Blind To Love
TITLE: Blind To Love
GENRES: Mythology, fantasy, romance/love.
SUMMARY: Is it love that's blind? Or those who love? An original myth.
WRITING STATUS: Completed.
WRITING DATE: Circa 2002.
LENGTH: 3400+ words.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Mild adult themes.
COPYRIGHT: This story and all characters, unless otherwise stated in the Disclaimers, are copyright © tehuti_88 and may not be used or distributed without permission. The reader is free to print out or download a copy of this story for offline reading as long as the author's copyright information remains upon it. Please do not distribute; if you wish to share this story, send a link to this page.
DISCLAIMERS: Certain characters are from Egyptian mythology. Although aspects of this story are loosely based on Egyptian mythology and culture, artistic license has been taken as this is a FANTASY story. Please take note that this story was written around 2002 and that my writing style and understanding of the mythology I created may have changed vastly in the meantime.
ADDITIONAL INFO: NA.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This short story ties in with the other Kemet short stories and/or the Kemet/Egyptian mythology as I make use of it in my writing; as such, it might not make much sense out of context. As I had finished all the rewrites of the short stories from City Of The Sun and didn't feel like rewriting the monster that is "Antakh Of The Apsiu" just yet, I decided to write this instead. It's a simple little love story, similar to "Something In The Moonlight," about what the very shy do to gain the attention of the objects of their affection...because sometimes those objects can be pretty nearsighted. Or perhaps we shy people are the ones who are nearsighted?
SHE SAT BY the river every day. She watched the waters, spied the birds, kept her eyes on the rocks as she hopped over them. He'd seen her shoot down a lion once while it was still out in the desert, and she by the water. So why then did she never seem to be able to see him?
Khnum watched Lady Sati every day with growing frustration. He had been here longer than she had; the caves at the First Cataract, on Elephantine Island, had always been his home. Yet she'd been here for a good while also now, but for as much as he saw her, she never appeared to take any notice of him.
He supposed this wouldn't have bothered him so greatly if he hadn't been in love with her.
He heaved a sigh as he watched her today, stepping over the rocks and staring down into the water as she tended to do. She wore a crown with horns that curved gracefully upwards, yet their grace was nothing compared to her own. She carried a bow and quiver over her shoulder as if their weight were nothing at all. He never remembered seeing her slip upon the slick rocks; it was as if she'd been born there. It was her duty to patrol the river, as it was his duty to make certain it flowed properly past the Cataracts; as such, he'd assumed they would come to know one another, with their related duties. So far she had yet to say one word to him.
What was he doing wrong?
He leaned his head on his hand and watched as she hopped the rocks to the other side of the river. The sun beat down hot and glaring. He was used to it; the mist from the water pounding and roiling around the rocks provided a small bit of comfort. Sati reached the opposite bank and started walking along the river and he leaned back on the rocks and stared skyward. He could never approach her.
He thought for a while of what others did when they were in love. For he had no doubt what the fluttering in his breast was whenever he saw her. He was the one who placed hearts within their owners; he knew how they worked. He supposed it was about time it happened to him. But what did others do? He knew some gods courted the objects of their affection, attempting to win them over; others seduced them; some approached them straight out, and still others, once in a while, were not above force. He pondered each of his options and none of them sounded like anything he could do. And so he considered letting the whole thing be...and that was almost as bad a thought as the rest. He had no ideas.
Khnum tipped his head to the side to watch her again. She leaned down to peer into the water before dipping in her hands and splashing herself to ward off the heat. His heart sped up even more and he had to look away. He let out another sigh and his ears drooped. He didn't even look like her, so what chance did he have?
Not much of one...
He opened his eyes, which he'd started to let drift closed. Not much of a chance, he thought. That still means I have a bit of a chance, doesn't it?
Even a tiny little scrap of a chance was more than what he'd thought he might have. He had to try.
Pushing himself up, resolved, he stood and made his way back to his cavern. The stairway down was long and steep and treacherously slippery, but he almost floated over it, his mind was in such a fog by now. He'd heard of how Lady Sakhmet had been won by the god Ptah--he'd given her gifts, and had won her over. It was his best shot. He was no master craftsman, like Ptah...but he could work with his hands. He did it every day.
He reached his cave beneath the island and poked about for some clay, taking it and slapping it upon his potter's wheel. He grabbed a pot of water, and a sculpting stick, and a box of hearts. He pulled his little stool forward and sat down yet even before his hind end had touched the seat, his hands were already at work upon the clay, one foot kicking the wheel and setting it spinning, so the earth took form beneath his fingers. He bit his lip and his tongue stuck out, he was so focused on what he was doing; yet he didn't care about how silly he might look. He scowled at the mound of clay as he worked, needing to get it just right.
A half hour later he had finished what he'd set out to sculpt, and sat back, wiping his brow. Most of the clay had been disposed of in the process, as the final sculpture that sat before him was very tiny indeed. A delicate bird with pointed wings and a long thin beak, small enough to fit snugly in the palm of his hand. He knew exactly how he wished it to look when brought to life, as well--feathers of brilliant green and red, like malachite and carnelian. Ptah had crafted Sakhmet glorious gifts of silver. Khnum would give Sati a living jewel.
He very carefully placed a heart within the tiny creature, sealing up the chest cavity, then picked the bird up and took it to his kiln. He set it within and closed the door, stoked the fire, and waited for his creation to harden. He had to occupy his thoughts with something else while this happened. As hard as he tried not to think of Sati, still he did, and thought of her constantly. So much so that he almost let the bird stay in longer than was needed, and had to pull it out hastily, blowing on his fingers as he did so. Its frail wings hadn't even shattered under the heat. A wonderful work.
He set it upon the wheel again as he fetched a little jar and a hollow reed with which to breathe life into the creature. This was the final step, and he couldn't ruin it now. He sprinkled a bit of sparkling dust from the jar inside the reed, and, placing it to the bird's beak, blew lightly. A moment or so passed, before he heard a tinkling sound and turned to see the air behind him sparkling, a living shimmering jewel appearing out of nowhere. It hovered in place for a moment, before flitting this way, then that, its wings making a buzzing sound.
Khnum's mouth cracked in a smile. "Buzzingbird," he said, then made a face. "No, let's see...humm...hummingbird! This is what I'll call you." He held up a finger and the tiny bird alighted upon it, folding its wings behind itself and peering about with dark eyes. Khnum smiled again. There was no way that the beautiful goddess could refuse such a gift, which was almost as lovely as she was.
With this thought and hope in mind, he turned to the stairway and made his way back up to the surface, keeping the bird sheltered from the mist, searching about for Sati before letting it go, watching it flitter its way toward the preoccupied goddess. His heart almost stopped and waited silently in anticipation.
At first, Sati didn't notice it. A few times as it fluttered about her head, she swatted one hand absently, and Khnum quailed that the poor bird might get smacked into the water. After a moment or two, though, she finally lifted her head to see what might be bothering her, and her eyes widened a little on seeing the bird flying about. She peered at it and cocked her head, eyes following its movements, as if puzzled. She seemed ready to try to reach out and touch it, when a splash from the river--perhaps some large animal jumping in--distracted her and she turned away. She hopped over the rocks and the hummingbird fluttered forlornly back to Khnum's cave. Khnum sighed.
He knew he couldn't give up, because of one small inconvenience. He had to try again. It was too late that day to do so, so he waited until the next morning. All day he sat at his wheel, busily sculpting, then removing his newest creation and placing it in the kiln. He could barely wait while it fired. Then he removed it, breathed life into it, waited for it to appear.
This time the creature was a fish. It writhed in his hands as he carried it up to the surface, its scales glittering silver and gold and sapphire even in the dimmest light. Sati was a river goddess. Surely she would notice such a gorgeous creature as this one.
On reaching the river, he gently released it, and it swam downstream, passing the rocks on its way toward Sati. She was perched atop one of the bigger boulders, already staring down into the churning water, so when it passed by her she noticed it immediately this time. Her face lit up--Khnum knew she must be admiring its beautiful scales--when she suddenly pulled out her spear and jabbed it down into the river. His eyes widened. Sati simply pulled her spear out, the fish impaled and flopping on the end. She pulled it off and headed for the bank to clean it for her dinner.
Khnum could only stare. "I...I can't believe she just did that."
He didn't sleep well that night, despite an overbearing exhaustion. Two tries and he had failed both times! What was he to do? Should he even bother again? He determined that he would try one last time, and if he still failed, then he would live without her. He just had no idea what to try, what could possibly top the two living jewels he had created for her. He watched her as she leapt over the rocks the next day, trying to find his inspiration. His mind was blank. By the time evening came he was still without ideas, and about ready to head back to his cave in defeat, but he stayed long enough to wistfully watch her jump the rocks to the opposite shore, movements as swift and agile as a gazelle's. She landed without setting one foot in the water, and wandered off among the reeds.
The potter god blinked. Suddenly, he had his idea.
He hastened back to his cave. Perhaps he'd been making the same mistake Ptah had made? Assuming to know what a goddess should want, not what she did want. He'd never seen Sati take any interest in gems or jewelry, so why should he think she would care much if he presented her with living ones? She lived for the river--but her beauty reminded him of something else.
He sat sculpting at his wheel far into the night, then firing, then bringing his final creation to life. As dawn broke he sat back and swiped one hand across his forehead, leaving a muddy streak and letting out his breath. He was weak from not sleeping, but he didn't care. This was his last chance; he had to make the most of it.
If he failed this time, then it simply wasn't meant to be. He resigned himself to this already as he made his way back up the slippery steps, heart heavy, leading his creation with him.
Outside, he released it from the leather harness he had placed upon it, and nudged it to wander toward the slender goddess as she walked over the rocks, examining the river. It took timid little steps, then jogged, then hopped her way, springing lightly until it had come within her view. Sati noticed the movement and stood up quickly, hand going for an arrow, but froze when she saw it. She seemed surprised at first--then she smiled. Khnum held his breath as his creation, a tiny, delicate gazelle, picked its way carefully over the river, Sati kneeling down to watch it come. She held out one hand and her smile grew, like a child delighted with a new gift.
Khnum allowed his heart to rise a little bit. She likes it. I can tell she does! But did she love it? He waited for her to shoo it off or turn away in boredom, but she didn't. In fact the goddess, the guardian of the river, sat down on the boulder and scratched the small animal's chin, her laugh ringing over the pounding of the river. Khnum's heart rose even more. He'd finally found a creature she could relate to.
He didn't have time to think before the gazelle turned about and hopped back his way, Sati scrambling to her feet and following after it, yelling for it to come back. His ears pricked straight out and he panicked. He hadn't even had the chance to think of anything to say to her! And now here she was coming! He racked his brain trying to think of something, anything, when he realized that she still hadn't noticed him--the gazelle ran past him and she did as well, not casting him a single look. His heart began to sink again. This plan had worked too well...she was interested in his gazelle, yes, but only in his gazelle. He listened to the sounds of the two of them chasing each other as he sank down to the ground in a slump, letting out a great sigh. Foolish. That was what he was, for thinking he could actually win her over like that. She was no Sakhmet, and he was no Ptah--he wasn't even close!
He dimly heard the gazelle trot past him, and shut his eyes waiting for the sound of the goddess to pass by him as well; he couldn't look at her now without feeling utterly stupid. Her footsteps approached but then slowed, and silence descended, aside from the crashing and dull roaring of the river. He heard a small cough and his ear flicked with confusion. Then a voice.
His eyes popped open and his ears stood straight up. He glanced up abruptly to see her--HER--staring down at him. She held the young gazelle in her arms, its legs sticking out below it.
"Y--y-you kn-know my name," he managed to stammer, stunned.
Her eyebrows rose with some surprise, and she gave a small smile. "Of course. You're the guardian of the Cataract."
He hurried to rise to his feet, nearly tripping, and she didn't take her gaze off him once. "You made her?" she asked, holding up the gazelle, which bleated and squirmed a bit. He nodded hastily, too hastily.
"I--y-yes, and the--and the bird and the fish."
"You mean that little tiny bird? And that silvery fish?"
He nodded again, and blurted out, "I made them all for you." Then he shut his mouth, face going red. How had he let that slip out!
Sati's smile faded and she frowned, brows knitting. "You...made them for me? But...why?"
"I thought...maybe...you would like them." Khnum started wringing his hands now. "Gifts. For you. I gave them as gifts."
"Gifts? For me?" The corners of her mouth rose again, just slightly. She tipped her head. "Why for me?"
The color in his face only rose, and he could feel his ears burning now. He had no answer for that. None that wouldn't make him feel like a complete and utter idiot. He scuffed his foot against the ground and rubbed the back of his neck, stammering for words.
"I...ah...thought that...maybe...if I gave you a beautiful gift, you would...you might..."
She stared at him the whole time he stammered, frowning in puzzlement. After a while of his humiliated stuttering a look of understanding slowly began to dawn in her eyes.
"You're...you're in love with me?" Sati asked, voice quiet.
Khnum wished he could die. He averted his eyes--unable to look in her own--and his ears flattened. He swallowed, trying to speak, but no sound came out. Where did his voice go!
Sati slowly lowered the gazelle. "Why did you never say anything?"
"You--you didn't even notice me," Khnum stammered. "You didn't know I was here."
"What? Of course I knew you were here." She gave him a perplexed look. "Why do you think I never noticed you?"
"You never spoke to me. Or even looked at me."
She smiled again, as if this much were obvious. "Of course I didn't. You're the god of this place. I had to show respect. I couldn't just walk up to you and speak, or stare at you. It would have been disrespectful." She blinked, then gasped. "You think I was ignoring you?"
Khnum's ears lowered. "Well...yes. I mean...I made you those gifts...and you barely even looked at them. Or at me."
"I didn't know they were from you," Sati replied. "If I'd known...I couldn't think of why you would be sending me gifts, anyway. I never did anything to deserve them."
"Oh! Yes you have!" Khnum clasped his hands earnestly. "You protect the river and watch its course--surely you deserve something for that!"
"But you guard the river also. You were here before me. This was why I never spoke to you, because I never hoped to live up to your reputation."
"You..." The potter god's voice faltered. "You...never spoke to me...or looked at me because...because you felt you weren't worthy? That I was...more important than you?"
"Of course." Sati hugged the gazelle to her so it wouldn't run away. "Isn't this how everyone treats you?"
"No." Khnum just stared at her in disbelief. "I mean...not usually. No."
"Oh." Sati looked dismayed. "I'm...I'm sorry, then. I didn't mean to be disrespectful. I just didn't know."
"It's...it's all right." He rubbed at his neck again. "Of course you didn't know...just like I didn't...gods, I was truly foolish!" He smiled stupidly and Sati did the same. "All of this time I wasted hoping you would come over and just say hello to me--you thought it would be rude! The others are right, I should have learned to speak up for myself. And avoid all this confusion." He put a hand to his eyes.
"I'm sorry you feel you wasted it," Sati said softly. "If I'd known..."
Khnum lifted his head a bit, peering out from between his fingers, curiosity piqued. "If you'd known...?" he queried.
Sati blinked a few times, offguard, then her smile returned. "If I'd known, maybe I wouldn't have wasted so much time not saying hello."
Khnum's heart flipped within his breast. He felt all his breath leave him and could only stare, openjawed, like a fool. Sati started giggling. He shook his head and clapped his mouth shut, but she bit her lip and reached up toward him to touch his forehead.
"You have a smudge--right there--"
"What--? Oh--" He flushed and started when the gazelle slipped from her arms, bleating and leaping away toward his cave. They both yelled and reached out for it as it went, disappearing in the darkness. Sati put her hands to her mouth.
"Sorry! She just slipped away!"
"It's all right," Khnum hastened to say again. "Her...her soul statue is down there, where I keep the rest. Would you...would you like to see it?"
He cringed inwardly, at how forward the invitation sounded. He really couldn't have been more subtle? But Sati peered at him for a moment, as if sizing him up, before the corner of her mouth turned up just barely. She straightened her quiver on her back.
"All right...if I'm not imposing."
"Of course not!" Now, he didn't even have a chance to feel embarrassed by her response, his heart rising up out of his chest and floating over his head. He waved her forward. "Come, this way...I have whole shelves of them...you can take a look at each! Even your own!"
"I'm not causing you too much trouble...?"
"Of course not, of course not! It gets so quiet down there, I forget I'm even beneath the river...and it gets quite lonely sometimes...watch your step, the first one is quite slippery."
"You get lonely...?" Sati asked in disbelief, as the two of them descended the stairs, into the darkness away from the river. It swirled and crashed around the rocks and drowned out the rest of their conversation...but one could rest assured that they conversed for a good long time.