I Became the Plus-One to a Party of the Gods
Caisey pushed his way into a room that had very much taken on a deep-sea theme. The walls, the carpeting, the canopy curtains guarding the ridiculous-sized bed from prying eyes—all varying shades of blue and/or sea green.
Aside from all of the immaculate bedroom décor, Caisey noticed a short young woman lounging on a chaise near the opposite end of the room. In a long, flowing gown with a slit running up the side that showcased her light melanin skin, she reclined against the high back of the chaise with one leg slightly bent and the other outstretched before her, her painted toes pressed lightly against the armrest. She appeared supremely aware of her elegance and her allure.
She had turned her attention to Caisey the moment he had opened the door. When he met her eyes, a smile as soft as a spring breeze leapt onto her face and she rose to her feet. Caisey, on the other hand, had dropped his mouth to the floor.
“Rina?!” Caisey cried. “Is that you?”
Rina came leaping and dancing across the floor, still graceful on her tiptoes. “You’re here!” She exclaimed and threw herself into his arms.
Caisey was so shocked he hadn’t even realized he’d been holding his arms out for her. Unconsciously, he held her tightly.
“I’m so glad you’re finally here, Caisey. I’ve been waiting for weeks now—”
“—and I’ve had so much time to prepare. Like, you won’t even begin to believe what we have in store. First, there’s the pre-ball festival, then there’s the dinner party, and finally the grand ball at the end of the week—”
Caisey lifted his hand in protest, “Whoa whoa whoa, Rina. Hold up! I… I’m so lost here. You can’t just go talking a mile a minute without explaining anything!”
Caisey watched Rina pull back a little and he sank into the eyes he’d long been used to seeing. They were still the most mesmerizing shade of ocean blue. Her thick, black hair which crept low down her back, as well as her darker skin tone, had always given her eyes the best sort of shine.
“What’s wrong?” Rina asked, her voice taking on a higher pitch.
“What’s wrong? Rina, I have wings. I’ve been spirited away to some realm I never knew existed, and you’re here—apparently you’ve been here for weeks—in this ginormous palace, and that old guy from earlier calls you Lady Terpsichore (terp-si-ker-ee).”
“Oh, don’t be so moody.” Rina said, detaching herself from Caisey with a flourish and a melodic sway. Caisey immediately felt the warmth of her touch leave his body and realized, with a self-conscious rub at his neck, that he was still top-half naked and barefoot. Though, he had no time to dwell on it as Rina continued to speak.
“It’s not all really that confusing, Case. I’ve been here for much, much, much longer than a few weeks. Plus, you and I are supposed to be here, and I am Lady Terpsichore. It’s my real name.”
Caisey was blinking. Blinking fast, like there was something in his eye that he needed to get out. All he said was, “Uh, no.”
“Uh, yes.” Rina replied. “I called you here to live with me.”
And that sent Caisey's heart into some complications. He didn’t know whether to swoon at the ‘live with me’ part or die inside because he’d sprouted wings and had been sucked like food from a tooth from the human world he knew and loved.
“Live here?” He exclaimed, “In the Gods’ Realm, Rina?”
Rina frowned. Her eyebrows furrowed. “Yes, here. I’m a god, dummy.” Caisey’s mouth dropped open and Rina frowned harder. “You truly don’t remember, do you?” she asked.
“Remember, what? I only remember you being a beautiful human girl who I was lucky enough to meet at the theater one afternoon. Was I supposed to know you were a real goddess this whole time?”
Suddenly, Rina hopped into a cute pose and interlaced her fingers beneath her chin, “Aw, you thought I looked like a goddess even back then?” She asked, as playful as ever.
Rina never was one to recognize the gravity of a situation. It was as though she took everything with a swig of delirium and a whole lot of grace.
Caisey grunted, charmed for sure, but not letting that slow him down. “Ugh! Yes, but you know that’s not the point. Give me some answers, please.”
Rina huffed and smoothed out a crease of frustration between her eyebrows with her fingers. Caisey was mildly sorry for being annoying; he really was bewildered by all this and needed answers. “Case,” she said, and raised her face to look into his eyes, “We had met countless times before what you think of as our first meeting at the theater.”
Caisey was confused. “Huh? What do you mean? I don’t remember any times before that. Sorry…” Caisey wondered briefly, Is she confusing me with someone else?
Then Rina said, “Do you not recall me as the literal girl of your dreams? You dreamt of me, and I came to you. You saw me when you slept every night for seven whole months before the theater, Dumbo.”
“I did not—” Caisey cut himself off. Rapid flashes of wings, picnic dates in the sky, and Rina looking breathtaking in all such instances flitted through his mind. “I did…” He said. His chest felt heavy, like all the breath he could hold was being held there.
He let it all out slow and shaky as Rina said, “You did.
“And in those dreams, you were as you are now and I, as I am now. We spoke of the gods and eternal life, having a future like this daily. I gave you my name, Terpsichore, and—”
“I ate it like a damned Titan. I thought I had just been watching too much anime when I woke up.”
Rina was smiling now. She nodded, “That is how we set our promises here in the Gods’ Realm. I’m pleased to see you remember! You promised to meet me here when I called for you and agreed to a long stay.”
“A long stay,” Caisey repeated, and thought for a second before continuing. “So, living here wasn’t promised?”
Rina’s frown was back, a small one this time, and Caisey worried he had said the wrong thing. He followed her retreating figure with his eyes as Rina reclaimed her spot on the chaise by the monstrous window on the far side of the bedroom. “No, it wasn’t.” She said.
Silence filled the air. Caisey felt troubled, so lost as to what to say or do that he chose not to say or do anything. He waited for Rina to continue because she always did. Her voice was small when she next spoke, “I hope…" she paused to look at him, sincerity shining in her eyes, "I really hope you s—”
Rina was interrupted by a knock at the door. She called for the knocker to enter and in flew five attendants, all carrying wide silver bowls filled with differently colored liquids.
“Ah. Right.” Rina said, “It was my duty to watch over the northern part of the Mortal Realm this evening. I got distracted.”
Meanwhile, Caisey found a tall chest of drawers to stand beside. He watched as Rina performed her duties as the goddess, Lady Terpsichore. She took a bowl from the hands of the closest attendant and lifted the liquid to her lips, swallowing some. Her body and the area around her were set aglow in a brilliant blaze of yellow. Her eyes, too, took on a mesmerizing yellow glow.
Caisey was astonished by the sight, but his mind was still preoccupied. The word Rina had left unsaid was floating on the air like a clear, flimsy bubble.
‘I really hope you stay.’ She was about to say that. Caisey thought. He watched how she sat, having returned the bowl to the attendant—so languid and yet so powerful; attractive, magnetic. He released a shaky sigh, feeling in waves of goosebumps how special it was to be near her again. It felt right.
He’d missed her.
I’ll think about it, he thought in reply.