I woke up with a slight start, swearing I heard someone call my name. It wasn’t a panicked call or anything that required my attention right this second. It took another moment to realize that there was a hand on my nearly naked breast. At some point, I had undressed down to my undergarments. I carefully picked up the offending appendage, noting that it was soft and feminine but held a strength even in sleep. I looked at Adrestia sleeping beside me and frowned. That was odd. I carefully lifted the blanket to find that she was in a t-shirt and undergarments. I was sure we had only slept. I slowly slipped out from under the covers, careful not to wake my fellow goddess.
I was sure I would remember if something had happened last night. Thousands of years of nothing, and Tia came back into my life and bam. I had no desire for a man, but was I attracted to women? I had no idea. Maybe I was, but probably not. It was probably more about companionship.
I knew what being alone was, and the memory made my stomach grow cold. I’d been separated from my family for far too long. Loneliness and longing can make the heart do strange things. Humans are not solitary creatures, and we goddesses are not much different. Sure, I’d hugged those that I’d helped in my travels, but it was not the same thing as a hug from my own chosen family.
My body gave a shiver, and I gripped the marble sink in the bathroom. My breath came in sharp gasps as a feeling of dread came over me. I knew this feeling. It was the same dark feeling I’d started developing in the ninth century as longing for the family really set in. Sure, we’d go for decades, even centuries, without talking to each other, but rarely over five hundred.
No, I was not alone anymore. “No, I am not alone,” I repeated out loud as I forced my eyes open. I started to count backward from ten, trying to settle my mind. Flashes of my life started appearing, even though I didn’t want to see them.
The memory of pulling a hood over my head in the dim lighting of the nighttime street lamps of London flashed through my mind. I closed my eyes as I felt a family’s bonds shatter as the mother died. Her eldest children had a day at best. A tear slid down my cheek as the father’s heart broke. He was recovering from the Black Death, a horror that had plagued Europe in the thirteen hundreds.
I clenched my eyes as another memory came up. A family was standing next to a podium, their heads bowed. They were connected by a chain that was attached to an iron collar. Their hands and feet were shackled. Their spirits had been beaten out of them by the nasty human next to them. What was the crime that this family had committed? They were born with the wrong skin color.
My mind tried to give me another flash of dread, but I clenched my teeth. “No brain, don’t just show me the awful part of that memory. I burned the fucking auction house down with those garbage humans inside. Those being sold were freed and lived well,” I growled. My chest was starting to heave and my stomach tightened. Rage filled me at the atrocities humans committed against each other.
What was it I learned from that psychologist? Oh, a body scan to bring my mind into the here and now. What did the top of my head feel like? It was tight, as were my ears and neck. My eyes stung from the tears. My cheeks felt wet and cold for the same reason. My nose was starting to get a little stuffy from crying.
My shoulders were drawn in and tense. I took a few deep breaths as I forced my body to relax, at least I tried to. I was still gripping the sink so hard that my knuckles were turning white while the rest of my hands were bright red from the blood rushing to the area.
“She’s going to kill me, but…” I let out a breath before I started to softly sing, “let it go, let it go.” I drew out the o in go for a moment. “Nothing really bothered me, anyway.” I kept slaughtering the lyrics to that House of Mouse song, but it had the intended effect. As I sang, the rest of my body relaxed. I started to dance around the bathroom, turning on the shower. By the time I had finished the song, I felt a lot better than I had moments ago.
After a long shower, I dressed in an awful holiday sweater and jeans. When I say awful, it was a red sweater with an image of Santa and his chosen mode of transportation. At least I think that is what it was. It was hard to tell as everything was made from white blocks. My eyes still felt tender from crying, and my right one was twitching slightly. The trauma from those flashes of memory just didn’t go away in an instant.
I quickly left Tia a note saying I had to deal with something with my new community in Boston, Massachusetts. I paused, taking note of the plates and mess from the night before. It was a fun evening, a nice welcome home, even if someone tried to murder my kitchen. Yes, that is what I really needed, spending time with the family. Getting used to having them around and, more importantly, wanting to have me around.
I grabbed my phone on the way out, typing up a text for my cleaners. Oh, wait. They are in Boston, not the OC. Shaking my head, I sent a text to my caterers, offering triple time to the cleaning team to tackle my apartment. I rolled my eyes as I lost service. You’d think we’d have great service, but apparently, my phone was too weak to broadcast through the lift. My phone regained service about twenty steps from the coffee shop. I hit send as I waited in line to order a coffee with cream and sugar.
Twenty minutes later, I was in Boston, in the basement of my Community Center. Rather, my future property. The injunctions and proceedings were ongoing, but I had better lawyers. Thousands of years let you collect quite the amount of wealth, which then lets you afford it.
I let out a sigh as I started up the stairs. I’d given a lot of the gold I’d collected to charities and those in need, but it’s hard not to collect that kind of wealth when you live so long. The problem comes when you lose sight of the everyday man. My kind of home is where my chosen family is, where a happy family resides.
I could show off my powers publicly again, and it was time to help where I could. I wanted to help families uplift themselves by providing an opportunity for them, breaking the barriers that trap them where they are. I had plans to help remove the barriers of debt, lack of income, illness, or anything else.
I stepped out of the center into a cold fog. The mist sparkled in the cold night air. It must be below freezing, despite the dense moisture. It felt strange. It felt like something or someone had manifested it. Was Achlys active again? She was known as the God of the Mist. Many thought of her as a Death Goddess. I wondered if I should speak to the other Death Gods I knew.
It was possible it wasn’t even her. It could be just cold and frozen from how the humans were messing up the natural world. Climate change was already affecting the planet, from the wildfires to just not snowing where it should. Regardless, it was time to check on the person who had called me.
I knocked on a green door with an upside-down six next to an upright nine nine seven. “Oh, hello, Hestia,” said a man. He stood about two meters, with short and shaped black hair, his skin dark okra, with chocolate eyes. “Sorry to call you so late,” he started before I waved him off.
“I told everyone that I am here to help. How can I help?” I asked.
The man tilted his head down slightly, his body language screaming that he was worried and uncomfortable about something. “I’m Paul,” he said.
“Hello, Paul,” I said with a smile. He motioned for me to sit on the couch while he sat in his recliner.
Paul ran his hand over his head as he took a deep breath. “Where to begin?” He swallowed hard before nodding to himself. “James came to me today, said his name was Jenna. That he was a girl, not a boy. I have no idea how to help him,” he shook his head, “no, how to help her.”
“Well, you are making a step in the right direction by trying to learn,” I said with a smile. This was a conversation that was going to take the rest of the night. I could feel the bonds between father and daughter already strengthening as he adjusted his mental image of his child.
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