Mount Olympus, Forty-Three Thousand Years Ago.
I dance around the various gods as they twirl around each other. Darting between them all, my small stature gives me the advantage as I run away from my grandmother. It can’t really be my fault that my grandfather is feeling frisky for another goddess, can it?
I mean, I most definitely did not shoot him with an arrow when no one was watching. Nope. Did not.
Tell me the truth, do you believe me?
Still mischievously snickering, I continue through the crowd, my grandmother’s voice rising in anger, pushing me through, making my small feet bounce faster along the marble floor of Olympus.
Suddenly, I stop, colliding with a goddess sitting on the outskirts, her head tucked into a journal she was writing in frantically. My head-on collision with her has thrown her journal into the crowd and knocked her off the bench and onto the floor.
I fall back from her as well, shocked by her presence, still not exactly sure what has happened.
Grandmother? Remember, Eros? You shot Papu again.
Right. Got to get up and run, no time for whoever I ran into.
“Watch where you’re going!” I yell at her, rising to my feet, brushing imaginary dust off my toga, and checking to make sure my bow and arrows are still on my back. I had just gotten them, and they were my prized possession. I was constantly checking to make sure they were still there. I even slept with them on my back.
The goddess blushes at my shout, and comes to her knees, making her almost as tall as me, “I’m sorry, little one, you’re right. I should pay more attention.”
As I’m about to open my mouth to agree and tell her that she really should pay more attention–I mean didn’t she know who I was–another deity snatches my ear in a tight grip, lifting me up from the ground, her voice snarling with menace, “Listen here, you little winged god, you will apologize to Clio.”
I flap my wings a couple of times, trying to wiggle out of the new goddess’s grip to no avail, and when I dart my eyes to the side to see who holds me, I immediately know why.
Atë, goddess of mischief and ruin.
I’m in trouble.
Yet still, I don’t see how I’m in the wrong, or why I should be the one to apologize.
“Why should I have to apologize? Don’t you know who my father -” I begin, my voice coming out snide and mocking with my youth.
She shakes me by the ear roughly, “Does it look like I care who your father is?”
The rest of my tirade about not crossing me, dies on my lips. “N-no.”
Atë lowers me back to the ground, and Clio comes to a stand, moving to Atë’s side, brushing her own chiton off. “Atë, it’s not a problem, I wasn’t paying attention.”
Atë’s gaze turns to Clio, and for a moment, before it’s gone, there’s a softening in her eyes before they turn cold again. “It is a problem for me,” she says to her. To me, she snarls, “Retrieve her journal and pen, freak, now.”
The way her eyes flash gold with the command makes my refusal die in my throat, and I scurry away from her to gather up the journal and quill, handing it back to Clio.
My gaze locks on the ground, my toe dragging on the ground, mumbling, “I’m sorry.”
Atë grips my chin, forcing me to look up at them both. “What was that, freak?”
With the goddess of ruin holding my chin, I repeat loudly, “I’m sorry.”
“EROS!” My grandmother yells from across the hall, and I wince, reminding me again of my fleeing, shot the king of the gods in the ass with an arrow, and now the queen of the gods wants my wings mounted on her wall.
If I were anyone but her grandson, I would be nothing but a spot of smoldering ash right now.
Atë turns towards the sound, raising a single dark brow at the source of disruption, and her eyes sparkle, before she holds up the side of the banquet table. “Under there, freak, we’ll handle our stepmother.”
I take the invitation, sliding under the table, tucking my wings around my shoulders, checking again for my bow and arrows. They’re still a little big on me, meant for me to grow into them. Technically, I wasn’t supposed to know they were meant to be mine at all, but I have developed a terrible habit of eavesdropping on my parents. It has been extremely educational to say the very least.
I found my bow and arrows tucked away in my father’s armory, the one he believed to be impenetrable. Whoops.
Hiding under the banquet table, Atë drops the cloth, concealing me. I hear my grandmother’s angry tone, but can’t make out her words. I hear Atë’s cool and disdainful response, “Does it look like I’m hiding a little winged freak under my dress?”
To my surprise, I hear Clio’s smooth response as well. “We haven’t seen him, my queen.”
Why isn’t she turning me in?
When the sound of my grandmother’s sandals echo along the marble, signaling her exit, Atë lifts the corner of the banquet cloth, yet it is Clio’s head that ducks underneath, a small smile on her face. “You’re safe for now, little one.”
Crawling out from underneath the table, Atë crosses her arms over her chest, glaring at me. “So, you used your little arrows to cause trouble with Daddy dearest, did you?”
Petulantly, I mimic her posture, attempting to appear intimidating. “What makes you think that?”
Atë scoffs at me, checking her nails. “You have potential for a trickster, but you’re too careless by half. Lesson one, freak,” she gestures to Clio with a shake of her head, “this is the goddess of history. Lies slide off her, mischief bounces off, she sees the truth of everything. No matter what. Do you know what that means?”
I shake my head, but my eyes dart to Clio again, observing her with a new form of respect.
“It means that she will always have the protection of tricksters.”
She leans down to whisper in my ear, “She sees us for what we truly are, no matter what we say.”
My eyes trail up and down the goddess of history, a warmth building in my chest even as Atë pulls back, straightening.
“Now, freak, would you like for me to show you how to make this a night, everyone will always remember?”
My smile curves wickedly for the first time, and I nod my head.