Throughout my life, my grandmother did her best to provide for us. She worked long hours at the movie theater downtown and took a job at newspaper as a secretary. We barely ever saw her, but when we did, she would always put on a smile no matter how tired she looked.
My grandma was one of the few people in my life I actually liked. I know you’re supposed to love your family, but it’s so hard when they’re so terrible to you.
It all basically started when we were toddlers, I couldn’t remember the very first time it happened but I know it’s been going on for as long as I could remember.
“Missy, can you pass me a block” I asked in my tiny little toddler voice.
“No! Our blocks!” She stuck her tongue out at me, gathered the blocks and piled them in front of herself and Zeus, our family friend and housemate.
“Hey, be nice to Thena! She never did anything to you.” My uncle, Sebastian stood up for me. He was more like a brother to me than an uncle, he was only a few years older than my twin and me.
“Thena is weird, we don’t wanna play with her.” Artemis stuck her tongue out at me again.
“Zeus, I thought we were friends!” I cried out at him.
Before he had a time to respond, Artemis wrapped her tiny arm around his shoulder and kissed his cheek.
“No, Zeus is my friend, not yours. No one wants to be your friend.”
“Yea!” Zeus chimed in. It broke my tiny toddler heart, we had played together before and I thought he was my friend too.
“Why are you so mean?” I started to cry, their bullying was very hurtful, but little did I know, this was only the beginning of her reign of torment.
“Because you’re stupid!” Artemis giggled, like a baby villain.
“Aw Athena, don’t be sad.” Sebastian jumped up and picked me up.
“T-they’re so mean.” I sobbed.
“I know, but I’ll never be mean to you.” He smiled at me and stuck his tongue out, but in a silly way which made me laugh.
I giggled and stuck my tongue out as well.
“Don’t worry Thena, whenever they’re mean to you I’ll always be there to cheer you up and stand up for you.” He gave me a kiss on my forehead.
“I love you, Sebby.” I smiled, happy he was there for me.
“I love you too.”
As I got older, I thought things would get better between Artemis, Zeus and I. Part of me was hoping Artemis’s mean streak was just a phase and after she grew out of it we’d be best friends, like most twins are. But that wasn’t the case. In fact, it seemed as if she got meaner the older she got.
As for Zeus, he wasn’t exactly mean, but he went along with everything my sister said. He obeyed her every command, he was basically her little servant. I never understood it, he was older than her and she was always so mean to him, his devotion to my sister never made sense to me.
No matter how mean they were to me, I would still try to be friends with them. I didn’t have any friends at school (thanks to Artemis), Sebastian just started high school and was busy with homework, Grandma was always working and Winter was constantly locked in her study working on her novels. I was lonely, and they were my only options.
“Hey, can I play?” I came into the room one day and saw them dressed up as a prince and a princess. I loved dressup, it was a lot of fun, even if Artemis always claimed the best costumes and refused to let me play games with her. I still loved the costumes, I loved how special I felt dressing up as a princess.
Artemis snorted and started laughing. “You’re kidding right? You know there are no peasants allowed in the palace. Get out.”
“But where am I supposed to go? This is my room too.” I pouted, unable to keep the hurt expression off my face.
“I don’t care, why don’t you go read, like the dork you are.” She giggled, and elbowed Zeus until he started laughing too.
“Reading is fun though.”
“Yea, maybe for people who don’t have friends.” She snickered. “Now be gone! We have a kingdom to run!”
I sighed, it was her fault I didn’t have friends, she made everyone at school think I was weird. If she didn’t want me to hang out with her, then why did she isolate me from every other potential friend?
I just couldn’t understand Artemis.
Luckily, my grandma and Winter loved to read too, so we had a huge library upstairs. It was awesome, we had shelves full of books and a bunch of comfy chairs and a nice big couch. It was perfect for a little bookworm like me.
Most of the time I was alone, but sometimes Winter would take a break from writing and come up here to read with me. Or when Grandma had a rare day off, she’d sit next to me on the couch and read her favorite stories to me. Sebastian’s room was right next to the library, so I’d see him every time he got up from studying to go to the bathroom or get a snack.
It was perfect here, I had some solitude and some interaction. But the best part? No Artemis. She never bugged me when I was up here. The only times she came up here was to play in the game room, but even then she kept out of my way.
I was so absorbed in my book and my thoughts I didn’t even notice my grandma sit down in the chair next to me.
“Hi Sweetheart.” My grandma spoke softly, but she still startled me.
“Hi Gramma, how was your day?” I looked up at her and put my book down.
“Good, how was yours?” She smiled weakly. I knew she was lying, she looked tired and worn out. But she didn’t tell me that, she didn’t want me to feel bad.
“It was alright.” I responded.
“Was Artemis mean to you again?” She asked, concerned. I bit my lip, I wasn’t sure if I should lie and say no, or rat her out. Last time I did, she cut all the hair off my favorite doll and hung her in the shower for me to find later. I didn’t want to repeat that, but I also didn’t want her to get away with it.
“Kinda, but it’s ok. I’d rather be reading.” I patted the book with a smile. She sighed, I could tell she was fed up with my sister’s behavior.
“I’m sorry dear, I’ll talk to her.” She went to stand but I stopped her.
“Please don’t. She makes things worse for me when I tattle.”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t let her get away with this. She needs to learn her lesson. Don’t worry, I’ll keep an eye on her when I’m home and I’ll make sure Winter watches her when I’m gone.” She smiled supportively. Hopefully that would work.
“Ok, it’s worth a shot.”
“Good, now go wash up, Winter’s almost done with dinner.”
I nodded and jumped up, making my way towards the stairs. I stopped halfway, and turned to face my grandma.
“Thank you, Gramma. I love you.”
“I love you too, dear.” She smiled proudly. It almost looked like she was gonna cry. “Now, go on, I’ll be down in a minute.” She ushered me away, and wiped her eyes when she thought I wasn’t looking.
My grandma did so much for us, I wanted to do something nice for her. I had to come up with a plan. Hopefully I could get Artemis and Zeus to help me out, maybe it could bring us closer together.