The 1001 Nights party hadn’t gone well at all. Here I thought intermingling back with the fam was gonna be easy as apple pie, and instead, it turned into apple crumble. I did what I always had. I ruined everything.
Almost the exact same way, except this time I was invited, perhaps for the very first and last time, and I made them regret it.
It seems you can never escape the past.
“Do you want some breakfast?” Clio asks. She and Eros had allowed me to stay with them after the wish incident.
I sit up, tossing off the sheets she and my nephew had lent me. I still wore some of my Arabian themed refinery, but I had slipped from male to female form sometime in the night. I run a hand through my long, tangled hair and scrub away the dust from my eyes.
“No, thank you, sweet muse. I’m not hungry…”
“Is there anything I can do for you?”
How odd it is to be haunted by a past you can barely remember and then be comforted by the Goddess of History herself.
What was that old saying about learning from history?
“Clio…” a thought occurs to me, “how much do you remember of me?”
“My past is a little jumbled.” She giggles.
“I know the feeling,” I say, meeting her eyes. “A part of me…knows we were close, though.”
She sits by me on the couch, seeming to understand that a moment is occurring between us. There is pure empathy on her face as she cocks her head to the side.
“What’s going on, Eris?”
“I know you have the same power as your mother.” A more serious look crosses her face, but I press on, “I’ve been in counseling, but I was hoping you could take it a step further? Allow me to connect with these disjointed images in my head? Even just a little?”
She looks at me for a long moment.
“Okay,” she says, a careful smile on her face.
The first time we do it, I’m transported to centuries earlier.
The muses danced in a circle. They were like a living song, each movement like a note and the dance in perfect harmony. It was almost too tempting to mess ’em up a little. I snuck up on them, slipped into the Aether, and plucked Terpsichore’s lyre off the rhythm.
And just like that, she stumbled and knocked into Polyhymnia, who, in turn, bumped into Thalia. Thalia then began laughing maniacally, covering my own giggling nicely.
Soon the sisters’ song is replaced with the squeals of a sister showdown of epic proportions. Pushing, shoving, just a bit of hair-pulling, and the clanging of their instruments hitting the ground echoing into the night.
I laughed as they fell through my immaterial form.
This must be what having sisters felt like.
Back in the present, the muse and I are laughing.
“I can’t believe that was you,” Clio scoffs good naturedly, tapping me on the shoulder in a mock smack.
Yes, I think this must be what having a family is like.
This session (or sessions? What day is it?) is helping. Just not fast enough. I still feel lost, like I have no reason to stay.
She sits down and takes my hands, and we begin.
I found myself once again on the battlefield, my home away from home, away from home. My modern wardrobe of leather and t-shirt gave way to a shredded black toga, wrappings the color of red-purple wine with golden metal accessories in an asymmetrical, jagged array across my person. I was currently female and, at the time, was always considered female, whether or not I liked it.
My hair was long and, like my clothes, soaked with blood.
I walked through the din of confusion and disorder with pure elation on my face. My eyes practically rolled back as the ecstasy of entropy washed over me.
“You!” a man screams, his sword aimed at me like an accusation. There were more mortals of divine blood back then. It was easier to be spotted for what we were, even when we were trying to be unseen.
“They worshipped us though,” Clio interjects from the present moment, and my past self rolls their eyes at her words.
“Look at priests these days?” I say, “Run up to one and say you’re the archangel Zadkiel, and they’ll cart you off to the nuthatch post-haste. Just because they believed doesn’t mean they believed…you know?” I roll my eyes with a smirk, “‘Sides, I don’t think a maddening religious revelation was this guy’s problem.”
I turned to the man with a smile. To one used to being rejected and ignored, every confrontation was welcome.
“You, sister of Mars. You bring ruin upon us!!!” Holy crap, was I in Rome? When did that happen?
There’s no real fight, I allowed him to attack me, I wanted to see what he’d do. I laughed wickedly, as he made hesitant swings with his blade before he realized I was not retaliating. He went for it, lunging at me and pierced my stomach with one thrust, again because I allowed it.
I didn’t know what he expected to happen next, but what did happen certainly wasn’t it.
There’s no scream and no anguish on my face. Instead, I let myself sink further onto his blade, allowing it to push through my insides like butter. I gazed deeply into his eyes, no doubt my golden eyes going crazy, widening more and more as wide as the grin on my face.
I pressed my lips to his in a passionless kiss even as my hand wrapped around his neck. With a sickening crunch, the memory ends.
Clio’s not smiling when my awareness comes back to the present, and we say no more.
“Look,” I say at the start of our next attempt, “I get it if you don’t want to do this anymore.”
“No,” she says in a way that lets me know she definitely thought about calling it off, “I want to help you. I won’t judge.”
“See, that’s the thing, Clio. I’ve got trauma, I’ve got maladies and malice, but I need the whole picture. I need the positives, too, and for that, I need you.” I look at her, revealing the naked vulnerability. For once, letting the warm, sincere emotion that was so alien to me, that only seemed to appear when she was around, show on my face.
She takes my hands.
The wedding comes rushing back again, that same damn wedding, but it was also every wedding: Charles and Di, JFK and Jackie and even Eros and Clio’s…
But mostly it was that wedding. Thetis and Peleus, what a day.
Hermes, that son of a bitch, had just slammed the proverbial door in my face. The other gods seemed to want to take it even further. The way they held their weapons instead of their balls for once.
I felt rage boiling over inside of me in a way I had never felt before. I had always known that they didn’t get me, didn’t understand me, didn’t want to try understanding me, and hell, half the time I even knew they didn’t even like me very much.
But this was the cherry on the meatloaf.
Fuck them. They could all rot in Tartarus! They don’t want me around? Don’t love me like I love…well, I’d show ’em.
Then I turned and saw…
“You,” I say aloud to Clio’s widening eyes.
“Me,” she repeats quietly, leaning forward, her grip tightening on my hands.
“You waited outside with me…” The moment I say it aloud, I see the same memory bloom in her eyes as well.
“…When they sent you away…”
“…And I said: You just watch because I’m about to…”
“…Make history,” she finishes.
The memory is so vivid it’s like it’s happening right now. The twilight sky, the lapping waves, the sound of the ceremony behind us, and her standing there so sweet and decent. Everything I would never be. I’d never be like her, never be good enough.
I look at Clio’s great belly, knowing more of us are coming and that they’re gonna need someone. Someone to look to when they feel they’re not good enough, someone to make them feel like even if they screw up and make mistakes…it doesn’t mean they have to go away.
I think I’ll stay.
“So,” I ask suddenly, “how about going out for breakfast? I’m starving.”
My sister Clio smiles at me.