By S. F. Brooke
By @S F Brooke
I didn’t see Loki for the next week. There was a large part of me that was grateful as I went back to work and my routines. My life went back to normal. I didn’t tell G or Ottie about anything that had happened with my background or about the memories or even mentioned the redhead again.
I was content. Really. At least that’s what I told myself. As the weather started getting colder, the leaves started changing, and the flowers at Manny’s got higher in price as they became harder to supply I found myself becoming distant. Soon the outside matched how I was feeling on the inside of my soul. And yet…I still didn’t need a coat anytime I went outside. The snow and chilly winds didn’t bother me. A small part of my brain wondered if it was because Hela was part frost giant, so the cold would never bother her. Bother me?
The weeks turned into months, eventually, it was the Christmas season and the snow was taking over everything. I could go out in shorts, something that I never realized before Loki’s visit. Manny’s shop was doing well, I had gotten a new fresh shipment of Poinsettias and they were selling out fast. The red, silver, and gold ones were selling for more than our roses went for in February.
Time went on as Christmas neared and I realized…I am a very boring human being. I thought there was some fun to me but as I slowly realized all I had was my routines.
I woke up at eight in the morning and took a semi-fast jog around the block to rack up a few miles. When my jog is done, I shower and pack a lunch for work. I put on a pair of tennis shoes and grab my keys to head out the door by ten. My drive takes fifteen minutes, with traffic, and I arrive at Manny’s Garden. I hated it.
My feet were in slippers, my hair in a bun with its red roots starting to show through the facade. I wore a warm robe for posterity’s sake as I opened my patio door and stood out there. I had a small amount of scotch in my hand, the warmth of the alcohol traveling down my body. It was two days before Christmas and I’d never felt more out of place in this small town of mine. My phone buzzed in my pocket, the light flashing, as I checked it to see a text from G asking if I was okay. I ignored it. I didn’t know what I was.
Human…frost giantess…Norse ruler…Libi…or Hela. I took in a deep breath of the frigid air and my breath flew out in a white cloud.
“Alright, I’m ready to listen now.”
“Stubbornness is a family trait.” My father answered, appearing beside me out of thin air. I refused to call it magic right now…but I knew what’s what he was doing. Magic just like the swirling colors at the end of his fingers. “Would you like to finally know?” He asked, voice soft and beseeching.
I wondered how much time I had left to decide as I nodded. “Yes, I would.”
Loki nodded, his hands gripping the railing before with a wave of his thin hand. A small screen, like a movie, was in front of our faces. “It began around fifty years ago,” He began.
With a raised hand I interrupted, “You do realize I’m not even thirty-five yet?”
“Not in this lifetime, you’ve had several in the time you’ve been on Earth,” Loki admitted, raising an eyebrow before he proceeded to show me different images of different times. One was a woman in a nineteenth-century dress, another a woman in Viking apparel, braids in her hair and blood on her cheeks, another was of a married couple in the 1950s, the woman holding hands with a tall handsome-looking man. The last one was of a woman, near an old-fashioned plane standing next to…
“Is that Amelia Earhart?” My voice squeaked out my words, disbelief in my tone.
My father nodded but stayed quiet as I absorbed the images. All of them…one thing was similar in all of the images. All of the women had my face. I had lived several lives on this planet and each seemed to have been lived to the best of my ability.
“I…I don’t remember this…them.” I whispered, looking at the array of images that Loki showed me. “Why?”
“Every time you were reborn, your memory was wiped.” He explained, regret clear in his voice, “It was part of the curse.” He paused for a moment before continuing, “These…these images…they all involve death somehow.” With a pale finger, Loki pointed to the image where I was in a nineteenth-century dress, “You were one of the Jack the Ripper victims, you died. As a Viking warrior, you died fighting in battle to defend your people, when you had a husband…he killed himself after trying to recover from service in WWII. Amelia Earhart was once your friend and she disappeared and now is considered dead….death is who you are, Libi.”
I licked my lips and swallowed thickly as emotions came unbidden as I looked at lives long lost and memories forgotten about never to be remembered except for time itself. “I’m really her, aren’t I?”
“Yes, my dear one, you are.” My father’s hand rested gently on my shoulder as I took in a shuddering breath, hiccuping a little before breaking out into tears. I was bundled up in vaguely familiar arms and I cried, more than I could remember crying in a very very long time.
After I was able to take some deep breaths and calmed down, I had to ask, “How long have I been here?”
“About a thousand years, give or take a decade or two,” Loki admitted, brushing my hair back from my face. “This was the first time I was able to make contact with you, daughter.”
“Why?” I asked, sniffling as I looked into his eyes. I twirled a piece of red hair between my fingers. The dye had finally run out and I was back to being a redhead…as I had always once been. Before I could get an answer, a raven’s call was loud and piercing. Looking over my shoulder, I saw that there was a flock on the next building over.
My father turned a flintstone gaze towards them, eyes cruel and brows furrowed. “Let’s finish this conversation inside.”
“They’re just birds,” I protested as he ushered me inside.
“You’ve lived through millennia but right now I forget how naive you are,” Loki said, sliding the door closed and pulling the curtains shut. “Those ravens are not just regular ravens but are Huginn and Muninn, Memory and Mind, birds that send information back to Odin.” He glared through the curtains at the ink-colored birds. “I’m not exactly supposed to be here at the moment so I’m sure they’ll report back to your grandfather soon.”
I rubbed my forehead, trying to figure out all this new info. Having come to the realization that I was Hela I knew I needed the full story before I could do anything else. Taking a seat at my kitchen table, I waved a hand at the other seats. “Tell me everything and don’t spare me any details.”
Within a few moments…I started to learn what my old life had been like. Using magic, Loki was able to show me images and videos. Really, there were memories of my life in Asgard, where I grew up. Those myths and Norse legends were not just stories, now they were true…reality…home. I was told I had two older brothers: Fenris the Wolf of Ragnarok, and Jorgummand the World Serpent. As I learned, those titles were merely that, titles. They were not actually a wolf and serpent, but young men that I grew up with. That I knew…that I couldn’t remember. My father was telling me how he had once done a grave misdeed to Odin, a betrayal of sorts, or ruination of a ceremony, afterwards Odin brought down his fury and sentenced the youngest child of Loki’s to a curse. Me. I was banished to Midgard with my powers and memory stripped until my father could make up enough to appease Odin. Odin was not an easy man to make happy, I came to find out as Loki told me story after story about how he tried to see me as I spent centuries on earth and away from my family. Apparently, when I had first been banished, to Asgardian standards I wasn’t much older than twenty. Practically a baby.
“Time…it moves differently on Asgard and here,” Loki explained, pausing in his story. “To me, you’ve been missing for barely two years, here…”
“Here it’s been almost a thousand years,” I murmured in astonishment. Shaking my head, I couldn’t believe it. “So I’m only twenty-two in reality, but in this…version of me I’m ten years older than that.” I touched my forehead, “I want to be free to remember, I should have at least a little knowledge of what I’m going back to.”
“If you’d let me, allow me to try something,” Loki suggested, putting his fingers against my temple.
I felt warmth spread against my head, pain flaring when it tried to go deeper. With a small pop, Loki’s hand was blown away from my head. His fingertips looked burnt.
With a hiss, Loki stuck his fingers in his pocket. “It’s as I thought, you have a block on your mind. Once you make the decision to come back with me, if you do, it will be released.”
“So why now?” I asked, wondering why at this time was he finally able to talk to me, to see me, to persuade me.
“There was a time when I wasn’t allowed to see you. You see, there were consequences, hoops that Odin made me jump through to the point of near-death before being allowed to even know if you were alright.” Loki explained, “There’s always been a way for Odin to track where I was, to track where I was going or who I was looking for to find you.” Looking out the window, he paused as he saw the two ravens again. “Even now, Odin doesn’t know that I’m here. I’m not supposed to interfere with your decision but frankly…you would never remember on your own.”
“How do the birds not recognize you?”
“I have a glamour on, the stupid animals can’t see through the magic. To them, I look like a regular human, no trace of deity.”
I nodded, understanding. I think I finally had an answer. “I think I’m ready, I wanna go home.” The words were said softly, by then my gaze simply at my hands. When I thought about it there was no reason for me to stay here. There was nothing that was holding me back. I would miss my friends, Ottie and G, Manny and his family, but…I would be home to a family, right?
“If I said I wanted to go…would I be able to see Mother, my brothers?”
My father’s face seemed to fall as I asked that question, making me wonder what more he wasn’t telling me. “Have you heard the story of Hades and Persephone?”
What did a Greek tale have to do with a Norse figure? He didn’t mean to tell me that they were real too? “I have but…”
“It’s…your situation is a little like that,” Loki explained, having an uncomfortable look on his face. “You still have a realm to run, Hela. It’s still a part of you.”
I tried to remember the story from the Greek myth, Persephone had to spend a certain time away from Hades to spend with her mother, Demeter. “So, I have to spend time away from all of you to deal with the dead?”
My father nodded, “Three months with us, nine with your realm, Niflheim.”
There was still a part of me that wanted to go back, something I realized had been missing. My realm, it was also my home away from home. “Will I be alone?”
Loki shook his head, “You have shades, several members of the Niflheim counsel, and of course your hound Garmr.”
My interest peaked at that, as far back as I could remember I was a dog person. I mulled the thoughts around my head and the longer I let myself think of what I was missing it was almost like I could feel a phantom call towards Niflheim. I decided then with my heart instead of my head. I didn’t want to be Libi anymore. “I want to go home.”
“You need only say the words, dearest.”
“I want to be Hela.” I straight up to my fullest height, oddly feeling like I was wearing a crown. Catching the twinkle in my father’s eye, I stated, “I am Hela.”
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