I'm Not Helpless
"I am not going to help, Silena. That is final!" Clarisse La Rue barked.
Despite her previous pleasantness, she seemed to be growing tired of our discussion. I gritted my teeth in frustration and put my hands on my hips, but I kept my composure and tried again.
"Clarisse, everyone has to play a part here," I said with a hint of finality. "You need to help your friends." Chris Rodriguez, the only person who could talk sense into Clarisse, nodded in agreement.
"I'm not helping, and neither is anyone from the Ares cabin!" she snapped for about the millionth time. "We will stay here and make sure nothing happens to the camp."
"If all our friends die, there won't be any reason to protect it anymore," said Chris. I looked back to Clarisse hopefully, praying she'd at least listen to logic, but she just shook her head.
"I'm sorry, Silena," she said, not sounding too apologetic. "But I'm not going anywhere. End of conversation." Then she stomped off towards the lake, her tousled brown hair bouncing behind her. Chris scrambled to keep up. I watched them go and thought about following. Finally, I came to the conclusion that arguing with Clarisse would not make her change her mind about helping Percy. I had to find some other way to get the Ares cabin to Manhattan.
I stared angrily at the early evening sky that was slowly turning into beautiful sunset and felt tears rising to my eyes. I didn't know if they were from anger, sadness, or grief. Maybe it was because recently, I was constantly crying, whether I wanted to or not.
Every time something bad happened nowadays, even if it was as small as my mascara being smeared, I would lose all patience immediately and want to cry. It was getting harder and harder to control my emotions, which was why distracted myself with other things. Every time I cried, everything I had faced these past weeks came tumbling down like a wall. This whole war had me in pieces, mostly because of Charlie. I missed him terribly, and I would do anything to see him again. I would die for him.
I could almost hear his voice telling me to be strong and keep pressing on.
That voice in my head didn't understand me. No one even knew how much I was suffering, because they'd never lost anyone so close to their heart. Percy and Annabeth still had each other. Chris and Clarisse. I was the only one, and I was the only one who could set this right.
A dangerous idea crept into my mind. It was my only option, though, so I turned around to make sure no one was watching me and then quietly headed toward the Ares cabin. Luckily, no one was there either.
I swung open the door and saw the whole place was trashed. Personal weapons were randomly leaning against the wall or had been tossed pointlessly on the floor. The color red seemed to be everywhere I looked. The walls were stained with Zeus knew what, and little sunlight shown through the fogged windows.
Trying to make a path for myself, I pinched the end of a cape and flung it aside. The whole place was repulsive compared to the Aphrodite cabin.
I finally made my way over to Clarisse's pile of junk and rummaged through it. There were clothes and other basic need items. Underneath it all, I found her armor and sword. I struggled to pick up the weapon and slashed it through the air, accidentally slicing someone's robe in half.
"Oops," I murmured, placing the sword back on the floor gently.
I folded the two pieces of the sliced robe and delicately pushed it under a bed, assuring myself that I did the person a favor by destroying such a hideous piece of clothing. I explored some more of Clarisse's stuff but eventually decided to pick up the armor. It surprisingly wasn't as heavy as I had assumed.
I took a deep breath and slipped the armor on. I grunted as I struggled to string the back together. Eventually, I did get it on. It sagged helplessly on my body. I didn't feel like a very threatening warrior. I turned to see my best friend, a mirror. I didn't look much like a warrior either.
"This has to work," I whispered to myself. I had promised Percy that the Ares cabin would help him. I couldn't let everyone down again…
As soon as this thought entered my mind, I began to cry. The floodgates were burst, and I couldn't do much to stop them now. Why had I decided to help Luke? He killed Charlie, and I helped him do it. I couldn't find a direct reason for my treachery to lead to Charlie's death, but I still felt responsible. Maybe if I hadn't betrayed the camp, he wouldn't have had to go on that mission. Maybe he would still be with me now…
I sobbed uncontrollably in front of the mirror. I fell to my knees, and the armor clanged on the floor. I ripped off the helmet and wiped my eyes. Eyeliner smudged across the tops of my eyelids. My hair hung loose in the middle of my forehead, and tears streamed down my rosy cheeks.
I hyperventilated and tried to pull myself together. The fragile wall that was protecting my sanity was falling in pieces at my feet. And so was my heart.
Agony surged through me as I thought of Percy, Luke, Charlie, my mother, Clarisse… everyone I cared about.
I could swear on the River Styx I heard someone call my name.
Do it now, Silena. It's the only way.
"Charlie? Luke? Percy?" I whimpered, looking around. "Who are you?"
Put the helmet on and go.
I wiped my eyes again and tried to control my breathing.
Do it now, Silena. There isn't much time.
I didn't try to recognize the voice any longer. I didn't know if it was Charlie's ghost, Percy's encouragement, my mother's wisdom, or just my own hallucination. I was still hysterical, which might explain why I did what I did.
I picked up the helmet and stared angrily at my reflection. I grinded my teeth and put on the helmet. I was not a helpless Aphrodite girl.
I would do it for Percy. I would do it for Charlie. I would do it for myself, and I would make a new name for my cabin and come out victorious.
Trudging out of the Ares sorry excuse for a cabin, I slipped on the helmet and looked around. Clarisse and Chris were still down by the lake, and it looked as if the rest of the Ares cabin was in the training area, probably destroying practice dummies, no doubt. Careful to make sure Clarisse didn't see me, I snuck over to the training area.
"Listen up!" I yelled at the Ares campers in my best imitation of Clarisse's threatening tone. They all stopped what they were doing to stare at me. I bit my lip, slightly embarrassed, but stayed strong.
"What are you doing, Clarisse?" one of the girls demanded.
"Yeah, what's the big idea? Why do you have your armor on?" another camper yelled, one of the larger boys who looked like they could beat me to a pulp if he wanted.
"We have to go down to Manhattan and help Percy Jackson," I explained loudly. "We have to help them defend Olympus from Kronos' forces."
"Like hell we're going down there," the same boy said dismissively, turning away. Other campers began to follow his lead. My face turned red with anger at the disrespect.
"I am your leader, and you will listen to me!" My voice was filled with such strength and confidence that the arena was silenced at once. All eyes were on me again. I took a deep breath. "Are we going to let the gods get destroyed by the titans? Just because they haven't done anything for us doesn't mean we can't do anything for them. We can prove that we're better than the gods. We may not be immortal, but that may be our greatest strength. We can die for a cause. Every single person who dies will give the rest of us more power to win. We are the ones who are going to change the future or destroy it. I am going to Manhattan with or without you guys backing me up. I am going to be remembered for doing what is right, and if you want to as well… well, that's your choice."
Everyone was silent and for a scary second I thought they were going to attack me. That is, until the boy who had rejected my idea earlier spoke up.
"What are we waiting for then?" he asked, a slight smile on his face.
As everyone around me cheered, I was filled with adrenaline and anticipation. My heart thumped in the presence of wild excitement and energy. I was filled with a renewed strength that I had lost when Charlie passed.
I was ready to face my destiny.