There were strange noises behind me. I turned around to see Sam leaning against the doorframe of the kitchen. Her face was red and she was making small, hiccupping sounds, tears flowing freely down her cheeks. My heart swelled with gratitude at the sight of my best friend’s sympathy. She was there for me. She would help me through this craziness. We would put our heads together and figure out what to do. “Thanks, Sam,” I beamed at her. “I knew I could count on you.” The hiccups got louder. Sam shook her head and wiped at the mascara streaks on her face. “Bed chambers…” she sobbed, “she shall… choose… goddess… in your room… oh, God!” She started walking away, trying to make her way to her room, her shoulders shaking. “Oh, Sam, it’s ok. It’ll be ok.” I ran after her. Who knew she would be this upset? I put a hand on Sam’s shoulder and made her turn to face me. I needed to make sure that she would be alright. She turned to me and buried her face in her hands, continuing to shake and sob. “Sam, it’s not that bad,” I assured her. “We’ll figure this out.” Sam doubled over, holding her stomach with both hands. Then she made a sound I’ve never heard her make before. It started as a sort of growl, low and deep, followed by a wheeze and topped off by a high-pitched squeal.
The hiccups were replaced by more of the wheezing and the squealing, and I realized that my best friend wasn’t crying in sympathy for my plight. She was laughing. As a matter of fact, she was in the midst of a full-blown laughing fit, complete with tears, and apparently, a belly ache. Nice. I planted a fist on each hip and faced the traitor. “Really?” I demanded. “You think this is funny, really?” She made another high-pitched squeal, trying to get her breath. “I…m…so…rry…El….lie,” she finally managed. I scowled at her and stomped back to the living room. Plopping down on the couch, I picked up the figurine. Gaia. I guess I should be calling her by her name, now that I knew it. “I was trying to tell her no,” I wasn’t sure who I was talking to. “I… know,” Sam said. She sat down next to me. She wasn’t wheezing now, but the hiccups seemed to have gotten worse. We sat for a few minutes, while Sam got control of her breathing.
“Where am I supposed to sleep?” I said. “There’s a goddess in my bedroom, you know. I mean, I guess technically she’s not a goddess anymore, but she sure acted like she owned the place, didn’t she? I can’t sleep in the guest room. There’s no furniture in there yet.” I massaged my temples with my fingers and sighed. Sam patted me on the shoulder. “I’ve got a king sized bed. Why don’t you bunk with me for tonight, and tomorrow you can work on relocating your squatter over there.” She nodded toward my room. “OK, thanks.” I said. “I don’t think I can think about it anymore tonight, anyway.”
Sam was out like the proverbial light, snoring like a champ within a couple of minutes. I stifled a giggle. Who knew? I couldn’t fall asleep. I stared at the ceiling, trying to make sense of what happened to me tonight. It didn’t make sense, though, no matter how hard I tried. I’m Ellie Harris, daughter of George and Marina Harris—a minister and a teacher. I’m normal, ordinary even, no special powers, no extra abilities. I’m not even very intuitive. I never have a sixth sense or a “feeling” about anything. I can’t read people. I don’t know what’s best for anyone. How the hell am I supposed to help a goddess learn to live like a human woman? I don’t even know what that means. I turned over, punching my pillow and letting out a huffing breath. “Stupid Gaia,” I fumed. “Who does she think she is, dumping her kid on me like that? What am I, divine social services? Ugh!”
I flopped over and let out a small, strangled scream. Sam was facing me, one eye half open and glassy, a dribble of drool hanging from her lower lip. I froze. She made a snuffling noise, closed her eye, and rolled over on her back, throwing both arms out from her sides. The back of her hand connected with my face, and I knew that no matter how inadequate I felt for the task, I was going to have to help Hera get on with her life, because I sure as hell wasn’t about to spend another night bunking with Ms. Drooly-face Lumberjack.