“Excuse me, Athena? I have your messages, appointments, and mail for you. Something was just delivered. I put it on top,” Chanel, my new secretary, said as she handed me my mail. She was a bit on the sleazy side, but she was a hard worker and followed my orders without question. She seemed to understand what being a secretary to a goddess meant, and I was thankful for it. It was a bonus that she was easy on the eyes.
On top of the stack of letters, fan mail, and junk mail, was a fancy, gold embossed envelope addressed to Athena. The sender had failed to put a return address…I wondered who it could be from as I flipped it over and opened it. Inside was an invitation to a party. It could be a fun time, or it could be a trap. Unfortunately, in my line of work and very existence, either was completely possible. With my current cases, I really didn’t have time to attend. I had so many pressing matters. But what if this was a family get-together? I had already missed so much in the lives of my family. I felt disconnected and needed to prioritize some time with them. The mortals and their world had always been precious to me, but not as precious as my family.
Rubbing my face, I knew my makeup wouldn’t smear. I paid enough for the stuff that it better stay put. If not, I was going to buy a train and lead the hot mess express.
“Athena? Is that to a party? Can I come? I’ll be your wing-woman.” I almost felt bad when I had to tell her that it could be a deathtrap, which meant she couldn’t go. She pretended to pout but quickly moved on to my calendar and things on my to-do list. I listened, if for nothing else but to humor her. She really did work hard at trying to un-fuck my daily life. Unfortunately for her, no amount of un-fucking would defuck all the fuckery that was my life.
Looking at myself in the full-length mirror, I admired how the red glitter of my dress shimmered as I moved. I looked like the woman from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, my hair falling in loose, golden waves over my shoulders. I matched my feels and lipstick to my dress. Once finished, I looked and felt like the goddess that I truly was. All my roughness, dark humor, sarcasm, and profanity shoved into a tight glitter sleeve. No bitch here, folks… I’m sure no amount of glitter and makeup could hide the real me, and I was unapologetic about it.
The trip to the location where the party was being held was relatively quick. It didn’t take me long to enter the building and find the bar. After the year, I could use a few tons of strong alcohol. More of my family members arrived and paired off. They said hello to each other and grouped in their own little cliques. I sat back and watched them talk happily amongst themselves. This was what I had been missing. I missed each and every one of them. The relationships amongst the gods was…complicated. Despite that, so many of them had found love, and the missing pieces to their souls. Yet here I sat alone, romancing a bottle of Jack. Deep down, I longed to be included and have what they had. I longed for it, even though I didn’t believe that I’d ever have it. I sat and watched like a fly on the wall.
After what seemed like hours, but was mere minutes, my father arrived. Zeus, in all his magnificence, entered the room. And in his grand fashion, he asked the questions we were all thinking. Who the hells invited us all here and why? After many confused guesses, we determined that we had no idea who brought us together or why. Then…
“Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?” an excited voice cut through the darkness, and I slowly opened my eyes. A little girl was standing on the edge of my bed. Her blonde curls bouncing as she excitedly jumped up and down.
I rubbed my eyes and wondered if I remembered to remove my makeup last night. I should probably invest in some more expensive products, but I just couldn’t see paying those prices for something to hide my natural beauty.
“Mommy, are you awake?”
“Yes, baby, mommy is awake.” I waited for her to jump on me like she did every morning. Then I’d tickle her and pull her into a cuddle, like I did every morning. Soon her squeals of joy rang through the air.
“Ugh, Mom. Do you have to do that every morning?” a voice called from the doorway.
“We think it’s fun,” a younger voice said before jumping in to be tickled as well. Only after I had the three in my arms did the oldest join. She curled up on the opposite side of me so that the three little ones were cocooned in warmth and safety.
“I miss Daddy,” the littlest one said.
“Me three,” the twins chimed in.
“I do too, my loves, but he is always with us in spirit. You know that. As long as we live our best lives every day, we honor him. Now, go get ready for school, or cranky mommy will get you!” I snorted and proceeded to tickle all four of them.
With a pat, I sent each of them off to get dressed. Hera was my oldest, my rock. She was sixteen and every bit as stubborn as her father. She and I kept each other together after my husband passed away. I was blessed to have been his partner in life for twenty-two years. Then one day, he fell and had to be rushed to the hospital. He had a brain tumor, and they couldn’t do anything. All that technology and they couldn’t save him. He was my best friend, and I was lost without him. Some days it took everything to keep going, and it was all I could do to get through the day. I had to love our babies for the both of us now.
“Mommy, I need help.” My youngest was struggling to pull her shirt over her head. It didn’t help that she was currently trying to shove her head and all those curls through the armhole.
“Oh, sweet pea, let me help you.” I chuckled and fixed her shirt.
“Now, let’s go check on the others.” I picked her up and walked out of my bedroom.
Our home was the same modest home that we had lived in since Alex and I got married. We were so young. He was my partner, and I missed him every day. Everything was just how it always was, and yet I felt like something was missing. As if a part of me was gone. Shaking it off, I refocused on not having everyone late today.
Soon, we were all loaded in the car, and I took them all to school. First, I took Eris to pre-school. Then the twins, Selene and Artemis, to elementary school. When it was just Hera and me in the car, I asked, “So, how are you? How’s school? Any boys I should be aware of?” I teased the last part because she wasn’t into boys. She knew I was just teasing.
“I’m fine, mom…really. Some days are harder than others, but I am okay. Today is a good day.” She smiled at me. I saw so much of me in her. She was a fighter, and on most days, my hero. She got out of the car and looked at me. “Mom, we are going to be okay. I know it. You will be happy again one day. Right now just sucks, but Dad would want you to be happy again. He would hate to see you so sad.”
“I love you, smoosh.”
“I love you too, Mom.”