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“I wish that he may return safely so that I may hold his hand once more, and we may become a family once more.”However, this did not go to plan for the young Penelope after the Trojan War had ended, as Odysseus had not yet returned. Each day a new suitor would come and try to take Odysseus’ place. They all said the same thing when they had arrived…“Oh beautiful Penelope, I wish to take the place of your husband and become your son’s new father. Take me as your king, and accept my heart, for I will give to you all that you ever dreamed of.”As the days passed, the suitors, who once spoke to Penelope with soft and caring words, began growing impatient towards her. Their words becoming demands, and their proposals becoming threats. They began taking home in the palace and became more and more less behaved. Still choosing to be faithful to Odysseus, she turned a blind eye towards the suitors, only caring for the man she was truly married to. She sent a letter to Odysseus, not knowing if he was alive, about the troubles that were arising and how need not worry, for the key to her heart was in his possession only.
However, Penelope knew she had to buy time so that she would not have to marry one of the suitors before his return, so she thought of an elaborate plan to trick them all.“I wish that I may marry one of you many suitors, but I cannot for my father-in-law Laertes is ill, and I must weave a shroud to honor him. Until then, I shall not marry.”Each day she would weave the shroud, but when night fell she would unweave it, giving Odysseus more time. However, as the days went by the suitors grew restless, waiting for the day she would announce who would take the place of Odysseus. Her son Telemachus, who never met his own father, goes out to find information of Odysseus in hopes that he will find news of his survival.
“What happens if I lose him too? I will be alone forever, with nobody to love or care for. He can’t leave, he can’t…”Despite her compelling pleas, Telemachus leaves, leaving Penelope alone with a palace full of over 100 angry suitors. Terrified and lonely, Penelope sees no point in living. The light of her life walked away into a world of uncertainty, and for all she knew, was unlikely to return. Penelope cursed at the Gods. She felt hatred towards everyone and everything, and fell into a deep state of dark, sadness. In order to cope, she wrote in a book for every day Telemachus was gone. She soon found a friend within her pen and paper.
This is my 254th time writing in this book. As the days pass, my hope for their return grows dimmer. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen the sun, or the last time I haven’t cried myself to sleep. A servant told me that it’s almost been a year since Telemachus left. Has it only been a year? The suitors discovered the truth behind the shroud I’ve tricked them into believing I was making. I knew they would discover soon or later. I will soon have to marry one of those fools. None of them even stand a chance against my dear Odysseus, who I know is still out there, fighting his way back home. Happiness is too unfamiliar to me for me to be able to recall for I’ve become numb to everything but sadness. Every day is a battle that I am beginning to lose. Don’t let me lose, please don’t let me lose…
A year passes and Telemachus has yet to return. The suitors have reached the climax of their behavior and Penelope knows she must marry soon. Just when she cannot handle the loneliness any further, Telemachus returns. She cries, rejoicing in her son’s return. In their tight embrace, she feels her world piecing back together, the shattered glass being pieced together again. When asked what he discovered about his father’s whereabouts, he replies by telling his mother that she must be patient. However, Penelope, having been patient for 20 years, has had enough. She orders an archery contest in which the winner will take her hand in marriage. She takes Odysseus’ bow down, crying at the thought of having to let him go, and tells the suitors of the competition.“The task is simple, string the bow and shoot it through every one of the holes.”Penelope then leaves the room and waits for the winner. She is told to lock the doors and she sits there along with all of her servants and starts to hear a loud roaring. Men fighting, blood spilling on the floor and screaming. All the women begin bawling and crying in absolute terror as they hear the ruckus beyond the walls they are within. Penelope however, begs the Gods to keep her son safe, knowing that Telemachus is fighting the suitors, who outnumbers him by many.“My sweet Telemachus is out there. Please Gods, please almighty Gods protect him. I beg of you to spare his life, and I shall give to you everything you please.”Suddenly, the fighting stopped and there was banging on the door.
She cautiously walked towards the door, having no clue as to what was happening.“Could it have been Telemachus trying to escape or what is one of the suitors?” The banging stopped, and the door unbolted. Penelope’s heart stopped at the sight. Every emotion she’s ever felt surged through her within that moment. It was Odysseus. Part of her wanted to run up to him and embrace him with all the strength she had, but part of her also knew that seeing him in front of her was too good to be true. She didn’t believe that it was Odysseus, and knew of only one to prove that it was really him. That night, while he was cleaning the blood and ruins of what had happened, Penelope told him he could sleep outside their room on the bed Odysseys made. Suddenly he became enraged, as his bed was rooted into a tree, making it impossible to move. That was when Penelope knew it truly was him, as it was a secret only they knew.
At that moment, she felt all the happiness she had been deprived of in the past 20 years in that one moment. Her smile was bright enough to illuminate the dark night, and for once, the tears she cried were not of sadness. She walked towards Odysseus, the tears of joy staining her cheeks and the smile not fading away.“Welcome back Odysseus. I’ve been waiting for you.”
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