Things Aren’t What They Seem
“Are you okay?”
“No…I feel sick inside,” I managed to get out, gesturing to my gut. Loki sighed and sat down next to where I was laying. I played with the blades of grass underneath my hands and looked to my house. The need to vomit grew inside me as I thought of what Sarah might yell at me this time.
“Why? You had a great victory,” Loki said as he twirled a strand of my loose hair between his finger and thumb. I would’ve been flustered at any other time but now I was only focused on my problems.
“Why didn’t you tell me that my ‘loose ends’ were problems…like that?” With every word I said, my irritation and anger grew.
“You didn’t ask.” Loki shrugged and all of a sudden I wanted to slap the look of disinterest from his face.
“Granted,” I said through clenched teeth. “But next time something like that comes up…please tell me.”
It was silent and the more it passed between us, the more my fear grew. He had mentioned that there was more than just one loose end. Mysteries that really weren’t secret. I knew exactly what I was going to face and it terrified me. I took Loki’s hand in mine, squeezing it.
“Is there still more to do?”
“I think you know.” Loki shot me a meaningful look and squeezed my hand, confirming everything. I looked away from him, not quite sure how to respond to that. My gaze focused on the few puffy clouds in the sky and for once I wanted to be them. Free to go wherever they wanted, no problems in life. I envied them.
“Will I…will I have to deal with my dad?”
“Eventually…yes…but I had to face my father,” Loki said with a mischievous grin. “And look at me now!” I couldn’t tell if he was serious or not but I burst out in laughter anyway, my fear fading. “What?”
“That doesn’t make me feel any better,” I got out between fits of giggles. An angry look passed over Loki and I wished I had just kept my mouth shut. He stood up in a flash, making me feel like a midget beside a giant.
“I didn’t choose who I am,” Loki growled. I stood up, my eyes never leaving the hurt in his. I wanted to hug him, tell him that I had only been joking but then I feared him yelling more.
“I know…that was mean.” I shook my head, walking over and taking his hand in mine. He tried to pull away but I just tightened my grip. After a few moments of stiff hand holding, he finally sighed and wrapped his fingers around mine. I jerked my head to the house behind us and he looked over his shoulder. “I didn’t mean it…I’m just scared.”
“I know. That’s why I’m here.”
When Loki and I walked into the house, Sarah was locked away in her room, probably plugged into her laptop. For once I appreciated the silence in the house. The only noise was Joseph eating his after-school-snack, music from his iPod blaring in his ears and some of it slipping to the outside world.
I couldn’t stand waiting for Sarah to come out and yell at me, so I preoccupied myself until then. I cleaned my room and restroom I shared with my siblings. Then I started to do the laundry, throwing clothes in the washer.
“So you are the housemaid?” Loki smiled playfully behind me, standing in the doorway of the laundry room. He nearly filled it entirely, reminding me just how much of a god he was.
“No,” I said as I tried not to smile, throwing another shirt into the washer.
“Then why are you doing this?”
“Well,” I paused as I shut the washer door with a loud thud. “The only thing I have left is homework and it’s not like I’m going to do that.”
His and my laughter rang throughout the house, twisting into the happiest sound I have ever heard in my life.
“Why do you have to go ruining everything?” Sarah screamed, interrupting me sweeping the kitchen floor. Loki sat up straighter at the kitchen table next to Joseph, both him and I shocked at the sudden noise. I winced as I turned to face her but managed to plaster an emotionless mask on my face before I met her cold glare.
“Maybe you should ask the question differently so I can possibly answer it,” I said innocently, even though I knew exactly what she was complaining about.
“Why did you have to curse that guy out?”
“Oh, man! That’s what she did?” Joseph asked, laughing. He had pulled out his ear buds just in time to hear Sarah walk in.
“Stay out of this. It’s none of your business,” I commanded before turning back to Sarah, a smile spreading across my lips. I hoped making the whole thing seem less than it was would calm her down. Loki scoffed as I opened my mouth again and I kept myself from yelling at him like the child he was acting like right now. “Boy, your friends tell you everything.”
“Are you surprised?”
“Well did they forget to mention that it’s not a big deal?”
“No…maybe because it is a big freaking deal!” Sarah placed her hands on her hips and I tried not to laugh. She just looked so silly in that position and what we were fighting over? We were wasting our breath. “Are you trying to ruin us?”
“Why do you say that?” I asked angrily, finally losing my cool. “This is my life! These are my decisions! I’m not out to get anyone else.”
“It doesn’t look that way.”
“Emily,” Loki cut in, an annoyed look crossed his face as he glanced at Sarah. I glanced over to him quickly, letting him know I was listening. “You need to end this.” I dipped my head slightly and looked back to Sarah.
“I’m sorry you see things the way you do…but I’m not doing anything wrong,” I said soothingly. “I’m handling my problems the way I can handle them…and better than before…You’re my sister and I love you but…you’re going to have to accept this. I can’t make this any better for you.”
There was silence and for a moment I thought I had gotten through to her. She looked between Joseph and me, as if she wasn’t sure what to do. I was opening my mouth to say something else but the angry look that took hold of her face to me otherwise.
“No! You’re not doing enough! If that is the best you’ve got then that’s pathetic,” she sneered, looking back to Joseph and then back to me. “Where’s the golden girl Mom and Dad think you are?”
“She’s gone,” I whispered, feeling as if I had been shot through the heart. “She was never there.” Loki got up from his seat, walking past Sarah and to my side. He placed a hand on my shoulder as if to comfort me but nothing could save me now.
“How sad,” Sarah said as she pulled out her best fake sad face. I wanted to slap her, my anger slipping up but the hand on my shoulder tightened its hold slightly, telling me to stay where I was. “Maybe we should tell Mom and Dad that….and Dad will never come back!”
“She’s not worth it,” Loki whispered into my ear. A tear slipped down my cheek as Sarah stormed away, leaving me broken.
“I can live with that,” Joseph grumbled.
“What?” I asked, wiping away my tear.
“Dad gone?” He smiled. “That would be amazing.”
“How can you say that?”
“Because it’s true,” Joseph laughed. “You know our lives would be a lot easier if he were gone…and I think you want that pig gone just as much as I do.” I didn’t answer back immediately, too shocked at the truth coming out of Joseph’s mouth. I didn’t answer because deep down I knew he was right. Slowly I walked over and took the chair next to Joseph, now eye to eye with him.
“He’s not a pig,” I whispered. “He is just going through a phase right now…”
“A midlife crisis? Give me a break,” Joseph laughed. “We all know that’s a load of bullshit.” He stood up from the table, leaving the remains of food on it as he headed for the door.
“Could you throw this away?” I asked, looking meaningfully towards the garbage in front of me. “I just picked up in here.”
“Why do I care?” Joseph asked as he took another step away from me. “It’s not like Dad’s here to see the mess and yell at us about it.”
“He could come back at any-”
“You’re just as stupid as Mom…aren’t you?” Joseph’s face was taken over by a look of disgust, making me feel like the garbage on the table. “Why do want him back so much? Is it so he can come back and praise you again?”
“Now don’t say that,” I managed to get out, truly feeling the blow. “Don’t say that…please don’t say that-”
“Why? Because it’s true?”
“You know it’s not.”
“Dad says otherwise,” he spat out. Somehow I heard Loki mumble something under his breath, looking to me apologetically. “He says that every time he chews me out…in fact…you’re the reason why this all happened. I would probably have a better life without you!”
“You make me look bad….you make Sarah look bad…you even make Mom look bad. The whole family is falling apart because of you.”
“I don’t want to hear it,” Joseph yelled, raising up his hands as if to stop me. “Sarah was right.”
And then he walked out of the room.
I sat in the chair numbly, not really sure what to do. Loki walked over to stand in front of me, and I felt like I was bowing to him, hunched over in the chair. I wasn’t the one who was bowing though. Loki got down on one knee in front of me, our faces inches apart. Slowly, he wiped the tears away from my cheeks.
“You’re not supposed to do that,” I whispered with a smile on my face even though I felt sick inside.
“Be nice to me,” I whispered, taking the hands wiping my cheeks in my hands, rubbing them softly with my thumbs. “You’re the God of Mischief. You’re supposed to laugh at me…or-or call me names…just like everyone else…”
“I don’t intend on doing that,” Loki said reassuringly. I shot him a look that told him I didn’t believe him and he just laughed. “Not what you would expect…isn’t it?”
“That’s why I’m here, Emily,” he paused as he squeezed my hands. “Things are not what they seem. I came here to show you that even those who seem closest to you are not. Family is not really family. Friends are not friends. You cannot trust anyone. You and you alone have to take charge, make the world yours.”
“You knew this was going to happen, didn’t you?” I asked, looking for an answer in the deep green eyes staring back at me.
“No…,” Loki said innocently but then he smiled, throwing off his whole charade. “But doesn’t something like this always happen to you?”
As I considered the question, I knew that I already knew the answer. And it saddened me. He was right though. Slowly, I rested my forehead against his, closing my eyes to keep the tears back.