“So you say you were headed home?” Audrey asked.
This was the REAL Audrey. Not just the smirking, female aspect of my persona.
I sought her out a while ago and gave her just a taste of who I am. I’d seen her so long in my thoughts, I felt she may have spotted the oddness about me before now. The woman surprised me with her acceptance. I think with all the change happening in the world, it was easy for someone like her, someone used to rationalizing strangeness into something small and controllable, to buy-in. Frankly, easier than I ever thought, and in a time of surprises, at least this was a pleasant one.
Whether she assumed I was delusional, using metaphors, or that I really believed I was a Greco-Roman Goddess come to life, I didn’t know and didn’t care. She’s an ear and I really needed one of those right now. And so I think this was how our sometimes appointments became semi-regular appointments, at any rate, she seemed to remember more of them than I thought we have had.
“I wasn’t headed home, I went. I was at home.”
And I had. I had found them in their sanctuary and watched. Cloaked in normalcy to many, but to one who knew what to look for, they were practically a beacon in the dark.
“And what did you find there that brought you here to me?”
“I found a loss.”
“You found a loss? How do you mean?”
I found Ares.
There he was, my supposed, former best friend, and it felt like I was looking at a stranger. This is Ares? How had I pictured him so differently? This was not the image I’d been building up in my head. Frankly, he looked a little like David Borneaz circa “Buffy” season one. Something shifted and other memories began to cloud the ones I thought I knew so well. Instead of giggling with Ares at the bloodshed around us, I watched Enyo play that coquettish-schoolgirl trope as I loomed over the battlefield as a giant. Separate and isolated in my “victory”.
I am not the twin of Ares, am I?
Who am I?
Other memories flitted through and passed by like ephemera.
I watched as the athame I carry in my cornfield, the one that was supposedly a gift from “my” Ares, was instead held by him as he came at me at the wedding…to keep me out. I now see myself picking it up off a battlefield years later as the gods retreated and left the mortals to die. As this memory came to me, I realized that I now had it in my hand. I must have grabbed it as I reminisced. Wordlessly, I let it slip through my fingers, hitting the pavement with a thud.
“You gave it up?” Audrey nudged with her soccer mom tone.
Oh, I must have said that out loud.
“It didn’t mean anything anymore. It wasn’t real. Frankly, it was holding me back. I’m not little Enyo, Ares’ girl Friday. I am Eris. Larger than life and master of myself.”
“That’s good though, is it not? You’re your own person,” Audrey went on, writing as she talked.
“In its way, it’s good, yes. But then, of course, there’s that gaping hole, where Ares was, to fill. That fleeting moment where I thought someone had once cared about me…I was so sure.”
“And now? Are you just as sure that no one did? By your own accounts, your memories are spotty at best; search through them. Are you sure you were always alone?”
There was this piece of myself that I felt, it was warm and full but clouded. A laugh, a woman’s laugh, was all I was getting, but no more. The rest was blocked off and just out of reach. I couldn’t complete the picture.
“Alone. For a lot of the time, yes. They didn’t like me very much. I was…am…odd. I don’t act the way I should, the way they want me to or expect. Interacting with others has always been a challenge for me, something gets lost in the space between us. I think I’m doing one thing and their response never seems to match up. The things I enjoy, who I am; they don’t like it and never have.”
“Let’s focus on this supposed disconnect between your responses and others’. What’s something you say you enjoy that bothered them?”
“Chaos. Disorder. Confusion. These are things I enjoy. I don’t just do them because that’s my lot in life. It happens naturally, and they look at me as if I’m a monster. It took me forever to understand they genuinely don’t enjoy it. That it is why they don’t want me around. Part of me feels like if I knew earlier, if I had realized, then I could have fixed it in time to salvage our relationships. At the same time, shouldn’t they accept me for who I am? I accept them, for all their insanity.”
“That’s a good vantage point. Let’s work from that. So, you feel they didn’t care for you, but you acknowledge you cared for them. In all your talk of your time away, you expressed how they didn’t come looking for you, and seemingly didn’t miss you. Did you miss them?”
“I missed them all. I wouldn’t have hated them if I didn’t miss them.”
“Then, is there anyone that you didn’t hate?”
That was a good question. I pursed my lips and really thought.
“Hmmm…Thanatos was always a pleasant sight.”
“The Greek equivalent of the Grim Reaper was a pleasant sight?” Not judgmental but her tone was definitely one of surprise.
“He was. To me at least. I would extort my strife, sow discord, rise to new heights of chaos and destruction or even just petty acts of violence but then, after, he would often appear. He’d be there to collect his due and…it was like aftercare, a gentle sight to ease me out of my mania.”
I watched her as she jotted that down, and I actively sought to find some shred of judgment on her face. That’s at least a familiar sight, something I knew how to respond to, unlike this unbiased acceptance.
“That’s weird though, right?” I continued, “Not normal? As always I find that I react differently than others…than I should. I smile when they frown…and whatnot.”
“You shouldn’t focus so much on what is considered normal,” Audrey replied and then hummed.
“That may be true, but seeing a positive in a negative can be a virtue, even if it’s one that needs tempering now and again.”
“Anyone else? With countless gods, you must have had some friends?”
Suddenly, that patch of my mind seemed to peel back for just a brief moment. I saw the misty water-colored world of Olympus. I saw the gods that haunted my nightmares now smiling at me and welcoming me. An all-too-brief memory.
I saw Hermes, smiling long after the others had shunned me. I saw him disrobe, felt his hands, and my own wandering down his hips….This memory burns hot but is as brief as the other, lingering for mere moments before burning out.
Thanatos and Hermes? I guess I had a thing for psychopomps.
I saw myself as a woman, as I solely thought of myself back in those days, no matter what form I took. Dark robes and a wicked grin, leaning into the scarlet robes of another goddess as we laughed. Atë.
I remembered my Atë, my Kallis: the greatest.
Me braiding the hair of yet another goddess, a muse…Clio, I believed. She waxed romantically about Eros, while I nodded in amusement and twisted her hair into crazy configurations.
The scenes meshed as Atë and I laughed while Eros and Clio hovered around each other like nervous little birds, and I snapped at them to just kiss already. I saw their look of shock that I have such a love/hate relationship with.
“Oh, were we not saying that?” I faux gasped with a giggle. “Was it like a game where we take as long as possible not to say that?”
Eros shot me a dark look.
“We’re not saying that, because it’s less than true.”
I saw the little muse shrink back.
“Yeah… Eros is my best friend…”
“Is that what they’re calling it these days?” I whispered to Atë.
“They seem to be the Gods of denial,” she snickered back.
Then later, I saw myself with a sobbing Clio in my arms.
“H-he doesn’t love me, Eris,” she sniffled, “You heard him, he has a date.”
“Yeah, so does Zeus,” I laughed heartily, “but he’ll still burn you alive for looking twice at Hera.”
But just as those memories came, they went. Those names slipping from my mind just as easily as they appeared, like the tide washing away a sandcastle. A part of my brain even attempted to switch out Atë for Ares or even Typhon. What was wrong with me?
“Eris?” Audrey asked gently.
I looked up. Looking at the doctor’s face is the final nail. Not a single one of their names will leave my lips. If I sat here all day I couldn’t name one of them.
“Yes, there were some but…I can’t seem to remember them.”
“You know for amnesia patients, it’s recommended that they spend time around the things, locations and people of the past they’re trying to remember. That very thing that you said you had every intention of doing, before sidetracking to come here and talk to me instead.”
“You’re saying I’m being cowardly?”
“Not at all.”
“Well, you should, because I am.”
As I snapped this sentiment, it stoked a fire inside me. That feeling I once had of righteous abandon. I could have that again. Enough dithering, let go, Eris. Make things happen.
As I scolded myself, the fire grew and a veil parted.
A Spartan palace lies in the world below my towering form where Helen (soon to be of Troy) is pierced by an arrow. Suffering a wound much different than you’d expect, no blood or gore. Instead, it was the pain of love she now festered. As all who fall to the arrows of Eros.
I remember Eros.
Not Ares’ twin…but still Eros’s aunt? Yes. That felt right.
I’d see Eros first.
“I think that’s a good thought.” Audrey smiled.
Again, out loud. Huh, I gotta watch that.
“Yes, what’s that they say? Make love, not war? Sound advice. I think I’ll take it.” I grinned, bopping to my feet with a new excitement in my eyes.
Make love my priority, not war. War was my past; what had landed me here. Let’s go with love, to start with at least. Eros would understand. He’d have missed me, right? Wouldn’t blame me at least? It’d frankly be a bit hypocritical if he did. Okay, that worked. Not self-important Ares, who took the credit all those years ago and then rushed to incriminate me with the others, but sweet Eros, so like me with his love of trickery and mischief, perfect for poking that fire of memory inside me.
I wonder what he’s up to these days.