I’m still in male form, but now I’m clothed in a boy’s parochial school uniform, black jacket, black pants, white shirt, a black and gold striped tie. The school crest bearing a golden apple and the words στο πιο δίκαιο is embroidered on the pocket. I sit quite comfortably in the office of my supposed therapist Audrey Wilkes, also known as my wayward daughter Lethe. Though, of course, I haven’t told her I know that yet. That would spoil the fun.
“I’m so glad to see you, Eris. It’s been so long since our last session.” Audrey hums, making notes on her pad. She occasionally peeks at me over the top of her glasses.
“Yes, well, I’ve been on a bit of a journey of self-discovery,” I reply with a smile and a nod.
“That’s good,” she says with a smile, but her eyes tell another story. “Wanna tell me about that? What exactly have you discovered?”
“Oh, you know, just a few more of the many things I’d forgotten.”
She coughs ever so slightly like she is choking on air, before composing herself.
“I have a brother.” I smile.
“Yes, we’ve talked about your siblings before, and Ares came up a bit. Do you mean him or one of your other brothers? Hephaestus? Apollo?”
“No, no, I mean Thanatos.”
Audrey’s face goes pale, but she keeps her composure.
“Ah, I see you’ve decided to follow up on that theory you had about possibly being Nyx’s child. How did that play out?”
“Very well indeed.” I smile, crossing my legs and leaning forward a bit. “I’ve been catching up with all sorts of relatives who had somehow slipped my mind. But as I was saying, the latest one on my list was gentle death himself. He’d been so kind to me when I first arrived at the God Complex. I suppose, in hindsight, it makes perfect sense we were siblings all along. We had a long productive chat.”
“Oh, many things. The pros and cons of having children, for instance. You see, he’s never had any, and I recently remembered that I have quite a few. We traded notes on how that’s affected our lives and which situation we felt held the greater potential for personal satisfaction, or alternatively, personal pain.”
“Interesting.” She pretends to make another note in her pad. She’s getting nervous now, I can tell.
“Very interesting! Quite memorable, you might say.” I can feel some gold leaking into my eyes. I don’t think I’m gonna last very long at this game.
“Is there something in particular you wanted to talk about today, Eris?” Audrey asks. I almost admire that she just manages to keep her voice from breaking as she does so.
I stand up and smile, a small calculating smile as opposed to my usual grin of psychotic menace.
“Yeah, there is. See, one of my new memories has really been troubling me.”
“Yes. Let’s see… Say you had a daughter.” I point directly at her with a swift, sudden motion of my hand. “Say you trusted her. Say you asked her to help you with a big task. This was a very important act, mind you. Something that this girl’s parent was really passionate about. Now say that this girl took advantage of the situation. Say she turned it back on her parent, turned her progenitor’s work of art into a prison.” As I spoke, my eyes burning brighter and brighter, her face became ashen pale. “How would that make you feel?”
I don’t know what she’d do. Run? Confess? Beg? Attack? Instead, she sighed and very calmly put down her pen and pad and stood up.
“That’s a very complicated question, Eris.” A tear falls down her face as she seems to let something go. “Let’s see, I imagine it would be a similar feeling to say…a daughter, one child out of practically hundreds, neglected by her one and only parent. A daughter who remains devoted even as her parent dotes on her perfect half-sister. The only one of her siblings that had one other parent to pay attention to them. Now, say this parent finally notices the sad young woman, only because they need something from her, of course. But hey, she’ll take what she can get. Only to find herself helping this parent find a way to avoid her and her siblings even more! Oh, except Ms. Perfect, of course, as her parent, is now even closer to her.”
Huh, I actually hadn’t considered she might have a point of view of her own. I almost felt bad for her. Almost.
I am shorter than her, but somehow the energy in the room makes me feel like I am looming over her. Perhaps soon I will be. I can feel the transaction of energy between us as she struggles to maintain control.
“I trusted you, Lethe. To help me.”
“I did help you!” she shrieks back. “All I did was help you! See, I even helped you literally forget all about me and the others, a legitimate reason to ignore us. Isn’t that what you wanted?” As her pretense drops so does her form of Audrey Wilkes. Her formal therapist clothing remains unchanged, but her plain features become sharper with a harsh kind of beauty. Her dull brown hair shines itself into a dark copper and her eyes transform into that vivid grey of a cloudy sky.
“You petty little brat. You know damn well to Tartarus what I wanted. You also know what you did to me, don’t try to play the victim.”
“Why not? You cast me in the role yourself!”
My wings flew out, and my eyes burned.
“Don’t bleat at me like some slaughtered lamb, you little wretch! I should vaporize you where you stand!” Excess chaos energy is radiating off me, and Lethe takes a noticeable step back, but her eyes remain firm.
“Do it then.”
“How many times, Lethe?” I ignored her bravado, pushing forward. “How many times have you come to me as a sweet helper only to drive me further into slumber?”
“Forty-two. Forty-two times you’ve almost remembered who you are. It would have been successfully forty-three if dear sister Atё hadn’t given you a little push with her titanic temper tantrum.”
I grabbed her by the throat, not tightening but holding her firm.
“Adding child abuse to your list of crimes, dear mother-father?” Her head lolls in my grip.
“No, no, Lethe.” I smile, my predatory smile. “I have a different punishment planned for you. Actually, let’s not call it punishment. Let’s call it justice.”
“As I said, I was talking to dear Uncle Thanatos. Would you mind if he sat in our little family therapy session, doctor?” I giggle and release my hold on her. Without waiting for an answer, I turn my head and shout, “Thanny!”
From the shadow cast by Audrey/Lethe’s chair, a figure steps forth. Thanatos lowers his cloak low and reveals his face as he stares deep into Lethe.
“Uncle…” she mutters.
He nods but says nothing.
“So what’s the plan, my sire?” She turns back to me. “You plan to have him reap me?” She laughs.
“In a manner of speaking.” I nod and her laughter cuts off. “You’re grounded, Lethe.” I tighten my schoolboy tie.
“Excuse me?” she snarls.
“Thanatos will take you to your river in the Underworld. You will be forbidden to leave it.”
Her eyes go wide, and she looks wildly between my brother and me.
“The River Lethe… ah yes. Remember those days? You claim such neglect, but back when our family all lived together, in what is now known as the Underworld, you were singled out for such a great honour. You were given the patronage of a body of water in the darkest domain. Each one has such weight and importance, and one was named for you.”
“You can’t do this…” She breathes deeply.
“I absolutely can. Seems justified, does it not? The same way you imprisoned me, I now do to you.”
“Am I to be there…forever?”
“Maybe not, daughter dear.” I nod to Thanatos, who moves towards his niece at an unhurried but decisive pace. “I might let you out when the thoughts of anger and heartbreak you conjure in me are…forgotten.”
The last word hangs in the air as they fade into the shadows and I am once more left…alone.