his dreams, with the same raven-black hair, but his face does not reflect the silhouette of death, his neck is not stained red.
The boy sleeps on, unaware that he has lost his life a thousand times in another boy’s dreams. Wrinkles appear on the bridge of his nose as his own dreams pass across his eyelids, transcribed by the swift back-and-forth of his eyes beneath.
He rises, leaving the raven-haired boy asleep in their bed. It is far too early for him to leave the house, but the sounds of battle still echo inside his skull and sleep is a distant memory now. The balcony is a much-needed break from the warmth of their bed, and he welcomes the breeze that raises gooseflesh along his forearms and cools the sweat on his forehead.
On the horizon, the heraldic glow of the sun welcomes a new day. He stares out at the horizon, at the iridescent, rippling surface of the sea. There is a lonely fishing vessel half a mile out, a faint speck in the distance. It moves as slowly as the breeze that guides it along, almost as slow as the morning itself.
Content to lean his folded arms on the raised whitewash wall of the balcony, he watches the vessel as it drifts across the horizon. There is nowhere he would rather be. This knowledge brings him even more comfort than the ocean.
He feels arms around his waist. It is the raven-haired boy.
‘Good morning.’ The boy says around a yawn, his Greek muddled, his words mingled like lovers’ ashes.
‘Good morning.’ He touches his hand to the boy’s hip, feels the warmth from the bedsheets that still lingers there. ‘Did you sleep well?’
‘I did. You didn’t. You were tossing and turning all night. Is something bothering you, love? Is it the sea? Is it the house? I said we should’ve rented the one in the city,’ the boy tries to say too many words too soon after waking and trips over each syllable, but persists nonetheless. He strokes his thumb against the boy’s hip-bone, feels his thigh muscle twitch beneath his fingertips. ‘If you wanted to move again, I wouldn’t mind, Achilles—’
And there it is. The name that brings him back to reality, the moniker that finally connects his bare feet to the concrete beneath his heels, the ónoma that drowns out the sound of clashing weapons inside his head. Achilles supposes that the dreams come because of his name, because of his namesake’s myth-addled history.
The raven-haired boy is called Patroclus, too, and they are in love. Achilles thinks that is the reason he appears in every dream, is the conclusion to every nightmare. There is a bond deeper than their love, past lives that were hidden in the shadows and pushed them together when they were much younger.
Achilles has become his namesake in most senses, but the Achilles of millennia past was the unabashed paragon of his generation. He was a hero, the young pride of Greece, god-born and blessed beyond belief. An eidolon.
‘Achilles? Are you alright?’ Patroclus says softly, his words lighter than the breeze. His hand spreads like a star across Achilles’ chest, fingers wide and warm on his skin.
The Achilles of this year is perfectly happy with being merely the eidolon of his home, the eidolon of the boy whose arms wrap around his waist now. He is happy being his own hero, his own pride, whoever he is needed to be in this moment.
‘I’m fine, here. Everything is perfect.’ Achilles replies, and Patroclus kisses the expanse of skin between his shoulder blades. His fingers press into Achilles’ chest, pulling their bodies together tightly enough to make breath catch in his throat.
At night, he dreams of war. In the morning, he doesn’t need to dream of another man’s past anymore. His life is his own personal eidolon, and history has no say in that.
Thank you for reading.