Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tuesday Tales - Election

Today in our tale we begin a serialized original story with Libby and Ares, the stars of my ‘Of Gods & Goats’ trilogy.

The word prompt this week is ‘Election’. As these are original stories written in a week, some errors may be found. I do apologize for those in advance. Try not to let them boggle you down though if possible.

Due to Hurricane Sandy and other obligations, many of our Tuesday Tales writers couldn`t participate this week. They`ll be back next week, no worries! For todays post we won`t be linking back to the main Tuesday Tales blog. Thank you for stopping in. May the gods smile upon you!

The Silver Box


Most married women have a mother-in-law to deal with. If they`re lucky, like I was in my marriage to Matt, they get a second mother. I wouldn`t have traded in my mother-in-law for neither love nor money. To this day I miss her as dearly as I do my own parent`s. Sometimes these mothers are sweethearts and sometimes not, but overall if you tweak their nose they won`t turn you into a turnip.

I have Hera, the queen of the gods and Skymother to try to placate. Thankfully she does not venture down from Olympus often. If I could only get Athena to stay at home like Hera does I would be one happy goatherder.

Every so often Hera decides to come down to Earth and bestow her favors upon someone though. Oh joyous day for those who receive the blessings of Hera! When you`re living with one of Hera`s sons, the arrival of the queen of gods is not such a whoop-de-do event because what you may end up with is a coffee klatch of disaster.

I found myself in this rather awkward predicament just the other day. It was colder than Hades` heart as November blew across the Laurel Highlands. Snow was whipping through the white pines. Nothing heavy, just enough to let us know the shovels would be needed soon. I was over at the cow barn helping Ares take care of our two bovines: Paddy - my red and white Hereford snuggle bug and George, our resident gay Minotaur. We are a very open-minded farmstead and embrace all love equally.

“Libby make good food,” George smiled as he wadded in handfuls of raw ground venison. Thank the gods for Henry Swanson and his five boys. They`ve kept us well stocked in deer meat and never ask where it all goes so quickly. No-one seems to question my lame ‘Oh that`s a Greek Bison!’ fabrication.

“Thanks,” I smiled as I scratched behind his ear. Oh I know, most folks would be terrified of a Minotaur, and rightly so. They are known to eat virgins and give heroes a bad time. Just ask Theseus. But George is different. He came here with bad intentions, sure, but he has turned the other horn. I couldn`t imagine this farm without him, and neither could his boy-toy, Paddy.

Ares stopped forking hay into the manger and left in hurry wearing a very constricted look. I continued making a fool of the Minotaur. The god of war exited the cow barn leaving the hay fork lying atop the mounds of fresh hay.

“Guess he had to go potty,” I told the bovine boys.

“Go potty! Go potty!” George mumbled. Paddy grabbed a mouthful of hay and chewed. I was just about to finish the evening chores when the door to the barn flew open. Ares filled the doorframe. His cheeks were ruddy from the cold winds. Stray snowflakes lingered in his hair, beard, and the shoulders of his Goodwill wool coat.

“Hey,” I said, shoving more hay into the manger. “What`s up?”

“My mother is here,” Ares said. All forking stopped immediately. I looked at the man. He looked at me.

“She wishes to speak to you,” he added tersely. To say Ares and his mother have a strained relationship would be putting it mildly. Actually, Ares has a strained relationship with his entire family. The god of war is not favored by the other members of the pantheon. To them he is nothing but a blood-thirsty barbarian, not worthy of staying upon Olympus. Ares was forced to live in Thrace back in the Grecian hey-day, a fact that he has never forgotten. Fortunately, I see much more in Ares than most do, and yes, that includes his mother.

“Is she alone?” I asked placing the fork back where it hangs on the wall. If Zeus was with her I wanted to aleast pick the chaff out of my bra and wash the Minotaur stink from my hands.

“Aye, she is alone. She awaits you in the house. Libby, do not speak as freely to her as you do Athena,” he warned as I slid past him and the cowboys.

“I`ll watch my tongue,” I promised and jogged across my driveway to my little stone cottage, ignoring the flock of peacocks picking grit and looking rather put out by the snow falling onto their glorious backs and tail feathers. Yep. Hera was in the house.

Hermione was at my heels as usual. I entered the house and stamped the snow from my Muck boots. My beagle ran into the kitchen at full ‘Free Head Scratches!’ mode. My boots went into the boot rack beside the door. I pulled off my old barn coat, hung it on the pegs above the boot rack and then walked the short distance to my kitchen.

Hera was seated at the small round table. Such a sight at one time would have sent me running to the hills behind my house blowing spit bubbles. Now, it was commonplace. Like talking to owls, singing kindergarten songs with a Minotaur, and curling up with an immortal every night.

She looked just as I recalled. Her dark hair was swept up upon her head. Glittering sapphires decorated the mass of thick chestnut locks. The gemstones were a perfect accompaniment to the dark blue chiton the queen had on. The Skymother was shooing my beagle away with a large fan made of peacock feathers.

“Hermione, stop pestering,” I snapped. The dog slunk under the table, working the poor pitiful hound look for all it was worth. Hera raised blue eyes identical to Ares to me. I sketched a fast curtsy then went to the sink to wash up. “She`s not a bad dog, just enthusiastic,” I said over my shoulder.

“The beast needs to learn manners,” Hera replied. I lathered briskly. I dried my hands on a dishtowel hanging from the handle of my stove. I fiddled with the coffeepot, trying to decide if I should make a pot or not. Did someone offer the goddess of marriage de-caf or regular?

“Would you like some coffee?” I asked, turning to look at my lover`s mother. She was studying my salt and pepper shakers.

“Have you not any ambrosia?” she asked, placing the little pink pigs back beside the napkin holder.

“They were all out at the Shop & Save,” rolled out unbidden. I bit down on my tongue. Hera arched a finely plucked eyebrow then waved her hand. A golden goblet encrusted with rubies and emeralds appeared on my gingham covered table.

“`Twould seem you would have the food and drink of the gods at the ready,” she sniffed and raised the goblet to her perfect rosy lips. “But then again,” she said between sips, “Ares has always been uncouth and ill-bred.”

I nearly bit my tongue in two. Instead of spouting off, and risking being turned into a three-headed eggplant or something along those lines, I spun around, slapped the coffeepot on, and counted to twenty.

“Come sit across from me. I have a matter to discuss with you.”

I did as commanded. When I was seated Hera placed her goblet to the table and pinned me down with a royal look. Perhaps I should have lowered my eyes.

“You are just as Athena tells me you are,” Hera commented, running her sight over my clothes and hair, “Bold, sharp of tongue, and lacking in obvious feminine assets.”

See, all I wanted to do was sit back tonight and watch the election results, not trade barbs with ‘She of the Heights’. I forced a smile. Hera glanced around me when Ares entered the house. Her demeanor shifted subtly, the firmness of her jaw lessening ever so slightly. When her son stepped into the kitchen I caught a brief flash of maternal affection.

“Mother,” Ares grunted stepping behind me and placing his hands to my shoulders. I reached up to pat the massive mitts gently. “I hope you have been kind to my consort?”

“She`s been very nice,” I said peeking up and winking at him. He got the message. Hera was as kind as Hera was going to be.

“You seem well, my son,” Hera said stiffly. Ares grunted. Time ticked slowly by. Guess the mother-son bonding was over. I stepped in to fill a conversational void the size of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.

“So what brings you from Olympus, my queen?” I inquired. Hera nodded at the proper tone and began to fan herself.

“I wish to have something returned to me.”

When I simply stared at the queen of gods she glanced up at Ares still at my back.

“Once I had a chest of silver. Within it I kept my finest raiment’s and broidered veil`s. I wish you to return my box to me,” Hera announced then lifted her chalice to her lips.

Ares` fingers tightened on my collarbone. I had a very bad feeling starting to bubble in my belly.

“Where was the box last seen?” I asked while prying my lover`s fingers out of my flesh.

“When last it was seen it was in the possession of ‘the gift of all’,” Hera said, her eyes locked onto me.

That bad feeling I mentioned a minute ago? It was now a rumbling mass of ‘Holy Hell’ inside my gullet.

“You want me to go find Pandora`s box?” I squeaked.


See you next Tuesday as ‘The Silver Box’ continues!

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