in another life, zeus is lounging on the couch of his best friend’s house and saying, “i’ll get a job, man, i swear it,” even though CEO seats only smell of sweat and he’s the type to smell of leaving, he says, “guess what’s up my sleeve” to ladies and shows off lightning bolt tattoos and gets drunk and cries and begs hera to come home because he has only ever known rest at the seat of her collarbone
hera’s is louis vuitton, devil wears prada. pants suits and hair up in a tight bun. a warning lies ready on her tongue, she is quick to scold, hard to love. she pours fireball into her morning coffee just to remind herself of the way he always smelled of burning, just so she could face a little bit of him and not come back running. in this life, she is divorced, is doing well, sometimes meets up with the baby mamas of her sour-faced ex-lover (if she could wash him out, she would, she would, she would, but lightning loves towers and she only feels at ease in thunderstorms and twenty-four stories because olympus was rebuilt into skyscrapers and nobody can tell her otherwise), sometimes gets over her hatred of them. the one who jumps at swans is her roommate, they both like romance movies and staying out late. she chooses alone. she chooses: i make my own home.
aphrodite is a party girl with black pumps and a wicked smile, facebook messages hephaestus while sex-skyping her little god of war, she says, “sorry” a lot. sometimes she thinks she is running out of love, sometimes she thinks there’s not enough love left. she comes around again to the satin of her lover’s beds, never feels warm. she says, fine. she says, i’m okay. ares here is commander of the department of defense, never settled down, never got the wife and two kids. one day in this life hephaestus hears a knock on his garage door and walks on over. in this life, they’ve got braces for broken people like him. when he answers, it’s just her, no makeup, just her in her big-eyed weepy mess, and she says, “you actually listen” so he listens for a little. she explains slowly; new term, polyamorous. she says, heart is steady bead on both people. he says, “i know, i understand,” she says, “but it’s hurting you,” he says, “i gave up hurting for other people a long time ago,” he says, “the war god and i go out for drinks and talk about anything but you” she cries again, a whole ocean. he says, “i am learning, and one day maybe it will be all us three” she says, “you wait for me,” and he does. more and more often, when the world tastes too much, she shows up at his door, to be the person she is when she’s unbeautiful. in this life, a little down the road, she takes a break from all of it and starts a no-kill shelter called “the golden apple”. hephaestus builds it for her. she kisses him on the cheek. one day, when the ares comes around, the three of them play video games. after that, it is not share-her. it is all-the-same.
athena turns down apollo on the radio, his song trapped in the throats of all who hear it. a good song, a catchy song, a hear-it-once-and-never-forget-it song. athena dropped out of school to pursue knowledge. she teaches around the world with a backpack on her back and a smile on her face. her girlfriend is a librarian. whenever she comes home, she swings the little woman up in her arms and bursts with stories. the woman laughs because stoic athena in public is not the athena of private, is not knowledge-river athena. athena freelances as a journalist. anywhere she can give out information is good enough. eventually her name and “breaking news” are synonymous.
artemis goes to the red carpet on the arms of her brother, says that the world of hollywood is too much sunlight for her, she goes back to working as the city’s best detective, the hunt in her blood for monsters among men. in her free time, she follows athena down to places, traps poachers who would use her name to ruin the lives of beasts. hera has learned long ago not to pester her about marrying. artemis comes out as ace/aro one day to her brother, who rolls his eyes at her. “you still get grossed out every time people kiss,” and then he bowls her over in a hug she didn’t know she needed. this is one of the only times he sees her cry. the next is eight years later at his wedding. the man he chooses as his partner has already undergone a secret artemis-style investigation. he came out clean, and she came out with a second brother. when her twin asks her about the happy tears, she jokingly tells him she was worried his was going to marry his car. he laughs, big sun laugh and says, “trust me, i was this close.” in hot summers, they go down to the docks and the two boys throw atemis in the water. she never stops complaining or loving it and loving them and is entirely happy when he becomes a father.
in this life, demeter raised a flowerchild who never took to the backbreak of farming, and in this life, hades’s black leather jacket at first made her spit. she despised his motorbike and his big smile and how loud his dog was and how her daughter jumped up nimbly on the back of that thing and flung herself at the horizon. but hades tries as hard as he can: the engine gets turned over into clean fuel even though he breaks his third finger in the middle of it, the leather jacket gets swapped out for a faux replication, he becomes vegan (”’sehpone,” he says in wonder one day, “you taught me how to live off of pomegranates”, sephie laughs), he makes deer-crossing signs and petitions for the rights of small-town farmers. Persephone becomes a wedding designer, loves making big shows out of a lot of flowers. after many holiday gifts (some so desperately approval-seeking that demeter actually chuckled at them), she relents. they have brunch on sundays, made specifically by hades and his whole-grain all-organic house. demeter at one point says, “actually, you’re so earthy-crunchy it’s more than even me” and hades drops the plate he’s holding. demeter comes to the engagement party and laughs when the cake is in the shape of a pomegranate seed. sephie says, “don’t worry mom. he knows what will happen if he does anything to me,” and demeter gives her daughter a proud smile and says, “you’ll crush him like a bug, won’t you sweetie?” and sephie looks over at her duckling god of death and says, “exactly”
hestia finds dionysus because that is what she does. a social security worker at first, she becomes keeper of the hearth-less. she starts with a small group of people and eventually became leader of a chain of homelessness shelters, all immaculate and warm and held to her standards. dionysus cries when she picks him up, he talks about having fallen in love again, she says, “rehab is your only option.” it is here that he meets someone who is also pansexual. it is here he realizes he is not broken. it is here where they wean him off of whiskey and heroin (”what a bad combination,” he’d later say, shaking his head, “like you really gotta choose one”) and where he breaks down often and throws things at hestia’s head and calls her more names than have ever been strung against her: it’s here he makes his best friend. when he gets out, he finds he’s still ever-thirsty, but this time, there’s less empty in him. he helps at her shelters. he meets a girl who is bisexual, she takes him to pride rallies. he later bursts into hestia’s room with a rainbow on his face and says, “there are so many like me! i’m not invisible! i’m not fake!” and she smiles and watches the hearth of his chest warm up and helps him become a leading spokesperson for activism. rather than letting people like him die in the streets, he uses his experience to say, “i lived survival, and you can live it with me.”
hermes is a surgeon over in the children’s section, found that this is where he should be. silicone valley wants him for his communication systems, but instead he feels like he needs to be somewhere the action is. poseidon comes to him in darkness with rough palms and says, “i have a very long-standing secret,” and hermes just nods his head. the surgery is done quickly and without charge. poseideon says, “thank you” four million times, and then she takes back off to her company dedicated to clean energy. she calls up hera crying and says, “i dd it, i did it, i did it, but what will he think of me,” and hera says, “i haven’t talked to zeus in six years but if he rejects you i will walk up to him and shake him until the right answers fall into his head” and when artemis hears she says, “i will go with you” and walks at her side the whole time even though poseideon is awash with emotions and ready to burst into tears. zeus opens the door and looks poseideon up and down and says, “did you do something with your hair, sis?” and poseideon says, “eat my entire” before she’s swallowed by happiness and has to sit down on the concrete step and sob into her palms for sixty seconds. later she puts him in charge of the wind energy portion of her company. he gets his own place, but he never stops missing hera, who watches him from a distance and checks up on him through poseideon. hera says, “right now it’s about me. it can be about him if he keeps up the good behavior.” poseideon has never been so happy. she has her family and she has herself, in one piece, finally. she calls up sephone, she says, “listen, i’ve got a plan, okay?” and of course the wedding planner would have to be in charge of everything.
in this life, the reunion is beautiful. dionysus doesn’t touch the alcohol. hestia stands beside him proud and wonderful. apollo (who wouldn’t come without being allowed to choose the music) and his husband push artemis into the pool, she returns the favor with athena’s help. hades and persephone beat everyone at beer pong, but demeter crushes them at gin rummy. posideon dances with her sisters. hera stands back and her mouth quirks and zeus watches her the whole time, in his new three-piece suit. aphrodite is in between two men, but she’s no longer quite in between them. she walks over to her once-king and says “love needs time and understanding” and he thinks: of course. of course. he will change who he is for her. she never needed him. he needed her. he needed this to feel in place: he needed a family, as one, as olympus with its golden gates. in this life, for one moment, they are all happy.