I felt the memories of the nightmare being effectively ripped away from my mind. The key absorbed the mental energies until it glowed white. I placed the key back inside the lock, and a sharp pillar of light escaped the silver box. KLACK! The box closed with a quick snap, the white aura on the key gone. I removed the key from the box and held it in my hand.
As I shook their hands, I deflated, falling to the plateau of malaise, contentedness, and displeasure. My emotions flattened and then slipped away. The loss, while still there, no longer ached. There was no pain, just a hollow emptiness in my chest.
They produced a mirror and beckoned me to look. Reluctantly, I peered into its depths. The mirror showed me my son dying, again and again and again. I was on my knees, begging them to stop, to just take the pain away or let me jump. I was nothing and no one to anyone.
It wasn’t a lie. Hearing Tia’s voice had brought back a surge of emotions and regret that I had all but forgotten about. This place, though. This place was something else to me entirely. It was a symbol of my freedom.
They walked with her a few steps outside the tent, and she lifted her face toward the sun with her eyes closed, leaning into its warmth. I had seen her do this before. She used the bright bands of sunlight to help her focus.
I snort derisively and see her face change. I quickly explain myself lest I awake in a pigsty. “I mean you no disrespect.” In fact, I suspect that she is more than capable of doing what is required if the need arises. “But this business of sword fighting, it is something beloved of those like Ares. I have never been convinced of its utility.”
No, I was not alone anymore. “No, I am not alone,” I repeated out loud as I forced my eyes open. I started to count backward from ten, trying to settle my mind. Flashes of my life started appearing, even though I didn’t want to see them.
They were quick to welcome me, encouraging me to join them for a Star Wars marathon. While my weakness was for Battlestar Galactica, I didn’t see a problem in joining them. Perhaps I would be able to lose myself in the movie and not give in to the vicious voice in my mind.
I think about that as I walk among my family, who have always hated me, betraying me at every opportunity. I think about all the memories I have of their behaviour. The memories I now know are true and that I will never speak of with them. I think about whether I will have to take action regarding this matter at some point. If I do, will I need help? Is there anyone who might support me?
“The little wind nymphs come and hide here. They are annoying and mischievous, but not harmful. They like to whistle loudly and make the leaves spin and dance. It scares the littlest creatures. I approached them, but they didn’t understand me, so I have been guiding the little creatures away from their chaotic tendencies.”
I release my anger, directing it towards the table instead of my family is the only concession I can make. I melt the metal in the screws and the brackets. They fall to the floor as molten liquid, hissing as they hit the carpet. The table collapses with a crash, depositing some of my siblings on the floor. Moxie’s coffee falls and the cup bounces, sending her drink pouring out. Eris’s feet remain in the air as if the table is still in place. They look at the scene, moderately interested.
“You were so afraid of tarnishing your wings, of going dark.” She stroked my wings. “You have seen too many of the deities fall from grace, failing time and time again. They pit themselves against each other, feuding and divided. You lived in constant fear of being tossed from the mountain, and so you did everything to be the perfect daughter and example of what a goddess should be.
It takes a while, but finally, the crate is dug up and eased out of the hole. The workers shift back as one of them wrenches off the lid. It looks past the box’s top and then turns to me. It can’t speak, but there’s something in its features, something I don’t think I like. I step past it, every fibre in my body jangling. I think I’m ready for what I’ll see.