Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Chapter Four Hundred and Eighty-five : Imperfect


Wednesday evening — 3:46 p.m.

Denver, Colorado

Heather stood in front of the full length mirror and sighed. She did not like what she saw. She put her hand over her head and transformed into her trim, curvy, Goddess body. She snapped her fingers and her jeans and blouse transformed into the golden dress of Hedone, the Goddess of Love. She touched her hair. It flowed in perfect curls of gold, blond, and brown. Her face was clear and the golden color of her birth home, Greece. Her breasts were full and pert. Her hips were round and firm at the same time. Somehow, even her eyes looked brighter and bigger.

Her grandmother had a point. This was a superior body.

Heather blinked and her usual human body and clothing reappeared. She would love to say that all of this insecurity came from growing up around the three Charities. They were supposed to be her best friends, but they were the ones who made certain that Heather always knew that she was a filthy half-breed.

Truth be told, this insecurity was all Heather. It was just a part of her. Always had been. Probably always would be. Blane thought that it made her more humble and kept her from getting a big God complex. Heather shook her head at herself in the mirror. Who knew?

When she wasn’t looking in the mirror, she loved the her thick, strong thighs that could run and allowed her to carry heavy bags of cat food. She liked her muscular arms which held Mack and Wyn at the same time. She liked her imperfect breasts that had provided sustenance to her children and the full hips that had given birth to two sons. She even liked her slightly frizzy hair that was some kind of brownish-whatever.

When she wasn’t looking at her body before a date, she loved this capable, strong, healthy body.

Today, she was preparing for Tres to pick her up for their first “date.” She’d come home to her and Blane’s home to get ready.

Ready for what?

No amount of makeup and fancy hair products could match the sheer perfection of her Goddess body. That was just a fact.

Heather sighed and switched herself back to Hedone the Goddess.

Somehow, the simple longing to be this gorgeous visage of herself felt like a betrayal to …

To what?

Heather had told her grandmother over and over and over again that she loved her human body.

And she did. She loved her pudgy imperfectly human body.

In fact, Heather had been furious that her grandmother had insisted that she return to her “true” form before attending any function at Olympia.

Heather snapped her fingers again and transformed into her strong human body. Wanting to look like a Goddess was a betrayal of all that she believed.

Every woman was a Goddess.

“And if Tres Sierra doesn’t treat me like that, then he’s simply not the right person for me,” Heather said to herself in the mirror. She swallowed hard and nodded to her image in the mirror.

If Blane had been here, he would never have allowed her to muck around like this. He thought of the Goddess body as a costume or a uniform she had to wear when she was “working for Olympia.” He said that these perfected bodies and clothing were to lure humans into instinctively loving the Gods, thus giving them power.

Of course, he was right.

But didn’t she want power over Tres so he couldn’t hurt her? Heather sighed again and wonder what real power she needed over Tres.

Blane was working until seven. The kids were at the Castle. This was all set up to be her and Tres to go to the art museum, have a bite to eat, and see how it was.

Heather took out her phone and called Tanesha.

“I hate myself,” Heather said when Tanesha answered.

Tanesha laughed.

“I was thinking of, you know, wearing the perfect body,” Heather said her best friend.

“Seems to me that if the perfect body can’t have babies, then it probably can’t have orgasms,” Tanesha said.

Heather laughed. Tanesha had a way of saying what was true and absurd so that Heather would laugh.

“But I don’t know,” Tanesha said. “Would I trade bodies if I could? Maybe.”


“No,” Tanesha said. “I just want you to know that I understand. When we live in our bodies, they feel just right. But when we look at them, our eyes are preconditioned to see super models or …”

“Goddesses,” Heather said.

“Modern Goddesses,” Tanesha said. “One thing I love about the fairies is that they don’t have perfect bodies. They just are what they are.”

“True,” Heather said, remembering what Abi’s actual body looks like.

“Abi’s not a fairy,” Tanesha said, as if she were reading Heather’s mind. Heather laughed. “Anyway, who cares about the fairies? I don’t have the luxury of trading bodies. I’ve got to live with the one I have — crazy hair and all.”

Heather smiled.

“How’s it going?” Heather asked.

“Jer’s fishing,” Tanesha said. “I’m reading a novel. It’s quiet.”

“And?” Heather asked.

“It’s weirdly nice,” Tanesha said. “I know that he’s going to come back in an hour or so, we’re going to make dinner and have a nice night. It’s predictable. Easy.”

“Does it make you miss the chaos?” Heather asked.

“No,” Tanesha said. “Don’t you even mention it. I have cried enough over this man.”

“True,” Heather said. She unbuttoned a button on her blouse and then immediately buttoned it again.

“Should I call Sandy? Jill?” Tanesha asked.

“No, Sandy’s working and Jill’s got classes,” Heather said. “I should be able to go on one date without a complete meltdown.”

“How likely is that?” Tanesha snorted a laugh and Heather laughed.

“Okay, I’m serious,” Heather said. “Goddess body?”

“With the 40K gold thread dress and everything?” Tanesha asked.

“Yes,” Heather said.

“No,” Tanesha said. “He probably won’t even recognize you.”

“But this body is a little …” Heather said, “ … plump.”

“As a ripe peach!” Tanesha said. “He’s going to want that sweetness.”

Heather laughed and Tanesha joined her. They were laughing when the doorbell rang.

“He’s here,” Heather whispered into the phone.

“Answer the door,” Tanesha said. “Go. Have fun. Call me when you’re done.”

“Maybe I’ll just pretend like I’m not here,” Heather said.

“Go,” Tanesha said and snapped her fingers.

Heather felt a spark of something like an ember slap her in the butt.

“Hey!” Heather said.

“Did it work?” Tanesha asked.

Laughing again, Heather went down the stairs to the door.

“Love you,” Tanesha said. “Do everything I would do.”

“Love you,” Heather said.

Heather clicked off the phone and stuck into her small, non-child purse. She let out a breath.

And opened the door.


Wednesday evening — 4:16 p.m.

Denver, Colorado

“May I speak with Rodney Smith, please?” Yvonne asked the receptionist.

Rodney was running a large underground utility site that consisted of a small office and ten mobile unit sitting on an old parking lot. They were replacing the water lines in a residential neighborhood. Rather than bringing the mess and chaos of an entire job site, they were using the mobile units. Logistically, the site was a nightmare. Day to day, the site hummed like a well-oiled machine.

The receptionist looked up at Yvonne and raised her eyebrow.

“Who are you supposed to be?” the receptionist asked.

“Who am I …”Yvonne started. “What?”

“You can’t just walk in and speak to the boss,” the receptionist said.

Yvonne blinked at the young woman. Having had been severely mentally limited for such a long time, she felt like she missed an entire social “thing” where it was now fashionable to be rude to people.

“Why not?” Yvonne managed.

“He’s a busy man,” the receptionist said. She looked Yvonne up and down. “He doesn’t have time for … distractions.”

“Distractions?” Yvonne asked.

“Plus, he’s married,” the receptionist said. “I saw a whole thing about it on BET. She’s Miss T’s mother and she’s brain damaged.”

Yvonne blinked at the woman for a moment. Feeling movement, she turned around to see an older woman come into the trailer. The older woman walked with purpose toward the receptionist.

“Thanks for covering for me, Denise,” the woman said.

“This lady here says she wants to see the boss,” the young woman said with a sniff.

She looked at Yvonne and blinked.

“Mrs. Smith?” the older woman asked.

Yvonne nodded.

“Rodney told me you were feeling better,” the older woman said. “I don’t think I realized until …”

The older woman hit the younger woman lightly with the back of her hand.

“That’s Rodney’s wife,” the older woman said.

“Nah,” the younger woman said. “His wife isn’t right in the head.”

Yvonne squinted at the young woman.

“I’m sorry,” the older woman said. “This is my granddaughter. She was just covering for me while I used the restroom. She’s …”

“She’s right,” Yvonne said in a clear, calm voice. “For a long time, I wasn’t right in the head. But even when I was struggling, I’d never have been as rude as you’ve been.”

Yvonne blinked at the young girl.

“Ma’am, I’m so sorry,” the older woman said.

“You don’t need to be. But you …” Yvonne pointed to the young girl. “You’d better watch yourself. What you make fun of you become.”

Yvonne sniffed at the girl. For a moment, no one moved. The door opened to the office and Rodney looked out.

“Yvie?” Rodney asked. He looked at the young girl and then the older woman. “What’s going on here?”

“Nothing,” Yvonne said. Rodney’s eyes shot to the older woman. “Do you have a moment to speak with me?”

“Of course,” Rodney said. “Always.”

Rodney held the door open and gave the older woman a hard look. He closed the door behind Yvonne. He gave her a hug and kissed her lips.

“I’m sorry for …” Rodney gestured to the front.

“You don’t need to be sorry,” Yvonne said. “It’s just stuff that happens. I’m going to remember to ask Tannie why people are so rude these days.”

“Good question,” Rodney said.

“Anyway, I know you’re busy,” Yvonne said. “I wanted to ask you something and then ask you to think about it so we can talk when you get home.”

Rodney gave her a quick nod. He tried to keep his face impassive but he had yet to get over his simple joy at looking at his wife. Inside, his heart raced with joy.

“Abi has asked me if I will help Delphie with a problem,” Yvonne said.

“Abi?” Rodney asked. “Delphie?”

“Seems Delphie found something called the ‘Fire of Hell’ in Leadville,” Yvonne said. “I didn’t remember it, but apparently Blane saved her from this thing. They think it’s some kind of spell left from that man who held Delphie captive when she was a child.”

“Levi Johansen,” Rodney said.

“I don’t know his name,” Yvonne said. “I am sure I never met him.”

“You didn’t,” Rodney said.

“Anyway, Abi asked if I could help,” Yvonne said. “I wanted to check in with you and Tannie to see if you thought it would be okay.”

“You don’t need my permission to hang out with your friends,” Rodney said. “Or do anything, really.”

“I’m not asking for permission,” Yvonne said. “I’m asking what you think about it.”

Yvonne touched his chest.

“You know, inside,” Yvonne said.

Rodney nodded his understanding. He covered her hand with his own.

“Do you know anything else?” Rodney asked.

“I know that Abi talked to me and Maresol and Dionne,” Yvonne said. “Seth’s in New York, so Maresol is free. Dionne doesn’t want to be left out.”

“And this Fire of Hell?” Rodney asked.

“Seems like no one knows anything about them,” Yvonne said. “Did you know that Heather is a genuine Goddess from Greece?”

Rodney gave her a curt nod.

“Well, I just found out,” Yvonne said. “Heather says there’s a mention of this Fire of Hell in a few Greek histories but nothing of importance. And Abi was pregnant when Delphie found them again. She wasn’t able to go up until recently. Abi and her brother … do we know them?”

“Gilfand?” Rodney asked. He smiled at the simple wonder of Yvonne coming out of her fog. “We’ve met him a few times. He looks a little … gargoyle-ish.”

“Well, I don’t remember him,” Yvonne said. “So, according to Abi, the astrological signs are best in the next two weeks.”

Yvonne shrugged.

“What do you think?” Yvonne asked.

“It terrifies me,” Rodney said. “But Delphie and your friends have done so much for you, for us, I don’t think we can say ‘no.’”

“That’s what I mean,” Yvonne said. “We have to think about it tonight and decide. Abi wants to meet tomorrow morning to ‘make a battle plan’ — that’s what she said.”

Rodney nodded to Yvonne but didn’t otherwise respond. Yvonne knew that meant that he was thinking. She waited.

“Do you think she’s a fairy?” Yvonne asked.

“She’s not a fairy,” Rodney said.

“I wonder why I thought that,” Yvonne said.

“Her man is,” Rodney said.

“Fin?” Yvonne asked. “That makes sense. He’s my grandfather. Abi is my grandmother.”

“Yes they are,” Rodney said with a nod.

Yvonne gave him a sweet smile which made him grin. They stood silently grinning at each other for a moment.

“Why you?” Rodney said after clearing his throat.

“I don’t know,” Yvonne said. “But she said that it had to be me, more so than the others. I thought maybe it was because Delphie and I were in similar situations, you know, held captive by some jerk. Maybe I’ll know how to help her when the other girls don’t.”

“Good thinking,” Rodney said.

Yvonne patted his chest again.

“You think about it,” Yvonne said. “We’ll talk tonight.”

He kissed her again and she left his office. The young woman was long gone by the time Yvonne walked through again. She didn’t bother to say anything to the receptionist. Instead, she just left.

In the car, she wondered if the younger woman knew that she, Yvonne, had been a whore. Thoughts of doubt and guilt began to rise from inside her core. Yvonne shook her head.

“Oh, who cares?” Yvonne asked out loud. “I have too much going on to waste my brain thinking about that.”

Laughing to herself, she started the car and never gave the entire incident another thought.


Wednesday evening — 10:26 p.m.

London, England

Sissy felt like she was high. The lack of sleep followed by the sheer chance to dance so much gave her this light headed feeling. Jammy had insisted that they return to their hotel at ten. He’d forced fed her almost an entire chicken and a huge salad. Sissy was too happy to fuss.

Jammy sent Sissy to her room. She’d taken a long bath to warm her body and then gone through the horribly hard stretching routine she did at home. She felt loose and happy. She’d already called Charlie, Tink, and Giovanni. They were nice to listen to all of her adventures — which were mostly doing what she was told, eating, and sleeping. Sissy showed them around her palatial room with its little sitting area and gas fireplace. They were as impressed as she. When she was done with the tour, they were excited to tell her about what she’d missed. Tink was enjoying her stay in New York City. Tink rattled off all of the places they’d gone and the amazing food she’d tried. Sissy couldn’t help but laugh at the girl’s Big Apple adventures. Tomorrow, they were going all the way up to the observation deck at One World Trade Center.

Sissy couldn’t help but feel a little envious of Tink’s adventures. Sissy had never had the chance to do that touristy stuff because she was either in school, in the hospital, or recovering. They promised to save some things for when Sissy got home on Saturday.

When Sissy hung up, she talked to Sandy. She showed Sandy around the hotel and then they talked about the hard stuff — did she like the programs? Would she want to stay there. Sissy was a little relieved when she only had a few minutes before Ivan was done with his class. She said goodbye to Sandy and changed into her pajamas. She was just pulling up her pajama bottoms when her phone rang. She pressed the video button and there he was!


Neither one of them said anything for a moment. She felt like her face would break from smiling. He looked at least twenty years younger, happy — no, joyful — just to see her. It was one of the most dramatic moments of Sissy’s entire life.

“Hi,” Sissy said finally.

“My love,” Ivan said. “I want to know every moment, everything, but, I will tell you that I have heard from many people both in Paris and London.”

“You have spies?” Sissy asked as a joke.

“No spies,” Ivan said with a solemn shake of his head. “People who know that you are …”

He blushed.

“You were joking,” Ivan said. He laughed at himself. “Of course.”

“They introduced themselves as having either worked with you or knowing of your work,” Sissy said. “I was really proud of you, just to know you. It was really great!”

Ivan squinted at her for a moment.

“What?” Sissy asked.

“Many women would feel threatened by …” Ivan said.

“You are a great dancer,” Sissy said. “I’d be a fool to be threatened by your fame or acclaim. I’m your biggest fan!”

Ivan gave her a rare genuine smile that took her breath away and made her heart flutter.

“You have impressed everyone,” Ivan said. “I am not surprised. You are a brilliant light.”

Delighted and embarrassed at the same time, Sissy changed the subject away from herself.

“Are you excited for your classes tonight?” Sissy asked.

“Excited?” Ivan asked. Shaking his head, he said, “Nyet. It will be good to get started. We will see if this is a path for me. I have done ballet for so long that it’s very hard to imagine doing something else.”

“You are brave,” Sissy said.

Ivan blushed and shrugged off her compliment.

“We will see tonight,” Ivan said. “You did your stretches? Ate?”

“Jammy’s been really bossy,” Sissy said. “Eat now, sleep now, stuff like that. It’s good that I’m so used to getting bossed around.”

Ivan burst out laughing. Sissy grinned at him.

“It’s for your own good,” Ivan said in his defense.

Sissy laughed. With her laugh, she felt her energy start to fade.

“You will sleep?” Ivan asked.

Sissy nodded.

“Will you wake me when you get home from class?” Sissy asked.

“No, you need to sleep,” Ivan said. “All of this travel, new people, new places — it’s like ten ballets in one day. Very hard on the body. You must take good care or you will get sick or injured.”

“I will,” Sissy said with a smile at his concerns.

“Do call me when you get up,” Ivan said. “What is tomorrow’s schedule?”

“Breakfast at the Royal Ballet Company,” Sissy said. “Meet some my age who go there for school, tour the dorms, and then fly to Russia. I’m interviewing in Saint Petersburg tomorrow afternoon. The Bolshoi on Friday morning and then we come home!”

Sissy cheered and Ivan smiled.

“Enjoy every moment,” Ivan said. “These are once in a life time experiences that most people don’t ever get. You must soak up every little bit. And then, come home to me.”

“I will,” Sissy said.

Never effusive with his words, Ivan blushed nodded and said, “Go to sleep.”

The phone went dark. Sissy felt the instant let down of his absence. He’d been a near constant presence since she’d been shot. This was the longest they’d been apart since that time. She looked out across the room and wondered if she should watch television.

There was a knock at the door.

“Room service.” A muffled man’s voice came through the door.

Sissy got up and went to the door. She stepped aside as she’d seen Jammy do and allowed the man to roll the cart into the room.

“Where should I put?” the man asked in a thick Russian accent.

“Are you sure this is for me?” Sissy asked, in Russian. “I’ve already eaten.”

“Yes, yes,” the man said, in a bored, irritated voice. “Sign here.”

Sissy looked at the man. He had the bored and rushed demeanor of every room service person Sissy had seen on television. He wore all black like the woman who’d dropped off her dinner in Jammy’s room earlier. His hair hung in his face so she couldn’t see his eyes.

Sissy stepped next to the man. He opened the payment folder and gave her a pen. The pen was on the page when the man grabbed her elbow.

“Whatever you do, do not go to Russia,” the man said.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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