(The beginning of the book: Homeros wakes up, aphasic and suffering from amnesia, after being attacked by an unknown assailant. He’s been in a coma for the past four days.)
Homeros’ eyelids fluttered like the moth’s wings, and when he opened his eye he had no thought but of the searing fire in his brain. But after a moment he recognized his sleeping room. His bed. His garment chest.
Moist-eyed, Calliope was enveloped in her older sister’s arms. Alekto flexed her jaw. In the face of heartbreak, she had always been stalwart.
They’re in mourning, thought Homeros. They’ve scratched their cheeks and sheared their side locks.
Startled, they turned and stared at him, open-mouthed. “Father?” said Calliope.
Homeros reached up and touched the left side of his head just above the temple. He asked why his head was bandaged.
But what came out of his mouth was: “Helmet … helmet tunic.”
His daughters gaped.
No, that’s not what I meant, he thought. He asked them how his head had been injured.
Alekto and Calliope exchanged glances. “Father?” said Calliope again. Homeros could hear the fear and uncertainty in her voice.
He tried again. “Top … top shoulders? Cloak?”
Alekto remained motionless and stared, like a crane sizing up a fox from afar. Calliope strode to his bedside and kneeled. Taking his hand in the two of hers, she kissed it and asked, “Father, can you hear me?”
Tied in knots, his tongue wouldn’t do as his mind commanded. His inability to say what he wanted to say mystified him, and he let out a confused whimper.