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.
“It wouldn’t have been a violation of my oath to lie with no man, but be with a woman,” I mumbled to myself as I narrowed my eyes at the flames in my hearth. My three-headed fire feline lept out and started to rub its heads across my calves. I petted him as I watched the logs burn.
As I enter, the world stops. For one brief moment, bright light is everywhere, but I am unsure whether I truly see it or whether it is some other type of experience. It seems the light is behind my eyes, as if all of my body, and all that there is, is composed of it. Then it disappears, and the world begins again.
I made my way to my office, feeling a stiff drink might help calm my nerves. I turned on a small lamp that sat on my desk and noticed something lying on the carpet. It was an envelope that had been slipped under the door.
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 seethe at my reflection, my chest rising and falling in sharp, ragged movements. I grind my teeth together, knowing full well the voices are getting to me, and I’m only making it worse. I am in control. I am in control. I utter my supposedly soothing chant, trying to ignore the cackling it invokes from my unseen tormentors.
Adrestia jumped, whipping around and throwing a wild haymaker. I leaned back to avoid the lightning-fast punch, my hand coming up to catch the deceptively delicate fist as it came at my face. I studied Adrestia as images of her past deeds, good and bad, flashed through my mind at the skin-to-skin contact. It was all overshadowed by her panic and the jumbled memories that had sent her fleeing.
I stop reading, frowning at the one name that is scratched out. Like they didn’t want her to be remembered. I scratch at the paper before it hits me. A flood of images pour into my mind all at once. A man with curly blonde hair. Twins. A young girl with blonde hair that looks a lot like the man. These images smash around my brain, blood dripping from my nose.
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?”
I stand and stretch my body, feeling my joints crack and connect. I reach for the gray sky and let out a howl to let the Underworld know I am alive. I expand my wings far and wide. They sting, and I flinch. Not yet, I am not able to fly just yet, but I already knew that. I am far too weak in both body and mind.