((Read Part II here))

“Many years later, Nana Rhea and her daughters, Hestia and Demeter, were out playing in the yard and making flower crowns for each other while Papaw Cronus was taking a nap. Suddenly, Papaw Cronus woke up with the worst headache ever! Worse than when Athena burst from Zeus’ head! He felt like his entire skull was being torn open with a blunt jagged tool. He tried everything to make it go away and eventually he dove into the pool, hoping that sitting under the water would make the pain stop.”

I paused a moment and looked at the children’s faces. Nike was clutching one of Moxie’s hands, her mouth slightly open and eyes wide. Moxie was sitting stoically, the only thing that gave away her emotions was the absent tugging on one of her pigtails and the occasional biting of her lower lip. Like all boys do, they tuned in as soon as I started talking about their father, waiting for him to swoop in and save the day. I leaned forward in my chair and widened my eyes.

“While he was sitting at the bottom of the pool waiting for the pain to stop, Papaw Cronus heard a woman calling his name. He knew it wasn’t Nana Rhea, for the voice wasn’t sweet. It was dark and secretive and the whispers were carried on the shadow of the wind. It whispered scary things to Papaw Cronus. 

It said, ‘Your life is a lie…your woman plots against you…your ‘Mama Gee’ plots your demise as you sleep peacefully in your bed…you have to stop them before they succeed.’

Well, Papaw Cronus was terrified now and you know how scary it had to be for a Titan to be afraid. Then the voice whisper more things. It said ‘Your daughters are not yours…your wife spends time with your brothers…they laugh at the smallness of your titanhood…they -”

I jerked my chin towards Nike and Moxie covered her ears. “ – they fornicate for hours and your wife screams names that are not yours.” I winked at Moxie and she uncovered Nike’s ears. “The voice continued to whisper hateful things to Papaw Cronus. ‘Your brothers are jealous of all you have and plot to take it all from you – your wife, your daughters, your lands – but they don’t have enough power to overthrow you!’

Papaw Cronus felt a sliver of hope! If his brothers didn’t have enough power to overthrow him, then surely he would be okay! He would just beat Nana Rhea until she stopped fooling around with them, and then his world would be right again.”

“No!” Nike exclaimed.

Ares pumped one of his small fists in the air, excited by the expected action.

Hephaestus punched Ares in the bicep. “It’s not cool to hit girls.”

Ares furrowed his tiny brow and rubbed his arm. “I k-know. You sh-shouldn’t hit me either!”

Hephaestus pinched Ares on the chest and then rolled away laughing, dodging Ares’ feeble attempts to kick him.

“BOYS! I swear I will walk out of this room and not finish the story.”

“Please stay, Lady Hera, please! Moxie and I are being good and we want to hear the story. Please?” Nike’s lower lip trembled and her eyes got a little misty. I walked over and ran a hand over her head, brushing any stray hairs from her forehead.

“Of course, little one. I’ll finish it for you girls.” I walked over to the boys and pinched Hephaestus on his thigh. “Your brother wasn’t excited about Nana Rhea getting hit. He was excited that the story seemed to be hitting some action. You should know your brother better than that, Hephy.” I tickled Ares and placed a kiss on both of their foreheads before I went to sit back down.

“Where was I? Oh, right. Papaw Cronus decided that he would just beat Nana Rhea until she stopped fooling around with his brothers, and then his world would be right again. He heard Nana Rhea laughing with their daughters in the front meadow and started to get out of the pool to go to them, but the wind knocked him back under the water. He struggled for breath, but something kept him under water. Papaw Cronus fought hard against his unseen attacker. He was a Titan and no one was stronger than him!” I lowered my voice and winked at Moxie. “Except Mama Gee, of course.”

The boys started to look more involved in the story, so I continued. “Papaw Cronus struggled and thrashed about, straining for the surface, but the wind held him down. Soon, he was unable to hold his breath and he started to black out! He realized he was tired, and the voice whispered for him to just give up and let it all go. It was beneath a Titan to just give up, but what else could he do? Big, strong, brave Papaw Cronus finally had no more fight in him and a single tear emerged from his eye, mixing with the pool water. Just when he thought he would never see his wife and daughters again…the moment before this great Titan’s death, a voice screamed in his head!

I straightened up in my chair, shaping my hands into claws and growled loudly, “Your children will bring your death!! Your wife will conspire with your brothers to raise a child with no love for you. This child will deceive you and take everything you hold dear, including your life!!!!”

I lowered my voice and relaxed back into my chair. The girls were wrapped around each other and the boys each clutched their comfort items. “Suddenly, Papaw Cronus was released from the water, and he came up gasping and sputtering for air. He was a mess. He couldn’t believe what he had just heard, but he knew it in his heart to be true. His own wife, the woman he loved above all others, would betray him, and he would die because of it. He was devastated and didn’t know what to do. But then, he heard a whisper, an echo, if you will. It said…”

I leaned forward and lowered my voice, pausing for dramatic effect. “If you have no children, no child of yours will kill you. And like that,” I snapped my fingers, “all Papaw Cronus’ pains were gone. He felt stronger than he ever had, and he knew what he had to do. He hated it but…he had to do it.”

Hera (CJ Landry)
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