The Return of Mithra
~ a short story
Suddenly inspired by a spring in his little steps, Lou wandered off from his parents’ side.
They gawked at flags and documents on the walls. Family trip to the memorial museum, where the United States’ founding documents were preserved. Papa wanted to revel at the Constitution in-person; mama was theorizing weak points in the security system, daydreaming about what it would mean to truly steal the Declaration of Independence. Lou was six and a half years old and he loved his mama and papa.
A shine flashed on the floor and Lou moved to it with singularity. A penny. He reached down for it and realized his parent’s absence. A bustle of weekend families and couples swirled around him as sunset flowed down onto the cool marble. It was nearing closing time.
But there was no fear in Lou. Something else had caught his eye. The people fluttered by and through them Lou saw a stone carving in one of the nearby passages, a bit away from the main thoroughfare where the venerable docs that built the American empire lay. On the wall, there was a spiraling depiction of men and beast in combat. Or dance, Lou could not tell.
Centering in the artistic roil of bodies was a figure set divinely, with a long cape flaring like wings and large biceps that were at work. They gripped the horns of a bull with infinite confidence. There in the stone, a glorious man with luscious hair grasped utter control of his world. Lou started to smile. He liked it.
An elderly voice to his side. Lou looked up to see the silhouette of a “grandpa.” He stood against the fading glow of the day and leaned down next to Lou and pointed to the mural with a long, bony finger.
“That’s Mithra. The oldest God. Strongest. Most kind.”
Lou gawked at the rough patch of features of the old man with the golden voice. Tanned and wrinkled, he looked 100 years older than Lou.
The old pointed down to the shiny penny Lou thumbed with out of nervous fascination.
“Wishes like yours can bring him back,” the old man smiled looking between the penny and the stone carveout of the bull rider named Mithra. “We need the children to believe again.”
Lou watched the old man wave his arms about at the crowd and the documents, the painstaking pictures of past U.S. presidents. He snarled at Washington and scoffed at Lincoln.
“Don’t you think it’s time for … all this to end, son?” the elderly man asked with a pained sincerity. His eyes scattered at the world and her people circling him at the museum. His beard looked fated to fall away at any moment, hair by hair, his skin set to slide off the bones of his skull by midnight.
Lou started to hear his name being shouted.
Mom and dad.
The old man closed Lou’s hands shut over the penny and spoke with a cold command that had the young boy mesmerized.
“Take it to a cherished body of water and make a wish for Mithra to return. Flick in the coin with all your heart and your wish will be the Universe’s command.”
Lou turned around and his parents were scooping him up. He looked back frantically with sweaty palm gripping the penny. The old man was gone.
Mithra stared down. It was all Lou could see. Or think about: Mithra and the lake back home, in the middle of the park where they walked Mothra, their beagle. She was named after the Godzilla enemy-turned-ally, a majestic moth kaiju of peaceful demeanor; Mothra was as delightful as her namesake, a golden puppy of infinite joy with an uncanny capacity to transfer it to everyone around her.
Lou was young yet understood the cosmic significance of his dear pup and this elder god sharing a name. He carried the wish in his heart just as the old instructed. Lou couldn’t wait to introduce Mithra to mama and papa when they got home. ~