Two Stories


The hulking Minotaur had just finished writing one more letter to Ariadne, his tears blotting the ink in spots, when he became aware of harsh breathing in the darkness just beyond the door of his little study. He put down his stylus on the lectern he used for writing.
Turning his massive, shaggy, heavy-horned head, he said: "A visitor, I presume. Another would be minotaur slayer, sent by King Midas."
A young man stepped into the candlelight from the passage. He was radiantly handsome, though dirt-smudged, his hair thick with cobwebs.
He was dressed in the Greek style. The Minotaur sighed. "I can see you're exactly Ariadne's type. Beautiful. Athletic. Brave. Doomed."
"I am Theseus."
"Your name bears no significance. I will simply call you 'meat,' and send a note thanking the King for an excellent supper."
Theseus held up his sword. "Beast, I intend to cut off your ugly head, and offer it on my knees to the fair Ariadne."
At this, the Minotaur's eyes clouded. He wiped away the tears.
"Will you?"
"That is my vow."
"Will Ariadne hold my head on her knees?"
"I am sure she will."
"And gaze into my dead eyes? And lovingly caress these fearsome horns?"
The Minotaur picked up the letter he had written and folded it. "Will you consent to give her this letter from me, when you offer my head?"
Theseus seemed startled. But he said, in his brave young ringing voice, "I have no objection."
"So you will give it to her?"
"Yes. I will."
"I swear."
The Minotaur knelt, placing the letter carefully on the marble floor.
"Brave Theseus, lover and future husband of the glorious Ariadne, I offer you both my head as a wedding gift. Strike when you are ready."
With that, nostrils flaring and tears falling like rain, the great beast-wonder of the Labyrinth bowed his massive black head.


A hand shot up in the back of class. "So, Professor, ahem, excuse me asking for some clarification, but you're saying I don't exist?"
"Permit me to clarify," said the Professor, adjusting his wire-rimmed glasses, then coughing into his fist.
Turning to the blackboard, he picked up a piece of chalk. The classroom hushed. Rapidly, he scrawled a string of untidy figures across the board. Then he put down the chalk and wiped his hands. He was smiling.
"You see?"
Silence. Heads shook.
Silence. Silence.
"Ah," the Professor said. "You don't see. Okay. Well. This lengthy equation proves not that you don't exist, but that you are in fact a little girl living right now in, uh, India. You are a Bengali girl. Living in a hut."


"In the mornings you go down to the river to bathe. You are responsible for taking care of a cow. You help your mother cook and do chores."
"But," the student said, standing, "I am not living in India, I am not a little girl, I am standing right here, I mean, obviously so."
"I suppose you are not wearing a somewhat faded sari that your mother stitched for you."
"Absolutely not. I'm wearing what I wear."
"I suppose you don't hear the brass cowbell tinkling, as you walk behind the cow right now, somewhere near Benares."
"Of course not."
"Listen," the Professor said, raising a hand. The whole class listened. "Ah!" someone said.
They could all hear it, a harsh clinking cowbell.
"Oh my God," said the student, looking at his hands.
In a moment," the Professor announced, "we shall all be gone. Don't be alarmed. This little girl has been dreaming us from the very start."

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