Boston, May 2013
Unlocking the door, I stepped into the house. My house. My new home for the time being.
I didn’t think I’d ever return to Boston. I had a very consistent habit of never looking back once I had left a place. No doubt a trait I forced myself to pick up when Nero betrayed us so many centuries ago.
Boston was home in the early start of America. And I stayed there for a long time. But France’s revolution called to me. It asked me to be present to work my magic all over again as they abandoned the Monarchy and tried to be their own masters.
Of course, my magic can only work if my opinions, input, and guidance are taken into account. I can’t help if no one listens to me, and with the exception of the Marquis de Lafayette, my wisdom and warnings fell on deaf ears.
Lafayette and I both waited for those who came before France to come and offer assistance. Surely the people would listen to those who had succeeded before them. But that help never came. We were ignored and abandoned. Some things never change, I guess.
After seeing those heroes I once knew die or become the villains, I moved on. I looked for new homes, new soldiers to start revolts, and new powers to dismantle. There were dictators to de-throne. I never thought I would return. At least not to the city where I had seen mortals do the impossible.
And yet, here I was.
I have a temper on me. I’m prone to grudges. I rarely forgive. And I did my best to harden my heart against all of those people, places, and gods I had left in the past. Keep moving forward and don’t look back, like I had done since blazing my own trail.
But no matter how cold-hearted I tried to be, I couldn’t stop myself from feeling the pain my old home was feeling.
I remember where I was when I found out what had happened. I wasn’t watching it in real time. How could I? I was on the other side of the world. It was almost 10 PM for me. Eastern Europe hadn’t quite been thrown into the arms of chaos by that point, but it was on the horizon. That’s why I was there. I could feel what was coming within the following year.
Yet, that night, a mere eleven minutes before 10 PM, I was thrown to the floor of the home I was renting. My ears rang. My head spun. I could feel stinging, hot pinpricks of pain across my body. I could hear screaming in my head, but I was conscious enough to recognize that it was only in my head. The rest of the surrounding night was as peaceful as any other night.
As soon as this attack had started, it stopped. Was this what mortals had come to call panic attacks? In hindsight, I suppose it was. But at the time, I didn’t think it was. I’d never had one before, and I was the Goddess of the Revolt. Daughter of War. I didn’t have anxiety. I couldn’t. It was surely impossible.
Despite the fact that I’d never had a vision before either, that’s what I chalked my sudden emotions up to. Sleep the furthest thing from my mind, I turned to the Internet to tell me what I had seen. I kept refreshing the news until I saw what I had been looking for. The world had changed so much in so many centuries, and not always for the better. But at the very least, messages and news traveled faster. The only way I could’ve gotten the news faster was if I was still in touch with Uncle Hermes during that time. Even then, I would have been low on his priority list.
Within a month, plans were scrapped, leases were voided, and moves were made. Now I was a homeowner back in Boston. The home was nothing special. It was older, a smaller house attached to its neighbors on either side. Even with five bedrooms, it was far more expensive to purchase than it should have been. It had outdated interior designing, a lack of necessary appliances, and the damage of love and time should have knocked at least one zero off the price.
I didn’t really care about the price, though. I had saved up quite the nest egg over the centuries. There was little that I could do and afford, even after I donated a majority of the amount to various charities and non-profits.
I took a lap through the home, my tennis shoes padding across the scuffed hardwood floor. I still didn’t understand why I was so dead-set on this house. I was a single person. A single person who wasn’t prone to hoarding even before I sold everything I had to make my move from Eastern Europe faster and easier. At most, I would need a studio or one-bedroom apartment. Even in the metropolitan area of Boston, I could’ve gotten that for a fraction of the price of this home.
So why? Why did I feel I needed the space of five bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen, living room, and three bathrooms?
Maybe I was lonely and hoping to fill those rooms with…someone. I hadn’t had roommates since probably the seventies. Woodstock, as fun as it had been, was exceedingly exhausting with all the people. No matter how beautiful, kind, and gentle those people were, it was a lot, and I needed to be alone for a while.
Usually, I could tell when I was starting to long for solitude or company before I decided I needed that type of change. But not this time. This need for some kind of comradery and company had come out of nowhere with that insane vision, or panic attack. Whatever it was.
I was sure I could try to find my family. Surely, some of the Gods of Olympus chose to stick around as I did. I knew I would always have a home with my family, but even after all these centuries, I still wasn’t ready. I was enjoying doing my own thing, as listless as it seemed. Eros would probably make some joke about how I was like Mary Poppins. I was in one place until the wind changed direction, and then I was gone, presumably never to return. But I was happy that way. Being called to where I was needed and not putting down roots for too long.
But nothing sets down roots like buying a home. Especially a home that was gonna require TLC and renovations. It was not like an apartment lease that I could get out of, either by waiting out the contract and not resigning or by buying myself out. Or even by finding someone to take over the place once I was gone. The only way I was getting back the money I’d spent on this place was by putting money into it. But why would I? It was only me here, and I was able to get by in worse situations than this. I mean, come on. That hallow horse was hardly comfortable to hide in.
The echo of nearby music caught my ear. Was one of my neighbors a musician? So long as it wasn’t Uncle Apollo, I would be okay with that idea. At least it wouldn’t get too quiet around here. I followed the sound to the street right in front of my door. It wasn’t the neighbor that was playing. It was a young man sitting on the sidewalk with his guitar case open. The worn clothes and long, unkept hair was a pretty dead giveaway. This was someone who was trying to make a living off their music, and it wasn’t going well.
But, oh, us, he was talented. Not just a guitarist, but a singer, like most musicians. His voice wasn’t anything to write home about—he could carry a tune well enough. Apollo would probably trounce him in any one of those singing competitions online. But it was the pain in his voice that caused me to stop and listen just long enough.
I didn’t have to see his face to know that he was young. Possibly too young to be panhandling on the street. That was an unfortunate trend I had seen in all my years. Every decade, more and more parents would abandon their children and throw them out on the street over the stupidest of things. This boy should have been finishing high school, going to college if he wanted, or finding a musical job that he enjoyed. Not trying to feed himself off the kindness of strangers.
The pain in his voice told me just how much bullshit he had been through in his very young life. This man—no, this boy. This kid had known way too much heartbreak for one so young.
I don’t know how long he played while I lingered on my new porch just listening to him. Eventually, while stretching his stiff body, he saw me and jumped. Without a word, he started packing up his guitar and gathering his stuff. “Oh, don’t stop on my account,” I tried to invite. But there was obvious discomfort and fear on his face. He started to hurry away down the sidewalk.
What compelled me to follow and stop him, I still don’t know. “Hey,” I said as I put my hand on his shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” he said before I could say anything else. “I didn’t think I was bothering anyone. Please don’t call the police.”
That’s why he was afraid. Others less sympathetic than I had harassed him with threats and the police because he was…trespassing? Loitering? Even I didn’t completely understand that logic.
“I don’t intend to. I was actually enjoying your music.”
“Oh.” I could see his cheeks grow red from embarrassment beneath the shaggy hair that practically blinded him. “Okay.” He kicked some dust on the sidewalk awkwardly, not knowing how to take what seemed to be the first compliment he had received in some time.
“Are you okay?” I asked, only to have him nod in response. “Okay,” I accepted, even though I could tell he was as far from being okay as possible.
Suddenly, the deepest rumble shook not just the boy and me, but the ground beneath us. It was no earthquake, no waking titan, and no natural disaster pending. It was the boy’s stomach, revealing how little he had eaten in the last day.
“Are you hungry?” I asked, already knowing the true answer that he was going to hide.
“No. I’m fine,” he weakly insisted, again with red, burning cheeks.
“Well, I am. Know any good places to eat around here? I’m kinda new to the area.” Considering how long I’d been away, the statement might as well have been true.
“Uh,” the boy stalled, “there’s a grocery store two blocks away that has some good ready-made stuff. Potato salad and stuff like that.”
“Sounds great. Mind showing me the way?”
The boy was a little socially awkward, but he acted as my guide and took me to the grocery store in question. A local place rather than a chain. He tried to leave me there once he had shown me the door, but I insisted that he needed to come with me to give me a good recommendation on what to get, complete with a drink. Then I insisted I needed him to walk me home to keep me safe in my new neighborhood.
Once we arrived back at my home, I opened the door, inviting him in and leaving the bag of food I had just bought in front of him. “Thanks for walking me home.”
“No problem,” he mumbled.
“What’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you, Carson. I’m Tia.” I offered my hand to shake. He took it, but the weak handshake showed his lack of confidence.
“Hey, can you do me one more favor?”
“I gotta go get residency established in the city. You know, knew ID and stuff like that. Do you mind house sitting until I get back? It’s not super comfortable without much furniture yet, but at least it’s got AC.”
“I mean…you want to leave me in your house? Alone? When you just met me?”
“Yeah, why not?”
Carson shrugged. “What if I decide to squat and you can’t get your house back?”
I shrugged in response. “Well, you won’t do that, so no point in worrying.”
“How do you know I won’t do it?”
With another shrug, I said, “Call it a hunch.”
I could tell that Carson really wanted to take my offer to get out of the heat for several hours, but he mistrusted due to past pain. That and he didn’t want to get into any trouble by putting himself in a bad situation.
So instead of waiting for his response, I just picked up my keys and said, “I don’t know when I’ll be back, but the showers in the bathrooms work, so help yourself to anything you need.
“What about your lunch?” the boy asked, pointing to the bag.
“I’m not hungry anymore. But it sure would be a shame for it to go to waste.” With that, I left Carson to start looking for new furniture to keep the both of us comfortable for the time ahead of us.
Whether I knew it or not, I was setting my future in motion that day. Carson was the first official member of the Revolt House. He had since gone on with his life and was now not only a successful musician, but happily married to his partner.
That was why I started the Revolt House. It was so I could help others revolutionize the world and create better futures. For themselves and for everyone who came after them.
I took a deep breath, looking up at the house that I had quickly returned to. Hestia told me I was gonna need some supplies for this…this fight that was coming our way. I should also take this time to tell them that I will be stepping down and finding a new leader among them…
Of course, I could always wait until I came back.
If I came back at all.
Well, if I don’t, that will make my retirement announcement easier.
But I won’t have said a proper goodbye to them…
And if I do give them a heartfelt goodbye, I will be putting them through anxiety and worry. I can’t put them through that.
I doubted I would ever have children in my immortal life, but this was my family. And like a parent, I would protect them until the end.