He walked from the car to the door of the gym; rummaging through his bag as he did so looking for the fob. His fingers found the rounded plastic edges of the fob and he withdrew it. He pressed it against the receiver, mounted at waist height on the door frame, and he waited for the familiar click to let him know the lock had disengaged. Sisyphus always felt a rush when he sensed that click, he waited until that exact second to pull the door open – he enjoyed the display of mastery in opening the door at the exact moment it unlocked, the exact, precise, minute execution. A moment sooner and the door would pull, uselessly, against the locking mechanism. A moment later and he would have wasted a single precious second of his morning.
He strode into the gym, this early in the morning it was all but deserted. Sisyphus enjoyed training at this absurd hour. He enjoyed the struggle in it, the battle to rouse himself from slumber and assert his will against the natural order of things in order to train. Of course, Sisyphus did not need to train. Thousands of years in Tartarus rolling his boulder up the hill had refined his already masculine physique into a positive masterpiece of strength and poise. He placed his bag on the ground and began his memorised morning ritual. First; he opened the bag and withdrew the water bottle. Next, he found the towel in its aerated side pocket and stuffed its corner into the waistband of his pants. Third he took the gloves from the main compartment of the bag and placed them under the crook of one elbow as he zipped the vessel closed. He rose, headed for the water fountain and began to fill his water bottle from the chilled fountain. As the water flowed, slowly, into the bottle, Sisyphus donned the gloves and began wrapping the tails of the gloves around and around his wrists for stabilisation. As he finished the second glove, the bottle was filled to capacity and he took the bottle into his hands and replaced the cap.
The final and most important part of Sisyphus’ ritual was next. The part he savoured most. He reached into his pocket and withdrew his phone. He opened his music application and the endless possibilities of the morning finally engulfed him. Of all the magic and majesty Sisyphus had found upon his release from Tartarus, modern music was certainly the greatest. In the untold years he had toiled underneath the earth, hopelessly happy, he had not thought to ever hear music again. Early on, sometime in the first millennia of his struggle, he had despaired when it dawned on him he would never hear the mournful tones of Calliope’s lyre again. He had realised what music was to him. Was to all men through him. A source of transcendent joy. A way to momentarily transport oneself into the place of another, the place of a creator – a muse for the mundane man. It was this realisation buried deep in Sisyphus’ consciousness that drew he so forcefully to the modern musical masters channelled through his phone.
Having found a track that suited his mood, Sisyphus reached up and placed his headphones over his ears and hit play.
“Forgive me, I’m trying to find My calling, I’m calling at night I don’t mean to be a bother, But have you seen this girl?”
The words burst into his consciousness from the speakers. Manifestations of some pure universal magic, some truly wondrous shared unconsciousness. He hangs from the bar, his heart swells as the feelings surge, unbidden, to the forefront of his consciousness. Reah turns and leaves, her parting kiss haunts his lips. Her laughter echoes in his ears as she tells him she will return. He feels intoxicated, he wants to call out to her, but doesn’t. Fear, holding his tongue. The vision fades as he heaves himself aloft once more, feeling the sinew and muscle of his back contract as he rises Sisyphus smiles. Reah’s kiss fades form his lips as he crests the pull-up and the music swells again.
“And there before my eyes on the glossy paper, quiet whispers of something I had lost or put aside for the longest time. The hope that I might find some kind of peace”
Sisyphus lowered himself on his raw knuckles, his chest brushing the spongy, rubberised floor. His breath beginning to feel heavy in his breast. The slow, sad sounds seeped softly into his ears as he raised and lowered himself once more. Esper stood, illumined against the fading light of the fiery orange sunset framed exquisitely by the pillars of his manor behind her. Her eyes, clear, deep and pristine in their beauty burned in their sockets as she smiled at him once more. Love, it beat strongly in him once again. He felt it, truly viscerally – as if he were there, at that moment once more. As she began to turn, heading into the manor the vision wavered and Sisyphus was confronted once more with the chalky, flecked matting of the gym floor rising to meet him.
“Please don’t walk away and please tell me you’ll stay”
As the guitars swelled in his ears Sisyphus saw her, Jezabelle, her pale skin reflecting the warm rays of the morning sun back at him. Her elusive topaz eyes faintly touched by the hint of her suggestive smile. Trapped in the midst of his movement he could only let the weight of his bar press down on his shoulders as he was enveloped by the memory. Jez, shifted as he moved around her to kiss her cheek softly and whisper into her ear. The weight moved up as Sisyphus pushed away the bar and the memory away.
For all the time he had spent toiling for his freedom, thirsting for the immortality he craved so – his ghosts had lost none of their potency.