I stood in the middle of what was once my office. It was dark, and nothing looked familiar. I knew this was my office, but I didn’t recognize anything. The desk seemed smaller, and there were two high-backed leather chairs where I was sure a couch once sat. Nothing in this room felt like me.
I flipped on the overhead lights and took stock of everything in the room. Whatever changes had happened in here, it hadn’t taken place recently. There were cobwebs in the corners, and all my plants had died. It was as if this space had been sealed off and forgotten, much as I had been.
I wasn’t sure where to begin, but felt drawn to the library. I ran my hand across the spines of a row of books. They felt familiar but misplaced. It was as though they’d been purposely put in the wrong spot. As I looked further, I noticed that the book titled Sacred Law was nowhere to be seen.
I felt compelled to put all my books back in order, but decided to continue my search. I headed back toward the desk and picked up a stack of folders. I flipped through a few, not recognizing any of the names or cases mentioned.
I tossed the folders back on the desk and grabbed the opened day planner lying beneath a pile of unopened mail. It was almost two years old, and I knew the handwriting was my own. What struck me was the fact that the entire month of September had been torn out. I could feel my anger begin to rise. What in Tartarus was going on around here?
I flung the day planner in the direction of a side table and made my way toward a door at the back of the room. I knew somewhere back there should be a little kitchenette and some living quarters. Though I’m not sure how I managed to find my apartment.
The kitchen looked pretty much the same, except for the flowery decor. It wasn’t me. Sunflowers, maybe, wheat stalks, definitely, but not flowery. I opened the fridge and found it empty. I opened a few of the cupboards, but only found a stale package of rice cakes. My stomach turned at the mere thought.
As I entered my bedroom, rage filled my soul. I was expecting to see a beautiful four-poster, canopy bed, and an antique Renaissance-style dresser. Instead, I found a modern adjustable bed and two 5-drawer uprights. I knew they weren’t anything I’d ever own.
I opened all the drawers, finding them unsurprisingly empty. I flung my closet doors open to see that everything was gone. My clothes, my shoes, even my ceremonial garb had been taken. I stormed back into the bedroom, grabbing a small portrait off the wall. “This isn’t my shit!” I screamed at the top of my lungs, throwing the portrait across the room.
I bounded into the kitchen and began throwing all the flowery decor against the walls. “Where the hell is all my stuff?!” I bellowed as I shattered a ceramic canister into a thousand pieces. I could no longer contain my emotions. Someone had stolen a portion of my life, and I wanted it back.
As I stood in the middle of the mess I had made, I heard a slight voice coming from my office. “Um, hello?”
I marched into the office to find a small, red-haired girl standing just inside the door. “What?” I asked with a growl.
She jumped at the sound of my voice, but tried to keep her cool. “Uh, yes. I’m sorry to disturb you, but this is a private floor, and I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” There was a distinct flutter to her tone, but it did nothing to calm my rage.
“Look, little girl, I don’t know who you are, and I really don’t care. This is MY office, and I’m not going anywhere. Now you turn your cute little carcass around and go find me someone who can tell me what happened to all my stuff.” The urge to smite that tiny human was growing by the minute.
“I’m sorry, ma’am,” she replied boldly, “but if you don’t leave, I will have to call security.”
“Good!” I screamed. “Call security. And when you do, you tell that little rat bastard nephew of mine that his Aunt Dem is back, and she’s pissed off.”
“Aunt Dem,” the girl asked with a tilt of her head. Then, you could almost see the lightbulb go off in her eyes. “Oh my gods, Demeter. You’re Demeter. Oh, gods.” Panic screamed in the girl’s face as she raced out of the office and to the elevators beyond. She beat on the button repeatedly as though it would help open the doors quicker. As she did, she kept repeating, “Oh gods, oh gods, oh gods.”
As she jumped on the elevator, I walked over and slammed the door shut. I knew I’d have to calm down, or I was going to destroy my entire floor. The problem was that the more I looked around at my office, the angrier I became. Then a little memory popped into my head.
I ran back into the kitchen, hopping over the broken mess. I climbed up on the counter and opened the top cupboard closest to the stove. Though it appeared empty, I knew there was a false wall at the back.
It took me a minute to pry it open, but once I did, my anger subsided. There, just as I had left it nearly two years before, was a jar filled with my own homemade tea mixture, my personal calming potion.
I jumped off the counter and looked for my teapot. However, it seemed to be missing as well. I wasn’t going to let that keep me from partaking in my tea, so I snapped my fingers and conjured up a cup of boiling water.
As I added my herbal mixture, the aroma took hold of my senses. I felt my pulse begin to slow as I inhaled the intoxicating fumes. I allowed my brew to steep for a few moments before taking that first sip. The calming effects hit me and coursed through my entire being.
Once I’d finished my tea, I had a clearer sense of my surroundings. I looked at the broken pottery lying on the floor and knew I had to clean it up. I was sure I wouldn’t find a broom anywhere around, so I pushed it all into a pile with my foot and made a mental note to call housekeeping.
I figured by that time, the little girl would have told someone about me. To be honest, I was surprised that no one in my family had heard my screams. I knew it would only be a matter of time before either my nephew or my sister would come busting through my door. I was counting on it.
Once my nerves had calmed, I returned to my desk. I sat down and picked up the folders again. I looked at each one a little closer, taking note of names and dates. I needed to figure out how long they’d been sitting there.
It wasn’t until I opened the fourth one that I paused. It was dated to only a few weeks before and contained something I could use to my advantage. The folder contained a little piece of information I thought my nephew would want and possibly kill for. I had no idea what had been going on around the complex, but all my godly senses were on high alert.
“Oh, Ares,” I barely murmured, “what have you gotten yourself into?”