For the Love of Aphrodite

Some spend their lives in search of Aphrodite. Day after day they waste their hours seeking a goddess to soothe their weary hearts.

The quest for a perfect Aphrodite is a fruitless one. Aphrodite does not reveal herself to those who won't accept the parts she gives them. Aphrodite has no time for the greedy fools who dismiss the bits and pieces she leaves for them. She has no desire to give her whole self when others ask for it.

Daphne is not one of those searchers. Daphne collects the bits of Aphrodite she finds and holds them to her heart. She sees Aphrodite in every person she meets.

She saw Aphrodite's hair on Sara from the marketplace. Sara would decorate the coils of her hair with little trinkets the town's children made for her. Her head was adorned in tiny jewels, shiny ribbons, and little clips. When the sun hit her just right, the little gifts shone in a colorful halo of glitter until it almost felt irreverent to keep watching her bask in the warmth of the rays. When she pulled her dark curls up in the heat, she used the bits of colorful cloth she always kept in her basket in case she ever needed to bandage a scraped knee or tie a bow on a gift. Daphne recognized Aphrodite's hair immediately in the way it bounced along Sara's shoulders and danced in the wind.

"Good morning Sara! Looking radiant as ever."

"Oh! Daphne you flatterer. Are you making your deliveries?"

"Yes I am, and I happen to have this lovely yellow bow for you. I noticed you didn't have this color yet."

"Daphne, love, how did you know I was looking for one?"

"Guess I'm just good at noticing things like that."

Daphne found Aphrodite in Andreas's face. He held years of wisdom behind his dark eyes and his smile spoke of a mischievous streak worthy of a trickster god. The streaks of soft wrinkles on his cheeks reflected days of laughter. The freckles under his eyes told of his time in the sun, and they covered his face as if the goddess herself had personally painted them in a loving caress. Giving Andreas some sort of confection caused a smile so wide, others would rush to the sweet shops just to see it again. When he told the stories of his prime during the festivals, surrounded by those who wished to share his good mood, his blush contrasted nicely with the sparkle in his eyes. Daphne knew that when she looked at Andreas's face, she was seeing the visage of her beloved goddess.

"Good morning Andreas."

"Daphne! Did you bring me what I think you did?"

"How do you always guess? I was hoping to surprise you with amygdalota, but it seems like you already knew."

"You, my dear, always have exactly what I'm hungry for."

"Be ready to try something new tomorrow, Andreas! I swear I'm going to find you something you've never had."

Filio, the bakery's best bread maker, had Aphrodite's voice. It was a voice that could start wars, calm tyrants, and usher peace in equal efforts. It was the kind of voice that commanded a room and lilted a lullaby. Every time they spoke a name, they delivered it like a prayer. New brides always invited Filio to their weddings, sometimes to soothe their own nerves, sometimes for their mother-in-law's. They were always asked to give a speech at the following celebrations. When Filio sang, their music twirled and circled the audience and drew them in as they pushed to get closer to its source. Filio would speak, and others had no choice but to hang on to every word. Daphne could listen to their voice all day because she knew that Aphrodite spoke through Filio, and every word was sacred.

"Good morning Filio. I brought you some honey to soothe your throat before your performance tonight."

"Daphne, you are a life-saver. Too bad you can't heal a migraine. My head has been hurting all morning and I can't get it to stop. What if it's a sign? I know, I know, it's going to be ok but what if I miss a note or I sing the wrong line or if I-"

"Filio, it's ok. Breathe. I've heard you practice this a million times. You will be ok."

"I don't know why I let myself get worked up like this."

"It's ok to be nervous Filio. Oh, and for that headache, I tied some mint to the honey jar for you to use."

"How did you-"

"Good luck!"

Aphrodite's confidence shone through little Korina. As the daughter of a local farmer, her clothes were covered in dirt, her knees were green with grass stains, and her sandals were full of rocks. She strutted around at her diminutive height with the posture of a regent. She hopped up on fences as if she knew they would never dare break under her feet. Every statement Korina made came with the sense of certainty that should only come to those who are never wrong. It's possible she believed she never was. In the few years she'd been walking the town streets without a chaperone holding her hand, she had never once had this confidence shaken. When Korina ran into someone's legs on the street in her rush, she simply held out her tiny hand to shake in introduction. When the fence did break, she stood back up and hopped on the next one. Korina was a force that Daphne knew only Aphrodite could reckon with, as it was her influence that propelled the fiery child.

"Good morning Korina. What have you got there?"

"A cat! It kept trying to run away from me but I caught it no problem. It tried to hide but I'm really good at hide-and-seek! Now I'm bringing it home to give it a bath."

"Well, I happen to have some soap right here in my bag. Do you think that would help?"

"Yes! Thank you! Mr. Kitty loves it!"

"Be careful! Don't squeeze him too ha- and she's gone"

Daphne saw Aphrodite every day. Every time she made a delivery she found little pieces Aphrodite had left for her. Daphne knew Aphrodite. She knew the way she sounded. She knew the way she held people. She knew the way Aphrodite loved the people who showed love. So, at the end of every day, when Daphne's deliveries were done, and her bag was empty, she would return to her home, and the home of her goddess. She met parts of Aphrodite all day, and at night she would speak to the goddess she had spent the day getting to know.

Aphrodite was kind to Daphne. The goddess knew that Daphne had spent the day finding parts of her and catering to her every need. She knew that Daphne had spent the day giving tributes to her power. Every package, every gift, every seemingly small gesture served as offerings, alms, and homages to the love Aphrodite had spread to everyone that surrounded Daphne. So, every night when Daphne would come home, Aphrodite would ask her where she had seen the goddess that day.

"Well, I saw you in Sara in the morning. She tied her hair back with that ribbon Melita gave her last week and it framed her face nicely."

"Yes, I was with Sara. She loved that yellow bow you gave her. It looks nice with the purple clips Kastor made for her."

"I knew it would! I also saw you in Andreas and Filios today. Filios was nervous but I know you were just trying to trip me up. I'd hear you anywhere, my lady."

"Clever girl. Yes, I was with Andreas and Filio today. Do not worry about FIlio tonight. Their performance will be captivating. Where else?"

"Well, I can't leave out Korina. She walks just like you. You were also with Hilarion, Frona, and Euterpe. There were others of course, but you know that."

"Good job, my love. And thank you for the gifts today. How is it you know exactly where to find me, sweet girl?"

"You're everywhere. It would be harder for me to find someone you haven't given a piece of yourself to. Aphrodite, you are easy to find."