He was lost and she had found him. She just appeared one day, a friend of a friend, uninvited truth be told, but fitting right in with a smile and a laugh.
Theseus had been struggling through the labyrinth but Ariadne made it like a stroll through an exotic garden. She’d charmed the chimeras, griffins and basilisks, inviting those fearsome beasts to join them for a tea party. Needless to say the Minotaur was no threat either, Theseus had his arrows at the ready, but the old monster just lowed gently when she playfully scratched him behind his craggy horns.
With Ariadne in the lead, the labyrinth wasn’t strange or scary. She walked with confidence, through hedges he’d have sworn were thick with thorns. At her touch they became red velvet curtains to be pushed aside, revealing a secret stage of players, all for their amusement.
He was a hero. He had become so used to being the one to lead that this was a novelty, for someone else to show him the way. Except he didn’t see the times when she’d slow down, giving him the chance to go first, to set the course. Theseus wasn’t the first hero she’d helped, spending time with them and making them feel they could take on the world and win.
To Ariadne this was a well worn path, but one that always led to a dead end. For her anyway. The hero would sally forth, restored in his confidence and skills, and fall for the first princess he saw, thanking Ariadne for showing him the way to his beloved’s side.
And she would be back on the trail by herself, excluded from the celebratory feast. Or worse, invited to watch them coo at each other in a private language she’d never learnt.
By this time Ariadne had discovered the trick to the labyrinth, that balance was everything, that unless it was a shared journey, it was better to go on alone.
This day as they made their way through the maze, she was wearing shoes not designed for tough walking. But she loved them, bright green and purple, they made her happy, and so she’d spin and dance in them, making him laugh.
She knew though that she wasn’t content to always be the entertainment or the tour guide, she wanted someone who’d point out the uneven path and would take her hand to stop her tripping.
She had to decide which path to take, for her and her alone. So she stopped, taking him by surprise. She stretched up on the toes of her silly shoes and kissed him on the cheek. “Goodbye Theseus, “she said gently. “If you keep going there are all kind of adventures ahead.”
She walked away from the trail he was on, pausing once and turning. She desperately wanted him to follow her, but knew that wasn’t the answer, she couldn’t be the one to always lead.
She smiled, bright and strong, the sun dimming next to her radiance, and kissed her fingers to him, before putting one colourful shod foot before the other on a new path.