It is with deep regret that I, Tia Angelos, deliver this letter of resignation to the Revolt House of Boston, Massachusetts.
I stared at the paper, watching as the ink dried. I had grabbed an entire sheet of rule-lined notebook paper, thinking I was going to need the space to say everything I needed to. There was more I knew I should say. Something about how this team meant so much to me. Something about how I was proud of all of them. Something about how this wasn’t what I wanted to do, but recent events were preventing, or were going to prevent, me from being the leader they needed. I had to say something else outside of the simple but heavy sentence. But the words wouldn’t come..
I knew I had these feelings, but how the hell was I supposed to put them into words? It seemed impossible. Anything that I said would reveal too much about me, but not enough about how I felt.
They would not be happy with me. Maybe they wouldn’t be mad, but the Revolt Gang were definitely going to be upset that I was leaving so suddenly after they sent me on this vacation. Those who didn’t shut down from their anger and sadness were going to ask questions, a lot of questions. What happened on the vacation? Why now? Do they need to go beat people up for me?
I had no idea how I would answer any of those questions other than to tell them who I really was. That was a story that would take a lifetime to explain. Most of them probably wouldn’t believe me, anyway. Not without proof that was going to blow their minds. I was really not about performing like that for the sake of proving my immortality and my place in history.
If I played the dancing monkey and proved that I was the Goddess of the Revolt to the people who had only ever known me as Tia, how would I explain to them why I was stepping down as the leader of the Revolt house? I could imagine that conversation now.
“So funny story, guys. Some psychopath tricked my family into being in the same place at the same time, and they trapped us in an Alternative Mirror Universe where we forgot who we really were. They trapped me in the body of a soldier who had just lost her leg because her commanding officer blew up her and her squad for reasons unknown. As you can see, we made it out of the mirror prison, but we still don’t know who did this to us. So now I’m traumatized and losing my mind, although I’m a daughter of war and saw far worse things in my lifetime. Anyway, I’m completely useless now cause I can’t get my shit together, so I’m leaving for your own goods. Peace out.”
That would be too much for anyone to take in. And frankly, I wasn’t ready to talk about the experience at all, let alone with people who weren’t there and didn’t see what I saw.
No, it was better that I left. They were better off without me.
Or were they?
That was the first time I’d ever been away from the Revolt House. The first time they had to take the lead without me. I hadn’t checked in with them in the thirty-six hours that I had been away. The party and the aftermath had completely occupied my brain, and I had completely forgotten to call to make sure everything was okay.
I pulled out my cell phone, flipping it back and forth in my hands. This was my last lifeline. It was the last hurdle I had to jump before deciding whether I was going to stay and work through my shit ASAP so that I could return the Revolt House as its leader or leave for everyone’s sake and become a hermit until I could regain my control. It was a question I needed the answer to but was afraid to know.
What if they said they were fine? What if they said they didn’t need me anymore?
What if they were drowning without me? What if they needed me to stay? Or even come back early?
Thinking in that limbo was a greater torture than knowing. That was the only reason I opened my contacts, found Haley’s name, took a deep breath, and hit the call button. I brought the phone to my ear and held my breath as it rang.
After the second ring, I heard Haley’s chipper voice on the other end. “Tia, you’re supposed to be on vacation.” God, she did not have the tone to sound intimidating or chastising. I couldn’t help but giggle at her feudal attempt.
“Nothing in our agreement says I can’t call to check-in.”
“You should be out having fun! I thought you said you were going to see your family. Isn’t it rude to be calling your friends and work when you should be spending time with family you’ve not seen in how long?”
About 2000 years for the most part, but who’s keeping track? “Oh, like you don’t get tired of your family and miss your friends too?”
“… Okay, fair. So things are crazy there?”
Fucking understatement of the century. “To say the least. It happens in big families like mine. How is everyone?”
“Oh, we’re great!” I was glad I was on the phone and not face-timing her. There was no way I would have been able to keep the heartbreak from showing on my face. I had the sense it wouldn’t have hurt nearly as much had Jude or Melissa or Jacob or pretty much anyone else had said the same thing.
“Yeah?” I asked, probing for details that in my heart of hearts I didn’t want.
“Yeah! Jude’s been a little sour about having to do your chores along with theirs, but you know how they are.” I heard a distant laugh over the receiver and knew that Jude was flipping Haley the bird for the comment.
“Well, that’s good to hear,” I said, doing my best to feign relief and keep my voice steady. “What about our current projects?”
“We’re actually ahead of schedule! We’ve got the next bake sale menu worked out with a roster of who gets to use the kitchens at what time, We’ve gotten more artists signed up to present something for the charity auction, and we’re looking at venues for the next Holiday Toy Drive!” So not only are they fine without me, but they’re better without me. “Oh, there is one thing.”
“Yes?” I prompted, trying not to be too enthusiastic.
“You know the local community center?”
“The one that was for sale? Yeah.”
“Well, someone bought it, and now it’s back on the market for ten times the original price. Word on the street is there’s a catering company involved, but that’s not been confirmed by any reliable source yet.”
Finally. “That does sound fishy. I’ll start doing some research.”
“No!” Haley snapped. Snapped was maybe a little generous, considering how not intimidating her cute little voice was. But it was enough to hurt a little. “You’re on vacation, and we can do research, too. We’re already working on it to see if there’s any funny business going on, and when you get back, we’ll have a report of everything we’ve found.”
When you get back. So they wanted me back. Or were they just expecting me to come back? If they had their choice, would I come back or stay away? And did the answer to that question change depending on my new mental state?
“Well… wonderful. It sounds like you all have everything under control.”
“Are you okay? You sound weird?”
Fuck. Keep it together. “Yeah, I’m just tired. You know family, they can be so exhausting.”
“Yeah, I get that. Well, be sure to take some time for yourself. That is the point of this vacation, remember?”
“Right. I will. Well, I—”
From the receiver, I heard a knock at the door. “Those are the artists for the charity auction. I gotta go! We’ll talk to you later, okay? Bye.” Haley didn’t even give me the opportunity to give my farewell before she hung up the phone.
“Bye,” I croaked too late, slowly pulling my phone away from my ear. So that was it. My time at the Revolt House was over. They clearly didn’t need me. They certainly didn’t need me when I was so…unbalanced.
“Yo.” The one-word greeting was enough to make me jump, scream, and flail about wildly, trying to hit the intruder in my apartment. The man easily ducked my fists, allowing my momentum to take me to the floor of my eat-in kitchen. “Whoa, relax there, Baby War. It’s just me.”
I pushed through the pain that was spreading across my back from my landing on the hardwood floor and focused my eyes on the tall blond whose uniform looked like a UPS knockoff. I let out a frustrated sigh. “Uncle Hermes.”
“That’s my name, don’t wear it out. And why in Tartarus haven’t you come to visit me, you little twerp? I’d be hurt if I didn’t have little Caddy here,” he jested, flipping his pen carved with entwining serpents.
I ignored my uncle’s question as I pushed myself to my feet. “You really should learn to knock. War gods and goddesses have a bad habit of treating unexpected guests as intruders with the worst of intentions.”
“Ugh, you’re so dramatic! Just like your brother.” I didn’t think anyone had ever compared me to Eros in my life. I didn’t need Hermes to get specific to know he was talking about the baby angel. He was the most dramatic of the Love-War family. “Besides, I did knock, but you didn’t answer.”
“Most people would take that as a hint,” I said. The truth was, I had been too deep in my head to hear him or his knocking.
“Probably, but I’m not most people,” Hermes replied with a wink.
I sighed again. “I take it that whatever you want is important?”
Hermes gave an eye roll. “Oh, Baby War, you have nothing I want. I, on the other hand…” he whipped out a sealed envelope, rose-colored with gold calligraphy bearing my name. “Have something you’re definitely gonna want.” My body flinched at the sight of the envelope on pure instinct. “Wow, it’s not a snake, Baby War. And even if it was, are snakes really all the bad? Of course, they’re not! They’re little sweethearts.”
“Sorry, Uncle Hermes. It’s just…” What was it? Why did I flinch at a freaking letter? “The last time I got a mysterious message, things didn’t really go well.”
“Oh yeah. That incident at the warehouse.”
“You know about that?” Fuck.
“Honey, I know everything! And even if I didn’t, word has definitely gotten around by now.” Fuck! “I mean, that’s mostly because of me, but no need in getting bogged down by details. Trust me, though, Baby War. This isn’t an invitation to a fucked up house of mirrors. You’re gonna want this message.”
“Well, you’re not gonna leave until I take it, are you?”
I breathed through my nose and reached for the envelope, only to have my uncle snap it out of my reach with a patronizing “Ah, ah, ah.”
“What?” I asked, annoyed.
“Come on, Baby War. Where are your manners?”
I let out another sigh. “Thank you, Uncle Hermes.”
“Much better,” he praised, handing me the letter. I couldn’t help but feel like a dog who had just gotten a treat because it pleased its master. “Welp! I’d love to stay and chat and catch up, but I got people to see, letters to deliver, chaos to create. You know. The usu. Bye-bye, Baby War.” And with that, the Chippendales postman was gone.
Rather than lingering on how annoying my entire fucking family was, I cautiously unsealed the rose envelope, pulling out a folded sheet of parchment. I unfolded the paper, beautiful, stylistic cursive greeting me.
My dearest daughter,
Those three words were all it took for my breath to stop. I nearly crumpled to the floor in shock.
It has been far too long since we’ve spoken. I need to hear all about the special someone in your life. Any grand-goddesses yet? Since Lady Hestia has returned, I am making her throw a dinner party for a few of us. I would like to have you join us.
I didn’t stop to think. I just let my body and instinct take control as I darted out of my apartment to find the nearest building directory.