I walked through the streets of the bustling city. Skyscrapers emblazoned with neon signage tower over the roads. Blinding LED screens spew out advertisements at lightning speed. Before I can process the images of the candy-colored cola being zapped into my brain by calculated marketers, the screen jolts to a new picture like a slot machine. This time, the ad is for an electric-yellow energy drink.
The cacophony of car horns and traffic-fueled jeers feel like a million needles piercing my eardrums. Millennia of technological advancements, and this is how mortals choose to communicate.
Pedestrians dart between each other like fish on a coral reef, paying no mind to whose boot it was that they just stepped on or whose shoulder they just happened to brush against. When you have to block out all of your receptors that allow you to experience the world just so you can get from point A to point B, the sensory overload can warp any mind enough to care only about themselves.
People here don’t look because people here don’t care.
Here, I’m just another face, nothing to see here.
I lock eyes with a stranger. My eyes are just as unfamiliar to hers. It is a look often exchanged between two women. We don’t know anything about one another, where we’ve been, or what we’ll continue to march toward, but in that moment, just for a second, we see each other. The journey ahead will be a doozy. That much we understand about each other.
She smiles at me. I don’t know why. She doesn’t know that she just stared into the eyes of a Titan, and so it is an even exchange. We move on, never to see each other again.
The neon lights make everything a kaleidoscope. Rich blues, pinks, and purples swirl on people’s skin, making them look alien. A magenta man in a leather jacket hails a taxi. An indigo woman with luscious curls nearly trips in her six-inch heels. A violet hue radiates on the tall woman standing in front of me. She struts beneath a neon BAR sign, walking inside the establishment. It’s a seedy bar in a seedy town. This must be the place.
I mosey into the bar, soft, deep house beats permeating the room. It’s not too crowded, just the first stop for many on a long night out.
The bartender breaks a sweat as she vigorously rattles a cocktail shaker. Her black space buns bounce with each exertion of her movements. With a leather choker, vampy eye makeup, and black lipstick, she looks like a steampunk anime character.
She pours the concoction into three collins glasses before she notices me. “How’s it going?”
“All things considered, I’m doing pretty swell. How about you?” I reply.
“I’m doing fantastic.” A lie. She garnishes the top of the drinks with some mint leaves and lime wedges before sticking decorative straws in the glasses. “I’ll be with you in just a minute,” she says, carrying the libations to a group at a table in the corner.
Having been the voice of divine law to the gods for eons, I have the ability to cut fact from fiction. I don’t just detect lies. I can feel them. It’s like a jolt of electricity. Not painful, but it stops me in my tracks. Reality becomes drained of its color, making everything poisoned with the pragmatism of black and white.
The thing about being able to cut fact from fiction is that you know every single time someone is lying to you. Every false I love you, every white lie when someone tells you how gorgeous you look, all the little things that are supposed to keep you in a cocoon of ignorant bliss, it all comes barreling toward you like a stampede of bulls.
Everything will be alright. Lie.
There’s someone out there who loves you. Lie.
I think when mortals imagine a power like this, they assume knowledge of the truth comes with it. Being able to differentiate between the truth and falsehoods, surely a Titan could squeeze reality out of any liar. This is the grandest fantasy of them all and one that would surely puzzle any mortal that thought long enough about my ability. When I hear a statement, a whisper, a proclamation, I’ll just know that it’s a lie. I’ll get that shocking sensation in my body, letting me know that whatever was just muttered by the being before me isn’t the truth.
This too shall pass. Lie.
It’s always darkest before the dawn. Lie.
I’ve been told it’s a gift, and in a way, it is. But nothing in this world comes without a price. Powers aren’t given freely without a curse to go along with it. With strength comes weakness. In grand strides, there come setbacks. It’s how the universe balances itself out.
Knowing every deception hurled at me and the thousands of fabrications made by god and mortal alike, it takes a heavy toll. Sometimes I feel like a plate spinner putting on a performance. I hoist these poles above me, and each lie is another plate that I have to spin. After a while, there are only so many slabs of porcelain you can juggle at once before they all come crashing down.
A cynical mind forges my thoughts, which in turn, can choke the beauty out of even the happiest of moments. I can let my guard down only long enough for the next lie to come my way. From experience, it doesn’t take too long.
“Alright, what can I get you?” The bartender has returned.
“I’ll take a whisky.”
“On the rocks? Neat?”
“Honestly, it’d be easier if you just give me the whole bottle.”
She contorts her face to let me know that wasn’t the right answer.
Prometheus was punished for giving fire to the mortals by having an eagle eat his liver every day. A suitable punishment for a Titan because his liver would grow back in only a day. Like clockwork, the eagle would return to dig its talons into this sacred organ. It would feast on this transcendent delicacy with its ravenous beak, leave just long enough for Prometheus’s Titan strength to regenerate his liver, and then the vicious cycle would continue.
My point is that it takes a lot to make a dent in a Titan. So it takes a lot to get me drunk.
“You know I can’t do that,” the bartender sputters.
“How about a bottle of wine?”
She rolls her eyes and sighs. “Fine.”
I don’t bother telling her what kind I want, and she doesn’t bother asking me. I genuinely don’t care.
The bartender grabs a corkscrew and turns it through the bottle like a wind-up toy. She sets the newly opened bottle of wine and a glass atop the bar.
“I’m good,” I say, rejecting the wineglass, and taking a swig straight out of the bottle.
A faint giggle emerges to the left of me. I look to see the source. A young woman sits at the edge of the bar, smiling and typing away on a laptop. No makeup. An ill-fitting, wrinkled pantsuit. Messy braid. The bright screen emits a light blue glow on her bare face. A strange place to be working on your screenplay.
“Suit yourself,” the bartender says, retrieving the wine glass and stowing it underneath the bar.
“I’m actually here for an interview,” I say. “One of my ex-husbands told me I need to get a job.”