“There’s no such thing as freakin’ blue food. Why the hell are you arguing with me over this?” Gabe yelled, spit flying from his mouth. His beer gut moved up and down as he breathed. Sally found herself staring at it to keep from yelling back.
Normally, she would just shut the hell up so he wouldn’t hit her—which had maybe happened once or twice, but she became really excellent with concealer because she knew if Percy found out, he would pick a fight with Gabe. She’d rather get hit a hundred times than let Gabe touch him. But today, she was pretty fed up. She got up at five in the morning to clean the apartment, since Gabe was having buddies over. She couldn’t figure out for the life of her why he needed a clean apartment, as he was probably the least hygienic person she’d ever met. But she did it. And she made the damn snacks and went out and bought the damn beer—using her own money—and if he was going to say something else, she swore she was going to hit him for real this time.
“This is the dumbest fight ever,” he growled. “I swear, Sal, you’re so stupid sometimes.” She cringed at the word “Sal.” Her name was Sal-ly, thank you very much. She bit her lip until she could taste blood.
Gabe threw one last sneer at her, plopped down on the couch, and promptly started flipping through channels like a maniac.
“Percy?” she called. Her voice had a quiver, and she tried to keep it steady.
His messy black head popped through the doorway. “Yeah, Mom?”
“We’re going shopping.”
“Uh, do I have to?”
He groaned. She heard him run to his room and rustle through the closet. He came out with a coat haphazardly buttoned, the hood thrown over his head. She resisted the urge to laugh.
“Be back before dinner, you hear?” Gabe said as she slammed the door behind her and locked it venomously.
Percy stared at her. “Are you okay?”
“Of course, honey.” They piled into the car and drove off into the snowstorm. Sally tried not to turn corners too recklessly.
“This isn’t the greatest weather to be going out.”
“I really, really need an ingredient,” she answered. Sally took her son’s hand and marched purposefully into the supermarket. The automatic doors zipped open, and a burst of warm air thawed her nose and cheeks. She scanned the aisles. That one. The two of them walked past baking supplies, white paper packages of flour and sugar.
“Here we are.” Sally grabbed everything that was left—nine tiny pointed bottles of blue food coloring—and dropped it into the basket.
“Do we need that much food coloring?”
“We’re going to make blue food from now until the end of the month.” She shrugged. She hadn’t meant to do that, but now that she said it, it sounded like a good idea.
The woman at the checkout counter gave her a weird look. “It’s for a wedding,” she said sweetly, randomly coming up with lies as she went. “Those cakes—they need a lot of food coloring to be the right shade of blue.” Behind her, Percy giggled like mad. The checkout woman whose name tag said “Jordy” nodded slowly, dumped everything into a plastic bag and shoved it at Sally. “Have a nice day?”
Percy chuckled all the way to the car. “You’re a good liar, Mom.”
“You know lying is unacceptable, right?”
“You just did it.”
She buckled him into the backseat. Then, she dug her fingers into the neck of his coat and wriggled them impishly.
“Hey, stop it! I’m—I’m—ticklish!”
“Do you promise you won’t ever lie to me?”
“I promise!” She stopped and ruffled his hair. “That’s what I thought.” She kissed the top of his head.
“Ew, Mom. Come on,” he whined.
“I love you, sweetie.”
“I love you too, but do you have to show your love that way?”
“Well, Ms. Jackson? Your son has a severe case of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD for short. It means—”
“I know what it means.”
“Yes,” said the doctor uncomfortably. “Not to worry, though. There are plenty of medications available to treat the disorder. They’re all safe and certified. Your son is not alone. There are many other young boys diagnosed with ADHD, and we can set up therapy sessions as well, if you so choose.”
“Percy, go outside to the lobby and wait for me, please.” She waited until he left, and she shut the door. “Doctor, thank you for the diagnosis and your concern, but I will not be medicating my son.”
“Ms. Jackson, this is standard procedure. There isn’t anything dangerous about the medication, I assure you.”
“I’m aware of that.” She stood as straight as she possibly could and lifted her chin for good measure.
The doctor sighed and ran a hand through his brown hair. He was young for a doctor, she noticed. “Is there anything in particular you are skeptical about? We can talk about this. I’m here for you in this difficult time.”
She snorted. “Difficult time?” She knew her son would have ADHD. “Excuse me, but he is perfectly fine. It’s not like he’s in a coma!”
“Of course not. But without medication, he will have a hard time in school, paying attention the teacher. I know that”—he shuffled through his papers and examined a few of them—“he has dyslexia. Am I correct?”
Sally nodded sharply.
“Well, then with the combination of the two, he is probably struggling a lot. While dyslexia can’t be treated, ADHD can. You can make his life a lot easier.”
Deep down, she was terrified. Monsters would be coming after Percy, and he needed the ADHD to keep him alive. She felt so helpless and wretched for sentencing him to a childhood of perpetual frustration in school. She wouldn’t cry in front of this doctor who had no idea of her situation and kept regarding her with clinical coolness instead of the warmth and understanding of a human being.
“Thank you for your time, doctor,” she said finally. “We’ll be going now.”
“You’re not helping your son.”
She paused with her hand on the doorknob. “You don’t know anything about my son.”
Sometimes, she felt so alone. She wondered if there was some kind of support group for the parents of demigods. She would’ve dearly loved to meet someone else like her. Instead, she was sure that she was the only person in the world who knew about Mount Olympus and its inhabitants.
Sometimes, she thought it was all in her imagination.
Sometimes, she thought she was insane. Maybe she was the one who needed medication.
For the record, everything about ADHD and dyslexia came via Wikipedia. I know nothing about these two disorders. I actually don't know what aisle they sell food coloring in.
ALSO, I am in no way recommending that if your child has ADHD to refuse medication. I only follow the story.