Deeply satisfied with today’s family reunion, I said my goodbyes and closed my eyes. And just like that, I was home.
The crack of my entrance must have startled the hell out of her. Falling face-first into the mirror, I silently giggled as I saw Amber’s expression, bug-eyed and staring wildly back at me. A master of disguise and protection, she was quick to deflect that attention. “Where the heck did you come from? Where have you been?”
She was quite the handful. Between her head games and need to control, she hid her emotions well. Why, though? What does she want with me? From the day we met, she would not leave me alone. How did she know who I was? She said she caught my scarf blowing in the wind and was just returning it to me. I knew better. There was something very familiar about her. Well, that’s obvious. She lived with us at the sanctuary now. I would really love to know her story.
And now, here we were. I knocked her over when I popped back after a great time with my father, Helios, and Aunt Selene. Believe me. I didn’t count on being surprised in my own bedroom! It had been the one place I could call my private sanctuary. The perfect place for me to materialize in and out without being seen. And there she was, in the very spot I landed. I didn’t blame her for being startled. But she was cunning with her questions!
Waiting for an answer, she fervently observed both my moves and my face. To be perfectly frank, Amber had weird eyes. They’re quite large and appeared to operate independently of one another. Sometimes I thought I was just seeing things, like now. Who did she think she was, interrogating me in such a way? Feeling increasingly agitated, it was everything I could do to keep it light. With an audible whine, I muttered, “You’re a funny one.”
Amber continued her charade of hall monitor. Trembling, I reached for my wand when I caught a glimpse of my eyes in the mirror. They were changing colors. Spinning on my toes, I headed to the bathroom, asking her to back off and give me a chance to freshen up. “Amber, you cannot be serious with this line of questioning. This is my room. I surprised you…in my room? Please give me a few minutes. I just want to take a bath. After that, I’ll join you for a cup of tea. Can you handle that?”
With those insanely exaggerated, petulant eyes, Amber lamented, “Sure. Sorry for being worried about you. I guess I’ll go hang in the sunroom until you’re done being upset with me.”
Holding my head in my hands, I refused to turn around. She had pushed me to the point of feeling like a grossly pestered and exhausted parent. I had nothing left to offer but an embittered protest. “Amber! Enough. I’ll be with you shortly.”
Mmmmm. Finally. A tranquil moment. No questions, no prodding, just calm water forgiving the weight of the world. As my body welcomed the relief, the scent of oakmoss settled my soul. A hint of neroli diffused my thoughts, and the aroma of spruce took me home. Home. It’s been almost a year since I left. A gentle breeze stirred the forest as I lay beneath the canopy. Serenity eventually occupied my body. Stillness was achieved.
“Circe. Why have you come to the forest? We’ve been worried and searching for you for hours!”
“Hm. Huh?” Startled by the sudden intrusion and unable to get my bearings fast enough, I asked the young nymph to give me a moment to gather my thoughts. She stepped away cautiously, glancing around, all the while, keeping a close eye on me as if I were in her charge. “Who are you,” I inquired.
“Oh, dear,” she responded, “You weren’t kidding about being confused. I’m Elektra, an Oceanid-nymph, and friend of your mother, Perse. We came to assist you here on Aeaea.”
“Oh, that’s right! Please forgive me,” I exhorted. “I feel like I may have overdone it with the herbs last night. I had the craziest dream that I was in another time and place. A very strange and uncomfortable world. How did you….?”
“No need to ask,” she commented. “Let’s just say a couple of my gifts include a good eye and perception. I honestly wouldn’t have come after you, but then I had this vision!”
“What sort of vision?”
“I saw you as a great sorceress!”
“Me? How is this possible? How can I be a great sorceress? I’m not even a good person. If I were, I wouldn’t have killed my husband or be stuck on this island.” Flooded with memories, I recalled my reasons for wandering off into the woods. To escape this mortal pain. “Thanks, Elektra. Thank you for mocking me and making sure I do not escape the pain of my existence.”
Just like that, Elektra morphed into a creature I had never seen. Blood vessels revealed the angst of her heart as her temples pulsed, and eyes filled with tears. Unable to contain this anguish over my emotional accusations, she pierced the tranquil forest with a blood-curdling shriek, “Circe!”
Her exhibition left me speechless. And having no idea nymphs were capable of such rage, I took a few steps backward to put a little space between us. If she could get this upset over a bit of self-pity, what would her next reaction be?
I could only imagine how things must have looked. For every step I took away from her, she closed the gap. Elektra was oddly determined to make sure she stated her case. “How dare you!”
“Elektra. Please calm down. I’m willing to listen to you. I just won’t tolerate being yelled at like this. It’s ok to tell me what’s on your mind. There is no need for such an emotional demonstration. I have enough of my own. What do you want to say?”
With a deep breath, she quietly cleared her throat and continued. “I was not mocking you. Nor was I trying to cause you pain! I can feel your pain, even when we’re on different sides of the island. Your hurt was very strong today. So, I came in search of you to offer a bit of help. We don’t want you to feel this way.”
We? Who was she talking about?. With that thought, I must have done something peculiar with my head, twitched or tilted it in some way as I was feeling rather puzzled because she quickly answered, “Your family here on the island. We see you and wish better times for you.”
I shot her a nervous smile, and with considerable uncertainty, I asked, “How does one become a great sorceress? How did you see this happening? Is there some magic potion on the island that I’m unaware of? If your abilities are as good as you want me to believe, then explain this to me. Explain how a mortal becomes a sorceress.”
Somehow, she believed her proclamation would be all the evidence I needed to move forward with her vision. This is a big deal! I can see it now. Circe, pitiful, banished mortal-murderer turned powerful goddess. Heck. They could write books about it! But what good would that do me on Aeaea? Would my powers be greater than the ones that placed me here? Did Elektra really think I would accept her story without even the slightest bit of skepticism? For one thing, something like this has never happened. Why me? Why not me? I’m not against prophecy and definitely believe in magic, but where was the proof that I could change my very being?
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking and scouting the island for enchanted areas. She probed my mind and helped uncover all the things I could do if I had such magical powers. She shared fascinating tales from the ocean and the possibility of binding spells to plants. The idea of energy completely bewitched me. The more we talked, the more I accepted just how powerful I was. For as much as I didn’t want to admit it, my experiences on Aeaea were reflected in every one of my thoughts. Seeing this was all the proof I needed.