Takes place the day that Theseus and Hippolyta return to Athens, which is before Act 1 Scene 1 in the play.
This is my first one-shot attempt, so please be nice to me
I don't own anything you recognize
"I haven't slept one wink," declared Calisto. We were walking towards the plaza, and she was gushing over the latest news she had heard from her so-called friends. "I mean, Sapphos, just stop and think of it!"
"If I obeyed you every single time you told me to stop and think, we wouldn't ever get out of my house," I quipped. "Calm down, Lis. You are getting agitated."
Ignoring me, Calisto continued, "The Duke is returning from the war today! And he has found the lady of his dreams, the queen of the Amazons, and they are to be wed in four days! And—"
"Hopefully he doesn't tire of her," I grumbled. "No one wants another Ariadne or Perigouna. For that matter, any of the women he has courted, only to turn away."
"Oh, you don't really mean that! Every one of them that I saw were eyesores anyway," Lis dismissed. "Anyway, he met her in battle, and they fought fiercely. The Duke defeated her easily, but what the Queen could not win in combat, she won in love. The Duke, suddenly enthralled by her, spared her life. Now they are returning as friends, as lovers! Such a romantic story."
I rolled my eyes, quite used to her chattering nonsense. "How much of this are you imagining, Lis, and how much have you gleaned from rumors? The Duke certainly did not send you any extra tidbits of information, nothing past what he sent all of Athens. He did not hint at true love at all in his message. My guess is that they arranged it in order to stop the fighting. The people of Athens are anything but fighters, and the Amazons only live to fight. Theseus merely wants to avoid any bloodshed, as he is devoted to us."
"But that story isn't romantic," complained Lis. "Now, true love found in battle, that is interesting! That is play material!"
"Ha!" I snorted. "Calisto Quince, master of plays, bringer of ideas, director of entertainment! I have heard you rave about your dreams before, and how close you claim you are to achieving them. But come down to earth! When you go off on your fancies, you completely forget that you are a carpenter's daughter, and the Duke would never give you more than a passing glance. He will not waste a glance on any woman who is not noble and educated."
"My father has been teaching me to read," argued Lis feebly.
"He is barely literate himself," I answered. "Besides, no woman, no matter how educated, could ever hold a position that high in the Duke's palace. Those fancies you have are dreams, and I can guarantee that they will stay dreams."
Calisto, used to this argument, sighed and twisted the hem of her chiton. "I know, I know. Sometimes, I just wish that I was born a noblewoman. They get the most important stories. They are the ones who get a chance in life, and they are the ones who are remembered. Look at those two over there!" she cried suddenly, pointing to the opposite end of the square. Two graceful noblewomen stood there, craning their necks in order to see over the line of Athenian men. They were so refined, so elegant, so . . . perfect.
I knew, in my heart, that I was perfectly happy as I was. My family brought in a modest income, and we had enough to lead a comfortable life. Still, it was hard not to envy those at the top.
"Don't you wish you could be in their shoes, Sapphos?" my friend persisted doggedly, clearly having the same thoughts that I was. "I mean, we could never hold a candle to them, they are so fine and pretty. But I wish—"
She was cut short by a huge cheer rising up from the throng of people. Columns of soldiers marched up, and I realized that while half of them were the Athenians who had departed three weeks ago, half of them were women warriors. The Amazons were actually here!
The two noblewomen that we had noticed earlier started waving madly at two soldiers in the Athenian lineup—most likely their sweethearts. The two looked over and responded kindly, but as I watched, I noticed that their attention was focused on only one of the women. Lis noted this as well.
"Do you see that, Sapphos? A classic love conundrum. The women each have a particular favorite, but the men only fancy one of them. More story angles." Calisto seemed ready to launch into another dream-turned-reality, but just then, the Duke entered the square. At his side was a beautiful woman, her face struggling to stay emotionless. Her mask would often break, showing helplessness in her gaze. I was distracted from her, however, when the Duke began to speak.
"Athenian citizens!" he cried, his voice sweeping across the square. "We were victorious over the Amazons!" The crowd cheered with gusto, jubilant with our win. Not that we didn't know that we had won, of course, but the Duke knew how to turn a crowd in his favor.
The Duke cleared his throat and continued. "And now, I am sure you wonder who this lovely lady could be. She is the queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta! We fought bravely against one another in her homeland, but she has come to Athens bearing happy news. By the time this week has come to a close, we are to be wed!"
Lis cheered, and seemed ready to sob with excitement. She seemed to agree with everyone else in that Theseus was truly devoted to this woman. He did truly love her. After this acknowledgment, however, I was busy examining Hippolyta's facial expressions, and had come to a startling conclusion. My voice hidden by the crowd's cheering, I leaned over to Lis and whispered, "Look at Hippolyta. Something is amiss, else she would not look so pained. I do believe…"
"... that she isn't in love with him!?" exclaimed Calisto, finishing my thought. "My, my! Listening to my stories has been too much of a good thing, hasn't it? What a ridiculous notion! Why should she marry him if she doesn't love him? If he loves her, wouldn't he want the best for her, even if it means leaving her?"
I shrugged. "I'm sure plenty of nobles are not able to choose who takes their hand in marriage. The noblewoman we caught a glimpse of earlier, the one fancied by two men? Who do you think takes her hand, her favorite or her father's? Theseus will have the one he fancies. The Amazon wouldn't refuse, seeing that peace is at stake."
Despite all of Lis's blustering, I knew that she agreed with me, deep down.
The Duke raised his hand, and all in the square immediately quieted. "After we join hands, we will have need of entertainment. In order to receive the best entertainment, I am offering a grand pension to you, men of Athens, if you are able to provide us with a grand play, worthy of a nuptial ceremony. It shall be enough for you, as well as your flesh and blood, to live on for the rest of your days. Now, be off!"
The square seemed to jump alive with buzzing, everyone whispering how they would provide the best of entertainment to the Duke and his lovely lady. Lis, unable to resist, whispered, "Is it still a dream, to think the Duke could give me more than a passing glance?"
I shrugged, not satisfied with her manner of thinking. "How would you get a play, written by a woman no less, in front of the Duke?"
Calisto, having thought out her pretty little plan more than I had thought, smiled. "I will ask my father to gather other men of Athens to act. Master Bottom, I hear, believes himself to be the most amazing actor. I would very much like to see if his words hold up against his actions. I could preside over the rehearsals, and I, of course, would receive some of the pension, as my father would be part of the play. He could claim that he wrote it, and the Duke wouldn't be the wiser. This could get me out of the dirt, Sapphos. My name would be heard by the Duke. My dreams are always three steps ahead of me—with this, I could leap forward."
"I am afraid that we have already chosen a play, darling," said Calisto's father, coming to us. "I was working on a little number I call 'The Most Lamentable Comedy of Pyramus and Thisbe', and I supposed that my fellow workmen and I could perform it for the Duke on his wedding night."
"But Father!" exclaimed Lis. "I read through that play, and it is simply—"
"Wonderful, is it not?" exclaimed her father. "I have planned with my friends to read through it, and we shall make changes to make it suitable for the Duke's wedding. It will be glorious, grand, and the talk of the city! Goodbye now!"
As he walked off, my friend grumbled, "Can you believe him, Sapphos? The only way that play would ever be accepted by the duke is if my father whispered it in the farthest corner of the Earth from Athens! Why does my father think that anything he writes could be anywhere near acceptable?"
"Maybe you talking all about plays was the fuel for the fire," I mused. "He must have tried his hand at it, fueled by your praise of them. How bad is the play, anyway?"
Lis shuddered. "Sapphos, don't even begin to entertain the idea that this… abomination is any good! The basic plot is decent, but whenever my father reads through it, he manages to mess up every single line. The play almost sounds like an insult to all society! It is an insult to society!"
I grinned, playfully shoving my friend. "Don't get all worked up, Lis. If it is truly that bad, the Duke would never dream of having it performed."
Calisto shrugged ominously. "What do we know about what goes on within Theseus's head?" she asked darkly. "Not the Duke that flashes his honor before us, but the Theseus deep inside, hidden from all. Before today, would you even dream that he would have a woman marry him against her will? That does not seem like the man we know from speeches and stories. Theseus is showing his true colors, Sapphos. There is no predicting what will come out of this."
I was confused. "How does Theseus choosing a bad play relate to Theseus marrying someone against her will?"
Calisto frowned. "We have no idea what he does. What he enjoys, what he dislikes. Does he even care for us, the underlooked, the extras? Would he be willing to ridicule my father to satisfy his need for entertainment, just as he would marry Hippolyta to satisfy his need for love. No one realizes it, least of all the nobles. They will not until it's too late."
I gazed at the two noblewomen. Despite their earlier joy in seeing their sweethearts, they were clearly subdued now. I felt a strange sensation—pity—for the elevated members of society. Trapped in a dream, uncomprehending until it turned sour. Above us all, until their pretty little picture darkens and they beg for our help. The normal save the special, and they are the ones remembered.
I sighed, grabbing Calisto's hand, knowing that this knowledge would be kept by ourselves. The nobles would have to save themselves this time. We would be unused extras, staying in the shadows. No one would pay attention to us. Just as they always had. "Come on, Lis. Let's go."
IDK why I'm doing this, but I wrote this short story for English and I thought it was pretty good.
Please review and leave your thoughts on this!