Do you know the part in the movie where the bad guy finally gets it? You know, after all the terrible shit they did and then the camera pans, or flashes forward, and everyone else gets a happy ending? That is what my life feels like, except I didn’t get to see the happy ending. Oh, but I could assume. After the recent impromptu visit from one of my sisters, the one who I had least expected, I now knew they were once again better off without me. The comments felt like a dagger in an already hemorrhaging wound. But I deserved it. I had killed, plotted, and fuck almost started another war.
“And yet, they still don’t understand why,” the other me spoke from a corner of the room. She was relaxing comfortably against the wall with one leg bent against it.
I had been spiraling worse, even worse after the visit. Nightmares raged at my mind anytime I dared close my eyes. So I tried to avoid sleep, but it didn’t work. I would doze off, none the wiser, and be tossed back in a never-ending cycle. This was Hell.
“Damn. I am so tired of the inner monologue. We get it. You are suffering. Big deal.”
I sighed, pulling my knees closer to me as the other me spoke. She pushed off the wall, waving her hands in the air as she went on.
“This is what happens when you fail. You made this epic plan and zilch, nada. What did you think would happen if you didn’t win? What were you hoping for if you failed?”
“It doesn’t matter. This is what I deserve,” I replied.
The other me stopped slowly, smiling as she walked closer. She squatted, coming face to face to me, her voice barely a whisper.
“Why, because you are a monster?”
I didn’t respond as her amber eyes scanned mine. I dropped my head instead.
“You weren’t always.”
I scoffed, “Yes, I was.”
“Are you telling me you forgot about this?”
I raised my head as she pulled out an old rustic blue box and practically jumped out of my skin. “How did you get that!?” I snapped.
It was in the shape of a circle with etchings along the edges. I felt my heart sink once more as I looked at it. She twisted a key on the side then opened the top, and a small rotating metal cylinder slowly spun, the sound of tiny prongs plucking an ancient tune filled my cell.
I reached out, grabbing it as tears pricked my eyes. My mind was sent back to a time before my fall.
I move more books out of my way, the ones I don’t need crashing to the ground. If I could only find the blasted one I needed, then I could show father just how much help I can be. I get it, his brothers help the most, but fuck, so can I! I’m the freaking firstborn. I shouldn’t have to prove myself, but Gods forbid. I pause mid toss when I hear the sound of sniffling. What time is it? Usually, everyone is out frolicking or some shit. I dematerialize floating through the library, looking for the sound that interrupted me. I pause mid-air, seeing what looks like a child hunkered over crying. Forming next to her, I cross my arms.
“You know children of Olympus are usually out playing right now or whatever kids do.”
She looks up, quickly wiping tears from her face. “Oh, I was just um.”
I tilt my head and respond, “Are you going to try to lie to me now? I can already tell you are terrible at it.”
She sticks out her tongue before realizing what she is doing. Her eyes widen, and she begins to stutter, “W-wait, I didn’t mean to do that! I am so sorry.”
I raise a brow as I grab my toga, scrunching it the sides as I kneel, getting eye level with the little child and look at her. She radiates power, but not that of a God. I sense something sweet and something different, something hidden. A muse.
“What’s your name, little one?”
She watches me for a moment and tilts her head to the side, her eyes suddenly glowing. “I am Clio, and you must be…Atë!”
A slow smile spreads across my face. I haven’t been around too many muses, but I don’t recall that happening. “You know me, little Clio? And how is that so? I don’t hang out with anyone your age.”
Clio continues to look into my eyes, her little ones glowing bright brown. “I can see it in your eyes! You are the eldest of Zeus, and you are trying to prove yourself to him.”
I am shocked, and the smile on my face soon disappears. Such a lovely gift and held by such a tiny muse. One I had only heard rumors about, Zeus’ child. The daughter of a Titan. The Muse of History. The smile returns as an idea forms.
“Oh Clio, you are a smart little muse, aren’t you? Tell me, can you see this with anyone?”
Her eyes widen as she grabs her legs, scooting them towards her. She looks down, fiddling with the edge of her toga.
“Y-yes, but my mama will be so mad.”
I put a single finger to my lips. “I won’t tell if you won’t. So, tell me something. Why would you be stuck in the library and not out with the other kids?”
She meets my eyes once more, the fear she had soon gone. She looks around the library then back at me. “Promise not to tell?”
I lean forward, moving my hand close to hers and extending my pinky. “Pinky swear.”
She links her tiny pinky with mine smiling brightly. “Well, I like spending time in the library, but right now, I am here because my head hurts.”
“And why does your head hurt?”
“My mommy likes to play this game called scramble. She uses her powers to take pieces of my memory. Then I have to try and remember it.”
My eyes glow as I see their reflection in hers. The shelves next to us shake as I release some of my power. A child. Who messes with a child’s brain in such a manner? My anger rises but I calm it and plaster a smile on my face. “Well, that sounds like fun. What if we play a better game? Hide and seek. Every time your mother wants to play that game, you hide and seek me. How does that sound?”
I tried to keep my face showing I meant no ill will, but if Clio ever came to me with her wretched excuse for a mom, there would be one less Titan on Olympus.
She shakes her head again. “I dunno…My momma says that I shouldn’t tell anyone that game. I could get in trouble.”
“Well, it will be another one of our little secrets.” I stand slowly outstretching my hand towards her. “Now let’s get you out of this old library, shall we?”
She nods, standing up and takes my hand. “Okay. Where are we going?”
I think I have something I want to give you.” I grasp her hand lightly as we head out of the library. We make our way through the grand palace of Olympus and head upstairs. Stopping at twin marble doors, I let go of her hand, pushing the doors open. I turn to hold one as I usher her inside and close them behind me.
My room is mostly shades of white and gold. The bed takes up most of the room as the far closet holds more items then I am willing to admit. A large foyer off to the right leads to a decent open area with statues and items from battles won. It takes her no time before she is spinning and bouncing around the room. She jumps on the large bed before darting off and heading to the bookshelf. It held books I, may or may not, have borrowed without returning. She picks one up, flipping through the pages quickly, her eyes glowing once again. It looks like she simply absorbs the information.
I smirk to myself as I head to the armoire next to my bed. I pick up an old rustic box filled with tiny gold metal bars. A key is on the side that, when turned, plays a soft lullaby. It is one of my most treasured possessions. I move, standing next to Clio, drawing her attention.
“Want to know a secret, little muse?”
She looks up at me, excitement edging her tiny features. “Yes?”
“Sometimes even Goddesses get scared.” I kneel in front of her opening the box as a tune plays. “I know you have problems with your mother, and granted, I do not know mine, but Zeus, our father, gave this to me when I was your size. Any time I was afraid or alone I could listen to it and it helped.” I paused as those exact memories flooded back and smiled at Clio. “I think you should have it.”
She reached out gently, taking it from me as she giggled. “Really? I can have it?”
I stand back up. “Yes, really. I want you to have it.”
She holds it close to her ear as it plays and smiles at me. “You are the best sister ever!”
I hold my hand up, my lips in a small grimace. “Yeah well, don’t tell anyone that. I have a reputation to uphold.”
She nods, pretending to zip her lips. She holds the box to her ear listening, but soon, the tune stops. She hands it back to me to turn the key again, and I gladly oblige.
The gold and white vision of my room fades as darkness swallows my sight and transports me to an underground room. Clio is trapped in a cage shaking the bars, and I sneer pushing off of them. I can’t hear the words, but I remember what I said and when this happened. This was when I kidnapped her. Tears run down her cheeks as the past me tells her something else, and her body falls to the ground, unconscious. I watch as past me turns, my imp close behind, and heads up the stairs.
Tears prick my eyes as I turn away from Clio’s body. The other me whistling as it places an arm on my shoulder.
“Tsk, Tsk. Maybe you are right. Maybe you are a monster.”