IRBC3aTN© 2016 Lissette E. Manning

All Rights Reserved.

Difficult Choices


A soft sigh slid past Iocasta’s lips as she cradled the baby in her arms. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she caressed the boy’s cheeks. She wanted to remember him, to keep his beloved memory close. He was the one part of her that truly belonged to her, and she refused to give him up so easily.

Hektos had ordered her to kill him, but she found herself unable to do so. The baby was her flesh and blood, borne from a night she’d never forget. A night that had taught her just how cruel men could be. Gods, she realized, were not immune to their baser desires. A fact she’d learned when her half-brother turned her world upside-down.

She told herself that Hektos hadn’t meant to do such a thing. He’d been drunk, after all. Yet, her half-brother knew exactly what he was doing. He’d taken his pound of flesh and then some from her. Since then, not once did he let her forget about the events that led her to where she was now.

Granted, he did so discreetly. He refused to let their father and the rest of the pantheon catch wind about what he’d done to her. Her son was the only link that tied Hektos to that sordid night. A link he wanted to eliminate, at all cost.

She stared down into the baby’s face, unable to do as her half-brother asked of her. There was no way she’d be able to take the life of the child she’d carried for the past nine months.

Her mind traveled back to that sordid night. She wondered what she’d done to incite Hektos’ wrath, yet nothing came to mind. The night had been like any other, full of drinks, food, and rambunctious camaraderie between herself and her brethren. She and Bakasha, the Goddess of Solace, had been inseparable for most of the evening. Her cousin had spent a better part of the night comforting her, though she couldn’t remember as to why. Granted, that was Bakasha’s role in the scheme of things, to give comfort and console those who needed it. A role, she realized, Bakasha took seriously.

Iocasta pressed the sleeping baby to her chest. She bit her lower lip to keep the cry rising to the surface from spilling forth. It pained her to know that she’d agreed to Hektos’ request so long ago. She’d thought she’d be able to do as he’d asked. Now, she wasn’t so sure.

Iocasta’s shoulders shook as she gave in to her sorrow. Her eyes closed as she held the child against her. Hot tears streamed down her cheeks as she rocked herself back and forth. The pain and heartache she’d been experiencing for so long erupted from deep inside of her. A strangled cry broke free, reverberating throughout the dark forest. She scrunched her eyes closed even tighter, trying to fight the pain. Allowing herself to remember what she’d gone through, she realized that everything would soon change in more ways than one.