"Your mother's getting ready to leave," he says. "She's already started packing."
I don't know what to say, so I ask, "She's already home from work?"
"Not yet, but her luggage is out. She's started packing her things."
I shake my head lightly and stare at the computer screen. "I don't know anything," I say. "Nothing at all." And this, for the most part, is true. I know that Hera intends to leave. Zeus knows it too. But I also know the condo won't be ready until June - the only fact I leave out - so I can't say why she's packing now or where she intends to go in the meantime, if anywhere.
Zeus turns and starts walking slowly out of my room. "I know," he says, "but I thought she told you about it. I thought you would know."
It kills me when he says that. Not that I think I'm really withholding anything significant from him. In fact, I'm not even sure if I really know anything he doesn't know, except for maybe the condo's address and the lease date. But what gets me is that he probably thinks I'm scheming with Hera behind his back. "Scheming" may be too strong a word, but it's not entirely false. I feel like I'm betraying him, and that's not entirely false either.
Hera's been sleeping in my room for the past couple of days now. She's refusing to share the bedroom with Zeus, which means I've been temporarily evicted from my bed. At first she was going to lay a blanket on my floor and sleep there, but what kind of son would I be if I had let that happen?
She said she didn't want to trouble me, but I insisted she take the bed. It was only proper, I said, but I thought to myself, "This whole situation is trouble for me."
So, I've been coming home every night and sleeping on the sofa in the living room. After the first night Hera asked me why I didn't share the bed with her or at least sleep on the floor in my room. I asked her what the difference was.
"I feel bad," she said. I told her that, if she's concerned with my comfort, the living room is the best choice by far, not having to fight for space with her in my little twin bed (never mind the awkwardness!), or lie on the floor. Now she comes straight up to my room after getting home from work, and when I'm ready to sleep I crash downstairs. But I understand why she does this, and I guess I wouldn't have it another way. No one will say I let my mother sleep on the floor while I took the bed.
As for already packing her things, Hera doesn't know what Zeus is talking about. "I just organized a few things," she said. "That room is so cluttered. He's jumping to conclusions again."
"Don't you feel sorry for your dad?" my friends asked me the other day. "You don't seem like it."
I feel sorry for Zeus, but at the same time can't say Hera is unjustified in what she's doing. And when it comes to which parent I'm closer to, without a doubt it's Hera. Growing up, my image of Zeus was as a poor-tempered man, given to throwing tantrums that shook the house and using coarse language in his tirades. It was always Hera I could look to growing up, never him. If Zeus has been acting mild and meek, it's only been quite recently, and especially since all this started going on. But, all the same, I'm a soft-hearted guy, and it pains me to see Zeus mope around looking sad and dejected. He speaks softly now, nothing like his former self, and tags the polite particle after everything he says. But what can I do when Hera's mind is made up? It was sort of established long ago that I was "Hera's child," and he himself contributed to this way of things.
I refer to them as "Zeus" and "Hera," but these are not mere pseudonyms. One is the philandering, short-tempered husband; the other is the mistreated and supremely stubborn wife. And I, for my part, am caught in between.