By @S F Brooke
After listening to Loki for a while longer, he bid me goodnight and left. I stared at the door several hours later, wondering what just happened and how was I not going crazy? The next day after work I went to the local library and got as many books as I could about Norse mythology and tales. I grabbed a notebook and a pen and just started writing down everything I could find about this figure called Hela. There were some interesting….stories and myths diverting from different cultures about this Ruler of Death. There was a part of my mind that was still fighting what Loki had said, but there were holes that were pointed out in my life’s story that needed answering. Tired as I was, the rest of my night was spent looking over texts and articles trying to find the pieces of my life that I hadn’t realized I’d been missing.
After a few days of research and no new visits from Loki, I realized a few things. One: this Hela character was frightening, she lorded over the dead and decided how to handle a portion of the dead. She presides over the realm Niflheim, which nowadays humans would call Hell after its ruler: Hela.
The more I learned the more that I realized that there was no way I could be her. I couldn’t be a ruler over a dominion I didn’t even know was there! I can’t even keep a flower shop in order and suddenly I’m a ruler over the dead? Ha! Yeah, right.
After my mad search for information, I stayed away from the idea of Hela for a while and went back to my life as Libi. I was happy here, living in a good home, and had friends. There was no way I wanted to trade that for Loki’s tall tales of grander. I had just put it out of my mind, on my way to grab drinks and dance with my friends, my foot was barely out my apartment’s door when a huge puff of grey and black smoke Loki appeared in front of me.
My…father…had a smirk on his face as he stood in front of me. Instead of wearing a trench coat, he had slacks and a dark green dress shirt. I would actually say that he looked handsome, that is… if he wasn’t related to me.
“Still not listening to me? Just like when you were a child.” Loki grinned, putting his hands in his pockets as I continued to walk out my door.
“Considering I don’t remember my childhood, I wouldn’t know.” I snarked back. It surprised me that I didn’t bat an eye at the fact that he just magically showed up at my house. “I have to go, please leave me alone.”
“Have you made your decision?” Loki asked, casting his gaze towards mine. “I should remind you that you have a time limit on this.”
That stopped me. “What?” Turning to face him, I stuck my finger in his chest. “You never said anything about a deadline.”
“I didn’t?” Loki looked genuinely surprised. “Oh my, then that’s on dear old dad.” He grinned and that’s when I knew he was pulling my leg.
With a frustrated grunt, I shoved him in the chest and stormed off. “Follow me,” I ordered, beyond frustrated with all of this backwards way of getting information. Grabbing his arm, I towed him to my car and shoved him in the passenger seat.
“Where are we going?” He asked, buckling into the seat. He had the audacity to check his hair in the small mirror.
“My evil lair.” I snipped back, angrily pulling out of the parking spot. “Where you are going to tell me the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
Loki saluted me with a smirk that made me want to punch him. “Yes, ma’am!”
With a growl, I stepped on the gas.
“A coffee shop? This is your ‘evil lair’.” Loki asked incredulously, with air quotes included. “Where we’re from we actually have lairs.”
“Where you’re from,” I reminded him, opening the shop door. “Here is perfect because you can’t cause a scene. Go sit over there and don’t move.” I didn’t want to tell him that they also had really good cheap coffee. With that order, I went and got in line to grab some coffee before more nonsense arose. When I came back, Loki was separating grains of sugar from the packets that had been left on the table. Magic was flowing through his fingers, green and an orangish-red, that picked up the minute sand-like grain and separated it in another pile. Anyone else would have missed it if they had passed by.
I barely had time to put down the coffee cups as I looked at the swirls of color as a piercing stabbing pain went behind my eyes and I dropped into my chair with a pained gasp.
“She’s beautiful, isn’t she?” I heard the voice from somewhere far above me, my gaze was blocked by something brown and hard. Wood. I was surrounded by almost like I was…in a cradle?
“How could she not be, knowing her parents.” A voice I knew came to me. Loki. An arm came down and I was scooped up, blinking at the sudden brightness. Loki’s face came into blurry focus but was still visible. There was a woman behind him…a beautiful woman with sharp eyes, a pointed chin, and multiple braids in her dark hair. Her skin was the color of a night sky, deep blue. Mother.
My world swirled around in confusion as Loki turned and started walking with me away from the cradle. “My darling, what shall we call this newest delight. The boys are already a handful, perhaps she’ll be the sweet daughter you longed for.” He was talking about my brothers: Fenrir and Jörmungandr. One was four and the other seven. Loki, my father, brought his hand close to my face. My newborn face. Wiggling his fingers as sparks of gold, orange, and green flew over my face and turned into shapes of animals: crows, ravens, bears, and wolves.
Mother laughed, rich and deep as my hands reached from my blanket to try and ****** the flying shapes. “Not likely.”
The memory left me as I blinked back into existence. I felt like I had left a part of my soul back in the vague shapes and the words I could barely replay. That was my memory.
“It seems I’ve triggered something?” Loki asked, putting sugar in his coffee.
Touching my forehead, I winced at the migraine. “I was a newborn….I think.” Taking a moment I thought back to what I had seen. Try as I might the images were foggy once more, but now it felt like it was all through a film that distorted them.
My father smiled, it seemed genuine, his eyes distant as he stirred his drink. “You were born at dawn, the early mornings. Gave your mother quite a hassle.”
“My mother…” I started, startling as her face cemented in my mind, “I’m not blue am I?” I asked, slamming my hands in front of him. “I don’t want to be blue.”
Loki laughed, then sobered. “No, you’re not blue.” He wouldn’t catch my eyes afterward.
I took a drink of my pumpkin spice latte, “I’ve done research about Hela,” I started, my words spilling out my mouth before I could stop them. “Was I…was she born half dead? Her face is described as half skeleton and half living. Was she always that way?”
“Yes,” He answered without hesitation. “You were born that way.”
“She.” I interrupted, “She was. Not me.” I had to stop allowing myself to believe parts of what Loki was saying; that I was Hela. There’s nothing that I would want from this figure of Norse legend. She was born half-dead anyway, why would I be called beautiful in my memories. Why would she? I decided to ask that question to the man that made her, “How could you call her beautiful if she was evil and half-rotten?” Literally.
“She is my daughter, Libi. You are.” The redhead replied to me, trying to catch my eyes.
“How can you ask me to be that? To change myself to become the mistress of the undead and whatnot?” My heart squeezed in my chest as I put my drink down and stared at the table. “How can you ask me to be a monster?”
“Because to me she never was, to her mother and brothers she never was,” Loki answered, voice surprisingly gentle. “Hela is my daughter, now and until Ragnarok.”
I finally turned to him, his blue eyes looked troubled. “Can you expect me to want to change my life to go back to what I found? What I found in the legends and the myths? How can you expect me to become a…a villain?” I asked, starting to get angry.
Loki looked at me with eyes that held personal understanding as he stated, “Is being a villain really that bad?”
His eyes didn’t leave mine for a long time. I ducked my head, breaking the moment and I stood. My chair’s screech was loud in the cafe’s silence. “Yes, yes it is,” I whispered, shrugging on the sweater that I had taken off earlier. “Your daughter isn’t here and you need to leave.” This man was lucky enough that I had listened to his stories of grandeur and that I allowed him to make me believe things about Hela and Odin and Norse mythology. It was useless and I squandered the hope in my chest that I might have a home because frankly…I wouldn’t want the one Loki was describing.
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