I got the invitation some time ago. I thought it had been from the same joker who’s been sending me the strange texts, but when the others all said they got one too, I knew it was legit. Even after Arabian parties, weddings, and baby showers, it is still odd to actually be invited to something for a change. Maybe they really were changing.
I go in female form, with a lingering touch of androgyny. I am wearing a tight, tailored dark grey, almost black tux with a long tie hanging loose. My long black hair is pulled back in a high, tight ponytail. I wanted to be a little fancy, so imagine my disappointment when it’s just some old abandoned security warehouse. Sigh.
The inside is a pleasant surprise. The walls are covered in black silk, and the tables are elevated. So mingle it is, no getting cosy…challenge accepted. Except, it turns out I am the first to arrive. Figures.
I grab a few bottles from one of the bars and plop down under one of the center tables. Now we wait. I sigh and take a drink.
I don’t have to wait too long.
“We can’t be late, Lykos!” I hear Clio cry along with the noise of apparently her and Eros entering.
“I want to be fashionably late to my funeral,” Eros says with a groan. I smile. Eros and I are always on such a similar wavelength.
“I swear to Rhea there had better be liquor here,” my father’s voice sounds.
“We don’t even know who is throwing this!” Eros sighs.
“Didn’t we order this building demolished? I really need to check my mail,” Dad says, and my ears immediately perk up at the word demolish. I take that as my cue.
I accidentally herald my entrance with a burp as I poke my head out from under a table.
“So we’re saying you want me to wreck the place?”
There’s some mixed laughter, and Clio says something about murdering Eros, so I’d say it landed.
“Drinks? Ambrosia?” The server seems to appear out of nowhere, shocking even me. An altogether uncomfortably handsome man with a distinctly sinister edge. I remind myself that I am not supposed to be getting cosy.
“Hey! Down here, Jeeves!” I say, taking the proffered glass as I pull myself up by the man’s leg. If I’m not mistaken, a look of pure disgust comes over his face as I do so. Well, that’s new.
More gods wander in, and the more they do, the more confusion seems to swarm around me like bees. I can feel it buzzing at the back of my neck. They’re hiding it under excitement and curiosity, but it’s there…simmering.
“So I’m really not in the mood for surprises. Who’s getting married? Having babies? Whose babies are getting married? I can’t keep track of you anymore,” Zeus says to the group with an eye roll.
“Welllll…” Clio says, placing a hand on her stomach.
Eros pauses, uncharacteristically silent, and looks Clio up and down.
“You’re joking…” he gasps, looking like he’s about to have a heart attack.
After a pregnant pause, Clio laughs. I roll my eyes at their antics, but the God of Death lingering in the doorway manages to pull my attention away from making a witty comeback.
“Thannnnnnnny!” I shout, trying to get the psychopomp’s attention, but I don’t even get a glimmer of disapproval like usual. He seems…off. Selene seems to be trying to convince him to stay. No one here seems quite right, frankly.
As Thanatos drifts off, my attention wavers back to the group. Adrestia has joined and seems to be getting back on a high horse, as is her raison d’être.
“Oh, like this doesn’t have you two written all over it,” Adrestia accuses.
“It’s not us,” Eros says, clearly more disappointed about not being able to claim credit rather than being accused in the first place.
“Eris?” Adrestia turns to me, the unasked question hanging in the air.
“I’d say it’s not me, but I can’t remember my phone password.” I shrug in response.
“Maybe Atë?” The young war goddess counters. I shrug once more, completely sincere in my ignorance.
“I would say if I’d done this,” I say, smiling at her. “There would be a lot more leather harnesses hanging from chains if I had been in charge. You know, to make it classy.”
“Yeah, there is not a whip in sight.” Eros laughs knowingly as dad downs his entire glass of ambrosia.
“Eris, everywhere you go, it’s classy. These kids just don’t know,” Zeus says.
“Awww, see? This guy gets it.” I wink at my father as I sniff my own invitation. “Smells like a brunette sent it… they may wear Aramis.”
“Maybe we can find another closet?” I hear Clio coo as she kisses Eros softly.
“Knock you up?” Eros replies, much to even my surprise.
“You want more babies?” Clio laughs between pecks.
“I said I wanted to compete with Zeus!” Eros laughs, causing me to nearly snort my drink through my nose.
“You will never beat my father. He is the king!” Clio laughs.
“Yea, get to work, kid. You’re well behind.” Zeus chortles.
“Yeah, ouch, Clio! You may wanna take up yoga or something,” I say, half laughing, half trying a swallow the rest of the alcohol in my mouth.
“Auntie! Over here!” Adrestia squeals.
Eros mouths to Clio, “Auntie?” as the muse shivers.
I mimic the couple’s awkward glances as Nike and Adrestia embrace, mouthing to them myself, “Kinky.”
But all thoughts of them are forgotten as black smoke curls by the front door, instantly alerting me to my favourite person’s presence. What I don’t expect is for the great goddess Hekate to be with her. Like a gift with purchase. I’m giddy as I bolt for them.
I sidle up to my Kallis, humming contentedly as Clio leaps into both goddesses’ arms.
“Hello, love,” Atë says lovingly to me.
I kiss Atë on the cheek before turning to Hekate.
“Good to see you, my lady,” I say in as gentlemanly a way that I can muster as I kiss the witch goddess’ hand reverently.
“How are you, lovely? Is this you?” The threefold goddess beams at me, causing me to blush slightly.
“Not me. Not enough riding crops, and Gerard over there would be in backless chaps!” I guffaw only to receive a death glare from the man himself. A glare delivered with surprising conviction from a mortal, a mortal waiter to boot. My eyes narrow at him in return.
“As long as I’m not paying for any of this, I don’t care. If this is on someone else’s dime, drink up.”
Those cluttered around the king murmured their approvals and clinked their glasses.
“You know, if I knew all it took to get you bastards together was the promise of free booze, I’d have family reunions more often,” Dad went on amusedly, causing my various siblings, half-siblings, and assorted other familial strangers to laugh along.
“Hey, you guys!” Zeus shouts suddenly, clinking his glass. “Before things get too crazy, I’d like to make a toast.”
“Freebird!” I shout only half mockingly with a giggle.
“It occurs to me that we don’t do these nearly as often as we should. Things have been quiet of late. All of us doing our own thing, which is great. But, whoever brought this shindig together, I would like to thank you,” Dad says with a surprising warmth in his voice.
Everyone raises their glass.
“Yes, Cheers!” I say, raising my own. “Frasier! Mad About You!”
At Zeus’s further admission that he had no hand in arranging this shindig, renewed suspicious whispering began to be peppered in among the cheers and clinking of glasses.
“I don’t like this,” Adrestia mumbles to herself, and surprisingly I find myself actually agreeing with her.
Clio continues to hold on to Atë and Hekate, reaching out for me as well. I take her hand and feel the confusion radiating off her like a burner. It is coming from everyone, leaking out of their pores.
“Wait,” Atë narrows her eyes in our father’s direction, “you didn’t plan this?”
“Shit, no,” he scoffs. “Every time I leave my office, I either die or end up on another planet,” Dad says, and I nod along as that makes perfect sense to me.
“Wait. So why are we here if no one knows who invited us?” Hekate asks.
The room shifts, the undercurrent of tension boils up again.
“Come here,” Eros says as he pulls Clio to him protectively, his eyes alert.
“Listen, the letterhead on the invite looked official.” Dad shrugged.
The strife in the room hits me like a wave, and I feel myself sobering ever so slightly, my eyes darting around the room.
The lights lower, and the sound of loud chanting comes through hidden speakers. Voices overlap, and magic surges all around us. The black silk wavers around the warehouse before falling. Glowing mirrors line the interior. The light shining off them catches my eye, and my vision swirls into a multicolored abyss. A sucking void that eats away at my life like Hansel and Gretel on a bender.
“Ms. Milon-Manzana?” A voice calls.
“That’s Mx. Milon-Manzana,” a familiar male voice says, a hand at my back. “Actually, it’s now Senator Milon-Manzana!”
My dear Eggplant always has a way with words. I knew that civil partnership was the right idea. I smile at him before once more facing the cameras and the press.
“As my partner has said, Mx. is my preferred honorific. It’s important to know who you’re addressing and also who is being addressed. I say this with the full weight in my heart that I am now addressing the great United States of America and the world at large as it’s first gender non-binary Senator!” A round of cheers and not a small amount of booing erupts.
“Thank you, not just those who applaud this moment but those that jeer it. As discourse, both civil and uncivil is the storm that powers this country. It is in learning to harness that power, to focus that chaos, that we will not only lead the USA, but that we will change it. And in doing so, change the world!”