Athena spent her life in a library.
Her father had left when she was thirteen, shortly after her mother disappeared. The plane went down when it was struck by lightning, and she was swallowed by the sea. After that, her father dropped her off at his sister’s house with nothing but her suitcase and her mother’s favourite necklace. She hadn’t shown him enough promise; he didn’t want to waste his time raising a child when he could be buried in his studies.
Athena was broken up, convinced she would never be good enough for anyone because of her own father’s abandonment. But her aunt, oh her aunt, was an angel that would never let her give up, never let her believe that she wasn’t good enough. She saw in Athena what her father could not. She saw an unprecedented brilliance, infinite potential. Her aunt took her to their local library every day after school. She helped ease the child into math, science, studies of the universe. Athena’s room began overflowing with secondhand books that spilled through their small apartment. The empty spaces on pages began filling up with red scribbles, notes on what Athena was thinking, connections she began to make. Late nights turned into early mornings as she bent over her desk, fingering the scale pendant on the chain that never left her neck.
The universe flowed through her mind like a river that turned into rapids. A never-ending stream of consciousness. Ideas that would impact the world in ways she couldn’t yet fathom in her youth.
She couldn’t decide what she wanted to specialize in, everything interested her. That was no problem; she decided to have a wide range. Biochemistry, astrophysics, the humanities. She published dozens of papers by the time she was twenty-five. She was especially skilled in politics and international law. Through her career she worked with Greece’s military as a strategist and analyst, climbing through the ranks to become one of the most respected officers in the country. The young girl who had been abandoned by her father because she wasn’t enough for him had the universe coursing through her brain and whispering secrets in her ears.
Later in her forties, her father resurfaced in her life. She was leading a lecture at Athens University in Greece, a university established to provide free education to promising men and women, girls and boys, regardless of their age, their race, their class. After ten years of working in the strategic department, she began to make the switch to the scientific research department of the military and began lecturing at the University on international politics and relations. She wanted to nurture the intellectual spark that she saw in her students, the same one her aunt had found in her.
He came to her at the end of her lecture as she was putting away her notes in her beat-up briefcase, with her journal that was filled with formulas never dreamed of from Einstein, notebooks filled with scribbles detailing experiments she tirelessly did. Her father was probably seventy-seven, now. It had been thirty-five years since she last saw him, since he left her with his sister and didn’t look back. She had been keeping an eye on his work; he hadn’t published anything remotely original or impressive in twenty-odd years. The astrophysicist’s daughter had surpassed him in every way.
“It has been some time, daughter,” he smiled meekly.
“Zeus. To what do I owe this pleasure,” she replied without looking at him. She had seen him come into her lecture and hide in the back corner. A great man reduced to the form of a coward in the presence of the daughter he abandoned.
“I’ve come to congratulate you on your work. You get your mind from me, you know. My little brainchild,” he said with an air of cockiness and a sly smile.
Athena froze and slowly turned her head to stare him down with grey eyes that contained hurricanes and screaming winds, a force to be reckoned with.
“You may be my father, but you are nothing but a sperm donor. Everything great I do not owe to you. I owe it to your sister, I owe it to my own brilliance. Swallow your pride instead of my successes.”
In a split second her bag was around her shoulder and she was out the door, the heavy slam echoing like thunder in the ears of Zeus.
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