S01E10 – The Queen

Echobox is a fictional retelling of ancient Greek myths. There are countless versions of these stories, with just as many cultural and linguistic nuances. For the sake of storytelling and adaptation, we’ve taken creative liberties and added our own flair to many of the stories. The stories and characters of Echobox are by no means the only versions nor should they be taken as the ‘correct’ ones. Neither should they be taken as an accurate representation of who these deities were and are to their worshippers. Thank you for your help in remaining respectful to deities and practitioners!

Today’s episode features content warnings for mentions of toxic relationships and postpartum depression. 

Now, put some headphones on. Sit back and enjoy the divine drama of our season finale, episode ten, The Queen.

[ECHOBOX INTRO PLAYS]

ACHILLES: You look like a really sad bitch right now? You know that?

ALEX: Oh thank you. That’s what everybody wants to hear after spending the week being dragged online and having to reconsider every single life choice they’ve ever made.

ACHILLES: I’m just saying! You’re drinking wine with me. I think that means you’re doing pretty well in life, all things considered.

ECHO: The very first time I came to your place for wine night you called it sad bitch hours. Make up your mind.

ACHILLES: Look. The intricacies of the different categories of wine nights might be lost on you, but I haven’t given up hope yet. 

[PHONE NOTIFICATION GOES OFF]

ACHILLES: There’s sad bitch hours, obviously, there’s hot girl sips, there’s also

ECHO: Holy shit.

ACHILLES: Really? I’m trying to teach you a valuable lesson and you’re paying more attention to your phone?

ECHO: Achilles. Oh my god. Achilles.

ACHILLES: Alex.

ECHO: Achilles!

ACHILLES: Alex! In case you haven’t noticed yet, yelling our names at each other doesn’t do a whole lot to fill me in on the situation. 

ECHO: I just got a message at the Echobox email. 

ACHILLES: Ugh. I told you to turn the notifications off for that thing. Another mindless hater?

ECHO: Achilles. [BEAT] It’s from Hera. 

ACHILLES: …shit. You sure?

ECHO: I’ve sent a million schedules and press reports to this email and gotten back probably just as many complaints from it. It’s definitely her. Her personal email too. Not the one she has her intern run. 

ACHILLES: Babe! Fuck, you’ve got the queen herself emailing! What’s it say?

ECHO: Let’s see… She listens to the podcast which yeah, obviously. Um… She’s been thinking a lot about responsibility to the public and responsibility to herself lately. She saw my hiatus notification. She- Oh my god. Achilles. She attached a voice memo. It’s long. She wants… Oh my god. She wants me to publish it on the show. 

ACHILLES: Sorry, am I hearing you right? Hera Olympus, the baddest bitch around and perpetual ice queen of the music industry, the one who refuses to wear anything off the rack, the same woman who barely looks at the artists on her own husband’s label because they’re too vulgar, she just asked to be on your show? 

ECHO: Yeah. She says… She says the audio might sound like a prank, but that she wants me to post it before she changes her mind. It’s gotta be good, Achilles.

ACHILLES: Damn. It’s a shame you decided to end the show. This would have made your audience numbers skyrocket. 

ECHO: Are you kidding? Of course I’m making an episode for this!

ACHILLES: Alex! You walked in here not two hours ago talking about how you’re never picking up a microphone again. You made me swear on Patroclus’ beautiful, perfect ass that I wouldn’t let you do it.

ECHO: That was before Hera herself was asking me for a spot on the show. When the queen comes knocking, you don’t say no! 

ACHILLES: I don’t know, Alex… You seemed pretty sure. 

ECHO: Let’s listen to it at least. If it’s the same scripted nonsense apology as always, I’ll throw it out and leave the show on hiatus. But if we’ve got something special here…

ACHILLES: Ugh. Fine. Let me get headphones. 

[ECHOBOX INTRO PLAYS]

ECHO: Hi, everyone. I know I left us a little abruptly last time and I know I tweeted a few days ago that the show would be on hiatus until further notice, but… Things change. I got an entirely unexpected email in my inbox two days ago and I felt it was my responsibility to all of you as my audience and to this person to share it. So we’re doing things a little differently today. 

I’m not going to be doing a lot of talking. The person who reached out to me for this episode is someone you all know. Someone that a lot of you probably helped to tear apart these last few weeks. I know the last time we had an Olympian on the show speaking for himself, it was just so we could make fun of Hermes, but I think this person deserves our attention. I really do. So even if this isn’t what you come to this show for and even if you want to just shut the podcast off and find some other place for your gossip… Just give it a chance. That’s all I’m asking. 

Now. I don’t think Hera Olympus needs any further introduction, so… Enjoy.

HERA: [DEEP BREATHE] Hello, Echo. I sat on this message for a while. At first, I told myself I didn’t know yet if I wanted to send it, even though it’s been a long time coming. Then I told myself I was waiting for you to reach out first, to apologize properly for all the gossiping and squabbling. I waited a long time. I haven’t put my phone down in weeks, you know? I hold it more than I hold Hebe. Just checking compulsively for a text, an email, a notification of your little show updating. 

And don’t say you couldn’t do it because you can’t reach me. We all know you have more access to my family than you say you do. I don’t think anyone ever believed your stories about inside sources. I have a feeling you could have reached me directly if you’d wanted to. Nothing came, of course. I don’t know why I was so surprised. No one has manners like they used to. 

So then I told myself I was waiting for Hebe to get a bit bigger. Old enough to walk first, then old enough to talk, then old enough to make decisions for herself. Finally, I just had to admit I’m going to end up waiting forever at this rate. Maybe it’s time I stop waiting for others and just do something for myself. 

So here I am, on your little show, to tell you – and all the vultures who listen to you – that Zeus and I are getting a divorce. 

You know, from my very first media training class, everyone always says to never ever start off dropping big news from the very beginning like that. You tease at it, a little wink here and a nudge there, but you don’t just say it. If you do, then suddenly, no one has any reason to keep listening. I’d guess a lot of listeners probably already stopped listening. The exciting part is done. Everyone can go to their rabid Tweeting or Insta-ing or Facebooking or whatever it is everyone does these days. 

But I’m tired of spending more time worrying about media empires than about myself. And I’m tired of valuing the opinion of strangers on the Internet with rancid hearts. So go ahead and stop listening if all you wanted was a headline. For once, I’m going to talk until I feel I’m finished. 

What my family and I do is a job. I know it’s a glamorous job that half the world wants when they’re children, but it’s still just a job. We’re not content producing machines, contrary to what some of you might think. We’re people. People who grow tired, people who get sick, people who have emotions just like anyone else. 

I realize my husband didn’t do us any favors in how anyone saw us. He was the first one lining us up to work impossible hours or treating everyone under his rule as lifeless machines. One would think that no one needs to be told to treat others with human decency. And yet here you all are, using the actions of an infamous tyrant of industry to justify your own words, only to turn around and pretend you’re better than him and the rest of us. 

I’m not perfect. Despite what so many of you seem to think, I’m not perfect, nor do I think I am. Do I try to make my posts online seem like I have a perfect life? Or do I focus on getting every little detail right when I’m out on the street or in award shows? Of course I do. Don’t we all though? No one likes looking less than their best when sharing things in public like that and I actually get paid to keep it all this up. I won’t deny there’s vanity involved, but for every vain desire I have these days, there’s a dozen contracts stating how often I need to post, how many likes it needs to get, what my hair needs to look like. 

All that while trying to take care of an infant, while my husband runs around without a care in the world, while every new post opens up the gates to countless of all your vile little comments and insults. 

Anyone would grow tired of it. No one is perfect, but certainly, no one is perfect under the ever watchful eye of everyone in the world with an internet connection and even just a passing interest in my family. Being in the spotlight like that has made me realize there’s a lot more sadists in the world than would probably ever own up to it. 

It’s difficult enough to have a baby, you know? Worse knowing your husband’s just had yet another baby with another mistress. It’s unimaginably difficult with the whole world watching and wishing you the worst. 

I know everyone is going to call me a monster because of it, but I’m just going to say it. I had a hard time connecting to Hebe at first. Of course I love her. She is my baby girl. But at first… At first I was just resentful and tired. 

Everything was a struggle. Breastfeeding, getting her to sleep. I had a handful of employees around to help me, but they resented me, and I resented Zeus. And sometimes, I even resented Hebe. And then I hated myself for it.

I thought about saying something many times. Perhaps partnering with some mental health organization and creating some easily shared, aesthetically pleasing content about those lonely, dark three months so many who give birth go through once the baby is in their arms. Or just letting it all fall apart and starting one of those disastrous livestreams on Instagram. I have a feeling if I’d done that, I would have just been accused of starving for attention and making it all up. Of using my baby to sell more products, to give my husband more money. 

Even now, I doubt anyone – even you, Echo – would have listened to this if I hadn’t started with a divorce announcement. 

I’m going to be making some big changes. Hebe deserves a mother who is present and can take care of herself properly, so I can take care of her in turn. She deserves a happier childhood than her siblings got and most certainly a chance at a healthier life than any of them are living now. And if to do that I need to step away from Zeus and all of Olympus Records, then I will. I’m going to be building my own life now, for me and Hebe. Less time spent reading comments online or making my husband look good, more time spent focusing on the family that counts.

I’ll be documenting as much of the journey as I can, in hopes that some of you might finally start leaving my page with more than just new fitness trends and yoga pants to try on, but with a push to finally make that scary change that’ll improve your life or to finally go seek help you desperately need. 

And once Hebe is a little older, well who knows? Perhaps I’ll finally go back to the stage and be more than just Zeus’ wife again. 

Whether you listened because you cared about the full story or just because you wanted to be the first to find out the latest gossip in LA, thank you for listening to me. Hera the woman, not just Hera the wife. 

I look forward to never caring enough to read any of your comments again. 

ECHO: So. There you have it. Our little show’s first Olympian-led expose! Though I guess Hera technically won’t be an ‘Olympian’ soon, will she? I think I speak for a lot of the listeners when I say congratulations, Hera. I hope you and Hebe enjoy your newfound freedom.

As I’m sure you all know, I’ve been spending a lot of time these last few weeks trying to figure out exactly what this show means to me, to the listeners, to the people being talked about. I thought about how things might change around here or if there was anything going wrong on my part. And I’ll be honest with all of you, for a long time, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be continuing the show or not.

But after all this, I think we can all agree that Echobox has done more good than not. 

Of course, I’m still sorry about how some events went down the last couple of months and I do wish things hadn’t gotten as aggressive and inappropriate as they had. But in the end, I think we can all agree it was worth it for the end result. After all, we got Hera out of her loveless marriage and now little Hebe has a chance at a happy, normal life without getting dragged into all of her father’s disasters. 

It looks like a win to me, listeners. 

For now, I’ll be taking a little break while I dig around and make sure I have the absolute best stories possible for all of you. And focusing on the right people. I’m sure you all know just as well as me how the Olympians like to go into little hibernations after big PR nightmares like this. They’ll never say they’re struggling to keep the brand together, but what do you think all those month long unplugged vacations and breaks from social media are about? They always pop up when they’re scared – by a pool with tropical cocktails in hand, but scared – and I bet you anything we’ll see dear Zeus and all his most loyal little dogs taking one of those breaks as soon as this goes live. 

But as soon as they’re back and causing trouble again? I promise you all I’ll be the first one breaking every juicy story. 

Until next time, dear listeners. This is Echo, logging off. 

[ECHOBOX OUTRO PLAYS]

Echobox is written and produced by the Echobox Podcast Team. This episode stars, in order of appearance, Emma K Blakeslee as Achilles, Isabella Sales as Alex/Echo and Elizabeth as Hera. It was written by Sebastián Ponsa-Nazario. Audio and sound design by Corienne Swanson, Meg McKellar and Marianna Marcon. Logo design by Lucas Eduardo Bueno and website by Andy Cerdan.

The music we used today was Ethernight Club and Magic Scout Cottages by Kevin McLeod, licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 from creativecommons.org/by/3.0. 

Echobox is created out of love for storytelling and provided at no profit to us. Your feedback is our reward! Reach out on our website or find us as echoboxpod across social media. 

If you liked the episode, let us know and share with a friend!  You can also drop us a review at Apple Podcasts to help us grow. We would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Thank you for listening to season one of Echobox. Until next time, dear listeners.

While you wait for season two, we have an amazing recommendation for you. At the Night Post Podcast. 

[VOICE OVER]

Hello there, Citizen. You’ve lived in guilt city for a while now. Maybe you’ve wondered when you wake in the morning and retrieve the letters tucked neatly into your postbox just where your mail comes from. 

It comes from the Night Post of course. Those faithful couriers deliver it while you’re sleeping. All the better that they stay out of sight and keep the unseemly strangeness that follows them out of our city in the skelter where it belongs. 

Ahem. 

If for some reason, you’d like to know more about Guilt City’s conscripted couriers and the burden that chose them, their secret hopes and fears, the ancient untamed threats that hound them on their nocturnal journeys, you have only to listen. 

The Night Post is a supernatural audio drama by an all LGBT team. Delivered weekly in the dead of night to wherever you listen to podcasts. Find answers at night post pod dot com.

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