I looked at Mini. Concentrating on her, I could see the joy, the happiness of my youth. I could feel the love that was in our family, and the sheer peacefulness that was childhood. Then a cloud came over Mini, a small sadness. I saw something no child should ever witness.
I wanted Phobos to yell back at me. Like Dionysos always said, our family was the most normal it could be when we were yelling and railing and fighting. It was when we all went silent that something was truly wrong. And when Phobos gave a hard glare but didn’t say a word, I knew that I had fucked up.
All three of us walked on in silence for a while. We were caught up in our thoughts, remembering these horrid things that I couldn’t fix or do over. I felt defeated, even more now that I saw all I could have prevented. It was a shame I would forever carry.
I straighten slightly, my mind’s eye showing me palaces covered in gold, women at my beck and call, and the other gods grovelling at my feet. As quickly as I conjure it, I know it’s not right. That’s not who I am. Not what I want. How can someone so rebellious ever keep others in order? Who wants that sort of life? Not me.
That may even have been the first moment I bought into my own illusion because I wanted to believe it. I’d finally had a version of our relationship that worked for me. One that I could navigate successfully. I was never what you’d call mother/father/non-gendered parent of the millennia, but a partner in crime? That I could do, and so I did, for many years. Now that’s all over.
The sun was warm, and the air smelled of the sea. I knew this place. It was the hill above my childhood home. The grasses were green, and the bougainvillea was in full bloom. The air was crisp and a mist of sea salt was on the breeze.
And who shall I be then? I will still be ugly, still not like other gods. I presume I will still have this feeling of apprehension, still feeling something is waiting for me. But I will have made some progress. I will have evolved while they wallow in their petty squabbles and pursuit of pleasure. What else shall I become? What limits are there to my improvement? Perhaps I will outgrow my family if I have not already.
I rushed to Hera, wrapping my arms around her in a heartfelt embrace. She stood stiff, never one to show outward emotion. I felt the pain and hurt coursing through her veins and tightened my embrace until she finally fell into my arms and let her emotions flow free. I hadn’t seen my sister this distraught since we’d emerged from our father’s prison.
It is unfair. Why must I be the one to endure this? Why must I live in pain, alone, ugly, and unloved? Why do others get to enjoy existence? I am so tired, in every sense. So very tired. At last, I feel the pills take effect unless it is my imagination. The pain still seems to be there, but I find I care less. Perhaps I can sleep.
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.
You did not mess with family. Period. That’s something so many forgot about me. They saw my nature of peace and interpreted that to mean I was cold, a pushover, not caring. But the moment you tried to break a family up, well, there was a reason the saying was hell has no fury like a woman scorned.
“Because the past has affected what happened on your wedding day, which in turn had a part in what happened to Katharina in the other reality. And it plays an important role in what is to happen soon. You need to learn from it to move on.”