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Chapter 2 of my work

Chapter two. :)


When I was 12 my eyes were opened to some hard truths about my family.

Mother was not keen to answer my questions, but thankfully those around her gently cajoled her into talking about it a bit more. Mother was always an open book in regards to her emotions; expressing them openly is a vital part of her makeup, but the causes of them were the secrets she loathed to acknowledge. As I grew older and made my feelings known, discussing family became an inevitability.

Without going into unnecessary detail, my parents grew up in a tight knit working class community in New York - the kind where your neighbours were as likely to be cousins as not. Percy, Aidon and their raft of sisters grew up next door to father. Mother and her two older sisters, Helena and Hestia were a few doors down. Everything was fine, until the older ones had finished college.

My father had large ambitions and large appetites. Beginning in high school and throughout college he had worked his way through almost every girl in the neighbourhood, and each one had dreams of being the one who would reform him and settle down. Marry he did, but reformation never happened.

So it began; Metisse got pregnant first, with Athena. She was more of a ‘free spirit’ as mother said, so that first child didn’t tie my father down. Metisse was happy to accept his support, but was also just as happy to walk away. She took Athena to live in Pennsylvania for a time, until Metisse died of cancer. The next to have kids was Leita. That was a one night stand gone horribly, horribly wrong. She’s Apollo and Artemis’ mother. Leita and father thought they would take a crack at domestic felicity, and that lasted about as long as it took for my father to get Maia pregnant with Hermes. Maia was similar to Metisse in nature, but not as grounded in reality. The stress of trying to raise Hermes, let alone be around father, was enough to do her in. She surrendered custody of Hermes, and while she visits everyone from time to time she lives somewhere in Florida. “Painting and living off Zeus’ charity” as mother says. While the histories of my half-siblings are enough to make your head spin as it is, the kicker is that Metisse, Leita, and Maia are all sisters. Specifically, Percy and Aidon’s sisters.

Yeah.

With the remaining two sisters a little too young for my father’s taste, he turned his attention to my mother. I’m not entirely sure I can relate this tale in the way it needs to be told. When mother finally got around to telling me how father came into her life, between the crying and cups to tea to calm her nerves, it took a full day.

It started when Maia surrendered Hermes. Father was left with a very small infant in his care, and needed someone to look after it. In came my mother. She had chosen not to go to university like her older sisters, but instead take an early childhood education course at home. Mother was a perfect solution to his problem. So, at the young age of 20, she took it upon herself to become Hermes’ nanny. The curious thing about my father is that for someone who cannot conform to domesticity he can certainly fall into it very quickly. Especially if the other person more than reciprocates his desires. And mother was not lacking in that department. She had been secretly in love with my father since she was a little girl. It didn’t take long for their relationship to go from professional to personal. People were stunned when father not only started dating mother, but actively stopped seeing other women as well. It was a world of domestic bliss. There was even an engagement ring. Mother got pregnant and rather than concern, then resignation, father was thrilled and overjoyed. Names were picked, furniture was bought, and everyone expected a ceremony after mother had lost a little baby weight.

Then Helena came home.

My aunt Helena could best be described as the ugly duckling who turned into a swan. Awkward, clumsy, a tad bookish and not at all invested in her appearance Helena had taken a scholarship to Wellesley college to major in Economics; then took two years to do a masters at the London School of Economics. When she returned it was in the guise of a sleek, polished, and articulate young woman who was highly educated and highly valuable to any company.

Namely, my father’s startup venture capital company.

It didn’t take long for Helena to supplant my mother in father’s affections. The beauty was one thing, but the wit, intelligence, and sophistication was another. The one area where mother was lacking.

By the time I was three months old, father called off the engagement. Heartbroken, mother received an offer to visit Metisse. While she was there, she learnt that father - not one to waste an opportunity - had not only proposed to Helena but married her shortly thereafter. Within in a couple more weeks it was announced that she was pregnant.

Mother would not talk about the time spent with Metisse. It would take a few more years to get that story out.

Mother’s anger had turned her cold. Where she was once described as warm and giving, even her family had to admit that something had been lost when my father did what he did. There was an attempt, mother admitted, to reconcile everyone. Helena wanted to heal the wounds - they were sisters first after all - but more damage was done at that meeting than good. Whatever was said, it forever put a wedge between them. Whatever was said, it terrified my mother enough that she chose to run.

Metisse, always the most sympathetic out of her friends, was the one who knew the Miller's. She had done some work for them before they moved to Wyoming to take up mixed farming. Metisse arranged for us to travel, and vouched for my mother as a hard worker and dependable person.

“It was a big ask.” Mother said very quietly into her cup of tea. “She knew that whatever goodwill your father had towards her could very well vanish.”

“What happened mom? What happened that was so horrible you felt you had to run?”

Mother stared blankly into her cup, her eyes awash with unspeakable emotions. “I can’t. I don’t have the strength for it tonight.”

Father pursued us relentlessly. Not in the physical sense, but in the legal sense. He tried to have mother charged with kidnapping, but thankfully that didn’t stick. The Miller’s helped her get access to a decent lawyer. An agreement was struck. We could stay out here, as long as father had unfettered access to me.
“He would never visit, thankfully. Wyoming was ‘too far’ or ‘too boring’. I could handle that. I could handle talking on the phone, sending pictures, letting you talk to him.” Mother said.

“Going back to New York must have been really hard for you mom.”

“You have no idea Cora. But the judge ordered it. Said I was being unreasonable, and you were at a perfectly good age to travel. I wouldn’t let you travel alone though. So he had to pay for both of us to go.” Mother smirked at the thought.

My thoughts drifted back to our week in New York. The whole episode hadn’t gone according to father’s plan. I was supposed to be his darling daughter and fall into his arms, never wanting to leave. Instead I had been aloof and distant. He blamed mother for not allowing me to visit more. Mother blamed him for expecting so much after “putting in so little”. The only positive out of that mess was meeting Aidon.

I didn’t hold on to much from that trip, but I held on to that. Sometimes when speaking to my father on the phone, or writing an email I would ask about him. All I knew was that he was still in Louisiana, working for the district attorney's office of East Baton Rouge with sights set on becoming a judge.

Thinking of Aidon reminded me of the fear on mother’s face when he mentioned we had been talking behind the tree. “Mother?”

“Yes love.”

“Why are you afraid of Aidon?”

She had started to take a sip of her tea, but stopped the cup at her lip. “Nothing you’d understand.”

The way she treated me like I was still a little child was infuriating. “Mom, I’m 12! I think I can understand perfectly fine if you expl-”

“NOTHING YOU’D UNDERSTAND CORA!! You’re young, and innocent, and you’re going to remain that way if I can help it. Aidon is a horrible influence on everyone around him and you’d do your best to forget that you EVER met him. Do I make myself clear?”

Mother was an open book with her emotions. In that moment, the pages were on fire.