I repeated what I had done last time, but now, I was stronger and better at controlling my power, thanks to two months of hardworking. When I had finished growing a pomegranate tree and fruits had grown out, I looked toward Eros triumphantly.
He raised an eyebrow, like my Exam was child play. Nevertheless, he wrote something down on a pad and cleared his throat. Next, he said in a deep voice, unlike the dreamy one he had had:
“I, as your Examiner and a primordial god, announce that you, Persephone, have passed the General Exam of the Olympian Gods. You are now worthy of your title—goddess of springtime.”
As he spoke, I recognized several words that I didn’t know, but before I could ask him, he finished, and a golden light embraced me.
When it cleared, I could feel no difference in my body other than a surge of renewed energy. So this is how it feels like to be an actual goddess! For some reason, I could feel that someone was standing behind the Exam room door.
Eros smiled, but in a mysterious way, so that I didn’t know what he was thinking. Then suddenly, as if—just by looking at him—I had regained memory, images flashed across my mind. The primordial gods—Eros, Nyx, Gaea, Tartarus, Uranus; the Olympian gods—they’re us, the students in this school—
Eros was my Examiner but also god of love, like Aphrodite the goddess of love. He was bringer of happiness but also of many heartbreaks. Oh, now I understood why Hades had not wanted me to take the Exam: I would pass and—and—
“Please feel free to go,” Eros interrupted my thoughts. “It is your choice to be here today, and now it is your choice to embrace your identity.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “What do you mean?”
“Oh well.” He waved a hand dismissively. “Now I see, Hades is obedient when it comes to rules. You people who have become gods or goddesses are not allowed to speak of your introspection. But you will know what I mean when you walk out from this door. There is a reason that Hades…is protective of you.”
I was getting annoyed, but I knew better than taking my rage on him, a primordial god, so I said thank you and opened the door.
Outside, there was no one, but as I stared closer, I could see a wisp of smoke in the turn of the corner. No, not smoke—Hades’s essence.
“Hades,” I started as I walked around the corner, but stopped when I saw him.
What happened with Eros came back; this time, a single image flashed into my mind: Hades putting a crown made of thousand jewels onto my head, and atop his own head stood a golden crown that matched the design of mine.
I gasped, the image faded away, and I doubled over. A nauseated feeling washed over me, though it wasn’t because of the image.
Hades—the real one, the one in front of me—didn’t say anything, but put an arm around me to help me up. I didn’t dare look at him in the eye; I was afraid that if I did, I would see more than I wanted to.
“Congratulations, you passed,” he said calmly, without any emotions in his tone.
“Thanks.” I paused. “How do you know I passed?”
“Your essence is everywhere, stronger than before.”
“I hope that’s a compliment.”
“Do you want some food?” A pause. “You didn’t come to lunch today.”
I sighed and shook my head. “You know, Zeus.”
“I can get some food for you…if you want.”
I froze. A chilly feeling ran down my spine as he spoke the last sentence. Some part in me didn’t want him to get me anything to eat. He must have noticed my reluctance too, because he quickly changed the topic, “You wanna go back to dorm?”
“If you’re willing to tell me…you are the goddess of?”
I glanced at him for an instance, but he seemed to hold my gaze forever. Hades’s form flashed like it was virtual; for a second, a golden crown in the image seemed to appear on his head, and then it disappeared, and everything was back to normal.
“We need to talk.” At this point I didn’t care about if he brought food for me. “And bring me some food.”
(featured image by Jeroen Stoute, “Data–Tumor”)