One could say that Orpheus had gotten ahead in death over the past few millennia – only the parts of him which existed below the neck had gotten relegated to the Underworld, after all.
But eventually even the Muses, those dithering dilettantes in constant source of new entertainment, grew tired of their once-favorite disembodied singer and had the head cast into Hades, claiming that Orpheus wasn’t modern enough.
“Too bad you can’t scream like those death metal guys,” they sighed as they lobbed his noggin into the dark realms.
His vocal cords were all he had left to him, he’d started to protest, but the rushing wind from the lands of the dead and his own vertigo as his head plunged drowned his last words out.
He’d barely had time to readjust to being reattached to a vessel for his own movement, much less moving any of his limbs – the mere thought of sitting up strained his breath badly enough.
The voice that whispered in his ear, however, was enough to convince him to relearn the workings of his spinal column.
“Orpheus,” whispered a young woman’s voice. “I thought I’d never see your face again.”
His upper body wasn’t the only part of him that launched bolt upright. “Eurydice!” he breathed. “All these years…you chose to wait for me?”
“Of course I did,” she purred. “It seemed the least I could do for the man who walked into Hell to retrieve me.”
“But after I couldn’t…after I couldn’t help but look at you, when we were so close to Earth…”
“That’s all water under the Styx now,” she tittered. “Finally having you – all of you – in my sights once again was worth the wait.”
It was only then that Orpheus remembered that not only was he physically capable of turning around on his own now, but there would be no negative consequences if he did so in order to behold his wife again for the first time in literal ages. He ignored the cracks and pops as he repositioned his torso so that he could look behind him to meet Eurydice’s eyes.
But there was no one behind him. He blinked in confusion, wondering if his eyes hadn’t yet adjusted to the sunless phosphorescence of the Underworld, when he felt a breath tickle his chest.
“Mmm, such well-toned muscles for ones that haven’t been used in far too long!” giggled his wife’s voice.
Slightly more accustomed to making his own movements now, he was able to turn forward much more quickly, quickly enough that he should have been able to gaze straight into the eyes of his one true love.
But once again, the uninterrupted vastness of Hades spread before him.
“Is this some kind of joke?” he snarled. “Did the Muses reject me, only to make me the plaything of the long-dead?”
The now-infuriating laugh rippled from behind his head once again. “That wouldn’t be a completely inaccurate statement,” the once sylph-like voice playfully intoned as Orpheus, his muscles reflexively tensed in pure rage, sprang him to his feet and whipped him around.
The voice, now drenched in the strident overtones of an aged crone, laughed and laughed as laughed as he whirled in place, his eyes frantic to land on anything besides the stretching swaths of nothingness radiating in all directions.
“You were so impatient to see me before, you couldn’t hold yourself back for another half a breath,” Eurydice said between fits of laughter. “You’ll have an eternity to learn patience now.”