Ever since I woke up two weeks ago, something has felt off. I know who I am. I have a lifetime of memories to prove it, but something is missing. At first, I thought it was my grief from losing my husband. I have determined that’s not it. My job is nice enough. I just don’t feel a passion for it. I own a little boutique with a little of everything that you never knew you wanted. I loved it. I just…I don’t know.
I feel like I am meant for something more. I adore my children and can’t imagine life without them. I just wish I knew what was missing so it would stop demanding that I pay attention to it.
“One word, and I’ll shoot you right here in the parking garage. Walk slowly to your car so we can have some fun.” The garage is secluded, and even though there are a number of cars, no one else is around. Slowly, I take a few steps forward. Am I going to die now too? Who will take care of my children?
The thoughts quickly dissipate. I know that I should feel panicked. I should be terrified that the man will use the gun that is currently shoved against my back to kill me. I’m not. A still calmness flows over me, and time seems to stand still. I don’t know how, but I know exactly what to do. With the next step, I pivot, shoving the gun away. Quickly I deliver a methodical punch to the throat, then using his body as leverage, I sharply wrench his arm. The gun falls out of his hand, and he cradles his broken arm. He starts to scream about the bitch that broke his arm. But I don’t hear much.
With a kick to the face, he falls into a motionless heap. He is still alive but won’t be happy when he wakes up. The thought of his cries brings a smile to my face. Serves the bastard right.
“Ma’am, are you okay? I saw everything. Here, look.” He shows his phone to me because he caught it all on video. I thought of knocking this asshat out as well for taking a video instead of helping, but that may be excessive.
“Lovely. Do you think you can use that to actually call for help, or can it only record videos of other people doing what you wished you could do?” I say sarcastically. So maybe I’m a bitch, but at least I am not a dead one.
After the police arrive, take statements, and cart away the now awake and wailing buffoon, I return to my car.
Once inside and buckled, I open the visor mirror and check my makeup. The woman staring back at me looks like me, but different. She is more fierce. She is a warrior…a goddess. Taking a deep breath and letting it out, I can feel a change. Like some of the wrongness that has been weighing on me has lifted. How did I know those moves? I have never been in a fight in my entire life.
“Mommy, you’re home!” My three youngest squeal in delight as I walk in the door. Dropping to my knees, I wrap them in a hug. It has been a long day, and I have missed them.
“Mom, did you hear what happened today?” Hera, my oldest, comes in holding her cellphone out to me. “Some guy tried to attack a woman today, and she kicked his butt. The news says here she snapped his arm like a twig!” Her eyes widened at the last part.
I motion for her to crouch down to where Eris, Arty, Selene, and I are. She does so with a small eye roll. I lean in close to my four girls and whisper to them.
“I know who the woman is,” I whisper. All four of them start asking me who it was. I wait for dramatic effect before whispering, “Me.”
“No way, mom. Stop joking around!” Selene exclaims.
“Who was it really?” Arty asks.
Hera gathers herself and thinks for a moment, then looks at her siblings.
“Mom could have done it. We are a family of warriors. Isn’t that right, mom?” Hera corrects them.
“That’s absolutely right. Don’t ever let anyone do anything to you without your consent. If they won’t listen, you make them,” I explain.
“By any means necessary,” she adds.
I beam with pride and feel a little less out of place. It seems with every passing day the wrongness goes away a little, and I feel more like me. Hopefully, soon I will not feel any of the wrongness at all.
We cook dinner and eat together. Each of my four children helps, and before long, we are all snuggled up in the living room, watching television and laughing. Arty, Sel, and Eris all fall asleep. It’s Friday, so I let them stay where they are. Only me and Hera are up, and we talk for hours before drifting off.
Something rouses me, and I look around my living room. I expect to see my four sleeping children, but they are not there, and all the pillows and blankets are gone. Nothing from the night before is out of place. Did my children wake up and clean before going to their beds? The wrongness comes flooding back. It hits me like a crashing wave and floods my body.
Quickly I get up to check on my children. Their rooms are not only missing them but all their stuff too. Panic sets in, and I frantically start to search the house. If this is a joke, it’s not fucking funny.
“On the contrary, it’s hilarious. Aren’t you having a good time?” An unfamiliar voice fills the room. I Can feel the air being sucked out of me as I collapse into a heap and start to cry. My wild sobs almost drown out the terrible voice.
Surely you didn’t think this was real? That you could have all this. You are not worthy, Athena, Goddesses of Nothing. You will never truly know this happiness, and now you will live out the rest of your days knowing what you will never have.
I cry until I can no longer hear the cruel voice.
I wake up, still sobbing. I look around to see some of my family coming too. Without waiting to see what happened or if anyone else had the same experience. I wipe my eyes before teleporting away from this place and what it has shown me. Right now, I just need to be home. This time, I know my makeup is ruined, and I don’t have it in me to explain why.
The voice was right about one thing. I will never forget what I have lost. I know the people weren’t real, none of it was, but that knowledge doesn’t make the loss any less profound. I will have to mourn those that were never there. I know part of it is my guilt over Alex’s murder and because I hardly see my family anymore, but the rest… Is that what I am missing? A partner and a family of my own. Is that why I now feel so empty? All the questions that I do not have answers to.