All The World Is A Stage: (Flash Fiction)
The individual provisionally known as Aphrodite, was wearing a T-shirt to that effect. It read "Aphrodite" across the top-front, and beneath the name was a composite representational depiction of the face of the goddess, of what such an incarnation of beauty itself should look like. Across the top-back it read "The Goddess of Love," so that the curious might know her function. So it was with Apollo. So it was with Athena. So it was with Zeus. So it was with Hera. So it was with Poseidon. So it was with Hades. So it was with Hermes.
So it was with all those in attendance: the name of the god or goddess across the top-front, with the composite representational depiction of the face of the divinity beneath the name, and the label across the top-back indicating that they are either the god or goddess of whatever they're supposed to be the god or goddess of.
The troupe were all gathered together to discuss the upcoming production of "The Trojan War." Discussion---that was their unfortunate purpose for gathering on this occasion. They were not quite prepared to rehearse although: the actors were chosen, each having decisively won their roles by audition; the venue secured; the funding in place; and the equipment paid for.
There had been problems with the script from the beginning. Therefore, out of desperation, the Director resorted to the unusual step of rescuing the internal logic of the story and getting the narrative back on track by committee.
The Director was also wearing a T-shirt that announced his identity and function. Across the top-front it read "Director." Beneath it was the realistic depiction of his face. Across the top back it read "The Ultimate Director of Gods and Men."
"Let me get this straight," said Athena, fittingly for a goddess of wisdom, "you want to start a war here in Greece over a beauty contest?"
"I do," said the Director, "that is my vision."
"A beauty contest between three goddesses," Athena said.
"Yes," said the Director.
"Between Athena, Aphrodite, and Hera," she said.
"Correct," he said.
"The winner of which is to be chosen by a mortal," she said.
"That's right," he said. "Paris."
"What's the point?" said Athena.
The Director arched an eyebrow. "Point? Since when have we been in the business of making a 'point'?"
The goat-hooved Pan, god of wine, music, and reveler in all manner of leisurely, distracting, and amusing frivolities, said, "I think what she means is: Can we sell this?"
"Perhaps the premise is a bit out there," Apollo the Sun God said.
"Oh I don't know," said Aphrodite, with her hands on her rather shapely hips. "The libido is well known to be a powerful motivator for violence."
"You're only saying that because Paris gives the apple to you, my dear," said Athena.
"Foolishly choosing 'love' over military victory or power," Hera said.
Ah, thought the Director, Hera and Aphrodite were the most talented performers of the bunch. Even now he could see them taking on, starting to embody the jealous rage and manipulative lasciviousness of both divinities respectively.
"Why is it 'foolish' to choose love over military victory or power?" Aphrodite said.
Hera said, "Because power is the ultimate libido stimulator, my dear. With power all else is open to you."
Not wanting to be left out, Athena said, "The quickest way to acquire power is through triumph on the battlefield."
Hera sniffed in Athena's direction. Aphrodite blew kisses at them. Hera scowled and Athena smiled.
"But is it fair to make mortals pay the price with their lives for the silliness of the Olympians?" Apollo said.
"Silliness? Silliness?" Pan said. "Is there anything 'serious' worth paying the price for?" He took a swig of something inebriating from his jug.
Pan getting into character no doubt, thought the Director.
"I understand what you're getting at, Apollo," said Zeus. "But what would you have the Olympians do, war among themselves and risk rendering the universe?"
Apollo sighed and looked off into space.
The Director clapped his hands three times. "Everyone, everyone! We're getting off-track and bogged down here." Quite right. There were many other matters to plan out and discuss; and sometime soon they ought to get to rehearsing actual lines! "You all know that this is the basic outline of the story that's been authorized upstairs. It is our task to work it out and make it work, for all its flaws, contradictions, and omissions."
They got back on track and talked for sometime more before they tired and broke off the session. They would hit it again next time. There was reason for optimism. Slowly, but oh so slowly, the pieces were starting to come together. We might cut it close, but I haven't been late with a production yet, thought the Director.
The Director blew a conch shell, which brought down from the sky the golden, moving staircase, by which they had descended to Earth. The troupe bounded aboard, ready to go home in the clouds.
Athena came over to Aphrodite, slipping an arm around the latter's waist. "Any plans?"
Aphrodite shrugged. "No, none in particular."
"How about dinner?"
"There's a new place I'd like to try."
"Downtown Cloud Nine Boulevard."
"Its called The Pearly Gates."