I sat down on my window seat and watched as the leaves fell colorful and vibrant. The rain had passed and the sidewalk below was damp with soggy colorful leaves. It was mid-day and I had taken a break from my art in my art studio which was in my Victorian styled home. I had been working on a nature piece with pastel oils but I was not satisfied with it. I would probably have destroyed it in a stupor fury, just as I almost did with my previous painting of the Greek Gods. I had been gazing out the window looking at the scenery around me but I was still not feeling inspired for my painting. That was when I decided, I should write. All of my life I thought that painting was my calling but now that I had my own proper studio, inspiration was not coming to me. I would try anyways. Many times I would begin an oil pastel painting of scenery, people, fruit and I even attempted a portrait of my best friend. But I was never satisfied with the outcome. I finally realized it was not in me. Instead it was time to tell my story.
I sighed audibly and stood up from my comfortable, cushiony window seat. I stood there a few quiet moments before walking to my easel, pushing it aside all the way against the far wall, and then the paints too. Then I opened the double doors of my closet and fished out my MacBook. I sighed again and gave it a content look. I hadn’t used that thing in a good few months. And I was more of a laptop person anyway.
I was about to sit at the desk there but I couldn’t write in the art room. The art room was the art room, I needed a separate space for writing. I walked out of the studio with my silly MacBook tucked under my right arm. I realized I was dragging my feet on the hardwood floor as I walked. I was already feeling dismayed though I haven’t yet begun. I was used to things not working out or falling short of my expectations. But something inside me was telling me this was it. This would be the thing I was called to do and I would be good at it.
I walked into my spacious bedroom and set my device on my oak desk. I sighed once again as I pulled my curtains aside so more light can shine in. The sun was beginning to emerge from behind the gray rain clouds. I plopped on my chair, sat up straight and cracked my knuckles. The sound was satisfying and soothing. Everyone would tell me I would get arthritis from that nasty habit but I never stopped. I also searched that superstition on the internet and found that it’s not true. I could crack my knuckles, my knees and my toes all I wanted to. As I waited for my device to start up, I thought of how I would open my story. It was no ordinary story. This would be the true story of my mom and her alien family. Well they were not aliens but I understood the modern world would call them just that. Because they were not human. They were something very special. Incredibly special. But they lost it. And I would write all about the sorrowful fall from grace. And about her adoptive family. And then of how she met my father and finally had me. I wasn’t a love child. At least I thought I wasn’t a love child. Funny how I say that when Love is exactly what my family was. My mother was the daughter of Cupid, and the granddaughter of Aphrodite. They were the gods from the House of Love. The Love Gods. I know it all sounds very laughable. No one would believe me if I told them. Which is why I will write about it and label it fiction.
My mother was Bliss, the youngest daughter of Cupid and Psyche. She was the goddess of what she was named. She had long raven locks and wide, brown eyes and just like any immortal, she appeared youthful and beautiful. My family was the most beautiful of all. I get complimented on my own looks but I don’t think I could hold a candle to my mother. I am only half god after all. Or maybe just a full mortal because when my family fell from Olympus, they lost their powers. The only thing I can’t explain clearly is why it happened. None of the Olympians understood why something called “The Twilight Of The Gods” had to take place. I remember my mother telling me how there was fire stars thrown at the palace of Zeus and then all of Olympus was in flames. Panic arose and they all ran about fleeing and crying out. They would have went to war if only they knew what they were facing. The Twilight was just a happening, there was no enemy that caused it. Or was there? There was a higher power even above the Olympian Pantheon that held the cards and determined fate. Even more so above ‘The Fates’ who controlled the Loom. After it happened they were forced to walk on Earth with no powers. It was like they became like humans. And worse yet they were separated from their families and their memories of them. Bliss did not recognize her father Cupid when she met him again in a library.
I pause my typing and read over what I had written. I liked the opening of my story so far. I think I do have a knack for writing. I think my mother would be proud. She had told me the only person she told her story in detail to was her adoptive father. And my father. Only because they also had a background story that was alien in some way.
I was hesitant before typing out the story of my biological grandfather because my mother had recently reconciled with him when she found him again. But at the time of the Twilight, she thought he had abandoned her. Bliss said she recalled seeing Cupid get on board a chariot of fire and ride away even as she called out to him desperately. She thought for sure he had heard her. And even if he didn’t, she thought he would have searched for her and her mother so they could flee together. Where was her mother? Till this day we have not reunited with Psyche.
I took a break and sat back in my chair reading my pages over and over again. I pop my knuckles again, the bone cracking sound filling the silent room and making me satisfied. I really do like that sound more than the relieving feeling. I press save and I decide to think of a title more later. Now my stomach was rumbling and I had better go feed it.
I headed into the local diner down the street to meet with my friends. This was our regular spot; a family owned diner on the busiest street in the downtown area of my not so big town. I liked the sandwiches here, the coffee was divine too and Kathy was nice. I sat on my side of the booth and greeted my pals. Kathy walked over to us and nodded. “The usual?” she didn’t even need to jot it down on her notepad she already knew. We had been regulars at this diner for years.
I smiled at the waitress as she walked away. My cousin, Sato gave me a teasing look. “Okay. Weird.”
“I just really appreciate her.” I said in my defense. “She really knows what we like. She’s got this down. Impressive.” I was rambling on because I was just nervous about the story I was currently writing. I would tell my odd bunch about it today, I really was. But I had to prep myself first. I was just always so awkward about anything in life. Especially since I was never known to write. And I had just told them about my story recently. But I trusted this group with all my soul.
This was Sato my adoptive cousin, Rubee who worked at my old art studio, Trina another fellow artist and also waitress at the diner, she was also a patient at the mental institution which also housed my great grandmother Aphrodite. Trina actually heard a lot about the gods while she was locked away during the Awakening. Across the table sat Rio, a neighbor of mine who became a friend and the silent one in the corner beside him was a very interesting case. He appeared much younger than me and he was handsome and mysterious but also an undercover cop. And even though he wasn’t familiar to me and he was younger than me he was none other than my biological grandfather, Cupid. Yes, in a very past life that was long forgotten by the world and the gods themselves, that young man who is now an undercover official was once the God of Love. He goes by Dons now. It’s also ironic the profession he chose nowadays because in reality we all were going undercover now.
I sighed and smiled at him awkwardly when his eyes met mine. He returned it but he quickly averted his eyes and suddenly found more interest in the salt shaker on the table. I couldn’t ask him exactly why he fled from the burning Olympus or how. He doesn’t remember. Just as my mother did not remember everything in detail. But it’s been about two weeks now since they regained some memory and reunited with each other again. And she introduced me to him. Still awkward.
Kathy arrived with our meals and I immediately sat up straight and dug into the French fries. My favorite. After I had that nutrient in me I felt ready. “So…. I’m writing a book.” I said casually and I take a long swig of my strawberry milkshake. There was silence a moment and then Sato spoke first. “Oh really? That’s unlike you. So I know I heard that uncorrectly. You mean you started a new piece?” he dunked his fries in ketchup and pretended to paint the air with them. “A new canvas?”
I looked at him unamused. “I mean it. And the word is ′INcorrectly. Not UNcorrectly.”
Sato looked at me defeated and he pouted. “You really are a writer.”
“What are you suddenly writing about and why?” Trina asked with a raised brow.
“I am really writing a story. And it’s about the true story of my family. As told to me by my mother.”
As I said this I could see Detective Dons shift uncomfortably in his seat. He held his coffee mug so tightly I thought it would shatter. It probably would have if he still had his godly powers. He remained silent even though I waited for him to speak.
“How can you tell that?” Rio asked incredulously. “That’s not a story for the public. It’s a secret.”
I smiled calmly and I also gripped my milkshake glass. “I won’t say it’s true. I’ll categorize it under the fiction genre.”
“Not a bad idea.” Rio said.
“It might work.” Rubee nodded intrigued.
“All our lives we’ve been fiction…” Dons said under his breath. He stared into his coffee mug in a deep daze.
I decided not to shake him out of it. But I had questions for him. So many questions. Since I’ve been learning about my family history, I was still aware I only learned the tip of the iceberg. I wanted to write a very detailed novel and I also needed to learn everything for myself. I was hungry for the knowledge and curious for the mystery. I was longing for the purpose.
I finished eating my food and I slipped outside first. I didn’t want to keep talking about my thoughts, my questions or my newfound desire for writing. I would meet with my friends again soon. I also wanted a one on one conversation with my grandfather. It still felt strange referring to the young man as ‘grandfather.’
I had the urge to smoke a cigar even though I promised myself I quit. I really like those Russian creams. Especially after a milkshake. I slightly leaned back into the brick wall and dug around in my purse keeping an eye out on the diner doors. A young man next to me cleared his throat and I jumped slightly. I hadn’t even noticed anyone standing there. He was only a few feet from me and wearing a gray hoodie and faded jeans. His sneakers were in good condition though he seemed very down trodden. I thought he knew what I was doing and wanted a lighter. “I do have one. Just a minute.”
“Have one what?” he said in a confused and arrogant voice. I recognized that voice well but I couldn’t place it. I widened my eyes and turned my entire body to face him. And I thought he knew what I was up to. I was trying to sneak a cigar so desperately before my friends exited the diner. “I just uh…I thought you knew I was digging for a smoke. And most people ask to borrow a lighter.” The man was silent and he didn’t look directly at me. His face was still concealed by the hoodie. “Or change.” I added awkwardly.
“I may have to do that soon.” He said with a sigh and a weary tone. He turned to look at me then, his eyes held such a sorrow and an unamused expression. His hands were in his pockets and his shoulders drooped. In that moment, I knew who he was.
I had heard stories of him. So many stories of this intriguing fellow who now stood before me. And I had met him myself a few years before. He was more frightening and daunting in person and his presence always chilled me to the core. He was usually so devious and malevolent and negative. He could drive a very person to suicide with just one word. I shuddered now as I gazed upon him but I was also star struck and concerned. He was usually so broody but now he seemed worse. I was curious and worried for this certain person. “What happened to you? And what do you mean you will soon beg for change?”
“I’m losing myself.” He answered simply with a slight shrug of the shoulders. He was hauntingly handsome in a brooding way. And he was muscular yet slender. And I could see his white gold hair peeking out from under the hoodie. “I’m losing everything, Icaria.”
I was surprised he remembered my name. Not many people called me by name. I was starting to forget it myself. Especially since I had a first name that was more well known. But this certain god remembered my middle name and that I preferred it better. I was stunned a moment also taking in what he had said. Most of the gods were on Earth living lives as humans, blending in, forced to forget their true nature. And this particular one always said that he was ‘double cursed. And cursed again.’ He had a story which was several chapters more tragic than the other gods because his pain started first. I did my best to listen when his story was first told to me. He was an overlooked God and the one who didn’t make it in history books or literature books. I personally thought he was the most interesting besides my own family. He was the God of Despair. The first spirit ever to be released into the world from the box of Pandora.
“The more mortal I become, the less powerless. I almost feel like I’m fading away like flowers like snow…like mortals.” He said to me as he looked me right in the eye. I would have normally pissed myself and ran away but he was not hexing me like he usually did to others throughout time. He was speaking from the heart. No one else would believe he had one. “The first curse hasn’t worn off but now it’s me that’s wearing off. Like butter scraped too much. Like an eraser erasing lead, like an hourglass erasing time. Like a clock that stops working but forever goes on ticking.”
I stood there listening to him with my heart aching. My mother had said those very words to me once when she was crying in the bathroom staring at a painting of Mount Olympus. I could understand their pain even though I was half mortal. I could understand their longing, their desperation, their confusion, their fear.
“Imagine being kidnapped, taken to a foreign country with your limbs missing and your family missing.” My mother had told me. “Imagine your kidnappers forcing you to stay there in that foreign land by yourself without your family. And you are forced to learn their language and their ways and live like them. That’s exactly how I feel. The foreign country being here, Earth. The limbs missing much like how my powers were taken from me, and learning to live among them as they do, because I was ripped from my own family.” I remember not knowing how to respond because it ripped my heart out of my chest. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what that must have been like. I knew she was happy with me and my father and her adoptive father but I also knew that she still missed her family and her original home. Especially since the demise of her homeland was still a mystery. It was like an unanswered question, a hanging question mark. The night my mother cried her eyes out in the bathroom was also the same night she admitted to me that my father was not her first choice, that there was another man she had loved first and more dearly. I immediately shook that disturbing memory out of my head before my tears fell. I was supposed to be comforting the despairing male who stood before me not to lament my own past.
“Lamentos, I’m sorry.” I said as I stepped forward. He looked at me as though surprised I remembered his name in return. He had many names and I remembered every one but I decided to call him by his most recent name. “My mother Bliss, feels the way you do. She breaks down from time to time. More frequent nowadays. I know I’m only half god but I can understand your agony.” It still felt strange to use the term half god. How ludicrous. If anyone heard me now they would think I was mad. We looked like average people. And we would behave like we were average people but if anyone overheard us…if anyone saw us in all our natural glory, they would flip. I shook my head and lowered my voice. “What can I do to help?”
The bell on the diner door sounded and Dons stopped out. He stood there and took in the sight of me speaking closely with my companion and he frowned with disgust. “Come on, Icaria. Don’t talk to him.” I felt his pull on my arm. I think it was the first physical contact we ever had. “I trusted you to keep more respectable company. He’s vermin. Filth from the depths of the box.” Dons pulled me away more firmly and I was surprised by his paternal behavior and by his escalating rude remarks. “scum of the ichor.”
The hooded male just stood there staring at him unamused, insulted and yet patient as my grandfather spat out every insult in the book. “And you’re dung from the house of Love.” the hooded one countered. He spoke the word love as though he were vomiting it. “But remember it doesn’t matter. Where we are and who we are now doesn’t make way for ranks or titles or powers. We are pretty much equal here. As good as mortals. None better than the other unless one makes a buck more or two sweating under the blazing sun. No one here remembers either of us nor do they want to. You’re a salary man now who wears a badge and works under their rules. Taking orders from the very beings who were once your subjects and so am I. Now you are beneath the law. Who woulda thought.”
Here it goes, I should have known. I thought as I stood there listening to them. The gods were known to quarrel among themselves and compete with one another under any circumstance.
Dons was quiet a long moment before nodding. “You are right about all of those things.” He kept his protective hands on my shoulders not wanting me to take a step closer to the God of Despair.
“Your color is fading.” The hooded one said with a sorrowful gaze. “So is mine.”
Dons was quiet again as he stared him down but he knew those words were spoken in compassion.
When I got home, I changed into my burgundy flannel pajamas and climbed right into bed. I usually shower at night but today, I had much on my mind. And I thought maybe I would get to writing my story again. When I would work on a big art piece, sometimes I wouldn’t bathe for days. I would be cramming on a project for an art show or a commission. I wouldn’t have time for anything else because I had a deadline and I’m a bit of a perfectionist. And now I wanted to write everything about my family’s history in detail. I curled up under my covers just thinking about how my grandfather, still weird to call him that, looked at me when he heard about my writing a story. I still don’t know if he was worried or surprised. And then I kept thinking about how I met that guy outside the diner. That God Of Despair. His sinister eyes were burned into my memory. The way he made my hair stand on end and yet I was fascinated by him. Enthralled by him even. And the way my grandfather- Detective Dons looked at him hatefully. And the words he said about ‘losing his color’. Is that what it was like being a dying god? You sort of just fade into oblivion? Slowly. And your color, your aura washes away like a cheap water color on a painting that washed away in the rain. As an artist, I kept imagining my family fading away color by color until they were nothing but blankness like a dissolving painting. I suddenly got inspired to work on another art piece. I had painted Olympians before but way before I knew I was related to them. But this time I would paint them with wash away colors and have them appear half faded and half there. It would be symbolic of their descend from the heavens and turning to dust on Earth. That’s sort of how it happened. They just dissolved into nothingness. Reduced from the regal greatness that they were into human blandness. It was a tragic way to die. I couldn’t quite imagine what it felt like. I am only half god. And I lived on earth my whole life oblivious to the truth of my existence. My mother told me that there was a time when she thought her hollow existence on earth was all she had. She didn’t always remember her lineage or her past. Their memories returned slowly and there was still some of them unaccounted for. My mother told me Hades, Medusa, Persephone, Apollo and Poseidon to name a few were still wandering the world aimless and clueless. She told me that she believed I would be the one to find them and unite them. I still don’t understand how it could be me. She was the one who found her father and Hermes and Dionysis.
I sat on my bed and thought about Lamentos and the words he spoke and the way he looked. And how Dons kept talking about him on the taxi ride home. I wanted to dream about their stories just to get more answers. Sometimes I would fall asleep and have spontaneous dreams about the past. Sometimes they seemed so real like I had travelled back in time and seen it while it was happening. I had dreams of my own past and my mother’s. And sometimes I would dream of Olympus but I couldn’t remember everything in detail. That night I wanted to return to Olympus so bad and watch every event play out as it really did in the past. Not only so I can write about it in my book but so I can have that closure for myself.