Under the Influence of Immortal Superiors

"Helena! Helena, look, isn't he so handsome?"

She chuckled, shaking her head. "They always are."

"No, this one's different. I can tell."

She put her hand on my shoulder, looking me in the eyes with great seriousness. "Rena. They always are."

I sighed. "I know I always say that, but this time I really really mean it."

She shook her head again. "Just be careful, Rena. I don't want to see you weeping night after night over some . . . man."

Hugging her, I smiled. "Well I don't want to be weeping night after night again."

She was called off then, and I sat down in an empty chair. I was supposed to be clearing the table, but the striking man in the corner distracted me. As I watched him, I felt someone watching me. I looked over at the chair beside me to see a hooded woman. The angle gave me a nice view of her face; she was so beautiful I almost thought she was an angel.

"You could have him."

I laughed. "I don't know what you mean."

"That man," she said, smirking. "You've been staring at him all night."

I felt my face heat up. "I . . ."

"You could have him. You would be a perfect match."

My eyes widened. "Do you know him?"

The woman gave me a strangely feline smile. "I know of him."

Suddenly, the man looked straight at me; his amber eyes were sparkling. The beautiful woman laughed.

"Go talk to him, girl."

As if it were an involuntary reflex, I stood and walked over to the corner. The alluring man, without a word, gestured an invitation to me to sit down. Again, I reflexively obeyed. I opened my mouth to speak, but no sound came out. I blushed and looked down. The man gently lifted my chin and sent me an amused smirk.

"What's your name, girl?"

"R- Rena," I answered, my voice cracking.

"Rena." I shivered. "My name is Deric."

"Helena! Cover for me – I'm meeting Deric again."

"Again? Rena – "

"Helena, I've covered for you dozens of times with Constantius."

"That's different, Re!" she said, her big blue eyes narrowed.

"Different? How?"

"Because . . . Oh, just go on! But be careful, Rena."

"Of course. I won't do anything you wouldn't do, Helena."

She rolled her eyes again, but smiled. "Take those big green-gold doe eyes to your man, Rena. He'll know what to do with you."

Many years passed. Helena married Constantius, but it was never a very stable relationship. She was very religious (one of the few traits we shared, though Christianity was not particularly popular at the time), and he was very power-hungry. After she bore him a son, Constantine, her fair lover was chosen by Maximianus to be his ceasar. Constantius then took Maximianus' stepdaughter, Theodora, as his wife; Constantine was also sent away from poor Helena, to be raised in the household of Galerius, Diocletian's ceasar. When Constantius died and Constantine succeeded him, Helena's loving son sent for his mother.

Helena and I wrote letters to each other during this time. For some inexplicable reason, in 326, Constantine had his wife and son executed. Helena was distraught at this, and desperately sought some way to redeem her son. Later, Constantine felt great guilt; Helena, then eighty years old, decided to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

When I read the letter that described this mission, I knew at once that I had to join her. No matter that my once black hair was now gray. No matter that I had children and grandchildren of my own to take care of. No matter whether or not I lived through the trip, I had to try. Helena would not make it alone. Deric, when he discovered the plan, shook his head.

"Rena, you'll not go alone."

When we reached the site of Jesus' resurrection, we found a temple to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. The men with us, mainly on Helena's orders, destroyed it. Soon after, I felt a chilling presence. When I looked toward the source, I saw the hooded woman – she looked just as she had the day I met her. Time seemed to stop; my breath caught in my throat and my heart ceased its beating.

"Rena. Why did you allow this? After what I did for you, why did you allow them to wreck my temple?"

"Y- your temple?"

Her eyes were fiery, and for an extremely odd moment she looked just like a young Helena in a rage. Her platinum blonde hair and icy blue eyes were so like Helena's I had to look to make sure the older Helena was still around.

"They will not get away with this. Mark my words, Rena. They will not get away with this."

The beautiful Aphrodite may or may not have gotten her revenge. It was long after my time if she did; she was so busy with her lovers (especially Ares, Greek god of war) that she didn't put much thought into what we lowly mortals did.

Anon, however, Helena made a miraculous discovery. The true cross would be honored forevermore. Helena, too, would be remembered forever. She built numerous churches, and gave away much of what she owned to the poor. She will forever be remembered as a saint, my beloved friend, the empress Helena.