This piece was inspired by a twitter prompt, mythos, and it also fits, in a roundabout sort of way, the Daily Inkling prompt about the most resilient person I can think of, who always bounces back and seems only the stronger for the challenge.
Penelope looks over her shoulder nervously. Guards lean against earth walls, napping in the summer heat. Mosquitoes whine, cicadas throb with the beat of the sun.
The woman in the painted chair says, “He maybe won’t come back. How long is it now? The war finished years ago. He’s in no rush to get home, that’s for sure.”
Penelope’s fingers tremble slightly as she guides the threads, her foot keeping the rhythm automatically. “This is his home.”
“And look at it! Full of lecherous, grasping slobs, and your son—”
“Leave Telemachus out of it. He did what he could.”
The other woman gives her a withering look. “Which wasn’t much, was it? And now he’s gone too.”
The trembling gets worse. The other woman notices. She leans over with a brusque movement and tangles her fingers among the threads. She wrenches and the work falls apart.
“There. Keep going at that rate and you’ll have the wretched shroud finished in no time. And a promise is a promise.”
Penelope sighs, lets her hands drop to her lap. “He promised,” she says quietly.
The other woman sighs in her turn. “They always do. But they take it as their right to break promises when they are only made to a woman.”
“If I was a man, they’d listen to me. I would be able to banish this mob.”
“If you’d been a man, dear, they wouldn’t be here in the first place.” The woman pats her knee. “We can do nothing about it. They won’t let us do anything because they say we are too simple, childlike, no brains. We need protecting.”
“But Odysseus will still blame me for being pursued by them.”
“Of course he will, even if he has spent the last twenty years whoring his way around the Aegean. There’s no justice in it. They keep everything from us, education, knowledge, the right to choose for ourselves who we marry, if we marry. But our day will come; don’t worry. We’re not half-wits, or half-human. We have more sense, even without education, that any of our ruling princelings you care to name.” The woman grins broadly. “Remember, it was me ate the apple, not Adam.”