Marias Birthday

                   Georgina dropped him off at his place in the evening.  There must be a party going on across the street, she said, noticing all of the cars in front of Marias house  Want to crash it?

                   Ah, no, Im kind of tired, said Hermes.

                   Oh, come on, itll be fun.  Beside I know them.

                   What?

                   Your neighbors - I know the family.

                   What?  said Hermes, his stomach sinking.  How?

                   Ill tell you later, she said.  Lets go over.

                   Hermes followed her to the door, his stomach churning with anxiety.  He glanced at his phone, and Athena had texted him the information for the party. 

                   Do you really want to do this? he said.  Why dont we go to the movies or something instead?

                   Nonsense, she said, hearing the music and activity from inside.  It sounds like everyone is having a great time.

                   Georgina didnt bother ringing the door and just walked right in.  Artemis, Maria and Athenas mother, saw her as she entered and greeted her boisterously.  My child, where have you been? she said.  Its not right to be such a stranger to your godmother.

                   Hermes turned his head away when he heard the connection between them. 

                   The girls have asked about you, said Artemis.

                   Athena and Maria appeared dressed in clothes and makeup that made them look ten years older than they were.  Hermes tried to remain poised.  The four women interacted with each other completely unfazed.  Georgina introduced them to Hermes.  The girls grinned at him.  We know him, said Athena. 

Yes, hes a nice boy, said Maria, enticed at how the stakes had been raised.             

                   You arrived just in time, said Artemis, We are about to sing.

                   As Artemis lead them to the dining area, Athena turned to Hermes and said, Someones popular.

                   Dont, Hermes said, trying to gauge Marias body language. 

                   Georgina turned and smiled at him and said, Careful with these two girlsthey bite.

                   Maria turned and grinned at him.

                   Artemis called everyones attention that they were going to sing to Maria.  Hermes looked at the cake and counted 15 candles.  He turned to Athena and said, Arent they missing a few candles?

                   What do you mean? said Athena.

                   Shes older than 15.

                   No, technically shes 14 still.  Her actual birthday isnt for a couple of days.

                   Hermes looked at her in disbelief and turned to Maria who smiled and winked at him.  As they began to sing, his stomach became queasy.  Georgina came over to him marking her territory. 

                   While people enjoyed the cake, Maria walked out of the room.  Hermes delayed momentarily, and then followed her.  He grabbed her by the arm and pulled her inside an empty bathroom.  Wow, you want to right here? she said.

                   Are you crazy?  Why didnt you tell me you were only 14?!

                   So what?  I look older, right? she said devilishly biting her bottom lip.  You prefer an old lady like Georgina?  My parents were both 15 when they left Symi together. 

                   No, I dont have a problem.

                   Good, now take me right now, if Im really your woman. 

                   Hermes complied, overwhelmed by taboo and lust. 

——-

                   Maria left the bathroom first, after fixing her disheveled hair.  Georgina appeared down the hall and asked her if she had seen Hermes.  She said no and walked away giving her a dirty look.  Georgina entered the bathroom, as Hermes was exiting.  There you are, she said.  I thought you left.

                   I was in the bathroom.  Someone else was in the other.

                   She didnt believe him and knew that something was awry.  Lets get out of here.  Im meeting some friends at a café down the coast. 

                   Hermes agreed to leave.  They said farewell to everyone.  As he hugged Maria goodbye, she surreptitiously felt between his legs and whispered, Youre my love.

                   While Georgina and Hermes left and headed down the coast, back at the party, Athena saw her sister trying to gather herself and said to her, You didnt?

                   Of course, I did, she said with a smile, Its my birthday.

                   Poutanaki, said Athena giggling.  What about Georgina?

                   Hes mine.

                   Athena snickered in delight at her sisters resolve.  Their mother approached them and said, Hes a nice boy, Hermesbut I think you have some competition.

                   You think so? said Maria.

                   Dont play nice, agapi mou, said her mother.

——

 

                   Georgina and Hermes sat in silence for most of the ride along the coast.  Georginas hair swooped in the wind, as they rode with the convertible top down.  Agitated, she dashed in and out of lanes, accelerating to a speed shamelessly exceeding the limit.  They arrived at the café, and took a seat at a table outside on the beach a few feet from the sea. Bossa nova played in the background.  Who are we waiting for? Hermes said.

No one, said Georgina.

You told…”

I needed an excuse to leave the party, she said.  I see you have a high opinion of yourself. 

What do you mean?

I see how Maria looks at you.

Shes very young.

And in love.

Hermes looked away.

Dont worry, she said, Im not upset.

I love you, too.

Do you? she said with a dissatisfied grin.

I do.  ItsI love both of you.

Shes a bit young, dont you think?

Younger that I thought.

What will your parents think?

No less than if they knew about you, I imagine.

I doubt it.

Youre sure of yourself.

Listen, Hermes, youre going to have to decide.

On what?

Maria or me.

I know, but…”

But nothing you think shes going to let you see me.

She hasnt said anything.

Not yet, but you cant really be serious about her.

I havent given it a lot of thought.

Well, clearly.

Do we have to talk about this now?

Yes, you think Im going to let you sleep with me like nothing else is going on.

I didnt think youd react like this, he said with a pleasant smile.

Maláka, I have my pride.

I cant give you a decision right now, said Hermes.  Why dont we go back to your place and negotiate…”

You must be joking, she said outraged yet aroused by his audacity.  Dont take too long in deciding, though, I wont wait forever.

                   She got up from the café table and left.  Hermes didnt chase after her.  It would seem the jealousy Georgina felt toward Maria would be foolish, yet the sense of loss in her was acute, despite the outward image she projected.  A couple of tears trickled down her cheek, as she made her way to her car.  She could not remember that last time she had let herself feel vulnerable.  This feeling of fragility surprised her, as she had thought she was merely having an adventure with Hermes. 

——

                   Later that evening, Athena and her boyfriend Apollo lay in bed together in his apartment in Glyfada post-coital. She turned away from him staring out of the balcony overlooking the sea. Youve been distant lately, said Apollo. Whats bothering you?

                   Nothing, said Athena.

                   Thats not true.

                   Im just going through something, I guess.

                   Going through what?

                   None of your concern.

                   Will you at least look at me?

                   Athena refused maintaining her gaze of the sea.

                   Youre in love with him, arent you?

                   In love with whom? said Athena, turning toward Apollo.

                   Hermes, youre in love with him.

                   Thats ridiculous. Shes Marias boyfriend, she said turning away from him looking back at the sea.

                   No, its not at all. I saw how you were looking at him back at the party.

                   Youre being jealous for no reason, she said. I am not at all interested in him.

                   I dont believe you.   

                   Athena then turned and kissed him, while her thoughts were with Hermes.

© Toney Dimos

Bio:  Previously published pieces of fiction in the July 2020 edition of The Scarlet Leaf Review as well as in The Voices of Hellenism Literary Journal (pgs. 65-68). In addition, they have begun a Twitter page related to their work and affiliated themes. Based on their writing, they received admission to the Yale University Writers’ Conference to participate in Master Classes with authors such as Chuck Klosterman, Rick Moody, Colum McCann and Trey Ellis as well as offers of representation from several literary agents. Toney graduated from the University of Chicago with Honors, where they studied history and art history.