Kind of Deranged
I had changed throughout the years. Yeah, changed a lot.
For one, I was not that scrawny little twelve-year-old messy-haired ADHD boy anymore. Well, okay, I was still messy-haired and ADHD. And a boy. Oh, but who cares. Point made. I changed. Period. Okay?
Where were we…? Ah, right. Change and such. Here we go:
One day, my parents and I – meaning Sally and his by-now-father-in-law Paul and, uh, me – were sitting in the kitchen, enjoying a peaceful meal. No monsters, no gods, no demi-gods flying out of closets (neither literally nor metaphorically); so basically, nothing kinky going on.
Right now there was also no one claiming world-domination for a change. Not that there were many races left who could after we had destroyed as well the titans as the giants and Gaia in the last couple of years. So if the slugs were not planning a massive invasion to take over Olympus, we were probably safe for a while.
So, all in all, life was great. Maybe a little slow – even boring – but nonetheless great. It was the first time in my life I wasn't part of some weird overdone world-changing Great Prophecy of So-Not-Greatness. That left me with a couple of monsters a month, a nagging but nice girlfriend and some friends. Basically: Yay!
I did have one problem, though. A more significant change than the others. And there it comes:
"Percy, have you seen your father lately?" Mom asked innocently.
I almost choked on my noodles and coughed violently. I was vaguely aware of Paul hitting my back to help me spit out the pasta from my lungs.
"Are you alright?" they asked in unison.
"Uh…" I coughed one last time. "Yes. Sure am. I'm great. I'm alive. Kind of. And eloquent as always, right? Hahaha…"
Mom and Paul looked at me as if I'd… I don't know. Declared I wanted to start dancing ballet? Which meant something between surprised, horrified and worried.
"What's wrong, honey?" Mom asked worriedly, checking my forehead with her hand. "You don't seem to be running a fever."
"Nothing… Everything's okay" I said and tried for a smile. "Would you excuse me?"
"No," Mom replied bluntly.
That was not exactly the answer I had been hoping for.
"Perseus, you tell us right away what is wrong with you."
""No" will not be taken for an answer, young man."
Paul shifted in his chair uncomfortably. "Do you want me to leave you two alone?"
I sighed, seeing there was no way out now. I had known this day would come. This embarrassing, embarrassing day. Damn it.
"No, Paul, you can stay," I answered. "It has nothing to do with you."
As I did not proceed, Mom seemed to grow more agitated. "Does it have something to do with Poseidon?"
"Um. Yes and no," I answered and swallowed.
"Do I have, what, 18 questions left now?" my mom asked, probably wanting to lift the mood a bit.
"So I take it you've met Poseidon sometime after the Titan War?"
"No, actually, I don't think I have…" I muttered truthfully. With gods, you could never be sure. Maybe I had even met him since then, but in disguise? It wasn't like my problem had anything to do with Dad as a person, anyway, though.
"M-mom… The truth is…" I started, swinging my right foot left and right like the little child I felt like just then. "I'm… I'm…"
"I'M SCARED OF WATER, OKAY?"
Well, that put an abrupt stop to our unfortunate conversation.
"You're afraid of… water?" Paul eventually asked incredulously.
As if there was a chance I might have misunderstood him, he repeated: "Water."
I flushed. "Yes."
"… You're the son of the sea god. How can you be afraid of water?"
"I don't know, it's… there. And it's… wet."
I inwardly slapped myself and put my head through a nice, blue brick wall covered in ivy. Why couldn't I just tell them about what I went through on my way to Alaska? That stupid pit in the earth that tried to swallow me? I didn't know, honest. I knew my explanation sounded way more stupid than the real reason.
"Uh…" Mom said. "I don't really know how to ask this since I wasn't exactly prepared to ever lead a discussion like this with you, but: What?"
I looked into my lap (no, not there), suddenly finding my hands very, very interesting. "I'm afraid I might… drown. Or something."
I didn't know why, but somehow I got the feeling that somewhere right then at that moment, Poseidon was sitting somewhere laughing his head off. I could hear it till here or at least so I thought. Maybe I was just paranoid, though. Yeah, probably.
"Oh, honey. You can breathe underwater," Mom said soothingly. I don't know how she could take me seriously. I could see Paul was trying hard to stifle a laugh. I could not blame him, really. It was funny.
Maybe I should talk to Thalia. I made a memo to approach her when I next met her. We would pair up great. Daughter of sky, afraid of heights, son of sea, freaked out by water. Maybe Nico could grow scared of shadows or something, so we would have the whole freak show together.
"Y-yes. I probably can breathe underwater, right? Haha… ha. Silly me. I guess I'm just kind of deranged. Just forget it, okay?"
"No, please, Percy… Talk to us. Why are you suddenly afraid of water?" she asked.
I wondered why I ever told her. One of the things I really dreaded was talking about my near-death-experiences to my mother. I did not want her to know how screwed-up my life really could be.
"I kind of suffocated. Almost. In a pit full of mud." There, I said it.
Mom swallowed hard, and for a moment I was afraid that all her mother-bear-instincts would make her beat herself up for not being there and protecting her kid from the evil earth-goddess. But she seemed to hold it together, even though she clenched her teeth for a moment.
"Percy… have you talked to your father about this?" she asked.
"No… Like I said, I haven't seen him since the war," I replied mechanically. Besides, it's not like I'm hot on having this conversation with him… 'Hey Dad, you remember how you told me I was your favourite son? Well, too bad, 'cause you and your element scare the crap out of me.'
"Could I go now? I'm really tired," I begged, and I didn't lie. I was exhausted, mentally and physically.
"Okay, you may," Mom said and took pity on me. "Tell me if I can somehow help you with your… um. Issue."
"Same goes for me," Paul added, all amusement gone.
"Thanks, I will."
"Good night, hon."
"Sleep well, Perce."
Mom gave me a brief kiss on the cheek and Paul and I gave a nod.
At least this was over now.
The next morning, I woke up with a note tagged to my forehead. I groaned and removed it to read it.
Dear Percy. May be kind of deranged, too, but don't have a habit of drowning my own kids. Do hope I'll regain your trust with my present.
At first, I was so drowsy that I did not get what the note meant. I blinked a couple of times and stared at it, noticing the yellowish colour and the lines. It looked like it had been ripped from my notebook. Then I noticed what really disturbed me about it. It was easy for me to read, which meant... It was not written in Latin letters.
The note was in ancient Greek. In a familiar handwriting. And it mentioned a present.
Had Mom contacted him after I had gone to bed yesterday? I didn't know.
I looked around my room and spotted something lying on my desk. Aside from my notebook whose first page really did miss a fragment, there was a long-ish, blue thingy. I took it in my hand to examine it properly.
It took some time for me to recognize it because I had never used one. As I finally realized what it was, I laughed out loud. It was funny, and kind of sweet.
Poseidon had given me a snorkel.