The following text is an excerpt from Chapter one of My Lady Olives, Mandy Oviatt (aka Moon Sedai’s) first novel. My Lady Olives is the story of a young woman, Olisbeth Mason, who discovers that she is the mortal incarnation of Athena and that her boyfriend Arthur is the goddess Artemis.
Olisbeth Mason turned nineteen just over a month before starting her junior year at Elysian State University, a large public university deep in the heart of the Bible belt. Olisbeth had always been a studious girl, hence her early high school graduation and quick advancement through her college courses. She was taking the maximum undergraduate course load: 24 credit hours, which meant she spent most of her waking hours reading and studying. The three-story ESU Library quickly became her second home on campus during her freshman and sophomore year.
What few people understood was that Olisbeth did not mind the long hours spent in the library; studying put off the headaches. She had a trick she’d learned young in life: if she spent time doing homework, her head didn’t hurt. She sometimes invented homework for herself, studying things just to keep her head from aching. She’d never had a chance to practice her foreign language skills until she started at the University, and she was still a little shy that she was mispronouncing her words. Libraries, for Olisbeth, were a safe almost sacred place. Armed with a great collection of books and time for research, Olisbeth felt that she could do anything.
Even fend off the headaches.
Olisbeth was quite certain that she had legendary headaches. They were never in the same place, and each had a different quality to them. There were compression headaches, where her head felt like it was being squeezed. Other times, her headache manifested as scalp pain, sometimes it was behind her eyes, sometimes behind her ears. The absolute worst were headaches that felt like brain explosions, those were like something was trying to break free of her skull. Olisbeth never was able to figure out the cause of pain; doctors were confused, and threw headache pills at her, but they seldom worked. Instead, Olisbeth relied on her own, home-brewed remedies for feeling better.
Her most effective home-brewed method was eating fresh olives. Olisbeth did not remember how she figured out the small fruit helped her brain pain, but once she did, she started keeping the food in fresh and constant supply. Caffeinated beverages: cola, coffee, and hot tea worked sometimes, as did cold (or hot) showers and bags of frozen peas applied to her head. For Olisbeth, though, the fresh olive worked far better than any modern remedy.
Today, however, there was no headache. It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon, just a few weeks into fall semester. Ordinarily, Olisbeth would spend her free time studying in the library, but today, was too pretty to sit inside. Technically, it was still summertime, but the weather obliged her by allowing it to be gorgeous enough to allow outside studying.
Across the quad, a group of hippy kids were strumming the guitar, playing some crazy Bob Dylan tune. The sixties are over, guys, Olisbeth thought to herself. She crinkled her nose as the wind drifted a strong odor of a smell she couldn’t identify. Olisbeth told herself it was patchouli. Hopefully she was right. She hated to think her fellow classmates were dim-witted enough to smoke weed in view of the campus cop that stood only 50 feet away.
Two freshmen posted environmental fliers on the community board, probably not considering that their fliers were a waste of precious paper. A purple-haired punk-kid skateboarded around the quad while the Student group from the Church of the Holy Light was canvassing the quad passing out religious tracts. Olisbeth was using one, titled “God’s love is the Highest Light” as a bookmark in her History of the Roman Empire text in the chapter on the reign of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus Caligula. She had no plans on reading this strange little pamphlet, but the extra bookmark was handy to have. She silently wished she were finished with her schoolwork for the day so she could stretch out and enjoy the sunshine.
Instead, Olisbeth sat at a picnic table in the Quad, her books and papers spread across the table as she focused on completing Plato’s Meno for her Socratic Philosophy class for the next day.
I would be done with my Bachelor’s degree already if I only wanted a single major. She thought to herself. But no, I had to overachieve. It will really help me get into the grad school and get that internship to pay for it if I majored in both Greek Studies and Political Science.
All of a sudden, her studying was interrupted when a football crash-landed on the book she had open on the table in front of her, crinkling the offending page and knocking over her bottle of water. The pages of her papers were drenched. “Sorry Miss!” a male voice uttered. As she shifted her vision to confront the person who dared to interrupt her self-chastisement, she was eclipsed by a dark silhouette ringed with a silver outline. Drops of white starry sweat gleamed as they left the shade of the black hair of Arthur Thomas.
Olisbeth had never formally met Arthur, but she knew of him; Arthur was her roommate Phoebe’s twin brother. Phoebe talked about her brother all the time. To Phoebe, her ‘jock’ of a brother was a ‘psycho Goth freak.’
“Arthur Thomas, you are dripping sweat on me and my books, poured water all over my notes, and your football is bending the spine of this drivel my professor calls a textbook.” Olisbeth was flustered as she spoke. “I’d been hoping to get full trade-in for it, too.”
“Oh, sorry, Olives” Arthur said as he leaned over to pick the football up off of the picnic table and attempted to dry the papers with a rag he had around his neck. His sweat-drenched rag did not help clean up the wet book. “I didn’t mean to interrupt your studying. My gods! What is that you are reading?” He exclaimed, looking at the size of the textbook. His tenor voice had the slightest hint of a Texas accent.
“It’s Olisbeth,” she hushed at him, flustered, as she attempted to gather her things. It didn’t bother her that Phoebe had a nickname for her, but she was slightly perturbed that he used it. He didn’t know her well enough to be so familiar! “And as far as what I’m reading, it’s supposed to be Plato’s Meno, a great work about virtue and knowledge. What it actually is, I have no idea. But I know that Professor Lumen must be out of her mind if she thinks this passes for good translation from the original Greek text. ” Arthur grinned while Olisbeth ranted.
“…I owe you for breaking your book. So, do you wanna go get some pizza? Lucas over there—” He motioned at the friend he’d been playing football with the tall, African-American quarterback of the Elysian Spartans. She vaguely knew Lucas from one of her freshman math courses; Lucas was a junior, like her. “Has economics in a bit, and I’m hungry. And I love the chance to dish on my Sis. I’m certain she’s a nightmare roommate. I would know; I’ve shared rooms with her since conception….”
What happens while the two are out for Pizza? What is so fun about Phoebe, Arthur’s twin? Most importantly, how does Phoebe react when she finds out her brother and roommate went out for Pizza?
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