Q lives up to her initials. She’s fond of trying new things and not quitting them. While she can come off overeager and demanding at times, she’s lenient in conversation and good at killing awkward silences. People complain she’s a bit too chipper and giggly in life or death situations. She’ll tell you that should come with the whole doom and gloom territory that precedes being born in “this world that needs good WiFi to be invented.” In her opinion, being on the move isn’t a Twitter status; it’s the only way to live. Her travelstagram explains everything about that. Her zest for life is either refreshing or irritating, depending on how you interpret it.
Music is the easy way to get you in Q’s good books (not that you’d have much trouble getting listed.) She’s willing to listen to everything outside of gossip (too restrictive) and prophecies (she likes slam poetry though). Paying attention is a bendable rule for her, though, so don’t be too upset if she ends up tuning you out after the first ten minutes. Even if she encourages living in the moment, she’s no stranger to forethought. It’s not obvious though. Q jumps into situations like they’re puddles, and she’s very much a rain kind of person. Sunshine or not, you'll never know until you go for it.
Should I turn myself in? I can’t.
We were beautiful.
A law one ignores is not a law.
I don’t have the power to end this, but she does.
I won’t plead for forgiveness or mercy. To the sins the world wrote in our blood.
Mom said she met Themis before Italy. She never talked much. Mom was the strong, silent type. I got used to being the talker early on.
What were you running from, Mom? Themis, or something else?
Mom never cried in front of me, not until she died. I used to think I’d like to be that too, but I entertained the idea for about as long as Mom dated Themis.
I’m named for the places Mom visited while she was pregnant with me. She said I was the reason she decided to stop travelling. Something cheesy about how she didn’t need to see the world anymore when it was right there in her arms. I guess I got that heart melting cringe from her.
I was three when I had my first taste of danger. One of the people in the neighborhood was being assaulted. I remember my mom ordering me to stay put as she pulled out a pistol from the hidden compartment beside the door. She rushed out. Gunshots. Silence. More gunshots.
In pure childlike curiosity I didn’t stay put. The window shattered. That was how I earned the first groove in my hair. It would grow back, of course. Mom didn’t care for the window when she got back. She took one look at me and lost the flush in her cheeks.
I should have taken the hint. That was a crucial point I dismissed as basic mothering. As I later would learn, nothing about my mother was simple.
Mom didn’t tell me to stay out of trouble. I guess Themis told her. I didn’t like bullies. Still don’t. Four years later, I’d be trading tiny fists with other kids on the playground, in the park, well, really, everywhere. Mom put up with all of it. The other kid’s screaming parents, the complaints, my tantrums, the teachers calling her in...
I love you, Mom. I wish I’d told you that.
I wish I’d had the chance.
When I brought my first 7 home, Mom took me out to eat. My twelfth birthday presents were a toy gun, the kind you fill with water, and an iPhone 5. I know. The toy sounds so underwhelming. Twelve year old me surely thought so. It was the biggest surprise in my life. Mom wasn’t a miser, but she was frugal. We never worried about bills because of her budgeting. I still remember her beaming face and words.
“Passeratta, do you like it?”
I loved it. I didn’t love what came soon after.
I remember the restaurant in flames. My mom’s face in the darkest shadow it had ever been in. The iPhone glass stuck to the palm of my hand as she pushed me into our car and locked me inside.
It came. A beast of a crone, the stuff of nightmares, with its fangs longer than my forearms.
An eternity after Mom disappeared from my sight, she reappeared. Out of breath, she slid into the driver’s seat and floored it.
Mom, why didn’t you tell me everything then? Why did you omit the information? Why did you commit one more crime? Was that your last crime on this earth? Lying to me?
Monsters didn’t seem to differentiate between us and demigods.
I learned that fateful day that our house had exactly 47 hidden compartments, all of them containing weapons. My studies expanded. Math took a huge backseat for weapon handling and gun safety. Mom signed me up for fencing lessons. I got into more trouble in class for experimenting with powers, which I bitterly admit Mom mentioned way past my ATLA phase. The Mist hid enough for people to stay the hell away. I had friends when I wasn’t being the problem kid.
At sixteen, Mom bought me AirPods. Or so I thought at first. They have 2 extra functions you won’t find on any other model: UPGRADE and CELESTIAL BRONZE. Learned the CB function the hard way when I dropped one into the toilet and put that bathroom stall under maintenance for the rest of the school year. Had a good laugh at that. Wasn’t as funny for Mom. She scolded me for months. That same year, I got approved for my visa. That got Mom off my back about the bathroom mishap.
I should have treasured that time with her.
I’m sorry, Mom.
I failed you.
How could you?
“Ti voglio bene, passeratta.”
They were my only warmth for the following two years. Left the house in the hands of a caretaker. I had enough money in my name for it. Mom’s will begged me to go to Camp immediately. I couldn’t. I couldn’t be obedient this time. Not when Mom died. Not when everything created more and more questions. I wanted answers.
I packed my bags and headed to Taiwan. My hopes to find Mom’s extended family were crushed two weeks into my arrival. The last of them had died half a decade before. Old family friends assisted me in staying there. They were quick on the uptake about what I was. One of their kids was like me. Ever since I left Italy, I haven’t gone outside unarmed. It ended up being a wise decision with a demigod around. The attacks that followed hospitalized the other teen. I was unscratched. That should have tipped me off. My nightmares from when I was a child returned, but they were more vivid than before. There were new ones.
In those moments, I heard my mother’s voice and saw her smile again. Mother’s memories of Themis came to me in fragments. People I’d never seen before, laughing with my mother. She seemed so happy, so unlike the quiet mother I’d grown up with. I’d wake with more questions and try to grasp at the facts that slipped through my cupped fingers like water.
My search went on for two years. I even went back to Italy to visit all the places Mom had visited. Nothing. At last, I turned to Mom’s last wishes. The plane ride went smoothly. My attempt at my first dinner in the states, not so much. I walked into camp, my suitcase riddled with teeth marks, and Themis’ scales lit up above my head.
I’m not giving up yet, Mom.