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Abby and Athena
“And first place goes to- Abby McKenzie!” the announcer proclaimed.
I stood as the applause erupted around me, a smile spread across my face. I walked up to the stage where the announcer was waiting and accepted my certificate and blue ribbon.
That was my twelfth- no, sorry, I mean thirteenth blue ribbon this year. As I smiled for the pictures while holding my artwork I thought of my shelf at home that was overflowing with blue ribbons, gold medals, certificates, and the various other awards I had received. I would have to persuade my dad to buy another shelf to hold all my awards.
Since I was nine I’ve been entering dozens of art competitions each year, and won every one of them. It was because of my family I had started entering the competitions in the first place. The story behind it was that my dad was away on a business trip for a few days so I spent the night at my aunt’s house. I had just gotten out my loom and was working on weaving my picture when my aunt had walked in. She simply stopped in her tracks and stared at the image I was weaving.
You see, a couple years prior to that I had learned how to weave from this kids art class my dad had signed me up for. I took several other classes after those first ones; all about weaving. According to my dad once I picked up the loom I never seemed to put it down. Well, anyway the image my aunt saw was of the desert and the setting sun on the horizon. According to her she was just amazed that it was possible for a person to have created something as beautiful as that, let alone a nine-year old. My aunt convinced me to enter my first contest later that year with that picture. I came in first place.
When I first started competing I entered in contests for kids of my age group. But after my third competition the judges convinced me to enter my art in community arts shows for teens and adults. I still won first place. Now I enter any art contest I can that will accept me, including art competitions meant for professional and exceptionally gifted artists who are mainly adults over twice or even three times my age.
In case you’re wondering, yes, the winning all the time does get a bit monotonous and boring, but the creating of the artwork is what keeps me interested and engrossed. I spend anywhere from a couple days to a month on each image. I love creating the beautiful images and I love the feel of the yarn between my fingers. I never seem to get over the fact that with a couple balls of yarn or more I can create wondrous works of art and impossible images that draw you in and reach into your soul.
Getting back to the present, I waited until the final flash went off and then walked back to my seat. It seemed like with every major contest I enter there’s always tons of pictures taken at the end. They always want to post on their website the winner’s artwork and photo. With the very big contests they sometimes even have photographers there from the local newspaper.
The announcer gave a little spiel about how they were thankful to everyone who entered and it was great and all the usual stuff they say at the end of the competitions. He soon ended his little speech and I walked outside to go wait for my dad. I’ve attended so many competitions that my dad has stopped attending all of them and instead go to only one or two each year. He’s still very supportive of my art, but having to go to every competition and watch me win first place every time with no exception tends to make him a bit bored. Plus, he has a lot of work around the house to catch up on. Unless the competition is really far away or in a different state he usually just drops me off and picks me up before and after each contest.
Later that night at home, I was just about to get ready for bed when something happened. I was looking through my drawers for my pajamas when suddenly a voice said, “Hello, Abigail.”
I started and whirled around to stare at the woman standing in my bedroom. She was wearing a loose-fitting colorful silk-like shirt and a long light blue skirt that went to her ankles and had straight black hair that went down a couple inches past her shoulders.
With my eyes opened to their fullest, I asked, “Wh-who are you?”
The woman replied, “My name is Athena.”
“What are you doing in my room?” I demanded.
“I’m your mother,” she said simply.
“What?” I asked, my voice having gone dangerously flat, my mind whirling.
She gave a slight smile and said, “Nine months before you were born Peter and I-.”
“Stop, stop, stop! I don’t want to hear about that! I just want to know how you got in my room and why you’re here.”
With a slightly grim smile she replied, “As I said, I’m your mother. The last time I saw you, you were only five months old.”
“Why did you leave?”
“Believe me, I wanted to stay but I couldn’t. It’s just that my job is very demanding and it would have been impossible for me to stay.”
“Then why didn’t you get a new job?” I asked.
She seemed to smile at a private joke and said, “I can’t quit my job. Even if I wanted to I wouldn’t be able to. It would be impossible for me. I don’t have a regular job like some people have that they can quit if they don’t like it. Instead, I’m stuck with my job for the rest of my life. Well, stuck isn’t really the right word; I think honored or blessed more accurately describes my situation even if it may not seem like it to you.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, all confused.
She sighed and seemed to age a hundred years. “Abby, the truth is that I’m a god.”
“You’re a god?” I asked slowly, incredulous.
“Well I’m actually a goddess, the feminine form of the word, but you’d probably had already figured that out.” She stopped as if expecting a reply from me. The only that was heard in the room was silence.
“I’m sorry. I know I’m not making this easy for you.”
I raised an eyebrow as if to say ‘Ye think?’
She took a deep breath. “Are you familiar with the Greek gods? The ones who live on Mount Olympus?”
“I’m one of them.”
She looked to me for a reaction. All she received in return was a blank stare.
She continued, “My name is Athena. I’m known as the goddess of wisdom and war. People also credit me with the invention of the loom, distaff, and spindle.”
“Did you do it?” I asked.
“Pardon me?” she asked, plainly confused.
“Did you really invent the loom, distaff, and spindle?”
“Yes.” She got a far-away look in her eyes. “But that was many years ago; thousands of years ago.”
Her eyes came back to the present. “Yes, it is because of me you are such a gifted weaver,” she said, answering my silent yet obvious question. “Because you’re my daughter you inherited some of my abilities and characteristics.”
“Was that the only thing I inherited? My weaving ability?” I asked.
“For right now, it seems so. However, in the future some other abilities may reveal themselves. It all depends. It’s just like with mortal parents- the child will inherit certain characteristics from each parent but they never know which characteristics until the baby’s born. In your case it’s slightly different but it’s still the general idea.”
“You just mentioned mortal parents. So that means you’re immortal? As in you live forever?”
“Yes.” She then smiled in anticipation for my next question.
“Since you’re immortal and my dad was just a regular human- wait, he is just a regular human, right?”
“Yes. Your father is 100% human. Nothing more or extra,” she said while trying to suppress a smile.
“Well anyway, what am I, immortal or mortal?”
Serious now she answered, “Mortal. You may have special abilities; in fact, you already have your weaving ability, but will have a normal human life span.”
“Is there anything else I should know?”
“Not anything that I can think of right now.”
“So why did you come here?” I asked.
“I thought it was about time that you met your mother. Likewise, I thought it was also time for me to meet you. To check in and see how you are. I can watch over you from Mount Olympus, but I much prefer this way. ”
After a short silence I asked, “So how did you and my dad meet in the first place, anyway?”
She smiled and said, “That is a story I do look forward to telling you, but not now. I shall tell you all about that the next time I visit.
“Now, I’m sorry but I must go. I’ve already spent enough time here already. But I will leave you with one parting gift I think you’ll enjoy.”
With that she smiled, gave a small wave, and disappeared.
I stood staring at the space where my mother had stood just a few seconds ago. I then blinked and said, “Well, that was certainly strange. It’s not every day I get to meet my mother for the first time since I was five months old, and also learn that she’s an actual Greek goddess.”
The next morning at school I sat at my desk thinking about the previous night. I had stayed awake for hours thinking of Athena visit, and what she had meant by the parting gift. What on earth, well, no, what on Mount Olympus could she have given me?
Class began. It began as just a regular school day, with the Chanterelle twins passing notes in history, Liam sleeping during Literature, and Derek spit-balling the teacher in Algebra and being sent to the principal’s office- the usual.
Then during Biology (my worst subject) we learned we were having a pop quiz. Ugh!
The teacher passed out the quiz and the torture began. The questions seemed to swirl before by eyes into an incomprehensible glob of confusion. I blinked hard and tried to focus on the question number one. What’s the answer? I knew we must have learned this, but I couldn’t even begin to remember what it was.
Then suddenly I knew the answers. As if by magic the questions made sense and the answers seemed to just appear in my mind. Instead of being the last to turn in the quiz, I became the first.
That continued for the next few weeks. In subjects that I would normally struggle in I got straight A’s in with ease. I always knew the answers to every question the teachers asked, I could answer any test questions, and plus, I understood it all. I not only knew the answers but I also understood the material and knew what it meant. It made school very, very, easy.
It almost seemed too easy. I didn’t even have to pay attention in class and I still knew all the answers. School was now a bore. I would sit back, daydream, and think of future weaving projects all day. After a couple weeks of doing practically nothing at school I began to really hate school.
I hated the boredom. I hated the fact that I only sat around and did nothing. Once, I even asked the principal if I could bring my loom to school. Of course, he said no. Instead of only Biology tests being torture, the whole school day became torture.
I once considered just asking if I could skip to college, just like those kids you hear about on the news completing college at the age of twelve. The only problem was I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my friends. So I then decided to take the only option left.
“Athena?” I called tentatively. I was standing in my bedroom, feeling very awkward as tried to call my mother. I mean, it’s not as if I could have just have picked up a phone and called her. Since she hadn’t come again since her first visit, my only choice was this.
“Athena?” I called again.
“Yes?” she asked as she suddenly appeared in front of me. I started.
“Mom, you’re here!” I said, breathlessly.
“Well, yes, of course. You called me,” she said, an amused smile on her face.
My breath caught, I said, “About that gift you gave me the last time we met, I’m sorry but I don’t want it.”
“What?” Athena asked, her eyes glinting dangerously.
I gulped. “The thing is, even though it is a wonderful gift, it’s sort of a burden to have all the time. I’m not trying to be rude, but as a human I prefer to do things the old-fashioned way-trial and error, and having to learn things. I mean, this gift might be great for someone else, but not for me.”
I held my breath as I watched Athena. Her face softened from her stiff expression and broke into a smile. I let my breath out as she said, “Abby, I’m very proud of you. You made the wise choice and chose to do things the hard way, the true way, the right way. You are truly my daughter and I am proud to call you my own.”
“Wait, you wanted me to give the gift back?” I asked, astounded.
“Yes. Having power is hard, but choosing to do the right thing and give it up is harder.”
“So you had planned this to happen all along?”
“It was your choice so you could have chosen to keep the gift, but yes, I had hoped you would have chosen this.
“Now, have you spoken to your father yet about meeting me?”
With an understanding smile Athena said, “Come. It’s about time I’ve seen your father again, anyway. We can discuss about me getting to see you more often and taking you places.”
Places, where would Athena, Greek goddesses, want to take me?
My question seemed to show on my face seeing as she said, “You’ll see,” with a mysterious smile.
Hmm, it might actually be fun having a Greek goddess as a mom.