Mom Was a Goddess

by Howard Faxon

Copyright© 2014 by Howard Faxon

Fantasy Story: If the Greek pantheon really existed there would be a lot of gods, goddesses and half-mortals out there. This is the story of Amos, a very long-lived half-god, half-mortal.

Tags: Fiction  

My earliest memory was of looking up at a beautiful face. She had curly brown-red hair, a little up-turned nose and freckles under her eyes. I fell in love with her then and I still love her today. She's my mom, Hermione. I'd always see her in a light yellow chiton. Even though she worked every day in the garden on her hands and knees her clothes always were clean. I remember her smiling while complaining that I hadn't inherited that trick. I must have been a messy kid.

I remember sitting by the field, watching my mother dig her hands into the stones and rub them into soil. I thought that it was a pretty cool trick so I tried it. I'd been at it a while when mom caught me. I must have been crying as he held me up in her big, strong arms. "I'm sorry, mommy. I didn't mean to do bad." She laughed and hugged me close. I still remember the smell of her hair. "No, no little Amos. You have done no bad. It is not a bad thing to learn from your elders. Come, see what else I can do and see if you can do the same."

We walked to a cliff-side where she pushed her hands into the rock and peeled it away until the surface was smooth as a still pond. I approached it as she stepped back, watching. I ran my hand over the smooth surface, feeling how it 'measured' inside. I plowed out a small trench with my fingers, just wide enough to hold my fingers, then starting as high as I could reach and as wide as I could reach, I pointed my fingers at each other and peeled off a layer of stone, leaving behind a surface slick as polished marble.

She patted my shoulder. "Well done. You will never lack for work. But for now we must work in the garden or we will go hungry." The rest of the day blurred into pulling weed after weed, crushing rock after rock and hauling buckets of water. It was a wonder that I didn't wear grooves into my shoulders from hauling buckets of water on ropes.

I remember that it wasn't long after that, that I traded a farmer who made shoulder yokes his skill for mine--I smoothed and pressed together the rocks making up his cottage so that the wind wouldn't blow in, the roof wouldn't leak and the floor would be easier on his feet. I saw where his chimney was smoking inside the cottage and sealed that as well. Mother chided me later for giving more value in return for what I got. I then learned about value and how to barter.

When the big brass pulley at the top of the well broke I learned I could sculpt metal as I did stone. Mother showed me how to draw a circle with a pin, a string and a scribe. With a circle scribed onto a smooth wood plank as a guide I reformed the pulley as if it were clay--pulling, pinching and rolling the metal in my fingers. We had some small bits of bronze on the farm from old tools that had worn too thin. I smoothed those bits into the pulley to strengthen it. I thought that it turned out pretty well, myself. I was certainly the hero of the farm for a few days after that.

I was perhaps sixty or seventy and looked but a tenth of that. Mother and I walked across the hills and valleys to the city that bore her name. We needed to trade for rope, cloth, tools and salt. We split up, mother to go to the temple to collect her due while I set about exploring the city.

I offered to fix a street vendor's tool for dipping fried fish out of hot oil for a few meals, a deal that he gratefully accepted. The next day word had spread. I bargained for a new hand cart and my weight in clean salt to fix the rutted way down to the docks. The long stone piers were rutted as well so I fixed them too. Then I decorated the ancient stone pollards with carvings of flowers that I had seen on the farm. I recieved four talents in bronze for repairing the piers. ( A talent weighs roughly 56 pounds.)

When I went to mother's temple to show her what I had bargained for, there was much wailing and crying out. I finally had to shake someone to find out what happened. Worshipers of Hades had stolen her as their god had reputedly stolen her mother. I sent up a prayer to Posudi, Earth Shaker to bless my task. I took up a talent's worth of bronze and worked a wood pole through it the size of my forearm. I Worked on it until, upon striking the ground the buildings close to me shook. I kept up a chant to Posudi as I walked to their temple. I seemed to grow and my footsteps shook the earth as I marched. My vision grew dim. That was all I knew.

I was reclining on a bench in Mother's temple with my head on her lap when I awoke. She was covered in many small cuts. I was horrified! I went to my knees and wept thinking I had caused her this distress. She woke and took me in her arms. "No, no, dear one. None of what you see is your fault. They chained me and bled me in preparation for sacrifice to Hades. You, beloved, summoned the brother of Hades, the great Earth Shaker to ride your body and soul. The temple of Hades is no more and its worshipers have been sacrificed to the sea." My hammer had disappeared--it had become a temple treasure of Poseidon. I had no argument with that. I went to the temple of Poseidon and asked to see it. I placed my fingers on the head and said, "Thank you, Earth Shaker." The metal glowed for a moment beneath my hand and accepted the patterns of my fingers. I bowed my head to touch the altar and left.

We took what stores and metal that we wanted from the wreckage of the temple of Hades. Along with my cart, after mother was healed she filled and pulled another. When we were a ways past the edge of the city she cursed it. She cursed the city and all within her to bear no growing thing, to bear no child, the fields to remain sterile for a decade, to a distance of one hundred stadia from the city center. (very roughly fourteen miles) I watched the grasses wither away in a wave starting from her feet as we stood there. I gained a new understanding of the power of the holy ones.

After that time I had a sequence of many dreams. Some were instructional, some seemed prophetic. I learned that my talents rose from the blood I shared with Hades himself, who mated with my grandmother. Poseidon, the brother of Hades, spoke with me after I hosted his will. I learned that we lived in a place on Terra upon which the very stones deep beneath us twisted and squirmed in the dark. It bore the spirit of more than one Titan. When they stirred uneasily in their slumber there was nothing that would stop them until they were comfortable once again. Posudi could predict where the destructive airs and blood of Terra would spill, and could even cause their dances in a small way. I was advised as how and where to dig to create a safe redoubt in the mountains near the farm. I spent many long mornings and evenings after working the fields planning rooms and galleries, digging them out and smoothing the walls. I had to make flues large enough to crawl through so as to lay hands on the rock in order to lengthen the ways. Great windows illuminated the large interior spaces from the east and west, following the course of the sun. Cunning larders were dug, sloping deep beneath the surface that naturally gathered cold air and formed a rime of ice over the ceilings, walls and floors.

I asked of my mother where I should dig to form a sweet well to provision the redoubt. She said that she did not have the talent of augury, but would send away to a cousin of hers that did. A short blonde lady appeared a-horseback one afternoon. She had curly hair and sat her horse like a sack of grain, flopping this way and that. When she looked my way I no longer was amused--I was chastened by the light shining from her eyes. I could not look upon her face. Mother could. She stayed for three days, enjoying the conversation, the food and the farm. When she left I found an "X" inscribed in chalk within the redoubt. I borrowed several workers and two carts to help me. I dug a well six feet around, with a two foot staircase and a central two foot bore down within the stone of the mountain's bones. My helpers raised and lowered a bucket on a rope to fetch out the pieces of stone, while two teams on the surface with carts hauled away the dross. I dug all through the winter. In the early spring I broke through a wall leading to an underground reservoir. The jet of water nearly knocked me senseless. The water soon had me swimming in place as I floated up. I walked up the rest of the way to the surface on the circular stairs, shivering from the nearly-frozen water which I had been drenched in. I sat before a fire that night, eating my supper. We had our well, and it was a well for the ages!

I learned of a worrisome progression in my dreams. Wood was as to flaked stone, as flaked stone was as to bronze, as bronze was as to wrought iron, as wrought iron was as to tempered steel. Man was caught up in a race for ascendency controlled by the weapons he could command. His moral compass which had been guided by his faith could no longer be trusted. Only gold fever was a more merciless mistress. The goddess of war--La Belle Damme sans Merci. Who said Mars was male?

The local politics were getting fierce. I convinced Mother to take a trip with me aboard a bireme up the coast. I sealed the redoubt before we left with a wall of stone as thick as I was tall. What were later known as the spartans were known in their age as the rope makers. Athens made sails. Many cities made the hulls. Many lives were lost due to pursuit of trade, between cities and trading houses. Those first with the product usually commanded the highest price. Those at sail learned the brutal lessons taught by nature--second best often had a place in the trade if the product was a staple that had a constant demand but by then the price gotten for the product may not pay the debts incurred in buying and shipping it.

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