Half-Truths and Midnight Calls
There was absolutely nothing worse than lying to his mom, Percy decided.
What was happening? One second they were eating and talking about the weather channel and then suddenly, BAM! The room was silent, and he could feel his parents eyes burning through him.
"Percy…" She had started, in her mom voice. He feared what would come after that statement. "–Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." He snapped.
He didn't know why he was angry, wasn't that it, wasn't that what he wanted after all? Someone to care? He did, but it didn't feel right. He didn't want to talk about it, he couldn't, specially not at the dinner table.
"I'm–I'm fine really." He said, trying his best to sound calmer.
He looked at his mother in the eyes and smiled. Everything about that smile was fake, his lips were stretched out to wide and his eyes remained emotionless, like blank canvases.
"Well, I'm just worried about you, we both are. You've been…" She hesitated trying to find the right words. "Distant."
He didn't meet her eyes this time.
"You've also been eating less, going out less, and I always see you passed out in the couch, are you even sleeping at night?" She asked.
She was right, everything she'd said was true, but he didn't want her to believe it. She wanted her to believe that he was fine, that her son was perfectly fine. He opened his mouth to speak but Paul interrupted him.
"Don't even try to deny it. The neighbor saw you climb out the fire-escape last night. He says you've been doing that for days?"
He took his glasses off. His voice was stern and serious, like he was about to give him a lesson on the importance of Shakespeare's MacBeth.
"What's going on with you?"
Although he asked the same question his mom did, it felt graver in his voice. He looked at both of them, they both had the same look in their faces, like the didn't recognize Percy.
"I–uh, I've been having some trouble falling asleep, sometimes I–I take a walk and it calms me down." He answered.
His shoulders were slumped and his hair was falling on his face. It was so long it almost covered his eyes and everyday it looked more like a mop of black, than actual hair.
"Percy, you can't just walk around the city alone at night! Something could happen to you, and why didn't you tell us? We could've helped!"
His mom kept saying things but Percy couldn't quite understand them. All he knew was that in the midst of her questioning and yelling she pulled him into a hug. She sighed, like she knew he was no longer listening.
"Look, Percy, there's nothing wrong with asking for help… We'll see what we can do." She said in his ear and gave him a smile.
There wasn't much to talk about after that conversation. He felt as if he should've said something else, like that not sleeping was only part of the problem, and solving wouldn't stop him from feeling like he did, but he didn't. The timing felt off, and besides he already knew his mom was worried about him, he didn't want to bother her anymore, still… He wanted to talk to somebody, maybe that would help.
After the whole incident, Percy excused himself and went back to his room. He closed the door, looked for his cellphone and dialed the first number he could think of. Annabeth. They had talked since the war, but it was never about anything important, just things to fill the silence. The phone rang a couple of times before someone finally picked up.
"Hello?" Said the familiar voice.
"Hey, it's me, Percy." He mumbled into the phone.
"I know who it is seaweed brain, I have this thing called 'caller id', ever heard of it?"
He could tell she was smiling on the other line and he smiled too.
"Ha-ha, yeah wise girl…" He let out a fake laugh.
"What's up? You sound tired…" She said and he sighed.
"Yeah, um my mom got all worried, she thinks I'm not sleeping and.. yeah."
"Well, are you?"
"Well, no… but I don't want her to freak out." She sighed.
"Gods you're such a seaweed brain."
He smiled at the sound of the old nickname, it reminded him of better times.
"Yeah, I guess I am." He said.
When had things gotten so hard between them? He loved her, he was sure he loved her but here they were, once again trying hard to fill up the empty spaces.
"So how's school? I've barely seen you." He asked and she hesitated.
"No, it's fine, lot's of work though. Hey, Percy, I have to go. Just, don't do anything stupid." She said and he slumped on his bed.
"No, uh yeah, I mean, I won't. You have to go, we'll talk later."
"Yeah, I'm sorry. Bye Percy. "
" Yeah, bye…wait Annabeth I–" He was cut off by a long beep. She'd hung up.
I love you, he thought, throwing the phone to the side.
A couple days had passed since he'd had the conversation at the dinner table with his mom and Paul. The day after the event, his mom had come into his room and given him a little pack of pills. Percy had been sitting in his bed. He looked disheveled, his hair was sticking out in all directions and his eyes looked sunken and dull. "What's this?" He asked, taking the little packet from his mom's hands.
"They're sleeping pills. I thought that since you were having trouble sleeping, they would help you while we looked for something better."
She didn't look at him while she spoke but when she did her blue eyes were watery. She gave him a soft smile and Percy choked up.
"Th–Thanks mom…" He said and gave her a small hug.
He'd missed her so much during the past months. The guilt had been eating him alive ever since he'd woken up from Hera's sleeping curse. He'd managed to call his mom and leave a voicemail when he went to Alaska with Frank and Hazel, but he knew that hadn't been enough. He couldn't help feeling awful about everything, like it'd been his fault. Here he was, after putting her through months of torment here he was still worrying her. She let him go and ruffled his hair.
"What can I say, you'll always be my baby boy." She smiled at him and left his room.