Despite the storm outside the building, the god who may or may not be Dad was elsewhere, per usual. It is a good time to have a one-on-one with my dear sister. I’ve picked her for this little talk from my other supposedly full siblings as she’s probably the weakest link, although Eileithyia’s best friends are all babies.
My ability to become immaterial helps me slink into her play area unnoticed. This poor bitch doesn’t even get a full office, just a desk outside Ol’ Thunderhead’s office.
I’m in my female form, but just barely. My NB side is simmering just beneath the surface, leading to an ever so slightly androgynous look, including a messy bob. I am wearing some stylish sunglasses and a leather jacket drapes my shoulders like a shawl. A lock and long silver chain act as a necklace over my black baggy tee with a stylized illuminati pyramid being poked in the eye by a pointing up emoji. My black leggings and trusty combat boots complete the look. I slink into her chair, unnoticed as she bops around the room.
Look at her. She’s a goddess in her own right, Olympian born and bred, one-third of the recipe for a brand spanking new god even. Yet all she’s accomplished in her long life has been to be Daddy’s lapdog and the consolation prize for Jerkules, the Blunder Boy. For gods’ sake, she is one of the closest things this bizarro hierarchy, us divinities are in, has to a princess, and she’s filing paperwork!
I stare at her going about her day, flipping her bubblegum pink bangs, humming Billie Eilish songs, and dabbing. Okay, I may be exaggerating about some of that, but she still, more or less, presents herself as a Powerpuff Girl’s clinical depression come to life. It takes all I have in me not to vomit right here and now.
Finally, unable to take it anymore, I materialize and plunk my hefty boots on her desk just as time a clap of thunder rolls through the room.
If I get a not-so-small amount of enjoyment out of her jumping about six feet, then that’s my business.
“Eris!” she shrieks, grasping her chest.
“Tis I!” I grin, leaning back in her chair.
“To what do I owe this…pleasure?” She grimaces.
“We need to talk.”
“I’m kinda busy right now,” she says, eyeing me nervously.
“Yeah, rotating the magazines in the waiting room ain’t gonna happen by itself now, is it?” I laugh. “But I only need a moment of your eternal life.”
“What are we talking about?” she asks, her face falling, no doubt accepting that this is happening no matter what.
“It is your belief that we’re sisters, siblings, whatever you wanna call it, right?” I smirk at her.
“Yes, of course.” She guffaws like I’m being ridiculous. It is a response I am quite familiar with.
“So tell me a childhood story about us, some anecdote where we romped in the lilies or put gum in Enyo’s hair, perhaps.”
“Well…hm.” She looks dumbfounded, more dumbfounded than she usually looks, anyway. “You were a bit older, so I guess you were too cool to hang out with me?”
I sigh loudly and stand up, rounding the desk in a millisecond.
“Fine,” I say, staring into her eyes, “any memory will do. Did I beat Dad at knucklebones on family game night or poke Argus in the eye for being a snoop?”
“Um…well. I guess I’m drawing a blank, Eris.” Hebe shrugs, biting her lower lip. I say nothing and step closer to her, removing my sunglasses. She shakes as I lean in close, my golden eyes burning into her spring green ones.
“But you’re sure we’re siblings?” I ask, my suddenly serious tone seeming to terrify her.
“Yeah…I mean, sure?” Wow, how quick her certainty waivers. “With Dad it’s hard to tell, right?” She tries to laugh it off, but I’m unblinking in my lack of response. “That’s what we always said, right? That you are…I think you probably are…but…can I, uh, get back to you on that?”
“That’s what I thought,” I say quietly and turn away unceremoniously. I become immaterial and slip back into the void.
Back home, on Floor 18, I find myself at the Insane Troll Logic offices on the computers, adrift in a google rabbit hole. My beloved crow Bitsy sits on my shoulder, ducking her head every so often as if she is following along.
“Eris’s parentage is a subject of some debate. The goddess is primarily considered the daughter of Nyx (Primordial Night) alone, without a father. The misconception that she was born of Zeus and Hera only appears later in classical myth, and even then, only by implication, she is never called their child directly. This confusion comes from a single source, Homer’s the Iliad. It is here where she is referred to offhandedly as the “sister of Ares”. Most scholars agree that Homer was either confusing her with the similar goddess Enyo or speaking poetically about her close working relationship with the God of War.” The fiftieth article I find reads, telling me much the same as the previous ones.
Going one-on-one with the goddess of youth was pie, but my next move, tracking down a primordial spawn of the Night and getting them to entertain my nonsense? That seems a bit more daunting in comparison.
I exit out of the encyclopedia article on me, myself, and I, pulling up the Fnord Forth! database, entering the reported comments section. The ones so vile, even the users of an app dedicated to stirring controversy felt they went too far. Each one with hashtags such as #Fnord, #Eris, #Kakisti, and so on. I let them wash over me, sucking down the discord like a baby at its mother’s breast. Now, just to find out who the Tartarus that mother in question is.
“Everything okay, boss?” Eggplant’s voice breaks my reverie.
“I’m preparing to go to battle, Eggplant.” I sigh, Bitsy cawing in agreement.
“Ooooh boy. Against who?”
“The mountain of doubt that lurks at the edge of my sense of self,” I say matter-of-factly.
“That’s deep,” he says sheepishly.
“You have no idea.” I roll my eyes. It was as deep as Charybdis, but not nearly as fun.
“So it’s more of a mental battle, not against someone real?” he asks, sounding a bit relieved.
What is even real? What do I trust? Eggplant has been pretty constant, both here and in the mirror. I think back to that other world and try to sift through the pieces of the dream. How reliable is what I learned from that experience?
“Eggplant, were you ever in rehab?”
“Yikes, I thought you told me you weren’t omniscient?” He scoffs, giving off a nervous laughter. “Uh yeah, I was for a little bit.”
“Hey, no judgments. Gods know I’m in no place for those,” I say genuinely, throwing my hands up, trying to put him at ease. I wish someone was here that could put me at ease. I hadn’t known that about him, so if that part of what happened in the mirror was true, how could it all have been in my head? “So, believe it or not, Eggplant, that helps put it in perspective for me. I’m definitely fighting something real.”
I fight off every instinct in my body telling me not to press the button to the 20th floor. Every piece of me is screaming not to do this. I went into my informal interview with Hebe all confidence and intimidation. If anything, this is the complete opposite. Some would say that is perfectly natural as I was going to see Nemesis. Cue dramatic music.
As the elevator climbs, my mind once more begins its lambada into the familiar folds of madness. The thought occurs to me that the twentieth floor is so close to my own. That voice telling me to believe my insane theory says that’s probably a sign I’m right. Nyx right below me on 17, Thanatos right above in 19, and then dreaded Nemesis in 20. We were all right in a neat little row, one big happy family.
Even if she weren’t in such dangerous proximity, it’s not like I could avoid her forever. They don’t call her inescapable for nothing. Funnily enough, it is only as this thought occurs to me and the doors open that I even realize I have been avoiding her this entire time.
As I approach her door, I smell the faint scent of righteousness and moral myopia that heralds Adrestia’s presence. Or maybe she is just wearing off-brand old spice. Either way, I slip into my immaterial state, the reality behind reality as I call it, to wait her out. I don’t need an excuse to get off-topic right now.
Sure enough, as I lurk there in the nothingness, Revolt herself appears from the doorway and makes her way to the elevator I just exited, Retribution seeing her out. Deep breath, Discord.
The elevator doors close and I hesitate for a moment to take material form and reveal myself. It turns out I need not have bothered. Her raptor’s eyes find mine, regardless.
“May I help you?” She smiles without smiling, her eyes gleaming.
The indignation I feel helps quell my nerves, and I materialize with a roll of my eyes.
“I suppose hiding from you was a flight of fancy,” I say, by way of greeting.
“Yes, it was.” She nods with a grin as she moves aside, gesturing for me to come in.
“Oh yes,” I say almost hopefully. “Cuz, you can read my mind, right?” This should be easy then.
“Well, technically, yes.” She chuckles. “Or I should be able to, but as always, your mind is a swirling vortex of absolute absurdity. But by your general malaise of guilt and indecision, I see my time as an impromptu therapist to the gods will continue after my last visitor. Do you want a drink?”
“As always?” I say, cutting off her attempts at congeniality through sheer adrenaline. “Sorry, It’s just… So we’ve spent time together before?” I say, trying as hard as I can to summon some image or memory. Instead, my eyes zero in on her face. She gives me a look, a very specific WTF look but shakes it off.
“What’s your real question, Eris?” She stares me down.
Her look of bewilderment returns twice-fold, and now she is grinning like I had told a joke.
“Wow, I knew you had your unstable periods, but you must really have gone on a bender. Yeah, of course, we are. Children of Nyx, no father required, thank you very much. Ringing a bell?”
Something about her certainty threw me. I think I may vomit. Hebe wasn’t certain, even when she thought she was. Who had done this to me? Who could’ve done this to me? If I truly am some form of primordial, then the list should be pretty short.
“Are you okay?” the dread Nemesis asks. She may be frightening, but I remember she has always looked after others in her own way. I remember.
“I’ve gotta get out of here. Uhh…thank you for the talk…Sis.” I smirk, but it’s for show, my golden eyes wild and dilated. “I suppose you’d have to be in the same room with the person who did this to me to sense their guilt or something? That’s okay…I’ll hunt ’em down myself.”
I dematerialize before she can say anything else. I don’t think I can take any more sisterly bonding right now. I need to know for sure, one way or another, who I am, and I think I know just the unbiased third party to give it to me straight.
Time to go fishing.