Goddess of Wine
by Vanessa Wells
2019 July Storytime Blog Hop
When I graduated summa cum laude back in the mid-eighties, I somehow didn’t imagine private family practice to be both so varied, and so very, very, much the same.
My patients had issues. Daddy issues. Mommy issues. Childhood issues that would give Hitler nightmares.
The fact that most of them were technically mythical didn’t change the fact that their core problems were often neglect and abandonment…it just increased the likelihood that attempted murder (or actual murder and resurrection) would need to be discussed in a session.
Asterion, my current patient, was a pretty good example. He was lying on my green leather couch (though I’d told him several times it wasn’t necessary; he’d first taken psychotherapy with Sigmund Freud himself and he’d never quite gotten over the whole ‘couch’ thing).
“The thing is, I’m fairly certain that my actual father was Poseidon, in the form of the bull. But it could have been Minos…”
Asterion had been known as the Minotaur in ancient Greece and most of his issues were fairly straight-forward. What else do you expect of a kid whose stepfather locked him up in a dark maze and force-fed him captives from a neighboring country?
His sister had actually helped Theseus ‘kill’ him.
Of course, being Greek and at least a demi-god (his mother was a goddess in her own right), death was something of a temporary situation.
Those were a lot harder to get past.
I tried to steer the conversation into more productive territory. “We’ve discussed this Asterion. You aren’t responsible for anything anyone else did. You can only be held accountable for your own actions. Who your father actually was has no bearing on your current situation. Now, did you write the letters we talked about? The ones apologizing to the various victims you ate while you were in the labyrinth?”
He pouted, denied his customary verbal meandering about his exact parentage. “I don’t see how it matters. It was three thousand years ago for Circe’s sake. And they were all human. It’s not like they live long anyway.”
“I imagine it mattered to the people who were eaten.”
Unfortunately, empathy for mortals wasn’t exactly rampant amount the immortals. For most of them, killing a human was like swatting a fly.
I scratched a note on my pad to get him a pet…something he wouldn’t accidentally eat when he got peckish. Maybe a cow….
Then I scratched the idea out forcefully. There was no way that idea was going to end well.
He grumbled. “I wrote them. It was hard to find anything to say to them. It’s a bit like a human apologizing to the cow for eating a hamburger.”
Even as a psychologist, there was no way I was touching that sentence with a ten-foot pole. There are some things it’s better to leave alone. I’m inclined to think that discussing hamburgers with a guy who is half-bovine has got to be one of them.
The timer dinged to my intense relief. “Oh. Looks like our time is up for the day!” With admonitions of letter-writing, and promises of another appointment later that week, I practically shoved him out of the room and poured myself a large glass of wine.
A young-looking man appeared in the chair I’d just vacated.
“Methe, Goddess of Drunkenness, daughter. Are you still operating your little practice? Zeus was asking after you the other day.”
I wrinkled my nose at that less-than-appealing news. The goddesses of Olympus really needed to get behind the ‘me too’ movement when it came to ‘the father of gods’. Rapey bastard. “I’m not even going to address that.”
“And here I would have thought that you would find avoidance unhealthy.”
Remember when I said we all had issues?
I should have poured the whiskey. When your father is the god of wine, he knows when you are taking a mid-day tipple.
Time to cut to the chase. I had Narcissus in half an hour, and I just knew he was going to spend his appointment sighing at his own reflection the entire time. Dealing with my father would give me a headache that would last the rest of the century. “What do you need, dad?”
He gave me puppy dog eyes that would put a Labrador retriever to shame. “I need a reason to come and visit my favorite daughter?”
I might very well be his favorite. I still talk to him, which is more than I can say for most of my siblings.
But that didn’t mean I fooled myself about him. “Yes.”
He huffed and poured his own glass of wine. “Fine. You are right. I need something.” He paused dramatically. “I need you to take my place.”
“I’m retiring. I’ve already informed Zeus. You are the only real candidate for the position.”
“I don’t want it.” I frowned, confused. “Why are you retiring?”
“Well, not retiring exactly. I want to spend more time as God of Theatre. With my recent success in Hamilton-‘’
I choked back a grin, “I’m pretty sure the Muses are going to be upset if you take credit for that.”
“-there is more interest in the art than there has been since Good Queen Bess. You know I can’t stand those awful television things that mortals are so fond of. I believe that a boost of godly power behind the scenes could lead to a Renaissance in the mortal world!”
I blinked. Twice. “There’s an actress isn’t there?”
He jumped out of my chair, with an offended huff. “Always with the disbelief!”
I just stared at him. I know my dad.
He broke first. “Fine.” He waved an aristocratic hand with the unconscious grace that was the hallmark of the gods. “Sure, there’s an actress. I’m sure there will be more. I’m the god of wine and theatre. It’s like I was made for actresses. But this isn’t about chasing a beautiful woman, Menthe.” His eyes were wide, and I felt the tugging urge to protect him, just like I always did.
“I have a life here dad. You can’t just ask me to drop everything and move up the mountain because you have a new obsession. Why can’t you continue to do both?”
“Are you kidding? Have you seen the time it takes to oversee the wine production in California alone?”
I raised a disbelieving brow as I gathered my notes for Narcissus. “It would take a lot less if you didn’t get absolutely raging drunk at every single vineyard.”
“Product testing for hangovers is an important part of the process.”
I snorted. “You are a god, you don’t get hangovers.”
He paused, took a deep breath, and smiled. “Zeus said that he’d make you Goddess of Psychotherapy in addition to wine.”
My breath stilled for a long moment…a very long moment. A mortal would have passed out. “I’ve spent the last century petitioning for that position.”
“It’s actually perfect for you, you know. In vino veritas and all that.” He poured himself another glass of wine, and then shrugged and started chugging the bottle. “And more bartenders do psychotherapy than any other profession. What goes better?”
I refilled my own cup with a wave of my hand. “Zeus claimed that Apollo was never going to allow someone else to take part of what should be his godly territory…even if he generally ignores it.”
Like that blonde pretty boy could deal with even half the godly duties he’d picked up over the years…
My father shrugged, as if he hadn’t just handed me the one thing in the entire cosmos that I absolutely wanted. “Apollo was reminded that his Muses need wine as much as the rest of us do. And Zeus might have been nudged to recall that Hera is even less pleasant without liberal lubrication.”
“He really agreed?”
My father nodded solemnly and ruffled his curly locks with one hand. “Well…” He gave me his best Cheshire-cat grin. “The Goddess of Wine part might be more temporary than Zeus was led to believe.”
His eyes lit up. “I’ll need at least fifty years in New York to see if I can revitalize Broadway. If that doesn’t work, I’ll have to find another venue for live theater, set it up, and support it until it’s flourishing.”
“You…” I threw my arms around him and grinned. “Are a devious, underhanded, manipulative excuse for a god.”
He messed up my perfectly styled hair and disappeared.
“-And you are a pretty good Dad.”
The wine in my bottle refilled, and I sighed and put it away in the cabinet.
I pressed the button on my desk. “Send in my 1:30.”
Goddess of Wine Vanessa Wells Storytime Blog Hop
Vanessa Wells lives with her family deep in an enchanted forest (in Texas). Her hobbies include writing, drinking tea and coffee, reading, writing some more, and cooking. She battles daily infestations of plot bunnies…and dust bunnies, but that’s another matter entirely.
Vanessa is the author of the Seventeen Stones Trilogy and the Topeka, TX Chronicles, and the AREA 52 short series.
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