Aphrodite flipped the pages in People magazine, popping her gum. Her eyes only broke from Ryan Gosling when a young stout woman walked in, looking around perplexed. Aprhrodite snapped at her and patted an empty seat next to her.
"Pop a squat," she said, slipping the pages.
"What are you doing in here?" the young woman said.
"The real question is what is any daughter of mine doing walking around with feet like that?"
The young woman looked down at her plain toes. "What's wrong with them?"
"Yeah. Ther's nothing wrong with my feet."
"Hmm." Aprhodite flipped pages. "Michael B. Jordan grew up good, didn't he? I had Eros get his parents together. Your brother is such a good matchmaker."
"Where have you been all my life?"
"Here and there. Have you ever been to China? The rice they make there is top notch. Hera got sloppy with how they look, but they can cook like no one's business. I've got to tell Demeter she did a good job. But in the warm months. She gets all mopey when it's cold."
"My dad killed himself after you left me with him."
"I thought he would at least live for you. Charles was such a sweet guy, but he was never wrapped too tightly. I told him I couldn't be the reason he lives, but the humans just never listen."
"I grew up in foster care. Did you even care?"
"Of course I care. Whoa, Brad and Angelina split up for five minutes and Jennifer Aniston is all over him. Someone is desperate."
"Are you even listening to me?"
"What? Of course I am, sugar! What is it you wanted again? Money or something?"
"I wanted to have closure."
"Well, there's doctors here now. You don't need a god for me to close you up, and by the way, your cousin... well, aunt? Artemis is the one to ask if you can ever get her out of those damn trees. She delivered her brother as soon as she was born-- Or maybe it was Apollo that delivered Artemis? Just pick a twin. And watch out around Artemis; she gets handsy with the ladies. She may have never been with a man, but you should see how she lights up around a woman!"
"That's not closure. I want to know why you left."
"Why I left Charles? Well, I am a married woman."
"No, why you left me. I wasn't good enough for you?"
"Well, of course you weren't! You aren't a god. Hell, I had some woman in Croatia or one of those shattered places give birth to you. Charles just knew the truth and had to tell you he. He can be one punk bitch sometimes."
"That was my father!"
"Yeah, he was my lover. They come and go like manicurists. Speaking of, you missed the pinky toe, dear. It's Ares' favorite toe. Paint like you can see my feet."
"I hate you."
"Join the club. Oh, they have a blog now! It's not messy enough for me, but you may find some use for it."
"Why are you like this?"
"Listen kid, we all take after our mothers. Word of advice, if you want little Ella to grow up to be someone, you should leave too."
"I'll never leave my baby!" the woman shouted, shooting to her feet.
"It's your life, but I'm telling you, you have a long road ahead of you if you decide to stay," Aphrodite said, blowing on her rose-gold fingernails.
The woman stormed out, and Aphrodite smiled as the door slammed shut.
Dione looked up at her. "Why do you do that to those girls?"
"Because Mother, it eliminates all doubt in their heads. They think they will be like me when they come in expecting a sweet godly woman who should be revered and think they're why I left, not their weak ass fathers. And mothers, in a couple cases. Once they leave, they plan to never be like me, which is what I want. Heather will be okay. She kept her head up through foster care, she survived an abusive marriage, and now she'll survive motherhood for that little girl."
"And what if she doesn't?"
"Believe me, I met Charles. She's got both our stubbornness. She's not going anywhere."
"And if she does?"
"Ella will have me. I'd never leave my babies behind. Even when my physical form can't be there, my kids always have me. They just need to learn to be strong themselves, and that happens when I'm not there. Isn't that right, mother?"
Dione refocused on sanding down Aphrodite's toes, not saying anything.