I dropped my purse on the counter, let Zeus out into the back yard, and followed him. I sat down on a plastic deck chair and looked up at the night sky. What was that back at Ralph’s? OK, so the lady was kind of weird, with the gown and the apple perfume, and the regal demeanor. But that didn’t explain why I was suddenly feeling as if the earth had just shifted on its axis, like everything was turned sideways, or something. I felt restless, my skin prickly, like I needed to move, to do something, but with no idea what. I went back inside. I walked through the townhouse, turning on all the lights. In my bedroom, I sat down on the bed, then stood up and went into the living room, unable to be still for longer than a few moments.
I began circling the living room, Zeus following me, occasionally letting out a soft, sympathetic woof, his toenails clicking on the floor. On my fourth circuit around the room, I stopped in front of the bookcase, picked up the olive wood figurine, and kept walking. “What’s going on?” I asked no-one in particular. Silence answered me. Well, what did I expect? I shook my head. Two more trips around the room. My palms were sweaty. No, make that palm. My left palm was sweaty. I looked down at my left hand, where I still held the fertility goddess figurine. It was glowing with a steady, golden light, and it was warm, much too warm, to the touch. I dropped it and wiped my hand on my jeans. It landed face up on the wood floor in front of me.
What. The. Hell! The figurine continued to glow, pulsing gently, as I stood and stared at it, unable to think of what else to do. The figurine winked at me.
I opened my eyes and looked at the ceiling. There was a cobweb in the corner. “I’ll have to get that,” I thought. My head hurt. I sat up and promptly lay back down again, as my living room pitched and heaved around me. I closed my eyes at the bright sparks that danced before them. I wiggled my fingers, then my toes. No pain in those; that’s good. I bent my legs at the knee and opened my eyes again. “Do be careful, dear,” advised the woman sitting on the couch. I closed my eyes again and groaned aloud. “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me. Hallucinations? Really? What the hell did that bartender put in my drink?” “I beg your pardon, my dear?” the couch lady said. “Who put what in your drink? Oh, oh, slowly now!” she added, as I was working to prop myself up to a reclining position, supporting my weight with my elbows. “Can I help you up?” I put one hand out in a “stop right there motion” shaking my head and chuckling. “No, Ms. Figment of My Imagination. You can’t help me up,” I muttered. Finally getting to my knees, I put my head down for a moment, as the room began to spin again. “I am so sorry for your distress,” said the woman. “The discomfort should ease very soon. I hope you will be patient with me.” I ignored her. Well, not ignored, precisely. You can’t ignore something that isn’t there, right? I waited for the room to stop whirling and, supporting myself on the coffee table, got to my feet, facing the couch. My knees promptly buckled, and I sank into the recliner behind me, facing my hallucination, who was still sitting on the couch, looking at me with a serene expression.
The door handle turned, and I sighed in relief. Sam was home. I would tell her my “symptoms,” and she would explain to me that I was suffering from delusions brought on by hunger or dehydration or a sudden-onset vodka allergy or something. Maybe she would make popcorn and get me a glass of milk. We would find a John Hughes movie on Netfix and have one of our 80’s quotes marathons. The world would stop spinning, and tomorrow we would laugh about our misadventures, and life would go back to normal.
Sam walked in, spotted me sitting in the recliner, and turned to look behind her. “She’s still up. Come on in,” she said, and the woman from Ralph’s glided into our living room. I couldn’t believe this! “What the hell?” I glared at Sam. “What’s she doing here?” Sam opened her mouth but didn’t answer me because the woman in white looked at the couch, uttered a surprised “Oh!” and dropped to her knees. “Mother,” she whispered, “You honor this dwelling with your presence.” She lifted her head and turned to me, anger transforming her features. When not smiling or looking all queenly and serene, she was scary. Her eyes flashed like embers in a hot fire and her mouth twisted in a scowl. “Kneel!” she hissed at me. I looked from the lunatic on the floor to Sam, who was looking curiously at the crazy scene unfolding in front of her. “Who’s your visitor, Ellie?” she finally asked.
Buzzing filled my head again, my ears ringing and vision blurring. “My what?” I mumbled. “What are you talking about? What’s going on, Sam?” Looking at my best friend though the sparks dancing in front of my eyes, I whined, “Why did you bring her here? Is this some kind of joke? Cuz if it is, it’s not funny!” The woman in white and my hallucination were both staring at me now. Wonderful! The hallucination lifted her hand, palm up, and said, “Rise, daughter. I must explain to our hostess. Will you hear me?” That last one was directed at me. The buzzing, ringing, and sparks were gone now. I ignored her some more and spoke to the crazy lady kneeling in front of my couch. “Who are you? What do you want from me?” She stood, but didn’t answer me, and an awkward silence settled around the room. Even Zeus didn’t make any noise, just looked from me, to the woman in white, to Sam, to the couch. Finally, Sam broke the silence. “Ellie, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. This lady,” she pointed at the toga woman, “insisted that she needs your help. I tried to text you, but you didn’t reply. I couldn’t leave her alone at Ralph’s, so I thought maybe she could come home with me and talk to you for a little while, and then we’d call her a cab. I didn’t know you had company.”
The hallucination had turned to face Sam, listening politely. Then she smiled. “How lovely to meet you, Samantha,” she said. “Please forgive our intrusion. I will make all things clear momentarily. Please, be comfortable.” Sam nodded, walked around the couch and sat down next to the hallucination. The woman in the toga hissed softly, but the hallucination waved her away. “Peace, Hera. She does not offend. It is we who trespass in these women’s home.” Sam looked at me and raised her eyebrows. “What does she mean, Ellie” Sam inquired. To my hallucination, she said, “That’s ok. Nice to meet you, too.” Always with the good manners, that’s our Sam.
I couldn’t speak. Sam saw my hallucination. The lady in the toga apparently saw her. Even Zeus could see her, I realized. He was grinning at her, wagging his tail and drooling with happiness. Mentally, I went over everything that I knew had happened since I got home. 1. I felt twitchy and was walking circles around my living room. 2. My mom’s figurine got all hot and glowy, and I dropped it. 3. I woke up on the floor, feeling like crap, and hallucinated a lady on my couch making small talk at me. 4. Sam came home, and brought the toga lady with her. 5. Apparently, everyone could see my hallucination. Sooo, if the couch lady wasn’t Ms. Figment of My Imagination, after all, who was she, and how did she get on my couch? Then, another though hit me. Where was my little fertility goddess? I glanced down at the floor, then looked around a bit. No figurine. I lowered myself carefully out of the recliner onto all fours and looked under the coffee table, under the recliner, and under the couch. Nope, no figurine there, either. Now, I was worried. Like I said, that little lady is all I have left of my mom. I looked frantically, now crawling around the floor on all fours, completely forgetting the three women and one dog who were watching me. Nothing. Tears of frustration were beginning to sting my eyes and fear clenched my stomach.
“You seek Gaia,” the woman (not a hallucination) spoke. “She is here.” I looked up. “You found her?” I reached my hand out to her. “Oh, thank you so much. That figurine means a lot to me.” The lady didn’t move. She didn’t give me my figurine. She wasn’t even holding my figurine. Now that was just plain mean.
The lady on the couch smiled at me and spread her hands in front of herself. “I am here,” she said. “I have been with you for many years, but tonight I take this form because I must speak with you. I need your help, Elena. As does my daughter. Will you hear me?” Sam had stood up and was backing away from the couch now, shaking her head. “These people are crazy,” she muttered. “Where’s my phone? I’m calling the cops.”
It all fell into place at once. I don’t know how or why, but everything suddenly made sense. I stood up, my head completely clear now. “Sam, it’s ok,” I called after my friend. Sam peered around the corner. “I know it sounds crazy, but I think we should hear her out,” I told her. “It’s important. You don’t have to believe her, but just listen, ok?” Sam squinted at me, frowning, but she came back. She didn’t sit on the couch, though.
I turned to the lady in the toga, who was standing perfectly still, facing the lady on the couch. “At Ralph’s,” I said “you said you were Hera. You meant HERA, didn’t you? I didn’t understand, but that’s why I’ve been feeling so weird ever since then.” The lady in white, Hera, shrugged. “I have been sent to you, Elena, by my Mother and I obeyed her will. You will aid me in fulfilling my task here. This is all I know.” She looked at the woman on the couch. “Mother?” she said.
“Gaia,” I whispered, looking at the woman on the couch. “You’re GAIA. You’re the Mother of the gods. You’re real, both of you. The myths! They’re true? Everything I’ve studied, everything I’ve read, it’s all true?” Gaia nodded. “Yes, Elena, all the stories are true. For many years now, my children and grandchildren have lived on Olympus, and their deeds are well known.”
“For twelve years, I have been with you, Elena, as I had been with your mother, and your grandmother before her. For many generations, the women of your family have carried me with them, entrusted with my care, until the time when I would choose to show myself and speak to one of them. You are that one. I have chosen you. My need is great, and the task I ask you to complete is difficult. The time of the gods is at an end. Hera is the first of my children to leave Olympus and join the world of men and women to live in it as one of you. She is a woman like you now, and she needs your help. She has no powers, and she knows almost nothing of this world.” Hera frowned and folded her arms at her chest at this, but Gaia went on. “I would entrust my daughter to you, Elena, to guide her, to help her understand your world, to be her friend. She must rely on your wisdom, heed your good counsel, and learn from you. She will need your patience and kindness. Will you accept? Will you help her?”
I was speechless, looking from Gaia to Hera, as my mind attempted to absorb this. The gods were real. Gaia was sitting on my couch, asking for my help. Hera, the queen of the gods, was standing in my living room, waiting for an answer from me. What the hell were they thinking? My wisdom and good counsel? What freaking wisdom and counsel? I’m a twenty-five year old with a degree in ancient history, for goodness sake! These women ARE ancient history! They’ve seen, done, and lived through stuff I hadn’t even read about yet. Wait a minute. They were asking me. Not telling…asking. Did that mean I could say no? I could refuse their little assignment. Maybe if I was very polite and explained very carefully why this was a bad idea, they would let me off the hook.
“I am honored by your request, Gaia,” I started, bowing my head to her. “Thank you, Elena,” she replied, and disappeared. My olive wood figurine was lying on the couch where she had been a split second before.
What the hell! I didn’t accept her task! I was going to say no, and she thanks me and poofs out? “Wait a minute!” I yelled. “I didn’t mean that I would do it! You made a mistake! I’m not the right person for this! Come back here! Please!”
Hera walked over and kissed me on the cheek. “You have my gratitude,” she said. “Tomorrow, you will begin my instruction. I must rest now.” With that, she turned away and walked down the hall. “There are three bed chambers,” she called from the center of the hall. “Which is mine?” I looked at her stupidly. “No matter,” she informed me. “I shall choose this one.” And she stepped into my bedroom, closing the door firmly behind her.
Title – Home Chapter 7
Excerpt – I dropped my purse on the counter, let Zeus out into the back yard, and followed him. I sat down on a plastic deck chair and looked up at the night sky.
Tags – Zeus, Ralph, Zeus, Sam, John, Hughes, Ellie, Elena, Hera, Mother, Gaia, Olympus, Alla Reese, Alla, Reese, Olympian, The Olympians