That’s the last time I get in a car with Erebus!
He and Atë argued the entire way to the baby shower about nothing in particular. There’s something about Erebus that grinds against me. An unholy smugness that follows him around like a heavy fart. In the car, I just wanted to waft it away, and I couldn’t help my mischievous side coming out, playing devil’s advocate in their little domestic.
Perhaps I went too far because he was challenging the land-speed record by the end of the ride, and my knuckles were white from clinging to the seat. In frustration, I accidentally spilled the remnants of my beer all over the interior. It was petty, but it still felt good.
The baby shower thing had been Atë’s idea. Go as her guest and make a few new friends. Show the gods that they can trust the Titans after the whole taking-over-world mishap. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but what doesn’t sound like a good idea when you’ve drunk your body weight in alcohol?
I look ridiculous dressed in a Beetlejuice costume. To make it worse, no-one actually knows that Atë invited me. I’m not even sure she was allowed a plus one. Too late to turn back now, though. There’s no way I’m getting back in that car.
There’s a large crowd, but it’s difficult to pick anyone out with everyone in costume. Music is playing in the background, and groups are congregating with drinks, talking excitedly. Erebus walks off, muttering under his breath. My shoulders loosen, and my breathing relaxes as he disappears. I hadn’t realised how on edge he’d made me.
Atë hovers in her tight devil’s outfit, which is as apt as it is alluring. She can’t decide whether to follow Erebus or mingle on her own. She decides on the latter, and I follow like a lost puppy. I’ve never been one for socialising. I hate the awkwardness and the mundane conversation that flows on these occasions. How are you? What have you been up to? Blah blah blah.
A loud clap makes me jump, and I turn. Eros, the father-to-be, is standing behind me with a smirk on his face. I never know whether it’s a smirk or just the way his face naturally falls. Either way, my presence appears to amuse him.
“Welcome, welcome! Attie and Pro!” He says my name with a grin whilst looking at Atë. If he’s surprised by me being there, he hides it well.
Atë smiles next to me and says, “Eros!”
“Hi, Eros,” I say, awkwardly. I wonder whether I need to explain why I’ve gate-crashed his baby shower when Clio waddles up next to him, her hands resting on her stomach. She looks great, but her eyes betray her exhaustion. They say pregnancy is like running a marathon, in which case being pregnant with twins must be like competing in an iron man.
Eros grabs my shoulder in greeting and blows a kiss to Atë. His personality is infectious, but I don’t trust him. Everything and everyone is there for his amusement.
“Clio, I brought a friend,” Atë explains as Erebus joins us again.
“I see that,” Clio responds, raising her eyebrows at me.
Am I just a pawn in Atë’s game? I had thought myself a knight, or perhaps a bishop, but maybe that was wishful thinking.
“E! You third-wheeling?” Eros asks Erebus, stifling a laugh.
Erebus mutters something under his breath. “Is there a bar?” he grumbles.
Eros snickers. “Over there.” He points and then adds, “We need to steal Attie for a moment later before the reveal, but there are games. And you’ve already signed up!”
Atë nods at Eros and then turns to Clio. “Your belly is huge now. How many are in there?”
“Games?” Erebus says suspiciously, raising his eyebrows.
Clio sips her hot chocolate and places a hand on her hip. “Yes, games,” she says to Erebus. “And two. There are two,” she tells Atë.
Eros places his arm around Clio to give her some support. He tilts his head to the side and nods. “They’re velociraptors,” he grins.
Erebus mutters something under his breath about the games, and Eros turns to him. “Wouldn’t have something to prove, would you, E?” he prods.
“Erebus doesn’t like fun,” I quip and receive a death stare.
Clio giggles into her hot chocolate. Erebus’s frustration is tangible. He storms off in the direction Eros pointed.
“I’ll have a beer, Erebus,” I shout after him. “I think I spilled mine.”
He stops briefly, shakes his head, and then carries on.
Eros raises his eyebrows. “You’re playing a dangerous game,” I hear him whisper to Atë.
Atë tilts her head at Eros. “I have no idea what you mean,” she says dismissively and looks away.
“I know how to have fun,” Erebus declares as he returns. He shoves a bottle of beer into my chest with a look of disgust.
“Not too much fun. Right, shadows?” Clio says cryptically to Erebus, squinting.
“I’ll behave,” Erebus mutters.
Eros and Atë turn to have a conversation, and Clio and Erebus talk amongst themselves, leaving me standing awkwardly between them. I wish I’d brought my phone, at least then I could pretend to be talking to someone on it and could excuse myself. I consider disappearing to the toilet when a loud bell sounds.
“Time for the games,” Eros announces.
Atë has turned a ghostly white and gulps. I turn to see Erebus hovering over me. He fixes me with a hard stare. Then he pokes a hole in his beer, snaps the lid open, and chugs it back.
“Impressive,” I frown. “I remember when I had my first beer…”
Eros and Clio walk off slowly, hand in hand. “Wait!” Atë shouts after them. “Whose team am I on? What are the rules?”
Eros turns with a grin. “Figure it out. You know how mischief is.” Eros briefly glances at me and then returns to helping Clio.
It looks like I’ve been moved a pace forward on the chessboard.
Atë runs to the bar and wrestles a bottle of tequila off the bartender. She doesn’t bother with a glass as she pours it down her throat. I’m getting a sense of déjà vu.
We approach the tables with the game. It looks like forced fun to me, but I’ll go along with it. Atë and I are in a team together. Next to us, Erebus is standing with Terpsi. The muse has a suicidal interest in Erebus. Atë gives her a look which could kill, but Terpsi is too busy staring at Erebus to notice.
On the table, there are dolls and diapers.
“Fuck this!” Atë mutters.
“Don’t worry,” I say, trying to distract my wayward partner. “Piece of cake.”
“To who?” Atë whispers. “I have never had a child or held one. They are disgusting and covered in spit.”
I think she’d prefer to be back in her cell right now. Atë looks straight past me at Erebus and Terpsi, who are flirting. Erebus makes a point of smiling at us.
“Okay, Prometheus. We have to win. Or someone dies,” Atë hisses. She takes off her fur coat and delicately places it down on the chair before pulling down on her dress, which was riding up her thighs.
“I can make man out of clay, I can stick a diaper on a doll,” I say, tearing my eyes away.
Erebus and Terpsi high five in the background.
“Don’t let the Grinch distract you,” I warn Atë, who looks on the verge of tears.
She shakes herself out of it. “You’re right. How hard can it be, huh? I mean, we have both taken out someone’s intestines before, like in Rome?”
I shudder at the memory. I’m not sure it’s like-for-like, but I nod in agreement.
Clio announces some rules and holds a flag to the side. I breathe in and flex my fingers. Erebus stares at me, his eyes narrow and penetrating. Clio brings up the flag, and the teams rush off. I’m up against Terpsi, and I hear Atë stifle a laugh as her foe stumbles. As a master craftsman, I’m quick with my fingers and make light work of changing the doll. I return in the lead to the delight of Atë. I pass her the doll, and she looks at it with a grimace.
“You got this, Atë,” I encourage as she starts to change the diaper.
Terpsi runs back to Erebus in second place, and he rushes to join Atë at the changing table. “Go Erebus, go,” she shouts like a personal cheerleader, and Atë looks at her scathingly. I can see Atë struggling with the doll. She appears to be prodding it with her long fingernails as though it might come alive. Erebus quickly replaces the diaper whilst Atë is still deciding what to do, and I sigh inwardly.
“Look out!” I shout at Erebus in a pathetic attempt to distract him. It doesn’t work.
“Really?!” he says to me as he walks back the winner.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Atë rip the head off our doll.
“We won!” Terpsi squeals and throws her arms around Erebus.
“Stupid game, anyway,” Atë groans as she returns. She picks up her coat and hugs it. I pat her shoulder with the sort of hesitance you would give to a stray cat if you were inclined to stroke it.
“Good game,” Erebus goads in my face.
I debate whether to punch him when Clio appears with a huge cookie. “Congratulations to the winners,” she smiles and hands Erebus the cookie.
He grabs it, looking victorious, and devours it. He doesn’t even think of offering some to Terpsi, who stands forgotten in the background, large crumbs falling onto her shoes.
I look around for Atë, but she appears to have done one of her disappearing acts. “Are you sure you just won?” I ask Erebus,
Erebus’s face changes from one of glee to panic. “Shit!” he says, wiping his mouth.
“Don’t worry. I’ll find and speak to her,” I tell him with satisfaction. Erebus, for once, doesn’t have an answer. He stomps off to the bar scratching his head. I give a sympathetic look to Terpsi, but she’s staring crest-fallen at Erebus’s shadow and doesn’t notice me.
I spend the next twenty minutes searching the party for Atë. I try everywhere, even the ladies’ toilets, but she’s nowhere. I hear Clio announce another game and decide enough’s enough. I exit quietly out of a backdoor to avoid Erebus. I’ve had my fill of games today.