Chapter 5: Aidan
“Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck,” I said again, quieter this time than when that smoothie or whatever the hell it was had hit me in the face, making me fall off my skateboard and onto my hands and knees to the pavement. This chick had taken an even harder fall than me after face planting into the parking meter. It was almost funny, but the brain freeze and road rash kept me from appreciating the humor. Still, this chick had passed out and I had no idea what to do now. I was starting to really freak out when I heard a tinny voice squawking somewhere nearby. I looked around and saw what had to be the girl’s phone, screen cracked but glowing. I realized she must have been on the phone when she fell, and I was thankful someone was apparently still on the line.
“Hello?” I could hear the tinge of panic in my voice as I answered. “Who is this?”
“WHO is THIS?!” I held the phone away from my ear, cringing as the high-pitched screech came through my end.
“Uh... I’m Aidan?”
“Okay AIDAN, why do you have my sister’s phone? What the hell just happened? Where is she?” She sounded really worried and peppered me with questions, not giving me enough time or breath to answer any of them.
“Lady!” I interrupted loudly. “If you’d give me a sec I could tell you what happened!” There was only a grumpy harrumph from the other end, so I continued. “Long story short, she twisted her ankle or whatever, hit her head on a meter, and is fucking passed out.”
“WHAAA?!” I swear this lady was going to blow my eardrums out! “Call an ambulance! Take her to St. Mark’s hospital, I’ll be there in twenty!” The line went dead before I could say anything else. I sighed, but did what she asked. Thankfully the hospital she had named was close by, so we got there thirty minutes after I called them. I somehow ended up in the back of the ambulance with the mystery girl, and I looked her over as the medics checked her out and asked me questions about what happened and cleaned the scrapes on my hands.
Even though I couldn’t tell much with everything happening around her, I could see that she was pretty. She had dark chestnut hair that I was guessing fell to her shoulders at least. With her dark hair, olive skin-tone, and a slightly larger but perfectly straight nose, I guessed she was Greek. I’d always been fascinated with mythology, and Grecian folklore was my favorite. Because of my fascination with their culture I’d traveled there a few times, so I recognized the features.
We arrived at the hospital and pulled around to the ER, and I pulled my gaze off her face to see a young girl, probably around twenty-three or so, wringing her hands fitfully. I assumed it was her sister- they had the same shade of hair and skin tone. That and I could hear her yelling at the paramedics about her sister. Damn, that girl had a serious set of lungs on her.
Fifteen minutes later, they’d hooked the girl up to some monitors and were doing more evaluations. In the ambulance they’d determined she had a concussion and they wanted to monitor her, at the very least until she woke up again. One of the guys from the ambulance turned and walked towards me where I was standing by the curtain when the nurses had everything under control. I felt awkward being there. I didn’t actually know this girl, and her sister was here to watch over her so they didn’t need me. But I felt an odd pull towards her so I didn’t want to leave quite yet, either.
“Sir, I’m going to need to ask you to leave the room. If you could stay for a little bit longer in case we have any other questions about your girlfriend that would be great.”
“Oh, I’m not... Well, alright.” I started to correct him, but he was already heading back down the hallway and I didn’t want to distract him from whatever he needed to do to help my ‘girlfriend’. I turned to look at the loud sister who was giving me a narrow-eyed glare, and I assumed she’d heard the girlfriend comment. I shrugged at her and left the room, thinking I would explain to her later what happened and that no, she wasn’t actually my girlfriend.
I paced in the waiting room for a few minutes, and then went to find a bottle of water to calm my nerves down. I didn’t know why I was so anxious about this girl. I didn’t know anything about her except that she was beautiful and she had a sister with a propensity to yell. I collapsed into an uncomfortable chair, rubbing my face roughly in frustration. Leaning back, I imagined her face in my mind again. I wished I knew the color of her eyes and what she looked like when she smiled so I could complete the picture. I started to doze off while imagining taking out her bun and running my hands through it, leaning down to kiss her...
“You’re already thinking of kissing her and you don’t even know her name?” A feminine chuckle filled my ears as my eyes jerked open. I had thought for sure I’d fallen asleep, but here I was, wide awake in the hospital waiting room with a voluptuous, unnaturally beautiful woman sitting across from me. “Thank you,” she said smirking at me. She had a heart-shaped face, large blue eyes that would’ve looked innocent on anyone else, and wavy blonde hair that fell past her hips. Something about her looks was mesmerizing, to the point where I couldn’t help but stare.
“You’re welcome,” I mindlessly mumbled back. Then I paused, finally getting my senses together. “Wait, I didn’t say anything.”
She chuckled again. “Not out loud. But you were thinking I was beautiful.”
“How the hell do you know what I was thinking?” My heart started to beat faster. There’s absolutely no way this lady can hear my thoughts. It’s not fucking possible!
“Well of course it’s not possible for a mortal, but since I’m a goddess there’s not much that I can’t do.”
After a moment’s pause, I burst into laughter. “What mental hospital have you escaped from? You might be beautiful, but you’re fucking certifiable.” My laughter died down as I stared at her serious face. She really believed she was a goddess- and that could spell trouble for me. I didn’t want to encourage her crazy, but I knew that if I pissed her off enough she could very well attack me, and I just didn’t want to have to deal with that. I slowly stood up, getting ready to find security or a nurse or even a receptionist or something to help me out. Not that I couldn’t have handled her by myself, but I’d rather avoid physical confrontation given the chance.
“I wouldn’t bother trying to find anyone, you’re only dreaming. And I’m controlling it so you might as well be in an abandoned building.” She was studying her nails as she said this, and I smothered a disbelieving snort. She glanced up at me sharply and motioned with her hand to me to sit back down. “Listen Aidan, do you hear anything? Peoples voices? Machines beeping? Phones ringing?”
I paused to listen, and realized it was deadly silent. My jaw dropped slightly when I realized she somehow knew my name and I stared at her in disbelief. I had no choice but to sit down when my legs started wobbling. My mind was racing at the possibility that she was telling the truth, but it was hard to come to terms with it.
“So you’re a goddess. What’s your name then?”
She rolled her eyes. “C’mon Aidan. You’ve studied all kinds of Greek mythology and you can’t figure out who I am?” She stood and spun around slowly. When she stopped, her arms were wrapped loosely around herself and her long blonde hair settled with the motion. It suddenly clicked- she looked almost exactly like the Birth of Venus painting.
“Aphrodite. I should’ve known.” I scrubbed my face with my hands again, finally believing her.
“Yes, you should’ve. But I understand that it’s difficult to accept real gods and goddesses in these modern times.” She sat next to me and grabbed my chin in her hand, turning me towards her. “I have something I need you to do.”
She let go of my face and leaned back in her chair, eyes focused on mine.
“I don’t like the sound of this.”
“You don’t have to like it; you just have to do it.”
I folded my arms across my chest, raising an eyebrow at her. “If you’re a goddess then you should know I don’t really care to be told what to do.”
“And you’ve studied mythology- you should know I don’t particularly care what you like or don’t like. You will do what I tell you or there will be consequences.” We stared each other down, but I eventually looked away.
“What do you want?”
“That girl that you brought into the hospital, her name is Calliope Drakos. Her family calls her Callie. To make a long story short because I don’t have time for all the details, her family comes from a line of oracles tied to the Fates, blah blah blah. What really matters is that she made a vow, and you’re going to help me break it for her.”
She continued as if everything were normal, ignoring me when I got up to pace again. “I’ll give you some vital information, and I’ll make sure she wakes up without memory of ‘your time together’ that way you can manipulate the details as you see fit. The doctors will think its amnesia, and you need to take advantage of it.”
“What do you expect me to do?” I scoffed. “Make her fall in love with me?”
I jerked my head over to her, narrowing my eyes. “No. Not just no, but hell no. What gives you the right, goddess or not, to do that? And what makes you think that I can even make her love me?” I was almost shouting at this point, the panic really setting in. “I have my own life, and there’s no room for this kind of shit in it. What was her vow, exactly?” I stood in front of Aphrodite, hands on my hips and breathing hard. At the moment I didn’t care about the consequences of my anger.
She slowly stood up, fire in her eyes. “I am the goddess Aphrodite, and I do not need a mortal’s permission to do anything. Whether you like it or not, you’re in this now. I don’t care what happens after you succeed, but succeed you will. Or I’ll make sure you never find what you’ve been searching for.”
The air left my lungs and the blood drained from my face. I sat back down once again, defeated. That was the only thing she could’ve said to make me do what she wanted, and she obviously knew it by the triumphant smile on her face. After several beats of me trying to decide if I could get out of this- and concluding that no, I definitely could not- I nodded in assent, semi-willing to do as she said and she gleefully clapped her hands.
“Alright! So what’s going to happen is this: I’ll snap my fingers, literally, and you’ll wake up. Just so you know, the flood of information coming your way is going to hurt a bit, but you can handle it. It’ll include some details about Callie and her family, as well as some suggestions of what to say to all of them. Oh, and it’ll also include a playback of when she made her vow, to answer your earlier question. Don’t fail me Aidan.”
Before I could say anything else, she snapped her fingers and I jerked awake- for real this time. I sat up in my seat, breathing like I had just run a marathon. There were three people standing in front of me, staring at me. One was Callie’s sister; the name Ellinor trickled into my mind. The other two were older, but definitely related. Another trickle in my mind told me these were her parents- and that’s when the floodgate opened and made my head feel like an axe had lodged directly into my brain.
What felt like hours later but in reality was probably only a few minutes, the barrage of information slowly stopped and I breathed deeply through the last of the pain. I lifted my head from my hands, and looked back up at Callie’s family who were still watching me. I could feel sweat running down my face and the rest of my body, but looking sweaty was honestly the least of my problems at the moment.
I opened my mouth to say something to them, but nothing actually came out. My mouth opened and closed a few times, and for some reason Callie’s parents gave me understanding smiles and turned to Ellinor.
“Sweetie, go sit with your sister for a bit. I don’t want her to come back around and not see someone she knows.” Her mom patted her on the shoulder, lightly pushing her towards the doorway.
Ellinor didn’t say anything, but she continued to glare at me suspiciously until she turned the corner. I glanced back at her parents whose names, thanks to Aphrodite, I now knew were Alethea and Hektor. It was kind of cool to be able to just know some of these things, and I whispered a quick thank you to Aphrodite for saving my ass in that sense at least. I just wondered how I was going to explain to her parents that Callie and I had been dating and they didn’t know it. From the information I had received, I could tell they were a close family. If her sister suspected me, there was no way her parents weren’t going to as well. Before I could say anything however, Hektor beat me to the punch.
“Welcome to the family.” He and Alethea sat down across from me, throwing considering gazes my way. “First of all, we already know that you aren’t actually dating Calliope, and that you kind of fell into this situation.”
I snorted, wondering if he also knew how literal that phrase was, and replied. “How do you know that?”
“Because we went through the same thing you’re going through now. You just woke up from a dream with a god or goddess talking about a vow, did you not?” I nodded, confused and miserable. “Trust us when we say, this is going to be hard. It’s going to suck. But they chose you for a reason, and it’ll be for the best in the end.”
Alethea nodded and added, “We’ll go along with whatever you say. We’re here to help as needed, but please,” she leaned towards me and grabbed my hands in hers, “please try not to hurt Callie. At least not any more than you have to. We know that sometimes the gods don’t give us a choice. What’s your name, by the way?”
I breathed out, slightly relieved that I didn’t have to try and carry this lie all by myself. I squeezed Alethea’s hands and nodded gratefully. “I’m Aidan. I… this whole thing is fucked up. Sorry about the language. But I’ll do my best to make things right, no matter what happens at the end.” They looked at me for several moments, and then nodded once in sync.
Getting up, they headed back towards Callie’s room. “Feel free to take a few moments Aidan, but please come up when you can. Calliope is out of danger and only has a mild concussion. She should wake up soon, and the sooner we get this initial meeting over with, the sooner this debacle can end,” Hektor said and followed his wife out to the hall, and then turned back to say one last thing. “And remember, you can’t say anything to Calliope or Ellinor or their brothers, if you meet them, about what’s really happening. They’ll all go through the process and learn in their own times. And you’ll know when it’s the right moment to tell Calliope.”
With that, I was alone once again in the waiting room. I sat for a few minutes, contemplating what was about to happen. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to calm my pounding heart. I stopped in the bathroom to splash some water on my face on the way to Callie’s room, and stared at myself in the mirror. I hope to god this works. I paused, and a maniacal laugh surged out of my throat. Or should I say I hope to goddess this works? I shook my head at myself, dried my hands, and slowly walked to the hospital room where everything was about to change.