A/N: Right, so, this is an extremely short essay/character sketch that we had to write for English this year. And it's really funny since we only have seven people in that period... Kind of awkward, too... Anyway, the assignment was to write about an "epic hero" since we were studying Greek and Roman mythology. We weren't allowed to use any "to be" verbs, and it was supposed to be two pages, double spaced. I fiddled with the margins to fit it on two pages... But my teacher liked it, gave me full credit, and my parents liked it, and I like it, so I hope you do too :)
The teenager stopped in the hallway, right before his grandfather's bedroom door. It was open, which meant the old man would probably see him if he walked past. He bit his lip, squeezed his eyes shut, and was about to make a run for the end of the hallway, chanting "please don't notice, please don't notice, please don't notice" in his mind over and over.
"Oi! Boy, get in here." The raspy voice struck out in the dim silence of the house.
Sighing with conviction, the youth turned to face his grandfather. The old man sat in an old rocking chair, a fat book face down on his knee.
"Hullo, Grandpa Joe," The boy muttered automatically, entering the room and taking a seat on the quilted bed. He readied himself for what was probably going to be a very long ramble on his grandfather's part.
"My name's Odysseus, boy, and don't you fuhgeddit," The old man thumped his armrest with a wrinkly hand. "Didn't I ever tell you about the time I-"
"The time you single-handedly beat up eleven gangsters just because they called you Pops? Yes, Gramps, I've heard," The teenager sighed, wrinkling his nose at his grandfather's pseudonym.
"It was twelve. And seven of them had knives- the rest had giant clubs the size of your stomach!" Odysseus's eyes widened as he pointed to his grandson's belly.
The boy glanced down, suddenly feeling very self-conscious about his flab.
"That's great, Grandpa, but I kinda need to go to practice. Coach isn't gonna be very happy if I'm late for the sixth time in a row…"
"And I was fighting for the dignity of the woman I loved- They insulted her, the ruffians." The old man sniffed loudly.
"Yeah, you told me that too, about ten years ago, and every day since then-"
"Boy, did you know that I am the son of a god?"
The youth had to keep his mouth shut. He knew what was coming next, and if he dared interrupt his demented grandfather, he would never hear the end of it. Might as well resign himself to getting to basketball practice late.
"My mother was Diana. Do you know who Diana is? The Roman goddess of the hunt, that's who!"
No need to tell him that Diana was a very common name…
"And my father… Jesus, was his name."
"Grandpa, it's pronounced hay-soos," The teenager grunted, folding his arms.
"Are you correcting me?"
"No sir," The boy struggled to keep his expression earnest.
"Ah… Get on with you. I won't keep you from your discus throwing…" Odysseus made a shooing motion with his hand, signaling for his poor grandson to leave.
"It's basketball, Grandpa Joe…"
"Bah, whatever. You come back later, and I'll tell you all about the time I stopped a train full of passengers from careening off the edge of the Grand Canyon, how's that sound?"
The boy made a whimpering sound in the back of his throat. Unable to say anything, he merely nodded, his face horrified. Before the older man could tell him anything more, he bolted from the room and out the door, not even glancing towards his mother for a good-bye as he left.
The silence that the teenager left behind was audible in the small room. Odysseus hummed to himself, picking up the large book of Mythology that had formerly been sitting idly on his lap.