All the gods of myth and legend are real, but having your prayers answered depends on discovering which god can hear you. You figured out which god is listening to your prayers, but they’re not what you expected. **Writing prompt from Tumblr** Ingrid has called to nearly every God and Goddess. She deems herself unworthy of their attention. As a last resort, she calls the last God she ever expected to answer her prayers.
***Hints of abuse, mention of self-harm scars***
She was nothing of import, just another cowering survivor making her way through life. And her thoughts that she was nothing, they were just made that much stronger with every unanswered prayer. So many others had found their gods, but Ingrid just couldn’t. Lesser deities, titans, gods of love, gods of chaos; no one answered, none of them seemed to hear her. Maybe that was for the best, what did she have to offer any of them? Everyone’s victim, she couldn’t see her worth, what strength lay hidden beneath the pain.
One dreary morning, Ingrid was leafing through her sister’s book of Greek gods, not really sure why. Already, she’d tried many of the deities in the Greek pantheon (just like the rest), but not…all. Suddenly she stopped flipping pages, staring down at one god she’d yet to try to talk to. Grey eyes took in the words that seemed to dance off the page, the image of the god that some poor soul had tried to capture in his likeness. The rustling of pages quieting drew her sister’s curiosity.
“Oh, please! You can’t possibly think that he’d answer a weakling like you!” Ingrid’s sister was everything she wasn’t: strong, beautiful, curvy, flirtatious, outgoing. It almost surprised her that Aphrodite answered Edith’s prayers, but it was fairly obvious why. And it made sense to Ingrid why her sister despised her. Not that it made it any easier.
Nodding in agreement, she gave a self-deprecating chuckle. “Just stopped to think, Edie.” Not wanting to give her sister any further reason to mock her, Ingrid set the book aside and went back to her own room. She was twenty-six and had moved home after her last breakup, it was…there were no simple terms to describe what went wrong without the hardest of things being brought to light. Her hidden scars spoke volumes, her need for solitude, her waning frame. There was so much she refused to show to others, couldn’t handle others to know. To Ingrid, it’d just make everything worse, to share the worst. All her family knew was that she hadn’t been able to make it on her own, and her sister just saw her as a failure. Nothing else had been shared, not wanting to make their picture of her any more pathetic, and so she suffered in silence.
Edith’s gaze followed her skeleton thin sister’s retreat, azure gaze softening. The younger brunette was seventeen, and she tried not to judge her elder sister too harshly, but Ingrid was just…she was everything Edith feared and abhorred. Under all that, of course, was love. It was just hard to show most of the time.
Back in her room, Ingrid pulled her long umber locks up, no longer needing to hide herself behind them. She settled at her laptop and pulled up a search for the god she’d been ridiculed for looking at. But… but that page spoke to her, that god’s name called to her like nothing else. Suddenly she couldn’t just let it go, she had to try. No other god had called to her as he had. Her pale gaze devoured everything possible before exhaustion settled in. Most nights were spent tossing and turning, trying to find refuge from the pains of her existence, but that night would be different. She could feel it in every fiber of her being. Locking her door, Ingrid knew she’d just have to make do with what little she had, not brave enough to go in search of better items to try with.
Long legs folded under her thin frame, Ingrid placed the black candle she kept beside her bed on the floor in front of her, taking a deep breath as she lit it and sat back, huddling in the large sweater that seemed to swallow her. Clearing her throat, she tried to build up whatever courage she had left, shifting some and trying not to fold into herself. “Ares, I call to thee, I pray to thee, reveal yourself to me.” Her voice wasn’t strong, it wasn’t loud, she was barely a whisper, heart pounding in her ears. Was it right to fear the possibility of a god’s appearance? Ingrid thought that they were supposed to find peace in their presence, but all she felt was anxiety at what could happen, and a greater fear that no one would answer. And if he did, she read he was supposed to be something like 700 feet tall…maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to call him to her home.
But it was too late. At first nothing happened, but then the flame grew on her candle, shooting up into a larger flame before returning to as it was. Slender hands covered her face, a quiet whimper sounding as she tried to curl into a ball, pushing away from the candle.
“Why do you hide, girl?” His voice was…it sounded like multiple voices laid atop one another, but there was something that she wasn’t expecting: a lack of animosity. Then there was the fact that he was even there.
Slowly, she lowered her hands from her face, breath escaping in a shudder as Ingrid looked him over. Him. Ares. “You-you’re…Ares.” He was strong, muscled, armored; all things she was expecting. His nose was crooked, like it’d been broken too many times and never set properly, his lips were thin and half hidden by the beard decorating his face. But his eyes, they were soft, pale like a spring sky, and she wondered how it was possible for the tall intimidating force before her to have such kind eyes. It never occurred to her that they were soft for her, for only those that had curried his favor.
“You called to me, little one.” That was…how had she managed to have Ares as her god? “Because your heart is that of a warrior. You fight for survival, not for greed or power like so many others. Your fight is just one that does not often involve weapons.”
Eyes widening even further, she realized that he had to have heard her thoughts. “So you can…” Her words trailed off, not having nearly enough breath to get them all out.
“No, your thoughts are your own. Your face is open to me,” he explained. Trembling hands quickly took her hair down, hiding behind it like a curtain, as she usually did. The excitement and uncertainty behind trying to call Ares to her had made her forget her own comfort, that she’d hide away from the world unless alone in her sanctuary. “You hide much more than your face and strength, Ingrid. Come, little one, show your battle scars.”
That made her heart race even faster. She’d heard that he’d blanket his bed with the skin of those he’d slain. Was that why he wanted to see her scars? To add to his collection? But she slowly pushed herself to her feet, hesitating before dropping her sweater. The tank top hid little. Faint lines, raised lines, dark lines, pale lines, they all decorated the skin of her arms and back. Turning to show her back to him, Ingrid crossed her arms over her stomach. Those eyes on her skin was enough to make her shudder, long to hide; his gaze had a weight to it, that felt as though his fingers were brushing over the skin he inspected. Her head turned so that she might peek at the god through a veil of brunette hair, she noticed he’d looked away and had knelt to put out the candle. Her brows furrowed when he stood and offered the sweater to her once more. A quivering hand extended in acceptance, she gently took it and pulled it on as she took a seat on the floor once more, watching with curiosity as his armor disappeared and he sat across from her. There was a shift in his exterior and Ares was suddenly wearing dark jeans and a black button down, his beard more like a goatee, as if his appearance was trying to match the current times. The sparse grey and white decorating his facial hair remained, his dark locks that and that alone, shaggy and unkempt. There were scars on his face she hadn’t noticed before, but she was trying not to stare, only getting a good look at the one beneath his right eye before she ducked her head once more.
The god tilted his head, used to either false humility or cocky soldiers thinking they were better than others because he had appeared to them. Many had died by his hand when they disrespected him, their skin added to his collection. But never had he met one like Ingrid, never had one like her found the courage to call him to her. So many took his love of war to mean only the kind fought with weapons, but there were other wars that were fought, battles that none saw or few acknowledged. And that was what drew him to her. That and the strength she’d developed, a determination to never be victim to another, a will to survive at any cost. It was something he approved of.
They sat there, in silence, as she tried to find something to say to him, and Ares just watched her, not as accustomed to the silent battles people fought. There was something comforting to him about the quiet, as much as he loved the sounds of death cries and triumphant screams, there was something different about the silence she offered. It was rife with the wars she fought, survived, and would have still. The difference with those was that now she’d have him watching over her, though he saw every fight she’d ever lived through, every injury she’d ever overcome, every harsh word that scarred the inside of her being as much as her outside was.
“I am called elsewhere, little one. Take this. I will know when you need me.” Ingrid startled, dragged from her thoughts as she looked at the proffered trinket when the god suddenly seemed to be standing with it in his large hand. It was a necklace, black metal with a large garnet in the center. Nodding, she slowly stood, her hand held aloft as though waiting for him to let her take it. Instead, the god extended the long chain and gently put it on her, letting her adjust her hair herself as he stepped back. Then he was gone.
Blinking into the dim light of her room, she wondered if any of it was real, if she’d just imagined it all, if he could really be her god. But the weight of that jewel around her neck was the truth, it showed his support, and it showed that she finally was worthy to someone, even if it was a god that she’d never dreamed would see her.