She points to the pillows next to me, and I grind my teeth to keep from snapping at my mother for setting me up. Clio’s face goes red when she sees me, and her gulp is audible even as she takes the seat beside me. Her back is stick straight, every inch of her body on edge. Her voice is frosty. “What is it you’d like me to do, Aphrodite?”
Fire coiled in my belly, burning me. It wasn’t the all-consuming rage that came before a battle, the frenzy of my father. No, this was darker, deeper, patient, and plotting. This…this came from my mother. Most would think it more dangerous to cross my father. After all, who does not fear war? But no. You never, ever, cross my mother. She was a scourge and would wipe the world clean to satisfy her insatiable need.
I wanted her to give herself to me willingly, to love me. Did I feel guilty then? Yes, and no. I was a very different god in the old days. I was arrogant and angry a lot of the time. I was no longer that god. As time drifted by, I became more open-minded about life. As I watched from the shadows of the Underworld, I began to enjoy the changing world above me.
“PheePhee, I understand that more than you know, the need to run, to travel, to see the wild, to be the wild again. You missed so much while you were away. You need to take the time to see it all again, to truly appreciate this world you are walking in again.”
I know this is it. The moment. He’s giving me one last chance. One chance to tell him what he needs to hear, the words he deserves. The feeling grows inside me, but the words refuse to tumble from my lips. If I don’t say anything, he’ll leave. He’ll be done with me. He’s not a man to give second chances.
I need more mischief. I need to see the clash of Trojan and Greeks on the ground below us. I need to smell the blood and hear their cries. It’s always been this way around Eris, something I’ve always relished about their presence. They allow you to be your darkest self, the side you hide from the rest of the family.
“Eros!” Clio suddenly called out angrily, sending Alexander into a crying fit.
I froze and carefully looked down at the ground. Sure enough, there was an arrow lying on the ground near my feet, the tip slightly stained with shimmering gold ichor. “No, no, no, no, no.”
“What?” Eros’s voice called from behind me. “I thought she should get it over with.”
My heart dropped at that nonchalant statement. I knew my eyes were wide with horror. What I didn’t know was if my face was white from blood draining from it in dread or if it was red from rage rushing to my cheeks. Either option was highly likely at that moment. “You were doing what?! Tell me you’re lying!” I knew he wasn’t—after all, it was physically impossible for him to do so—but a girl could hope.
Her head bent forward, and our eyes met. I stared deep into them as we both reached our climax. She had taken me from this world and brought me somewhere I didn’t even know existed. For the first time in my life, I felt a little less dark as she brought me into the moonlight.
Eros was the last person I needed to explain my feelings to. Yet, I did all the same. “I’ve seen your love practically immobilize a person with pain, grief, and anger.” Seen and felt it myself. “They’re in love, so they don’t eat or sleep.” I didn’t. “They break up, so they don’t eat or sleep.” I didn’t. “Everyone is just happier being single!” I certainly was.
I spent hours in the caves, an ocean of souvenirs surrounding me. No, I was not relinquishing my motherhood. No, I was not leaving my children, nor Endymion, but I was moving, changing, evolving into a new phase in my life. And although it was a new and exciting stage, all changes come with a level of release and pain.
I sighed. I was tired. No. I was exhausted in every way one could be. I was emotionally spent from dealing with Atë. I was physically tired from my fight with Sergai. I was mentally exhausted, trying to understand why everyone was so…blind to my intentions. I flopped onto my back next to Eros. This was comfortable. It was our childhood.