I was too tired to jog back to the God Complex. Instead, I wandered back, weaving my path on my whim. I didn’t pay particular attention to anything around me. I glued my eyes to the ground that passed beneath my tennis shoes. And yet, if anyone had asked me, I couldn’t tell them how much of the journey was spent on dirt, grass, sand, or concrete. Everything I saw or heard was not being registered in the memory bank of my mind.
So I was so startled when a meaty hand fell to my left shoulder. Okay, startled is probably an understatement. The contact kicked my Fight or Flight sense into high gear, and on that day, I was always going to choose a fight. I was not completely sure how we ended up on the ground with his arm locked between my arms and legs. But there I was, putting pressure on Phobos’s shoulder, preparing to break it. “Hey, hey, hey! What the hell?!”
“Phobos!” A look to my right showed that true to form, Deimos was there too, laughing his ass off at the predicament Phobos was in. “Deimos.”
“You gonna let him go, Adrestia? Or are you gonna finish what you started?” Deimos teased.
“Don’t encourage her!” Phobos snapped. The proximity of his booming voice reminded me I was ready to break my older brother’s arm. I released Phobos’s swollen arm, letting him yank away from me. He pushed up to a sitting position as he flexed his arm and checked for any damage. Meanwhile, I remained on my back, still trying to process what I’d nearly done. I gotta get a grip. Fast.
Deimos towered over me and helped me to my feet rather than helping Phobos. “You must be pretty distracted.”
“Why do you say that?” I asked, taking his hand and allowing him to pull me to my feet.
“Adrestia,” he scolded playfully. “We were yelling at you across the field for a solid minute. You didn’t hear a word we said. You didn’t even hear us come over. It’s not like we’re sneaky. Pappous can probably hear us walking out here from all the way up there.” He nodded up towards the top level of the God Complex.
“I was… thinking.”
“Clearly,” Deimos scoffed.
“That still doesn’t explain why you were so afraid,” Phobos interjected, still looking put out with how I nearly broke his meaty arm.
“I wasn’t afraid.” I pouted and turned on my heels, continuing my trek back to the God Complex. I needed to shut this conversation down before it went any further.
“Come on, Adrestia,” Phobos said, falling into step next to me. “Admit it. I scared you.”
“No, you didn’t!”
“You do remember the entire reason for my existence, right, little sister?”
“What does driving dad’s chariot have anything to do with this?”
“Don’t play dumb, Adrestia. You’re terrible at it,” Deimos nudged me, flanking my other side.
“I’m the God of Fear for a reason, Adrestia. Fear is my specialty. I know how to instill it and recognize it in others. And I can safely say that you haven’t been that scared in…” Phobos paused and actually stopped walking with Deimos and me, taking his time to think.
“Careful, there, buddy. Don’t hurt yourself.” I had to change the subject and get out of here, fast.
Deimos took up his brother’s baton, seizing me by the arm. “Adrestia,” he said seriously. “He’s just worried about you,”
“Well, he doesn’t have to be. I’m fine.”
When I pulled away from Deimos, there was Phobos to take his place. “You’re never fine when you say you’re fine. All of us know that.”
Get out. Get out. Get out. Get out. “Fuck you two.”
“Does this have something to do with that party?” Fuck. They know.
I don’t know why I didn’t figure that out before that precise moment. Of course, they knew. Even if Eros and Clio didn’t tell them, which there was a chance they did, there were enough other people involved that they had to have overheard someone talking… Or maybe dad told them.
Rather than answering or denying my brother’s accusations, I fell deeper into my thoughts. All this time, I hadn’t even considered my brother, my sister-in-law, or my father. Or anyone else who was at that disaster of a party. I was so freaked out by my part of the experience that I hadn’t stopped to wonder what happened to anyone else. What did they see or hear or experience? If it was anything like my experience, we were all in desperate need of therapy, well, more therapy.
“That’s it, isn’t it?” Deimos probed again. “What did you see?”
“It doesn’t matter. It wasn’t real.”
Phobos side-stepped into my path when I tried to walk away and shut this conversation down. “But it was to you, even if for a short amount of time. Whatever you saw is really bothering you.”
I let out a heavy sigh. “What do you want me to say, Phobos?”
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“You’re the one who says that something is bothering me, so you tell me.”
“You can talk to us, Adrestia. We’re family. We take care of each other,” Deimos insisted.
“No offense, but you two aren’t really therapists.”
“So? Doesn’t mean we can’t help.” Deimos shrugged.
“Even if it’s the smashing things kind of therapy.” Phobos nudged me playfully.
I couldn’t enjoy my brother’s playful nature. All I could do was sigh and rub my face. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t do anything anymore.
“When was the last time you slept?” Deimos asked with concern.
“The night before the party.”
“And the last time you ate?” Phobos asked.
“Lunchtime before the party.”
“And when was the last time you took time off from working so hard and worrying about everything?”
I scoffed. “You’re looking at it. This was supposed to be my vacation, imposed by my housemates.” Even as the words left my lips, I felt a familiar weight settle over me, though I’d never felt it to quite this level. I felt like dead weight.
“So let’s do a checklist. No sleep. No food. No rest. No wonder you look like shit.”
“Thanks, Phobos. Great pep talk.” I slapped his biceps and started back on my way to the God Complex.
“Whoa, whoa. Whoa. Not so fast, Adrestia.” Deimos pulled me back. “You know damn well that’s not the end of this conversation.”
“Wanna bet?” I didn’t give him a chance to answer before I gripped his arm and rolled him over me. Using his body weight against him, I took Deimos to the ground and left him on his back.
True to form, Phobos was there in a heartbeat, and I’d pissed him off if the sweat on his crimson face was any sign. “Hey!” he roared. “We’re trying to help you, you little shit!”
“I don’t need your help! I don’t need anyone’s help! I’ve been alone for the last two centuries, and I’ve been fucking fine! On my own!”
I wanted Phobos to yell back at me. Like Dionysos always said, our family was the most normal it could be when we were yelling and railing and fighting. It was when we all went silent that something was truly wrong. And when Phobos gave a hard glare but didn’t say a word, I knew that I had fucked up. “You want to be alone so bad? You want us to leave you alone? Fine. Your wish is our command.” He brushed past me to offer a hand up to Deimos. With another glare over his shoulder, his last words to me were, “Sorry to bother you with our worrying.”
Phobos turned his back on me and stalked away while Deimos lingered for a moment. He looked about as angry as Phobos, but he didn’t vocalize. There was something else in his eyes. It hurt to see him turn on me without a word. It hurt more than Phobos’s yelling.
I didn’t move from my spot as I watched two of my four older brothers walk away from me. It was hardly the first time I had pushed my family members away, but it still stung like it did the first time.