I think it says something about me when I say that a talking wolf showing up at my door telling me to come with him to California in the middle of the night is not the weirdest thing that's ever happened to me. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Hi, my name is Robin. And I'm a child of Apollo. Now you might be saying, "oh wow! That's so cool! I bet your good a music and poetry and healing and-" No, no, no and yes. Healing is really the only godly gift my dad gave me. I can't hold a note and words are not my forte
I didn't even get godly-looks.
I did get healing though; Octavian said I'm one of the better healers he's seen. No, I'm not talking about that Octavian. The one you were forced to read about in high school. But I might as well be. Consider the fact that his parents named him that, and that he actually likes being called that. He doesn't even insist on a nickname or something! As you can guess, getting a complement from him about anything well that's miracle within itself. But we'll talk about him later. First I want to talk about the person who was both a source of endless torture and embarrassment, but also one of my favorite people on the planet.
I'm talking of course about my mom.
What can I say about Tracy Rabe that won't give too much away? Well there's the fact that, deep in her heart, she's a southern girl. Grew up in Alabama with my grandparents (who died before I was born, so you won't be hearing about them). She never told me why she moved up north to New Jersey, especially since it seemed like she hated it up north.
She spoke German pretty well, and knew how to play the piano with ease. I guess it's not that hard to see why Apollo fell in love with her. She was nice, funny, pretty
everything a guy (or in this case god) could ever want. She was also a big believer in 'every man for himself.' which isn't a really a bad thing
until you throw a kid into the mix.
So my mom probably wasn't very fit to be a parent. So what? She didn't always know what to say when I was having a bad day, she got annoyed easily, she would make some gross looking adult food for dinner instead of chicken nuggets or mac and cheese. But honestly, I didn't mind. Because when it came to making me smile, or convincing me I was pretty, or telling me a good bedtime story, my mom was there. My life was pretty normal, especially in my neighborhood where single mothers were pretty much the norm. But when I was eight my mother left me alone for three days, without a note, without a word. I just woke up one day and POOF! Gone.
Remember when you were little, and when something bad happen you would just sit in a corner and cry instead of trying to fix the problem or asking for help. Most kids do this when they're like, four or five. I guess I never got the memo that you're suppose to do something besides sit in a corner and cry when your mom goes missing. Because that exactly what I did.
The only time I remember not crying is when I was making food (how I managed to not burn down the house I still have no idea) and when I was sleeping. I didn't go to school. Which I learned was a big no-no because the school kept calling me. I would manage to soften my sobs just enough to hear the voicemail from the other room. Asking where Robin was and when they could expect to see her. Eventually the three days passed, and my mom finally came home at around eleven at night on a Friday night. I remember because the television had just said, "It's 11 o'clock. Do you know where your children are?" and I thought to myself, 'I don't know where my mom is. Does that count for anything?'
When I heard the door open and turned to see my mom in the doorway I ran to her. I crashed into her waits and started crying tears of joy. I was too happy to be angry or ask her where she had gone. I just thought, 'she's here. She's alive. Things will be normal again.' I kind of forget what happened after that but I woke up the next morning in my bed, still tucked in nice and snug from the night before. I got up and went downstairs to see my mom, sitting at our kitchen table with a cup of coffee in her hands. She must of herd my footsteps because as soon as I stepped on the linonium floors of the kitchen she spoke. "Robin would you take a seat? I want to talk to you about something." I asked if I could get some cereal first and she said yes.
As she talked I munched on my super-sugary cereal.
"Robin I-I'm sorry for leaving." I looked up from my food,
"Where did you go?" I asked. It was a simple enough question, but she continued without answering it.
"I hope you can forgive me," she smiled at me shyly. Her grey eyes begged for forgiveness, as if my acceptance of her apology was the greatest present in the world (I suppose at the time it was). I smiled back at her.
"I forgive you mommy." She gave me a big, toothy smile and we continued with our breakfast.
I must have done my life's worth of crying, because the next time my mom went MIA I didn't cry. Not a single drop. Heck I even went to school. Though I think it was so I could avoid the grilling my friend Mark gave me when I finally went back to school.
Mark was my best friend in the whole wide world. He lived across the street from me for as long as I can remember. His mom and my mom were friends as well. They would always talk while Mark and I played outside. Solider mostly.
"I'm Mark Anthony!" he would yell.
"But you're always Mark Anthony!" I would wine.
"Markus let Robin have a chance would you?" his mom, - would say from the porch where here and my mom would be sitting.
And to answer your question, yes we did play as Roman soldiers. Blame it on Mark's mom; she was a middle school history teacher who taught about ancient Rome. She told us all about Caesar and Octavian, also about the gods but that was more my mom's territory. She use to always tell me Roman myths (Looking back a lot of them were about Apollo
which makes a lot more since now than it did when I was a kid). I didn't have any family besides my mom, so in my mind Mark and his family were my family as well. It was a bit of a nicer family, with a police dad, a teacher mom, big green backyard. Picture perfect in my mind.
I'm getting off track again, anyway. The first time my mom (and I suppose me as well since no one knew where I was) when MIA it was a train wreck. One I would not like to live through again. So when she disappeared for a second, third, and forth time, I was prepared. I asked my mom to tech me simple dishes. Soup from a can, how to use the microwave, really easy stuff like that. I also got myself an alarm clock so I could get myself up at the right time for school. I'll admit the first few times it didn't really work
but I did eventually get up.
Getting to school wasn't a problem. I'd been walking ever since I was little, most kids did. Frankly I preferred my mom's little disappearing acts during the school week, because it was pretty easy to take care of myself. I got a pre-cooked meal at school (which after being forced to eat my own, burnt food for the past couple of days was a life saver) it took up most of my day so I wasn't alone in the house, like most kids I didn't care if I got homework wrong or right so I just did what I needed to do without checking my answers. Easy day really. It sucked when she was gone over the weekend though. I couldn't leave the house without being questioned. If I wanted to go for a walk or see Mark there was always a chance I would run into his mom or dad or some other neighbor. "Hi Robin!" the one time I did try and go out on a weekend
well it wasn't good. I managed to step out just as a garbage man, one of our neighbors Frankie, was taking away the trash. "How's your mom?"
fine." I managed to say though my shock. "She's feeling a bit sick, I was just going to get her some medicine."
"All by yourself?" he asked. I nodded, hoping the conversation would end there. As I walked away he kept talking about how more kids should be like me and help out their parents and how times had changed and- you know what. I didn't listen to this lecture when I was eight. I'm not going to make you listen to it know. As you might have guess I got a crash-corse in lying when I was a kid. I was always getting in trouble, as you would expect any ADHD and dyslexic kid to. But since I was eight the teachers just figured they would dump all the bad things I'd done on my mom. Granted she could probably come up with more creative punishments than my teachers, but it still annoyed me.
On a day I had been particularly bad (no homework, beat up a kid who asked me if my nose gave me super smell, the usual fare) and the teacher decided to call my mom, and, you guessed it, she was MIA. Had been for three days. I watched in horror as she called my house and the line kept ringing, and ringing, and ringing, until she got our machine. "My mom must be at work." I blurted out. The teacher gave me the evil eye before preceding the leave a list of all the bad things I had done and how we should have a long 'talk' about these things. I got home and deleted the message before my mom got home.
Fast forward about a year. I'm nine now. I never kept track of when my mom left and how long she would be gone, but I could have sworn she was leaving me every other week now instead of every other month or so. It was also the year a huge tragedy struck. It all started in February, Mark's dad came to school in his police vehicle. "Why is your dad here?" I asked Mark as we walked into the school together.
"He's talking to us today, something about that Harry kid." Harry, though I really didn't know at the time. Had been thrown into a snow bank outside of town during the winter break. He almost died of frostbite and ended up in the hospital while his parents where put on trial for child abuse. It shook up the town a lot; especially when doctors found wounds that suggested that the abuse had been going on for a while. In the end Harry's step-dad ended up in jail, and Harry in the foster care system. Coerce then all the school told us was that Harry was very sick and was probably not coming back.
Anyway, Mark's dad had come to explain to us that, despite the fact that they're our parents; it doesn't mean they can do whatever they want to us. "If anyone, including your parents, every hurt you or make you feel like your in trouble, tell someone. Anyone." I got to admit, it was a tough job. A couple years latter when I got to camp I met a lot of kids who had been abused. Mostly by step parents, but there was always that one kid
I'm not going to get into that. I can't let myself get into that. But Mark's dad speech got me thinking. As we walked home, I talked to Mark.
I have a question,"
"Shoot," he said struggling with his backpack that was almost as big as he was.
"Your dad today talked about
what was it again? Child
it started with an n
" I was bad with big words when I was a kid. Scratch that, I'm still bad with bog words.
"Endangerment?" his offered. I nodded. "First of it's spelled with an E not an N, and second of all, what do you want to know about it?"
"That like, not feeding your kids or
" I muttered the net part "leaving them alone."
"Without supervision, yeah." I let it all out. I told Mark about how my mom had been leaving me alone for days at a time, without warning, me never knowing if she would come back. After explaining everything, Mark just looked at me. He didn't speak for a long time. "I think we should talk to my dad." Mark said finally.
"No!" I yelled. "We can't! She's get in trouble- I-I'll be sent away!" I pleaded with him. After a few hours Mark agreed not to tell anyone, on one condition.
"You tell me when she leaves, so I can watch over you," I gave him a look.
"I don't need a baby sitter." I said defiantly.
"I just want to know when, so I can help you if you need something. And then you won't be so alone." That sounded really nice. I agreed to tell him when my mom left, and he agreed not to tell his parents. Yeah we were stupid as kids.
I wish I could say this was the tragedy. That my most well kept secret had been given away, but even then I never saw that as a bad thing. I was kind of happy; it defiantly took a huge load off my shoulders. No the tragedy occurred five days latter, on a Saturday
Mark's dad was taken out by a gunman while on the job.
At some point in your childhood this idea that you live in a perfect world shatters. Your fantasyland with cotton-candy clouds and paper flowers disappears. For some reason, my mom's leaving never did that too me. Maybe if she never came back it would have been a different story
but she did, she came back home that Friday night. But Mark's dad never would.
The funeral was the saddest thing I think I've ever seen. The wake was much worse. There was a lot of crying. And black. And words of "I'm sorry for your loss." A lot of good words do in a situation like that. I don't remember much. I was too taken aback by it all. But there were two things I would never forget about that day. The first, was seeing Mark's mom, carrying Matilda (Mark's one year old sister) and trying to hold back the tears. Needless to say she wasn't doing such a good job with that last part, you could see the pain on her face and the realization that she had two kids to take care of by herself and so many other feelings that I would never experience till I was older. The other thing I remember was a conversation I had with Mark. He didn't cry that day. When I asked him about it later he said he felt like he had to be a man, and that men don't cry. Which is the biggest lie I've ever heard since some of the manliest guys I know can cry like little babies but hey, like I said we were stupid as kids. We were outside, with a thin layer of snow covering the ground. Mark sat hunched over the porch steps.
do you ever miss your dad?" he had barley said anything that day.
"No." I told him simply. "I've never met him so
"But you've seen pictures right?" he asked looking at me seriously. I shook my head 'no'. "You've heard story's about him right?" I had heard plenty of stories about my dad but I didn't know it at the time. I told him no and he sat up and looked me in the eye. "Does your mom say what he looked like? Do you look like him a least?"
"Mom says I look more like grandma, I have her nose," (thanks grandma.) "And all my mom ever says about my dad is that she met him in collage an-"
"What collage?" Mark interrupted.
"I don't know!" I said annoyed that he had interrupted me.
"Well it was the same collage your mom went too right?"
"Well what collage did your mom go too?"
"She's never told me,"
"What do you mean she's never told you?"
"I don't know Mark but she ain't ever told me!" I yelled standing up from the step that I was sitting on. We where both quiet, for the first and probably last time in my life I towered over Mark. Looking back I really wasn't annoyed about the question, I think I was more annoyed with myself for not knowing the answer. I started to realize that I knew so little about my mom. I knew where she was born and raised, but other than that, nothing. My mom was a stranger.
I finally sat down and continued talking. "All I know is that my mom met him in collage, he was really nice and talented, and was the most handsome man she's ever seen so I shouldn't call myself ugly because I'm shaming him by doing it." We where both silent.
"Your dad sounds really nice
" Mark said sadly.
"Yeah, but your dad was better," he looked at me and was about to speak but I cut him off. "I've never met my dad. He ran off when my mom got pregnant or something," I looked down at my shiny black dress shoes, "your dad was strong, and nice, and made me wish I had a dad." I turned to look at him before grabbing him into a big hug. Before that day I thought I had run out of tears. Turns out that's not possible.
I started off by talking about my mom, and how great she was. And know I'm talking about Mark's dad and how great he and his wife were, while my mom is looking like a pretty horrible person right now. The thing is even now while I'm telling you this; I don't feel that way about my mom. I want to hate her, I want to blame my messed up life on her but I can't. Because every time I think about how she left me alone I also think about all the good times we had. Her taking me to the zoo, her telling me all those myths and stories, her attempts at teaching me piano
my mom loved me, no one can convince me otherwise. If we weren't related, if we say just met in school, we would be the best of friends. Inseparable by any means. And maybe as I got older, our relationship would have gotten better, as I would be more able to take care of myself, more ready to be alone. But back then, all I wanted was a mom.
I'm guessing your wondering about the wolves now right?
Anyone who's talked a camper from camp Jupiter knows about Lupa and her wolfs. Most people know about Lupa, the wolf who raised Romulus who latter when on to create Rome. I guess she had a lot of free time after that because now her and her wolfs prepare demi-gods for camp. They managed to find me at the perfect time. My mom had gone missing my last day of fifth grade; I came home from school all excited about the summer to find her gone. Kind of a buzz-kill. It didn't help that by the middle of July she was still gone. Before that the longest she had been gone was about nine days. Now she had been gone for almost a month and still no sign of her.
It was a really nice summer day, which are really hard to come by. Nice hot, but not humid whether, with a slight breeze to keep you cool. Mark and I where sitting in my backyard playing Mythomagic since it was the card-game equivalent of our games of solider and the myths my mom use to tell me (granted they were Greek instead of Roman, but the names were easy enough to remember). I was just about to play my card when I looked out into the trees that surrounded my backyard. I could have sworn that I saw two pairs of glowing yellow eyes, looking at me. "Mark
" I said my voice shaky. I then pointed out into the forest. Mark turned just in time for the pair of eyes to disappear.
"What?" he asked a bit annoyed. "You can't just quit because your gona lose."
"Yeah well I ain't gona lose," I said placing down my card. I did in fact lose that game but that's not important. What were important were those glowing eyes. Latter that night I went into the kitchen to get some water when I saw the same glowing eyes as before. Only now they were attached to a wolf and were standing on my small back porch. I guess I should have been scared
but to be honest with you Chip (the wolf's name) wasn't all that threatening. Sure he had really shark teeth and his eyes were pretty creepy. But he also had really funny ears. One was really big, like two times the size a normal wolf's ear should be. The other was flopped over, like a bunny's ear.
"Come with me, pup," a snarling voice said. I looked around trying to figure out where the voice was coming from. "Well pup?" I then realize it was the wolf that was speaking.
"How are you talking?" I have to say, for a nine year old staring into the eyes of a possibly hungry wolf, I was being pretty brave. The wolf growled angrily, as if the question annoyed him.
"Have you not heard Lupa's tail pup?" I had, mom told me the Romulus tale about a thousand times, I was actually getting kind of sick of it. Believe it or not a story about two brothers who make a city gets really boring really fast (even with the killings, but that's at the end and not very climatic).
"But your not Lupa," I said stating the obvious.
"I am one of her footmen," he explained annoyed once again with the question. "Now will you come with me or face the wrath yourself?" I didn't know what he meant by wrath, nor was I really keen on going out into the woods with a floppy eared wolf. But something called to me. Some voice in my head told me "go." And so I left. Leaving my house abandoned without a word to Mark or -. Kind of funny, I hated how my mom just left me without a word, and there I was leaving without anything. Not even a note. I would regret that latter but that's a bit latter.
Chip led me into the woods, running at full pace. It was really hard to keep up with him, and he was a lot more use to running than I was. But anytime I slowed down he would yell, "Hurry up pup!" I was starting to get annoyed at him for calling me pup. Heck in dog years I was pretty much 60, what right did he have to call me a pup? After runny for gods know how long I yelled to him,
"Where are we going?"
"The Wolf House!" he growled back at me. Oh yeah sure, the Wolf House. How stupid of me not to know. The next few days blurred together, since they pretty much consisted of running, sleeping, and attempting to cook. Most of the time I just eat berries (hoping that they weren't poisonous since Chip wouldn't tell me) but when Chip got hungry he would let me eat some of whatever he caught. Which was usually a rabbit or some other small, mangy thing. Did I mention by the time I got it, whatever animal it was would already have been ripped to shreds by Chip's razor sharp teeth? Lovely.
Everyone who goes to Camp has to go to the Wolf House first. So at least I'm not the only one who had to go through this death run. But there was one thing that made my trip to the house different than anyone else's. Because it was on that journey that I met Leon.