This little piece was written as part of the Mythology Workshop over at The 13th Floor Paradigm. The topic was “Gods and Goddesses visit the 21st century” and the individual story prompt was “Hermes was tired of working as a mailman”.
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Hermes was tired of being a mailman. Particularly on scorching hot days like this one, when the midtown streets were choked with traffic. He clutched the parcel under his arm and sprinted into the foyer of a nearby building. When he reached the law firm on the top floor, he found two people waiting, arms crossed and feet tapping.
“He’s late,” snapped the lawyer.
“You’re late,” the secretary said.
“Tell him to take these documents to New Jersey.”
“Take these documents to New Jersey.”
Couldn’t the lawyer talk to him directly? Who did he think he was – a god? And Hermes was not late. He had made it in record time. He’d virtually flown through the crowds on Wall Street, making sure no one was looking.
“New Jersey,” the secretary repeated, like Hermes was stupid.
Yes, Hermes thought as he drove over the bridge in his UPS van, he was tired of being a mailman. But in this new century, when messages sped along wires, into the sky and down from satellites, what use was he? Fleet of foot, deliverer of messages, the parcel job had seemed perfect for him.
That night, he met up with the other gods in the VIP room of Olympus, New York’s hippest new nightspot. While Dionysius and Psyche danced among the beautiful young mortals below, Hermes pushed the straw around his cocktail glass, and listened in on the other gods’ conversations.
Zeus was discussing the latest global bailout with Croesus and Poseidon. Hephaestus and Hera were discussing mining investments and the rising price of metals. Apollo was explaining renewable energy to Aphrodite, who had already impressed everyone with news of her successful dating website and cable television deal.
Hermes slumped his shoulders and had the awful feeling that all his friends were doing better than he was.
He was definitely going to ask Zeus for a better gig, he decided, as he drove through Chicago the next day, flinging parcels from the door of his van. Something more prestigious for sure, with a better job title. The parcels sliced the air and then floated with godlike precision to the doorsteps.
A soft cry filled his ears. Damn it, he must have hit someone with a parcel. He stopped the van, leaping effortlessly to the top of a wall. There in a courtyard, he saw a teenage girl, wiping away a tear. The girl was holding a hand-knitted scarf, made by her mother. Hermes watched as the girl turned her mother’s letter over and over, and then held up the scarf and smiled.
Hermes stroked his chin thoughtfully.
Over the next few days he lingered a while, as people opened their parcels. A miner working in the desert grinned at his son’s first drawings with the wobbly letters “Daddy come home soon”. An elderly widower’s hands shook as he unwrapped a parcel of books in his lonely apartment. A young soldier on a base far from home, broke into a smile when she opened the huge parcel of her favourite candy, which her little sisters had sent her.
A group of engineers sighed in relief at the part that had arrived from across the country, just in time, and a doctor rushed up to the surgeon, to say yes, they had found a donor.
Hermes strode into the VIP room of Olympus some weeks later. The gods were sitting languidly on the soft couches.
“What are you doing these days Hermes?” Aphrodite asked, as she handed him a cocktail.
“Delivery systems?” Zeus asked.
“That’s right,” Hermes took his place at the table, “Wouldn’t change it for the world.”
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