Dionysus runs a bar at the edge of the world. A skivvy dive in a bad part of town. It is dimly lit and occupied by a haze of smoke that never seems to dissipate. There is a layer of grime on every surface in the place and the bar never seems to be free of cigarette ash, peanut shells, and the sticky feeling of dried beer. Somehow most of the customers are in worse shape than the bar itself, with that sad distant look in their eyes that screams of a lifetime of misery. Dionysus brings you your drink before you order but he himself hasn’t touched the stuff in years. In his eyes you can see the sadness of every patron reflecting back.
Ares thrives in senseless wars and chaos. He watches bombs drop on innocents, hears the wailing of loss and agony. His spear has long since been replaced with a machine gun, his chariot with a tank. He sees men whose hearts are filled with hatred open fire on crowds and he wonders where the courage and honor of men went. The chaos of battle is changed. No longer do two opposing sides meet on a prescribed field. No longer do you see, do you feel the death of another man in front of you, no, now you push a button and hell descends from a thousand miles away.
Athena can be found between shelves of books and in lecture halls, and the classrooms of college campuses. She greedily devours the freedom of knowledge in this age. She tosses her hair and smiles broadly as she marches with wild opinionated students calling for change. These are her people.
Zeus sits at Dionysus’ bar every night until last call. His eyes are bloodshot and beard is scraggly, a sad reflection of the regal man he used to be. He shoots every girl at the bar the same slimy smile, causing the woman to cringe, clutch their purses closer, and slink away. His reign is long gone, he glares at every church he passes as he slogs home, unsuccessful yet again in his pursuits. He tries not to think of his wife.
Hera scrolls sadly through wedding and engagement photos posted on Facebook. Her heart aches for the happy smiling faces she sees staring back at her. She hopes that they will be happy, her heart breaks knowing that this will probably end. She wants to tell them that men will always lie. She wants to tell them to get out while they can. She wants to take her own advice.
Apollo chases after the sun, after that unreachable next horizon. He walks through the streets of the concrete jungle, looks up at the towers of glass, he misses a world made of marble, wood and brick, a world built to last. He seeks beauty in simplicity but is finding that life has become too complex for his poetry. He misses nature as he wanders through the paved cities where those who were once his people now dwell. He thinks of his sister, can feel her heart breaking from across the world.
Artemis runs through national parks, the only wild places left in the world. She tracks down poachers, she pulls her lips back from her teeth and snarls at them, like a wolf, while matching bullets with arrows, trying to save the only innocence left in the world. She hides from the moonlight now, knowing how a man might try to tame a wildness within her. She cries for the maidens robbed of their innocence.
Demeter counts down the days until her daughter returns. Though, the child never seems as happy to see her anymore. She watches as season gives way to season, and smiles at the children as they play in whatever they can find. When was the last time she saw that from her own daughter? When was the last time she felt loved by anyone? She cannot remember. But every once in a while, as she watches a family smile around a table of fresh food, she thinks she can almost feel the remnants of love churning from what she has provided for them. People will always need to eat.
Poseidon stands with hordes of environmental protestors outside oil companies or sits in on panels about global warming. He is the man with eyes like the sea and as deep with sorrow. He wanders the waves helping free every suffocating sea creature from the plastic warping their features. Sometimes he meanders along the shore with a bag of trash dragging behind him and salt tears in his eyes that mix with the ocean. Unlike Zeus, he has not lost the power he once wielded. When it all becomes too much, his anger swirls into storms capable of tearing this civilized world apart.
Hermes dashes through the streets of buzzing cities. He is young in this time. He watches as Amazon packages arrive in hours and laughs as messages are delivered in seconds. He relishes in the speed of this time, the way it is demanded of these people and marvels at the haste of it all. The sound of his chuckle echoing in the streets is the only indication he was there at all between one moment and the next.
Hades lays in bed, staring into the infinite darkness of the underworld, wife curled around him, and smiles. Faith is as fleeting as life, but death is ever present. People will always fear some form of him, and so, as the mantles of his brothers were slowly destroyed and forgotten, he has remained a king. His kingdom has grown ever larger after such great wars of this modern world. After all, death is eternal. He smiles.
Aphrodite has long since stopped relishing in the stolen touches of lovers. Their loving caresses quickly became too greedy, too expectant, and too harsh. Now she averts her gaze from wandering eyes and dodges the demanding roving hands that grab for any part they can get a hold of. Sometimes she sees Ares from across the room and they share a small sad smile. She walks home, alone, savoring the freedom she once felt and the crisp air. She is, yet again, subjected to the crass heckling of strangers. She clutches her keys between the fingers of one hand and pepper spray in the other as she hastens her nightly walk home. She smiles at the thought of her husband.
He was the only one who ever really loved her, loved her right. The only one who saw past the perfect packaging to the person beneath. Someone who saw no worth in herself beyond what she could give to someone else, the goddess of love who didn’t know how to be loved and couldn’t love herself. She had built her confidence on the desire that others had for her, but desire is a fleeting thing and once it was gone so was her value. He had helped build and forge her understanding of self-love unlike anyone else. He, the most hated god for his imperfect leg, who had to learn to love himself since no one else would, who had learned to use his body as a tool in spite of the deformity he was told would keep him from a life of meaning. He had been her salvation. He had been her home. He still was.
Hephaestus hobbles through his workshop. Hands worn and eyes weary. People always needed him. They need him more now, with their technologies and machines that were built improved but never meant to last. He will always be needed to help them progress, but he doesn’t think they understand what the word means anymore. He’s still invisible though. To them, to everyone. Everyone but her.
The old gods are us, the old gods are dead.