Calliope's Box: The American Dream (Excerpt)

by P Curry


My mother always told me that no one is inherently evil. I remember many nights where she sat at my bedside, constantly reminding me to always see the good in others. As a result of those lessons, I used to believe that each and every person was worthy of the benefit of the doubt. Alas, for someone as kind and open-minded as I once was, even I had my limits.

If you told me that everything that has transpired over the past four years would have happened to me way back on the eve of the summer of 1992, I would have never believed you. However, I do know what I did believe in at the time: Atalan. The fallen city-state. A once vibrant and pulsating metropolis, bursting at the seams with people of all backgrounds living their livelihoods. Now, it sits as nothing more than a crumbling ruin.

The storied ruin that was a shimmering jewel a mere four years ago. Questions were raised around the world as to what led to it's downfall. How could it all fall apart in, to quote Plato, a single day and night of misfortune? Was it an inside job? Were members of the House of Peloponnesian involved? And, last but certainly not least, who was Calliope Thessaly and what was her exact role in the whole ordeal?

I'm probably the only person who can tell you the entire truth. How is that, you say? Because I am Calliope Thessaly. Atalan's "Enemy No. 1," or so the news articles said. The story of the fall of Atalan is intertwined with my story. And my story begins during the fifteenth year of my life, in the summer of 1992.

Canto I:

The World Outside My Window

Trapped In A Box

It was sheer madness. The metropolis literally shimmered at night. The top heavy buildings in the Atlantic Colony were more intimidating than ever. Immaculate statues and fountains dotted the landscape, and the Greek Revival school of architecture had taken over. The holy trinity of our economy (Architecture, Entertainment and Trade) was booming, so much so that the only way they could go from there was up. And yet, the class divide was stronger than ever. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer. The crime and poverty rates were at the worst they had ever been. But at the end of the day, what did I know? After all, my only exposure to all of it was through my bedroom window at the House of Thessaly.

I originally come from an Upper Noble background, and my house, the House of Thessaly, was basically the dictionary definition of nobility prestige. We had lived in a coral house with seven bedrooms that looked like something straight out of Santorini, with wide square windows, several small balconies with gated barriers, a patio covered in arches that wrapped around the entire facade, and a large, round white dome on the top. My father, Pan, owned one of the most successful architecture firms in all of Atalan, Thessaly Architects & Co. My mother, Demeter, was a self-made entrepreneur, owning a coffee shop and a shoe and accessory store, both being located on Morpheus Avenue in our original polis, or city within a city if you will, of residence, Auburn. Nobles were afforded a great wealth of privilege within Atalan, only the Royals and Deities were more privileged.

And yet, for some reason, my parents forbade me from venturing too far from our home. From the sounds of it, it may just sound like I had strict parents, but that was hardly the case. I had four siblings, two of whom were younger, and all had more freedom than I had. At the age of fifteen I barely even knew Auburn, let alone the rest of Atalan. I had never even went to an actual school. While my brothers and younger sister all walked to school every morning, my morning commute consisted of rolling out of bed and walking downstairs to wait for the in-house teacher my parents employed for me.

For years, the highlight of my day was perching myself on the sill of my window each night, just to glimpse at the hometown that I hardly knew. With the glistening skyline of the Atlantic Colony, forming a sort of cave over the revolving, red and siren-like light that signaled the entrance to The Acropolis peeking through.

"Calliope, you sittin' up at that window AGAIN!?" I heard a voice say behind me.

I turned around, only to see Brutus standing at the doorway to my room. On the stocky side, with chiseled arms and a potbelly, his stereotypical, pretty boy exterior, with hazel eyes, a head adorned with loose curls or so-called "good hair," and a light brown complexion, belied one of the most obnoxious, hotheaded and machismo personas one could ever have the displeasure of meeting. But he was my brother, so I couldn't help but to love him. It eventually turned out that there was a heart under there, somewhere.

"Why yes, I indeed am," I snidely replied.

"Well, I don't see why, it's like opening the refrigerator every hour. Ain't nothin' changed," he said.

"Man, leave her alone, you know she never gets out anyways," my brother Julius said while walking behind him. Aside from body shape and build, my eldest brother Julius was practically the complete opposite of Brutus. With an ebony complexion, cornrows and dark brown eyes, he was one of the kindest souls a person could meet. He was caring, open-minded and understanding. I will say this though, he did have a tendency to keep his fair share of secrets.

I turned over to Julius, smirked, and exclaimed, "Thank you very much Julius!" Brutus just rolled his eyes and walked to his room, while Julius walked into my room and sat on my bed.

He looked at me with his sweet, brown eyes and asked, "Well, how does the city look to you tonight?"

"It looks…..lovely. As always," I answered with a rather unsure tone. In all honesty, I didn't know how to reply to that question. All I knew back then was that I wanted a chance to finally be closer to the city.

Julius chuckled before saying, "Alright then. Just wanted to check up on you, good night!"

"Good night," I said to him, watching him walk out of my room. I looked out my window for a few minutes more before closing it and going to sleep for the night. Little did I know, my life would never be the same after this night.

The next day started out on the typical routine I had known all my life. I rolled out of bed and fixed my long, tightly-coiled locks. After that, I woke up my younger siblings, Isis and Atum, and we walked down the curved, marble staircase under the dome of our house to the bright, airy, pastel-shaded and plant filled living room of our house. My mother, Demeter, loved plants. She put them everywhere. Everywhere. And she always woke up very early every morning, to make breakfast.

It was always a pleasure to see her in the kitchen. She hummed like nobody's business, her eyes gleaming like black diamonds out of her beautiful, mahogany skin. Her makeup was always done to the nines, with her trademarks being bright, red lipstick and subtle earth-tone shades of blush. While she always had big hair when I was a child, she started opting for a short, pixie-style haircut back in those days, but her preferred fashion hues of bright greens mixed with pastel browns never changed. All of it adorning her curvy and rubenesque figure, with sizeable hips that she fondly referred to as a gift for making her babies. Another thing she loved to do while making breakfast was open all the windows in the pink and retro-styled kitchen of our home, which looked like something straight out of Minnie Mouse's house. I also remember that it was particularly windy on this day.

"Babies, come close these windows before my grits fly away," she said to me, Isis and Atum with a laugh. The three of us closed the windows before we proceeded to set the breakfast table like we normally do. We then sat down and waited for mama to finish breakfast.

Isis sat on my right hand side. She was a very quiet girl but always had a smile on her face. She was like me that way, a hopeless optimistic of sorts. We were also alike in the fact that we both took after Mama Demeter in terms of appearance, with skin like mahogany, long, coiled locks and dark brown, black diamond-like eyes. Atum on the other hand, who sat on my left hand side, was a big jokester. Appearance wise, he was basically a slim version of Brutus, and a lot of things about his personality reminded me of him as well, albeit without the more insufferable qualities.

"Now remember my babies, I don't want anyone to take a single bite before your father and older brothers get here," Mama Demeter told us in a stern, but sweet tone. Alas, like always, it was hard to resist her breakfast once it was finished. Between the buttered grits with cheese sprinkled on top, the scrambled eggs which were always spiced up with cayenne pepper, the smoked sausage links, the bowl of fresh fruit from the garden, the fluffy biscuits covered in gravy, the tall stack of thin flapjacks with butter pecan syrup on the side and the pitcher of orange juice which she always squeezed herself. If I had to choose one thing I miss more than anything else about my mother, it would have to be her cooking.

A few minutes later, my father, Pan, walked into the kitchen. His natural aura was one of old-fashioned cool. He always wore crisply ironed blazers and slacks with two-toned oxford shoes, usually topped off with a felt hat. Being the parent that Brutus and Atum took after, he was a tall, but slim man with dark hazel eyes, loose coils adorning his head and light, sepia-toned skin. In my childhood, to me, there wasn't a more perfect man in my eyes. Sadly, not long after this morning, I bore witness to his true colors.

"Good morning family!" Pan said cheerfully before giving each of us a kiss on the forehead, as usual. He then took a seat when I felt someone rub all over my head. I lightly smacked the hand off of my head only to hear Julius laughing afterward.

"Julius! You just messed up my hair!" I exclaimed to him.

"Ha! Just run your fingers through it like you always do and you'll be fine," he replied as he sat down in the chair between Isis and dad. A minute later, Brutus walked into the kitchen, shirtless, letting out a long yawn before taking the flapjack on top of the stack and dipping it into the syrup.

"Brutus! How many times do I have to remind you to put clothes on before coming down to breakfast AND to not eat the flapjacks with your hands?" Demeter asked him.

"Mama Demeter, it's Brutus," I said nonchalantly, which made everyone else laugh while Brutus sat in his chair, continuing to eat his flapjack without a care in the world.

After saying grace, we all dug into breakfast. As always, mama Demeter's breakfast was delicioso! We all made our usual casual conversation while eating. It seemed like a typical morning, until dad tapped his glass of orange juice to get our attention.

"Family, I have an announcement," he said solemnly.

I didn't know why at the time, but my heart sank and a large lump formed in my throat upon hearing my father say that. It was quite the unexpected feeling, and I would soon realize the premonition that was behind these physicalities of dread was correct. All of us sitting at the table either stretched our lips or widened our eyes as we turned to look at Pan to see what he had to say.

"We're going to have to move. By next week," his announcement was.

Being the hopeless optimistic I was at the time, I smiled a smile that was beaming with excitement. I was enthralled with the prospect of seeing another part of Atalan. Hopefully it would be the Atlantic Colony. The rest of my family on the other hand wasn't so thrilled. Atum dropped his mouth in shock and just stared at dad. Isis and Julius were also staring at dad, but they were nondescript stares of indifference. Brutus just started eating again as if nothing happened. Mama Demeter went through a 180 degree turn in demeanor, clenching her teeth and if her eyes had been anymore scowled, they would have been fuming.

"There you go again with these damn secrets, Pan! Not only have you dropped this grenade on our table that we're moving, without saying a word to me but you want us to drop everything, get packed and leave the house we've put so much work into making a home for the past twenty years? How were we supposed to prepare for this? Tell me that right now!" She yelled.

Another lump formed in my throat when I saw her yelling at him. I knew for years that my mom and dad had problems, and I heard them arguing many nights. But at least it was never in front of me or any of their other children. Which made me happy, because I never wanted the dysfunction to play out in front of our very own eyes.

"How could it be a secret when I didn't know we had to move until last night? Mr. Peloponnesian told me over the phone." Dad told her.

"Oh it definitely is a secret! For years you've been having these secret talks with that man, over god knows what. I can understand leaving the kids out of it, but you could at least tell your wife! The one person in your life that should be told everything!"

"I've told you this, time and time again. I can't always tell you everything."

"Where are we going to be moving dad!?" I cheerfully butted in to ask, in hopes that it would relieve some of the tension at the breakfast table.

Dad took another sip of his orange juice, put the glass back down on the table, and answered, "Griffin."

I felt my heart sink even more as the smile on my face turned into a frown upon hearing his answer. Griffin. A polis that's among the most distant of them all from the red light. It could have been Piedmont, with it's lush, green park, vibrant and active street life and festivals. It could have been Inman, where the so-called Five Points are, a paradise for artists, hippies, rebels and bohemians. Savannah Beach is even farther out, but at least that's where the beach and the boardwalk are. I wouldn't even mind it if we were moving to the Cascade. It may have been the most crime-ridden and and down on it's luck polis in all of Atalan, but I'm sure it at least has a soul. Anything was better than wonder bread with extra mayonnaise and a little bit of tomato sauce Griffin.

"GRIFFIN???" Everyone at the table yelled in unison to dad. Apparently, my mom and siblings were just as unenthused about the plan as I was.

"Yes, Griffin," dad answered. "My business is needed there."

"Your business is needed there? You're an architect! Last I heard, there were no big construction projects going on in Griffin! Why, Pan, you're not even considering the rest of your family! Your kids have to start new lives and make new friends all over again. And I still have two businesses to run right here in Auburn! What about my businesses?" Mama Demeter shouted at him, her tensed up nose and eyes showed that she was getting more frustrated with him by the minute.

"Me and Mr. Peloponnesian are going to have another meeting in a few days, he will explain everything and we'll get it all sorted out."

Mama Demeter groaned before she said "There you go again with that ‘Me and Mr. Peloponnesian' shit! Are you even listening to yourself?"

"Well if you don't want to listen to me, than that's quite alright. I'm going to work, good day family!" Dad yelled, taking one last sip of orange juice and putting his felt hat on before he stormed out of the kitchen. Mama Demeter stood up and exhaled before she said to us, "I apologize for that my babies. I never wanted our problems to be aired out in front of all of you like that."

"Ma, it's alright. We all already knew anyway," Julius nonchalantly replied. Mama Demeter let out another sigh and said, "Well I'm sorry for that too. I really just can't with that man sometimes. Well, finish your breakfasts so we can wash the dishes and then all of you can get ready for school."

As we all finished breakfast, Brutus, being his usual facetious self, obnoxiously said, "It's funny that you would say that about all of us having to start over with making friends mama. I mean me, Julius, Isis and Atum, yeah, we would have to start over, but Calliope don't know anybody!"

"Man, why you always gotta be so rude to her?" Julius asked him.

"Well hey, it's true! She ain't got any friends!" Brutus answered whilst laughing.

"She got Herc," Julius retorted.

"Ha! Oh yeah, she know the maintenance boy over there at the House of Peloponnesian, but she don't know any actual Peloponnesians."

Julius smacked his lips and said, "Like a girl like Calliope would get along with any of them anyway."

"I don't know dude, I think her and the boy in blue could be best friends."

I was getting up from the table and taking my plate to the sink when I heard Brutus say this. I briefly paused in my tracks when he said "the boy in blue." It caught my attention because a year before this, I did have another friend besides Herc, and he referred to himself as just that, "the boy in blue." He never did tell me his true name, and he told me it was best if I didn't know anyway. But for a several month period, I would see him in the park between our house and the House of Peloponnesian, which we all called the Garden of Artemis, almost every day. And he was as kind and sweet as an angel. In addition to being the first person I've ever felt confident enough to read my poetry to. Then, one day, he just stopped showing up. I still wondered about what happened to him every day. At the time I thought, surely, he couldn't have been a Peloponnesian, could he?

I turned to Brutus and asked, "The boy in blue? What boy in blue?"

Everyone in the kitchen turned to look at me, raising their eyebrows. All of them being either confused or intrigued as to how I could know who Brutus was talking about.

"The heir to the Peloponnesian fortune, Adonis Peloponnesian!" Brutus exclaimed in reply.

"Oh," I said. If that was the case then I figured I definitely didn't know who he was talking about. And yet, I couldn't shake off the strong coincidence. The boy I knew called himself "the boy in blue." I met him in the park next to the House of Peloponnesian. The House of Peloponnesian was where another boy known as "the boy in blue" happened to dwell. It all seems too much of a coincidence to not be connected at all, wouldn't one think?

Dreams In The Field

Back in those days, the minute home school was over, I would always make sure to at least spend an hour in The Garden of Artemis. Writing book in hand, I would either sit at the gazebo with the golden trellis in the middle of the park or just lay down in the grass and write away. The park was always it's prettiest in the summertime. There were butterflies of many different hues everywhere. Pink and violet tulips, dandelions and red and orange lilies dotted the landscape. And since it was the last day of school, the park was soon going to be teeming with life. That was one thing I always looked forward to. Seeing the many different faces and what they were up to. For years that was basically my only exposure to life in Atalan, and I cherished every moment.

"Hi Calliope," I heard a high-pitched and childlike voice say. I looked up from my notebook to see Julius holding hands with his girlfriend at the time, Bolina. She was a short and slightly plump girl with a light ochre shade of skin. She had the most adorable smile, with small but gentle brown eyes and a voice like that of a hummingbird. She also had a tendency to opt for wild hair colors, magenta being her current choice.

"Hey there Bolina!" I replied.

"What are you up to?" she asked me inquisitively.

"Just basking in the garden, writing as usual," I answered.

Julius laughed and said, "Yeah, like she always does, little miss nosy!"

Me and Bolina joined in on his laughter. The three of us made casual chit chat for a bit before the two of them went into our house. I went back to writing but before I knew it there was yet another distraction.

"School's out, FOREVER!" I heard a deep voice with a strong, southern-style drawl say. It's Perseus, Brutus's really good friend. He's a short and skinny guy with a sepia skin tone, similar to Brutus but darker, with a floppy and messy afro and a face which looked similar to that of a pit bull. Personality wise, he's very much like Brutus, but due to his weed smoking habit, he's more relaxed and nowhere near as egotistical. However, he was very good at concealing his dark side.

I looked up from my notebook again and saw him walk into the park with Brutus. Due to his slow, sloping walk and the fact that he was smiling and laughing for no reason, I could tell that he was probably already high. He flashed a peace sign in my direction and I waved back as he and Brutus walked towards the back of the park, likely in search of somewhere to toke it up.

I went back into my notebook, getting lost in the sea of words about dreams, desires, everyday people and, my favorite subject of all, love. After I finished writing, I closed the notebook, which I still have to this day. A pink notebook adorned with drawings of yellow hibiscus flowers and a yellow strap to keep the book closed. I put the notebook to the side, turned over on my back in the field and just stared at the golden red sky of twilight above. With my eyes 3/4ths of the way closed, I was seconds away from dozing off in the garden, but my favorite person, who was also my only friend at the time, wasn't gonna let that happen.

"OOGA OOGA BOOGA," a deep and exaggerated voice chanted above me. Startled, my body tensed up for a moment as I opened my eyes, breathing a sigh of relief. It was just Herc, being a prankster as always. A tall guy of slightly muscular and athletic build, with dark, bistre skin, a short afro and copper brown eyes, his smile had the ability to always light up my day. He always opted for simple color schemes in all of his clothing, almost always wearing either black, white or some combination of the two. He was also a master of stealth and disguise.

"You always sneak up and try to scare me, but it's alright, cuz it's my favorite time of day," I said to Herc as I stood up and gave him a hug.

"Good, cuz it's mine too," he replied, which caused both of us to laugh.

"So, how was work today?" I asked him after we finished our little fit of laughter.

"Eh, same ol', same ol'. As long as I do everything they need me to do around the house without any of them bothering me, then it's all good as far as I'm concerned."

"Bother you? I'm not sure I follow you here," I said with a raised eyebrow.

Herc scoffed and rolled his eyes before he said, "The Peloponnesians ain't all they cracked up to be, Calliope. Very foul, grumpy and just all around unpleasant people they are."

"Then why does everybody say you need to know them?" I asked in a somewhat rhetorical tone, seeing that I didn't have much of a desire of getting to know any of them in the first place.

"It's just a status thing, girl! You see how they throw those wild and crazy parties twice a month, right? But if you actually went to one of those parties, they're never anywhere to be found. I know from experience. So I betcha somewhere around ninety percent of the people claiming to know Peloponnesians don't know any of them at all, they just think they got the right to say they know one because they went to a party there."

"Mmmhmm," I replied with a smirk as I nodded my head. While what he said about the Peloponnesian family as people pretty much reaffirmed my lack of interest in meeting any of them, I have to admit, going to a party at the House of Peloponnesian had been something I've wanted to do ever since I was a child.

Herc continued his rant, saying "The most pompous and obnoxious one of the bunch, Hermes, is the only one you ever see at the parties."

"Are none of them decent people?" I asked.

"Well, Aphrodite is a really sweet girl. She's much more humble and down to Earth. And the grandpa, Kronos, he's alright I guess, he mainly just keeps to himself. Oh and Adonis, he's a pretty cool dude, even though he's on the mysterious side," Herc answered.

There goes that name again. "Adonis." Who was this Adonis and why did I keep hearing his name? As I sat in the gazebo with Herc and pondered about all of it, I got a sudden feeling of being watched. I looked up and turned my head towards the House of Peloponnesian. I took a closer look at the balcony that looked directly over the Garden of Artemis. There was no one standing on the moss-covered and column-enclosed balcony, and the iron-gilded doors leading to whomever's room was closed, but the light blue drapes behind the door were slightly askew, as if someone were peering out.

The Peloponnesian Window

"What are you looking at?" Herc asked.

In a mild daze, I lifted my hand up and pointed at the balcony. Once Herc turned to look at it, the drapes were no longer askew.

Herc looked back at me, laughed a hearty laugh and humorously asked, "So, they can't look out their window or something?"

"They? Who are you talking about?" I asked in reply with raised eyebrows.

"I don't know who I'm talking about. But whoever it was, they should be allowed to look out their window as much as they'd like!"

"I….I felt like they were looking at us though" I replied.

"Well how do you think people feel when you look out your window all the time?" Herc asked me with another laugh.

"Ugh, whatever," I answered.

I quickly changed the subject and the two of us sat in the park and talked until the golden red, twilight sky transitioned into the romantic blue, evening sky with the lights of the Atlantic Colony glistening over the horizon. The light show that was the red light was beginning it's rounds for the night. We said our goodbyes and made our ways to our homes.

As I walked to my house, a shiny, golden, Jeep Wrangler drove by. As the song "Jump" by Kris Kross played, a passenger from the vehicle yelled out, "Party at the House of Peloponnesian this weekend! Caribbean themed this time!"

I gave a half-smile as they drove past. It was nice to know, but I wouldn't have been able to go either way. Mama Demeter, Dad, Julius and Brutus have all been to parties at the House of Peloponnesian before. Mama Demeter told me it was the most disgusting thing she had ever seen. Pan goes all the time but forbids me from ever going there. Julius told me he had a bad experience and left it at that. Brutus got so drunk there that he doesn't even remember.

As I walked into the white, marble double-doors of the house, I expected to smell a piping hot and freshly served meal, as was usual. But I didn't catch a whiff of a thing. All was silent downstairs. The lights weren't even on. Put off by the sight, I then walked upstairs to see what everyone was doing. And as I made my way up the staircase, a strange vertigo effect took over me. It felt as if with each step I took, the top of the staircase kept pulling back. My heart was sinking. The silence of the house was deafening. The darkness of the house was blinding. The longest walk I've ever had to take was the walk up the staircase of my original home on that very night.

When I reached the top of the staircase I paused for a quick breath. The walk up the staircase never made me winded before so it was strange that I felt that way now. I looked down the hallway, and just like downstairs, the hallway was dark and completely silent. I made my way down the hallway, growing more disturbed by the second with how inactive everything was. As I neared the door to the bathroom on my left-hand side, I heard the toilet flush and the sink go on and off. The door opened and out came Brutus. With sleepy looking eyes, and the fact that he was laughing for no reason, I could tell that he was high.

He turned to me, started to laugh even more boisterously and said, "I cooked up something real nice just now. Feelin' five pounds lighter."

I stared at him sideways, confused about what he was trying to say. My nose then tensed up when I got a whiff of the odor coming from the bathroom.

"Ew! Brutus!" I exclaimed, covering my nose as he continued to laugh really loudly while he walked across the hall and into his room, which was on my right-hand side. Well, at least Brutus was being his usual self.

I walked down the hallway a little further towards Julius's room. I saw that the door was cracked. Peering into the door crack, I saw him and Bolina, both fast asleep with her embracing him like a teddy bear. I smiled at the sight of the two lovebirds. As the hallway was L-shaped, I always had to turn a corner to get to the longer half of the hallway. This was where the bedrooms that me, Isis, Atum and our parents had dwelled. When I turned the corner, I saw that the door to Atum's room was open, with the light on. I walked towards it and looked in, only to see him and Isis talking.

I knocked on the door to let them know of my presence and asked, "Hey you two, how is everything going?"

"Not very good," Isis said with a somber tone.

Both of them appeared to be very anxious, with Atum biting his lips and Isis's eyes being restless with worry. I decided to walk into Atum's room and sat on his red and black checkered racecar bed.

"What's been going on since I've been in the garden?" I asked sternly.

"I think Mama Demeter is still upset over what happened this morning. When me and Isis came home, she wasn't cooking, cleaning or nursing her plants like she always does. She was just sitting on the couch, slowly sipping a glass of wine. She said ‘Hi' to us when we walked in and then just went back to staring off into space," Atum answered. The timid shakiness in his voice showed just how anxious he was.

My eyes widened, and I asked him in response, "Was she at least playing the Motown oldies she always likes to play in the afternoon?" I must have thought that if she had at least kept up with that part of her afternoon routine, then perhaps things weren't that bad. I really couldn't handle the thought of my mother emotionally and mentally collapsing upon herself like that.

"No, she wasn't even doing that. It's like she wasn't even there on the inside," Isis answered while Atum was nodding his head.

"Where is she now?"

"She just went into her room and closed the door about an hour ago. Dad's not home yet either," Isis answered.

"This is the spookiest night I've ever seen in this house," Atum added, his voice now indifferent, but you could tell from his unsettled eyes that he was very disturbed.

Having heard enough, I got off the bed, left their room and walked to the end of the hallway to the master bedroom, which Dad and Mama Demeter shared. The door being closed, I decided to put my ear against it first before walking in. I dropped my mouth and widened my eyes even more upon doing so. To my horror, I heard my mother on the other side of the door, softly, but hauntingly, sobbing away.

With no hesitation, I opened that door and saw her sitting on her canopy bed with one tissue in hand and a small pile of tissues on the floor. I ran into the room, sat on the bed next to her and promptly embraced her for support.

She put her arm around me and said, amidst her tears, "I really appreciate you for trying, Calliope, but a simple hug won't make this pain and heartache go away."

"I know that mama, but I'll do whatever I can to help. Would you like to tell me about it?"

She sniffled and responded, "Not right now. I need to be alone. But if you'd like to know, I will tell you all about it when I calm down."

"Okay then," I said. I wanted to stay there with her, but I respected and understood her wish to be alone.

As I walked out of the room, I turned back to her and said, "Let me know if you need a shoulder to cry on, okay?"

"Will do, Calliope, will do. Thank you for trying to bring warmth into a cold room," she said. She laid down on the bed, pulled the translucent, white curtains over it and continued her sobbing. I looked back at her and sighed. I had always wished I could have done more to help her, but I was just a naive and oblivious young girl at the time. I walked out of her room and closed the door behind me. I looked back down the hallway and saw that Atum turned his light off and closed his door, presumably him and Isis have both gone to sleep. I figured it meant that it was probably time for me to go to bed for the night as well.

I walked into my room, turned the light on, and sighed yet again. I looked around my room, it's decor utilizing many hues of red, the same color as my favorite object, the red light. Closing the door behind me and putting my notebook down, I changed into my pajamas and sat down on the crimson chaise in front of my window. Unlike Mama Demeter, I didn't fall out of line with my evening routine. And I never did. I made sure to open my window as always, perch my arms on the window sill, look out and gaze away at the dazzle of the Atlantic Colony while the red light and it's revolution beckoned from underneath it's caverns.

Another thing I enjoyed to gaze upon was the house right next door. The House of Peloponnesian. Especially when it was on the eve of another one of it's famous (or as some would say, infamous), extravagant and rambunctious parties. The parties occurred once per month, every month, for an untold amount of years. I know they've been going on since my dad was a child at least (seeing that his childhood friend, Mr. Peloponnesian's younger brother Minos always told him all about them), and likely before even then. You can never fully understand the history of Atalan - especially as it pertains to my story - if you don't know about the Peloponnesian parties. On that night, in contrast to my house, the House of Peloponnesian was brightly lit and quite noisy. It was like they were already having a party while preparing for the party.

The side which faced our house was mostly covered in dark green moss, with three balconies jutting out and looking over the Garden of Artemis. The house was topped with two tall and imposing Corinthian pillars, with statues of of snarled griffins adorning their peaks. They appeared to look down at what I assumed was the entrance to the house, like guardians that were always ready to take out any intruder. While I did see a bright, radiant glow emanating from the front of the house, large trees obscured most of the rest of my view of it. The only other thing I knew about it at the time was that it was set back almost a quarter of a mile away from the street. The space between the house and the street was a gated driveway, with a replica of the Colossus of Rhodes, torch in hand and looking north towards the Atlantic Colony and the Acropolis (which one would think is where most of the party guests came from) standing guard over those very gates.

I was always very curious about what the main facade looked like. What it was like inside. What it was like to be at a party there. Of course, I balked at the idea that I would ever be able to attend a function there. Alas, like so many other things I believed at that point in my life, it turned out I couldn't have been anymore wrong.

Calliope's Box: The American Dream (Excerpt) by P Curry

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