Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard



ONE

I wrapped up my letter to Mum just as Aphrodite barged into my room. Not only did she waltz in without knocking (am I going to have to put up a DO NOT DISTURB sign?), she had nothing on. And I mean nothing.

She was totally naked!

Even though she was the one treating our house like a nudist beach resort, I felt mortified. My cheeks flushed, and my eyes shot to the floor – to Aphrodite’s perfect ankles.

Seeing her up close, I realized that there was no way I could introduce Aphrodite as my half-sister (clothed or not). We don’t even look like we’re from the same planet, let alone share the same parent.

We may both be tall with dark brown hair, but the similarity ends there. Hers falls in waves and mine is in tight coiled curls that defy gravity. My brown skin is closer to Mum’s than her and Dad’s olive glow. And I have freckles like someone dipped a paintbrush in coffee and splattered it over my face. Aphrodite’s face is completely smooth, like a toy doll. No moles, birthmarks or visible pores. She didn’t look real.

I couldn’t find a flaw if I tried. And boy, I tried. I glared at her feet, but there wasn’t even a crusty toenail or bit of flaky skin. Of course even her toes were perfect.

Aphrodite was stunning. And not in a “she could be a supermodel” sort of way, but in a “one flutter of her eyelashes and she can bewitch any human into adoring her” sort of way. Dad can pull off being a bumbling middle-aged man, but Aphrodite? No way can she pass as normal. How was I meant to invite new friends over when I’d turn invisible next to my Vogue cover star of a sister?

“Helen, I was unpacking and found this Turquoise Shimmer eyeshadow. Do you want it?”

The little eyeshadow palette floated in mid-air above Aphrodite’s outstretched palm. I blinked. Once, twice, three times. But my vision was fine. There really was an eyeshadow palette levitating in my bedroom.

Aphrodite noticed the shock on my face and laughed.

“You haven’t seen this little trick before? I thought even half-lifers could levitate at will,” she said.

I didn’t know what a half-lifer was, but I could tell from her crooked smile that it wasn’t a compliment. It was so annoying that she could tease me about a million things and I had nothing on her. I ignored it.

“I thought that you weren’t allowed to use your powers here?”

She shrugged. “This is no more effort than you tying your shoelaces, Helen. Are all half-mortals so easy to impress?”

Wow. Rude. But I still wanted Aphrodite to stay and talk, even if her sentences dripped with sarcasm. I was curious about her, and she had this magnetic pull. But before I asked any more questions, she had to put on some clothes.

“Did you want to borrow this?” I held up my dressing gown, throwing it in her direction.

She watched it land on the ground before stepping over it to get to the full-length mirror. My eyes stayed on her kneecaps. It wasn’t eye contact, but it was progress from her ankles.

“Helen, do you want the eyeshadow or not? The teal would work wonderfully with your brown eyes.”

Aphrodite didn’t say this to me, by the way. She conducted the conversation in front of my floor-length mirror, piling and twirling her long chocolate-brown curls around her face, trying out various updos. I was surprised she didn’t blow her reflection a kiss and a cheeky wink. She was far too absorbed in the mirror to notice me rolling my eyes.

“No thanks. I don’t bother with make-up,” I said.

That got her attention. She reacted as though I said I didn’t bother with having showers.

“You don’t? How extraordinary. You really should.”

I tried not to take it personally. After all, why should I be surprised that the goddess of beauty values appearances more than anything else?

Aphrodite, finally bored of her reflection, turned her attention to the clothes I was halfway through unpacking. She ran her fingers over my folded jeans and hoodies with disdain. Did she have to wrinkle her nose like that?

“It’s such a pity that you and I don’t have the same style, Helen. A live-in sister would come in handy for wardrobe swaps and the like.”

“Well, you’re welcome to my Air Max collection anytime,” I said.

Aphrodite snorted in response. I could tell from her manicured toenails that she wouldn’t be caught dead in trainers.

“My, how times have changed. Don’t boys these days like it when a girl makes an effort for dates?”