Editor’s Note: Hera’s Bedtime Story is a retelling of the origins and early life of the immortals of Olympus. This is the second installment in this story as told by Hera to her children and extended family while they curled up in bed, clinging to her every word.
Taking another breath, I began again.
“Now Nana Rhea trusted her husband, but when a man stops sleeping beside his wife without any reason, the wife gets worried. She thought he was sleeping beside another woman. Her worry was so deep that one day she followed Papaw Cronus to see who he was meeting with.
Even though she was scared in the darkness, Nana Rhea followed him through the dark forests because she loved him so very much. Eventually, she came to the clearing of Mama Gee’s special meadow. Nana Rhea didn’t know anything about this meadow, you see, because Mama Gee had hid it as best as a Goddess could so that no one would take her special plants.
Just like Papaw Cronus, Nana Rhea was enthralled by the beauty of the meadow, but she was a wise Goddess and knew there was something strange about it, so instead, she focused on Papaw Cronus.”
Moxie nodded and said, “Goddesses are smarter, aren’t they, Hera?”
I paused to look at her and winked. “Of course we are. Someone has to keep the Gods in line.”
I glanced over at the boys and saw that they weren’t really paying attention. Instead, Ares was sitting in Hephaestus’ bed and they were wrapped up in a game of ‘Mercy’, a game which required each boy to bend the other’s fingers back as far as possible until they scream for ‘Mercy.’ I sighed. Children can get distracted so easily.
“Hephaestus, do you want me to continue the story?” I crossed my arms, waiting on his reply.
The boys looked sheepish and tucked their hands into their laps.
“Y-yes, p-please m-m-mommy. We’ll be g-good.” Ares looked at me with big eyes. Hephaestus chewed on his lower lip and mumbled an apology. I looked at the children and leaned back into the chair.
“Very well, where was I? Oh right, Nana Rhea saw Papaw Cronus lay down in the middle of the meadow and what he did next was shocking. He kept running his fingers over the plant and putting them in his mouth to suck the dust off. He started doing things that…”
I looked over at Nike and raised an eyebrow. Moxie climbed into Nike’s bed and put her hand over the younger girl’s ears for me. I cleared my throat.
“He started doing things to himself that should have been done by his wife.” I nodded at Moxie, and she removed her hands from Nike’s ears. “Well, Nana Rhea was upset and jealous even though Papaw Cronus wasn’t with another woman, because he wasn’t spending any time with her anymore. So Nana Rhea stormed the meadow, yelling at Papaw Cronus. She grabbed everything she could that had weight to it and started throwing things at him.
Papaw Cronus didn’t know what was going on because he had already been hallucinating for weeks before this, so he thought Nana Rhea was just a hallucination, so he ignored her until he got hit between the eyes with a boulder.”
Nike gasped, “Oh no, Lady Hera! I hope he wasn’t hurt too bad.”
I smiled at her soft heart. “No, little one, just enough for him to realize Nana Rhea was real.” I turned back to the other children and whispered, “As Nana Rhea stormed up to Papaw Cronus, he heard voices in his head telling him to slice her up into tiny little pieces to see if she was just as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside.”
I leaned forward and rested my elbows on my knees. “Before Papaw Cronus could make any sense of what the voices were telling him to do, Mama Gee just happened to be passing by her meadow and knew something was wrong. Her intervention saved Nana Rhea’s life!
The children cheered for Mama Gee, bouncing excitedly in their beds. Moxie clasped her hands in front of her mouth and on a breath said, “Mama Gee is amazing!”
I winked and said, “Just wait. The voices didn’t stop just because Mama Gee was there. Papaw Cronus had been eating from her special meadow for months! Mama Gee could hear the voices in his head and what they were telling him to do and she knew they would only get stronger in time, so she wrapped him up tightly with vines and floated him back to his home, where Nana Rhea could watch over him while the poison left his system. It took almost seven weeks for Papaw Cronus to stop wanting to murder Nana Rhea, but Nana Rhea was firm in her love for him and wouldn’t give up on Papaw Cronus.
By this time, Nana Rhea had already given birth to Hestia and Demeter, and it was hard for her to look after two children and watch over her husband too, but she did it because she was a strong Titan woman who would do anything for her family. Eventually Papaw Cronus had all that ugliness out of his system and things went back to normal for them.”
Nike grabbed ahold of Moxie’s hands and let out a loud but relieved sigh. “Oh gosh, I was so worried, Lady Hera. I’m glad Papaw Cronus got better.” Moxie nodded so vigorously, her pigtails bounced on either side of her head.
The boys looked disinterested and Hephaestus grunted, “Of course he got better, he’s a Titan, nothing can hold them down for long.” He sighed. “What else happened, Mom? ‘Cause let’s be real, that’s booooooring.”
I raised an eyebrow at my boys. Of course they would be bored with a story that lacked action and things exploding. “Would you prefer I stop?”
Hephaestus huffed a little and Ares pinched him on the back. “No, ma’am. I wanna know the rest.” He looked at me and blinked his innocent brown eyes at me. “Please?”
The little booger knew I couldn’t help but melt when he gave me that look. “Hmmph, fine. If you insist.”