“This is what she wanted. She needed to go home.”
William’s Mercedes dropped her off at her home on 125th street in Queens and Maize was eager to get out of it and finally go to the place where she felt safest right now. She grabbed her bags and shut the car door, walking up her stone driveway and wooden steps to unlock the front door and the familiar aura of the house greeted her. She was immediately calm until that was broken when she encountered her mother.
“Maize! What are you doing back?” She asked, wiping her hands on her cleaning apron since she was tidying up the kitchen when Maize stumbled in.
“Mom, I have so much to tell you, you’re not going to believe it.”
“I’m not so sure about that, honey. I can’t believe William let you come back, unless something bad happened.”
“So, you do know?! How long have you known I would be taken and turned into a superhuman?”
“I’ve known it since the day you were born, and it was confirmed about four years ago when you started high school, and the program began.”
“Why’d you lie to me? How could you hold this from me for so long?!”
“I couldn’t tell you until it happened, Maize. If I could have, I would have. You always did need an adjustment period for big change, like with the divorce.”
“I need to let this all sink in, and I can’t do it at the compound. It’s cold and I already know the other people don’t like me, especially since Peter is there and I know he’s still mad at me, he won’t talk to me and I’ve never seen him look at me like he did the other day. It doesn’t feel right, I thought I had my whole life planned out, but William Townsend did it for me, and I just don’t have a choice in what I want to do. I don’t feel like an individual, Mom. I feel like a stranger to myself, especially because I’ve never been the type to fit to someone’s cookie cutter idea of who they want me to be. I just can’t be Thor.” She ranted, brushing by her mother and running up to her light blue bedroom.
Upstairs, she closed the white-painted wooden door and locked it, though the lock had been busted for years and it could open with enough jiggling. She threw her backpack and her other bags on the hardwood floor by the door, kicking her shoes off on the maroon carpet. She laid on her bed motionless, letting the white lace curtains dance in the breeze coming through the open window as she tried to calm down and try to rationalize the situation.
The light began to fade in the day, her front bedroom losing the lightest the fastest. She didn’t come down for dinner or get up at all, she was in a deep meditative, trance-like state. Sleep didn’t take her easily, but it grasped her and dragged her into an exhausted, blackout sleep.
She didn’t know how many days had passed, but she was working through her emotions one by one, trying to understand herself. Eventually, her mom came up to check on her since she was becoming increasingly worried about her daughter. She knocked at the door softly.
“Honey, can I come in? Are you okay? Do you need anything?”
She didn’t answer, though she heard her mother at the door. Eventually she opened it, tiptoeing into the room. She saw her daughter on her side on the bed and she sat down gently next to her, running a soft hand through her blonde hair that was splayed out on the comforter. She was holding her stuffed dog close to her chest, her eyes closed. Her mother couldn’t tell if she as asleep, but her question was soon answered.
“Mom, can I ask you something?” She asked quietly, not opening her eyes.
“Of course, baby. Anything.”
“William put together a set of files for me to read. About you and dad. Because you used to be part of the Assembly?”
“That’s true. After college I was interning with the CIA, but The Assembly recruited me and offered me a permanent job that payed better and used my talents. They wanted to use me as a liaison between the mortal world and that of the gods, I couldn’t say no. I was an agent for them for years before I met your dad. He was the working for Homeland Security, but The Assembly recruited him for their strategic protection. We were paired together when we were both fully fledged agents. I worked there for years until I got pregnant with you, then instead of working in the field I worked in the offices. I had you, took a year off and then retired from my work with the Assembly, since humans are a mess and the gods are full of drama, and then I began teaching classes at the university. The rest is history.”
“Why did you keep that from me, too?!” She asked, sitting up. “All of this would make so much more sense to me if I wasn’t hit with my future and your past all at once.”
“It was also because of the project, but the past was the past and I never found the right time or reason to tell you about my time with the Assembly. I’m sorry.”
“Mom, why am I Thor? Did you know that’s who I was meant to be? I just wish I would have known. I feel like I have to fit to this role, now.” She said once again, frustrated. She ran her hands through her greasy hair.
“Honey, you always knew this. Even if I didn’t tell you, you always knew yourself, it’s always been a part of you. Think back, in all your memories, all the ones that you have when you didn’t understand why you were treated differently or felt like you were an outsider and they should all make sense to you now that you know your destiny.” She explained, kissing her daughter’s head before getting up to leave.
“If you need anything else, just yell.”
Maize did exactly what her mom asked. She analyzed her entire last and tried to make connections, but she was missing one of the critical tools for this. She hopped out of bed and went over to her bookshelf and pulled out her entire crate of comics based on the current Gods and read through them all, beginning to finally understand and make sense of her new life. She stayed up all night reading them, almost feeling as if a great weight had been lifted from her heart and soul, like Thor’s hammer had been resting on her conscience.
Even so, that wasn’t enough for her.
When dawn broke, she changed her contact lenses and brushed her teeth before grabbing her purse and running out the front door, jumping in her old Saab Junker car that had shown its age but got her all the places the city transportation didn’t.
As much as she dreaded seeing him and didn’t have a good relationship with him, she needed to go to visit someone in Washington Heights: her father.
She crossed the Hudson River and began her journey upstate to meet her father. She dug out her EZ-pass from her center console and stuck it on the Velcro strips behind her rear-view mirror so she could pass through the tollbooths at speed since she wasn’t going to risk wasting time getting to her destination. The morning traffic was just beginning to get heavy, though it was barely 7 in the morning. She hoped she would catch her father before he headed out for work. She despised him, he always mistreated her and didn’t care, and he was living his best life without her in it. She didn’t want to talk to him. She hadn’t in years. He didn’t want to talk to her, either, but this was necessary.
She got off the highway and drove the route to her father’s house, trying to remember the neighborhood and her way around. Eventually, she arrived at his house and parked on the road, not wanting to block his Maserati in the driveway. She walked up the lawn and aggressively knocked at the door, not there for leisure. She didn’t come to play manipulative games with her father. He opened the door, unpleased to see her. She got right down to business.
“Tell me about the Assembly.” She demanded. He was tying his tie, taken aback by her presence and question.
“Only come around when you need something from me, I see? I don’t have time to get into any of that, Maize. Ask Townsend. Don’t make me be late for work.” He answered insensitively. Maize became furious.
She pushed her way into his house and slammed the door, locking it behind her.
“No. You owe me this. I don’t care if you’re late for work, you’re the regional director. You have enough power to fix it, David. Start talking, I don’t have all day.”
“Okay.” He sighed, making a quick call to someone Maize didn’t know. “Yeah, I’m going to be a little late. I have something to take care of. Thanks. Bye.”
He turned to Maize.
“So, you want to know about the Assembly, yeah? Let’s make this quick, then. I worked with your mom on missions run by Artemis, then she got pregnant and worked in cataloging and I got my own team. We worked with Townsend on the concept of the project you’re a part of, but you didn’t have an in just because I helped create it, you know. Townsend’s a close friend of mine, he and I worked on a lot of projects together. I lead missions with my team for another five years, about, then I got in some trouble when we went to Sokovia and the mission went bad and everybody but me died. That’s when things started going downhill with your mother. I went back to Homeland Security after that, and now the time had passed and you’re a God in training. What else did you want to know?”
“Nothing. That’s it.” She said, slightly shocked to hear that information about her father and his involvement with the Youngblood Project. William didn’t mention that or include that in his files. She had no choice but to believe her dad since he immediately knew what she was referring to and a part off without her saying anything.
She had enough of her father and turned right around out the door.
“You’re welcome,” he called after her. She stopped in her tracks, her back to him and her teeth grinding.
She didn’t turn around and say thank you.