My Lovely Deity
"Is this a joke to you, Jiang Yingyue? Do you even care about your work?" my boss questioned me. His brows furrowed in a frown, his arms crossed in front of him in discontent.
Now you may be wondering how I got myself into this situation. Before I explain, I think it's important to introduce myself. I'm Jiang Yingyue, a twenty-year-old orphan with no siblings, no boyfriend, no friends, and no prospects. My adoptive parents told me my parents abandoned me after seeing how ugly I was despite being given one of the most beautiful names: Jiang ("river") Yingyue ("reflection of the moon").
Soon enough, my adoptive parents grew tired of me too. They threw me out and now I'm forced to struggle to survive on my own; some days I was unfortunate to not have dinner on the table. I never questioned why my parents abandoned me, I didn't have any more room in my mind to think about anything other than trying to find a well-paying job and surviving.
It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I finally secured an open position at the coffee shop. I was grateful for the opportunity, but due to my clumsiness, I often mixed up orders and dropped things. Which is why my boss was standing before me with pure fury.
"You break more things than you sell! How do you expect me to pay for the damages you've done?" he hollered at me.
"Please take it out of my paycheck. I will work extra shifts to make up for my mistakes," I said with a humble bow. 'I can't afford to lose this job, I just can't.'
"Wow, this employee has lost her mind! Jiang Yingyue, are you crazy? Your pay has already been cut five times. I've given you several warnings and you continue to take advantage of my kindness."
What kindness? "It won't happen again. Please, I need this job. No one else will hire me."
"You should find something else another city because you're finished in this town. Jiang Yingyue, you're fired. I never want to see your face in here again." Walking away, he muttered, "...should be thrown in jail for property damage."
I found myself walking along the bridge of Hai River by nightfall, unsure of where to go. The rain was coming down hard, chilling me to the bone. My thoughts took a dark turn as I reminisced about the past.
Cars honked at me, aggressively urging me to move out of the way but it didn't matter. Nothing mattered. 'What have I done in my past life to have earned such harsh treatment? Am I truly meant to be unhappy?' I thought, watching the river ripple from contact with the raindrops. The city's warm light reflected in the water's surface but all of it was becoming a distant memory.
"You're a failure and you'll always be a failure," I murmured to myself, repeating the words I heard since childhood. With every intention of throwing myself into the freezing river, I hesitated. 'How long would it take me to die? Would I finally find peace and happiness in heaven?'
I closed my eyes, allowing the cold wind to whip past my face, reveling in the last few moments of being alive. My teeth chattered, and my body quickly became numb. Fatigue plagued my body as I let out a deep breath. "I did my best."
And then I finally released my grip on the bridge, giving into the demons within my mind. Relief washed over me, knowing it was finally over.
"Wake up! How long do you plan to sleep?" an unfamiliar voice called to me, shaking me by the shoulders to jostle me awake. When I opened my eyes, I came face to face with a pastel pink-haired woman in a translucent pink gown.
"Are you an angel?" I asked in a low whisper, my throat felt dry like I hadn't had anything to drink in days.
"No, I'm Aphrodite! The Greek goddess of love and beauty," she responded with a dramatic twirl. "I'm sure you've heard of me, all of the mortal textbooks speak highly of my beauty."
"I must be hallucinating. Excuse me." I stood up and attempted to leave the room but quickly discovered we were standing on a couple of wispy clouds. I mimicked my actions from before I lost consciousness, thinking I had to still be on the bridge in Tianjin. All I needed to do was let go and I could move on from this strange dream.
"What are you doing? Get away from there!" Aphrodite waved her hand in my direction, using an unforeseeable force to pull me closer to her. "You may have lost your body, but that doesn't mean you can jump from Mount Olympus! You would fade out of existence faster than you can scream for help."
"H-how did you do that? Magic isn't real!" I exclaimed, baffled over her actions.
"Like I told you, I'm Aphrodite. I've come to you with a proposition and I'm sure you will like it." She directed me over to a table where two chairs were situated. She gestured for me to sit and I reluctantly acquiesced.
"What does a goddess want with me? I have nothing to offer you."
"What if I said I could offer you a chance of a lifetime?"
"And what is that?"
"To fall in love, of course."