Oh the Fates

monica promptThe fun with prompts continues! This story immediately popped into my head as soon as I saw what Sarah assigned me last week. And because of the weird way my mind works, I used this as an excuse to rewatch My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Read on and enjoy!

“What part of keep that thing away from me are you having trouble understanding?” I open my bedroom door just wide enough for me to duck inside, then lock it before anyone else can follow me in.

For the past 15 minutes, Aunt Moira has been chasing me around the house with the tattered little book and refusing to listen. “It is our heritage, Nia! It’s not like you didn’t know this existed.” I slide down the door and put my hands over my ears, but it’s not enough to block out the sounds of my entire family on the other side doing a really poor job of whispering.

“Of course I knew,” I say again. “But just because it’s written doesn’t mean I have to read it. Nothing says any of us have to read our Plans.” Of course it went without saying that choosing not to read it was a highly unusual choice in our family, but there was very little about our family that wasn’t unusual in the first place.

As if growing up isn’t hard enough, try being the descendants of the Fates. That’s right, they’re real, hanging out on Mount Olympus or wherever, and once upon a time that was definitely not discussed when we had our Greek mythology unit in freshmen English class, they had kids.

But in the usual fashion of mystical beings getting their groove on with mere mortals, blending blood results in things being a little weird. For my family that means seeing into our own futures can be a little on the hazy side, but parents can see the fates of their children clear as day during pregnancy.

And what do people do so they don’t forget things, so information can be passed along? They write it down.

When you think about it, how cruel is our ‘gift’ then? To know how your kid’s life is going to play out before he or she is even born seems awful. But they write it down anyway and when we turn 18, we can read it if we choose to. Which apparently everyone does but me.

“Nia,” Uncle Nico tries, his low voice making the door rumble against my back. “I know you miss your parents, we all do, but isn’t a good way to honor them is by reading what they wrote for you? To know what they knew?”

I’m convinced there will never be a day in my life when the orphan card doesn’t sting as much as it does right now, but Uncle Nico doesn’t do it to be cruel. He has a point. He took me in, raised me along side my cousins like I was his own daughter, and always assures me that his brother would have been proud of the woman I’ve become.

I reach up and turn the doorknob, opening a crack just wide enough for a fraction of his face to be seen. “It’s the only thing of theirs I have left,” I confess, my tough façade quickly crumbling. “The only new thing, I mean.”

Aunt Moira calls out in rapid Greek for my cousins, aunts, and uncles to go away. It’s only when the sound of their scampering away dies down that I let them in. The only cousin remaining is Callie, always the exception to the rule since we were born on the same day. She wraps me in a hug that would be more comforting if it didn’t feel like a vice squishing the breath from my lungs.

When she lets go, her own big brown eyes – mirrors of my own – are somber. “I feel like this is all my fault.”

“Of course it’s not,” I say, taking a seat on the bed and seeking comfort in my childhood teddy bear. I mean, it kind of is her fault, but it was an accident. She was named for Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, and needed something to write in when Aunt Moira saw her accidentally unearth my fate and future from its hiding spot.

Uncle Nico sits next to me and pats my knee – a gesture so like my father that a new ache rolls over my heart. “Maybe if you could explain? Or if you let us explain. I’m not sure you know the whole story.”

“That’s the point!” I even say it in Greek, but Aunt Moira throws up her hands and starts praying to the gods all over again. I roll my eyes when I hear Athena’s name under her breath. Yeah, like the goddess of knowledge and wisdom is to blame for my particular brand of weird and desire not to know.

Callie groans, all too familiar with this type of scene since she’s usually on the receiving end. “Jeeze, Mom! How is she supposed to know if you won’t tell her?”

“How can I tell her if she won’t listen?”

“I promise to listen,” I offer, and that shuts everybody up. “I still get to choose if I want to read that thing or not, but I promise to at least listen to you.”

Uncle Nico and Callie eye Aunt Moira, and when she gives a small, curt, peeved nod, the tension rises off the shoulders of the rest of us.

“Okay,” Callie starts after taking a deep breath. “How much have you read, if any of it?”

The blue leather book is tiny, but its power over me makes it hard to breathe. “A few pages,” I admit. “When I was little I accidentally found it early.”

“And what did it say?”

The words I have blocked out for so long swim across my closed eyelids. “It perfectly predicted my life. Big things, little things. Mom knew it all. I didn’t see it again until you gave it to me on my birthday.”

Aunt Moira opens her mouth to interrupt, but Uncle Nico raises his hand, urging her to wait. “That’s it? You didn’t look ahead?” The booming baritone laugh he lets out bounces of my map-covered walls. Even Callie betrays me with a chuckle. “Oh Nia. Did your parents catch you and tell you your whole future was written in there?”

Annoyance is reemerging with every beat of my heart. “Oh koritasaki, don’t let them tease you,” Aunt Moira says. She envelops me in her Downy-scented embrace and pats my head. “I fell for that one when I was a girl, too. My grandmother had me so scared of the Fates I could hardly pray.”

Fell for it? Like a joke? “What do you mean? Dad told me the story all the time. The Fates let parents see their children’s futures, and you all write it down for when we’re older.”

“Well the writing down part is right, anyway,” Callie says. She pulls out her own book and opens it, leafing through the pages. “My whole life is recorded here, at least up until now.”

“Huh?” But she’s right. She’s stopped on a page where that’s only half-full of writing in Aunt Moira’s hand, but the rest is blank. Callie flips through to show the rest of the book is bare. Well, almost the rest. “What is this?”

“The gift has changed over the years,” Uncle Nico says. “Especially with things like free will. We each make our own destiny, we change our fates all the time. So instead of getting to see our future, the Fates have gifted us with something just as important – our pasts. They put the words on the page for history, not your parents.”

“Except for once.” Aunt Moira motions for Callie’s book and my cousin hands it over. “It’s not all a prank. When parents are pregnant, we typically each get one vision about something to come in that child’s life. That is clear and perfect and almost never changes. That we write down in the language of our ancestors.”

In the midst of blank pages, there are a few covered in Uncle Nico’s precise and clean handwriting, all in Greek. I look to Callie. “And you’ve read yours?”

She nods. “But I’m not telling. If it doesn’t change, it’s something to look forward to, that’s for sure.”

“And you weren’t scared?”

“The Fates could be cruel, but they generally only show us visions of hope,” Aunt Moira says. “But it’s up to you if you want to know or not.”

This revelation brings a peace I wasn’t expecting. Did my parents die knowing one good thing about me from the Fates, that I would be okay? I ask for my book and Callie obliges. Carefully I find today, my mother’s handwriting documenting how I’ve come to learn the truth about our family’s gift. To see her loopy scrawl come to life makes me feel like she’s still here, and I long to know something about myself that she and Dad knew when I lost them all too soon.

I hear Aunt Moira gasp – a tiny one, but still – as I let the blank pages that will be filled in the future pass beneath my thumb. When I get to Greek, I stop.

Dad’s words in Greek are just like they were in English – all in capital letters, he never wrote in lower case. My relatives sit silently, but I don’t let their anticipation eat at me. I make an invisible bubble around myself, blocking their curiosity out and leaving a space that’s just me, Mom, Dad, and a slice of my future.

It’s not what I was expecting. I’m surprised. Or maybe not. I smile silently to myself as I let these new words soak into my soul. Mom and Dad knew I’d be fine. That I’d be loved. That I’ll shake things up and I’ll find happiness like they did.

I close the book and relish the soft leather beneath my fingertips. “Okay.”

“Okay? Are you kidding? Come on, Nia! Give us more than that!” Callie is literally on the edge of her seat, leaning forward like my words can’t reach her ears fast enough.

“What happened to ‘we’ll respect your privacy’ and the fact that you’re not telling what yours says?” I press.

“My parents know what’s coming – they wrote it,” Callie whines. “That makes three of us who know my fate, but you’re the only one who knows yours!”

I roll my eyes. “Fine,” I say. “But you don’t get to know the whole thing, okay? Just one part. And none of you get to ask questions, okay?” I wait for them all to promise before I speak again.

I give them the juiciest bit. “I’m going to get married within a year of finishing college,” I say. To others that wouldn’t be a big deal, but to the girl who has never even had her first kiss yet and is almost 19, it’s huge. “To my soul mate, the love of my life, and we’ll have an amazing and long life together. His first name’s Apollo.”

Uncle Nico beams, nodding in approval. “Ah! A good Greek boy for our koritasaki.”

“His last name is Marino. Italian. Descendent of the Roman gods,” I say casually as I get up, open the door, and walk out of the room. The sound that bursts forth behind me is nothing short of chaos. Who knew three people could make so much noise? Of course this draws the attention of everyone else in our house and in about five minutes, my whole family will know.

Oh the Fates, you keep things interesting. Oh gods, here we go again.

 Sarah’s prompt: It’s time for a little bit of fan fiction! Take two characters from different books/TV shows/movies/etc., have them meet for lunch, then take it from there =)

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3 Comments

Filed under Monica

3 responses to “Oh the Fates

  1. Awesome!! To be honest, the fates didn’t even cross my mind when i gave you this prompt. I got excited when I saw the title.

    Nothing critiquey to be said! I liked how reading this, you felt like you already knew the characters.

    Awesome and can’t wait to start my story!!!

  2. Christina H

    Hey! I will have to write something in here for you guys sometime, Sarah! So cool you have a short stories blog! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Honey Moon | Stories by SaM

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