There's Something Different About this Kid
When I first met Sally Jackson, I had no clue my everyday normal life would be turned upside down and changed into the very myths that I teach in my English classes.
Nope, when I first met Sally Jackson, I only knew that she was a beautiful woman who looked very lonely and very worn down.
So I befriended her. And I discovered what very few people knew about her. Sally's parents had died in an airplane crash while she was young. After that she had gone to live with an uncle that hadn't exactly cared for her and when he had been sick, she had left school her senior year of high school. When he died, she had no money, no family and no diploma. But she still held on to her dream of being a writer.
She was a single parent; some jerk got her pregnant, didn't marry her, then got on a boat and was now 'lost at sea.' The way she said it, you could tell that she didn't believe the guy was dead even after all these years. It was as though she could race out to the sea that she spoke of with so much love and look over the waves and he'd be right there watching her. I had wanted to shake some sense into her and tell that she had to move on. The guy couldn't have been all that great if he had left her while she was pregnant with his child.
That child was her life. Percy Jackson was thirteen, diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD, kicked out of seven schools, enjoyed skateboarding and basketball, and was away at summer camp. Personally, I couldn't see what was so great about this apparently troubled kid, but it made me want to help Sally even more.
She also told me of how she and Percy loved to go and stay on the beach and eat – of all things – blue food. Her eyes sparkled as she talked about him and their time together. Her patience, her love and her strength became her most enduring factors to me. And the more time we spent together, the more I was determined to help her in any way I could.
And that turned into love, which was now I was shooting hoops in my backyard with my soon to be step son Percy Jackson. There was something different about this kid. I play all my cards to help him get into Goode High School, and freshman orientation comes and I find the band room up in flames with the kid right in the center of it all. Now despite all of Percy's problems, I knew that he couldn't have started it. Because overall, he seemed like a pretty good kid. Maybe a little socially awkward, maybe a magnet for trouble, maybe annoying with a quirky sense of humor, but he definitely wasn't the fire starting type. But he didn't help his case any by running away from the scene.
Then there was that time I came to visit Sally and found her crying on the couch. The only thing I could get out of her that made any sense was a heart wrenching, "m – my little h – hero is m – missing." Somehow I figured that the 'little hero' was her son, and I could only hold her as she cried. Any mother would cry over their child, but somehow this was different, because there was something different with this kid.
Then Percy's fifteenth birthday came around, and I met his father. Percy had been found by then (and I never did get a straight explanation but I figured due to the stress and gravity of it all I'd leave it alone). I saw then where Percy got his looks; he had the same sea green eyes and messy black hair as the man I met and introduced himself as Poseidon. To my great annoyance, he mixed up my surname Blofis with blowfish. I had had enough of that in my school days, so I immediately corrected him. He had said that it was a shame; he liked blowfish, then gave a grin that clearly spoke of an inside joke that I was not involved in. Same thing happened when I asked him about his own name being the same as the Greek god of the sea and a brief exchange about ancient history. Later, when I realized that Poseidon was gone without my knowing, Sally and Percy tried to convince me that he had gone out via the fire escape. I bought the story for their sakes, but it was then I realized that there was something different about this kid because there was something different about his father.
Nevertheless, I will give Percy credit, he was fun to just relax and shoot a couple of baskets with.
"Ten to eight!" I declared as I made another goal. Percy startled, as though his mind was elsewhere. I frowned and motioned to the step by my door. "Is there something on your mind Percy? We can take a break and talk about if you want." Percy ruffled his hair, clearly nervous.
"Yeah," he said, slowly as though trying to figure out exactly what he was going to do. "Sure – talk… great."
I tossed the ball to him and we seated ourselves on the concrete. "Girl trouble?" I guessed and waited for him to speak.
"No… yes – kinda, but that's not what I want to talk about," the kid sighed and continued. "Look, before you and Mom get married there is something you should probably know about me. I'm – my dad is… Oh gods, you're going to think I'm insane."
I couldn't help but rise my eyebrow on his choice of words, 'oh gods,' and not 'oh God.'
Not that I haven't noticed it before, but it suddenly struck me as a weird thing for a twenty-first century teenager to say.
Then again, I knew there was something different about this kid.
Percy licked his lower lip and as though a sudden thought hit him, his head jerked to the fountain that I have in the grass. He stared at it, seeming like he was concentrating on something.
"Percy …?" I started to ask uncertainly.
My jaw dropped as the water in the fountain turned on by itself and was now imitating something similar to an ocean current.
"How on earth…"
"I did it," Percy said bluntly , as though he controlled fountains every day. He took a deep breath. "My dad Poseidon is the very same Poseidon that is known as the Greek god of the sea, which makes me half god, half human otherwise known as a demigod or a half blood. Since my father is the god of the sea, I inherited some of his powers that deal with water. This camp I go to? It's for other demigods, children of Zeus, Poseidon, Athena, Aphrodite, Ares, and the other main gods. And we train so that we can keep the mortal world safe from monsters… and I can tell from the look on your face that you don't believe a word I'm saying."
Now I know there was something different about this kid, but a demigod? Really? I'd say that Percy had quite the imagination, though from what I know about him, it wasn't this crazy of an imagination. And despite all the trouble he gets into, he wasn't one to seek attention. So that only left one conclusion: he really believed that he was in his terms, a 'half blood.' I shook my head. I couldn't argue with him; his voice was very sincere. I had thought that perhaps a real father figure would help him out with all his problems but this – this was beyond my control. How did you handle a child who thought he was a child of a god out of Greek myths?
I gently took the ball out of his hands. "I think I better take you back to your mother's Percy."
"You – I mean, I … You don't believe me. Okay, I get that, but are you really going to get Mom involved?"
"In the car, Percy…"
"You remember my freshman orientation?" Percy interrupted. "I had been fighting monsters then. A pair of your cheerleaders were really e –"
"Percy," I interrupted gently but firmly.
"Will you just listen to me?! Those cheerleaders were really empousa, which I guess is a Greek version of a female Dracula… anyway --"
"Will you want until we get to your mother's?" I interrupted again, pulling into Sally's driveway.
"We're at my mom's house now; this is her driveway after all. Anyway as I was saying…"
"Paul? Percy? You guys are home early!" Sally ran down the pavement and hugged her son, then gave me a quick kiss.
"Sally, I need to speak with you…"
"He doesn't believe me Mom," Percy growled, as he walked passed us and headed to the door. "He won't even listen!" With that said, Percy let the door slam behind me. I gave the kid that benefit of the doubt and blamed it on the wind.
Sally meanwhile looked away from the closed door that her son had gone through and turned to me with a stern look. "So I'm guessing he told you then?"
For a moment I was speechless; I was not expecting Sally to even know what we had been talking about, much less giving me the stern look.
"Your son thinks his father is Poseidon!" I exclaimed.
Sally gave me a 'duh' look. "That would be because his father is Poseidon; you met him remember?"
I sighed, "I mean Poseidon as in the sea god from the Greek myths Poseidon…"
"And you don't believe him," said Sally calmly, a little too calmly. "Did you even let him tell you the story? The full story?"
"I'll take that as a no," the woman then did something that shocked me even more then Percy's claim. She took off her engagement ring, took hold of my hand, and placed the diamond in my palm. "Then I'm afraid I can't go through with this."
I could only stare at the ring in my hand. "But…"
"You've been great Paul; you really have. You have listened to me, cared for me. You have been great for Percy. And I love you. But I cannot marry you if you don't believe my son. One, I will always side with him first and foremost. His needs will always be my number one priority. Second, it's too dangerous for you to be in this family and not believe. Things are happening Paul! And they're directly affecting Percy, affecting this family. You must be willing to be a part of this family no matter what… Greek gods, half bloods and all."
I was about to call her insane too… until I remembered that this was Sally I was talking to, the most sane woman in the world. Percy meant the world to her. If he was going on and on about being a demigod and it wasn't true, then surely Sally would have gotten help for him already. So that meant it had to true, no matter how insane it sounded… but that didn't mean that I had to believe it quite yet. I looked down at the engagement ring in my hand then back into Sally's stern gaze.
"I – I'll talk to him. Let him tell me the whole story. Apologize and all," I began. "But Sally, do you honestly expect me to take this all in and believe all at once?"
My fiancé's face softened, "Of course not Paul; it's a lot to take in I know. But please, for this family's sake, try."
I nodded, hardly even trying to comprehend what I was getting into. I held out her ring and gently took her fingers with my free hand. "Will you still have me then?"
"Yes Paul," she said with a gentle smile. "And thank you, love."
I once again placed the silver band on her left ring finger and she gave me another quick kiss. Sally then returned to the oven, where I smelled spaghetti boiling for dinner. With one final look at her, I turned away and went to knock on Percy's bedroom door. He opened it and gave me a distrustful glare.
"So what's the plan? Trying to convince Mom to put me into a mad house?"
I winced at his tone, there was a lot of pain in it. "No Percy, I'm here to listen."
The young man's sea green eyes widened in shock. He studied me for a moment, then opened his door al l the way. "You may want to sit down then; it's a loooong story."
And so, Percy told me everything; all about the stolen lightning bolt, about the Golden Fleece, holding up the sky, about battling the creatures of the labyrinth. He told me of the waging war against the rising Titan god Kronos, and how an old friend had betrayed them all and became the ancient being's vessel. And I sat through it all, trying to take it all in.
I knew there was something different about this kid, but I couldn't have for the life of me guess just how much. No wonder he was Sally's world, this difference was something incredibly special.