Jord stood at the gates of Odin’s hall, and rapped the knuckles of her callused hands against the ancient black-oak door. “Odin! Odin! Open your gates, One-eye! I have come to kill your son!”
Through the gates, she could hear the sound of a feast. Deep inside the hall, a bard’s rich voice would sing a line, and a hundred hundred voices would roar a response. Nearer the door, she heard someone vomit.
“Do you hear me, old man? I have come for your son! I gave him life, and I shall take it back! Bring me Thor, that I might kill him!” She took up a stone from the ground, and brought it hard against the door. The sound reverberated into the hall. “Bring!” Bash. “Me!” Bash. “My!” Bash. “Son!”
The bard had stopped singing, and the sounds of laughter from inside had ceased. Jord could hear footsteps, then the doors of Valhalla, opened only for the souls of the battle-fallen, swung open. Inside, a great brown-haired Viking, fur-clad and looking for all the world like a bear, regarded her. Ten thousand pairs of eyes watched them both.
“Woman!” he bellowed. “This is Valhalla! The hall of Odin, Great and Grey-eyed Gallows-Lord!” Behind him, a chorus of drunken cheers.
“And here are the greatest bloodletters, beserkers, bonesplitters and throat-slitters who ever lived! Drinking bright mead and eagerly waiting for the Fenris-wolf and Ragnarok.” Behind him the great cheer swelled again.
“Inside also is Thor, Strong and Stalwart Sky-King! Far-famed Fighter in Battle!” To the jeers and cheers was added the thumping of tables and smacking of shields. The herald continued, heartened by the noise.
“Thor, the Friend of Fat-Feasting Ravens! Thor, the Spiller of Seas of Slaughter-dew! Thor, The Hard Hammer-Handed Warrior!” He took a long breath. “Who are _you_, that comes here, to this great host, and challenges the Lord of the Leaping Lightning and the Thunder-din?”
“I’m his mum.”
Jord pushed the man aside, and strode into the hall. Her eyes peered into and through the smoke, past the long trestles bursting with food, past the many thousands of men, battle-proved and strong, who sat at the tables. Each one regarded the small woman in silence. She ignored them and walked straight down the central aisle towards the top table.
Through the haze she could make out the great fire pit, over which was roasting the great cosmic boar Saehrimnir, cooked every night and returned to life every morning. She walked past it, looking on towards the great central table where the king of the gods sat with his favoured retinue.
As she passed the great cooking fire, and its brightness was at her back, she could see Odin, the god-king, sitting at the centre of his table. In one hand he held a great ham hock; in the other, a jewelled eating-knife. He was old, and scarred, and an eyepatch covered his vacant eye-socket. His hair was grey and white and black and wiry. On his right hand side sat Thor, the great blond god who could strike a man down with his mighty hammer, Mjolnir, or with lightning from the sky itself. The huge god sat there, with something like a smirk on his face. Behind that smile, though, Jord could see the slightest glimmer of fear. He knew he had done something, but he did not know what.
“Thor, my miserable son,” Jord said, “do you know what day of the week it is?”
He regarded her for a moment. “Mother, it is my day — Thorsday.”
“That’s right. And the day before?”
“Wodin’s day. In honour of my father.”
“Keep going. The days before that?”
“Tyr’s day, after Tyr One-Handed, who struggled with the great wolf Fenrir.” Jord sat watching him, waiting. “And Mani’s day before that, and then the day of Sunne, goddess of the Sun.”
“The first Sunday of spring…” she said, waiting for him to continue. Thor wrinkled his wide brows in thought. For long seconds he pondered.
“Mothering Sunday! By Freya’s freckly buttocks! I forgot!” His confusion changed to realisation, then near-panic. His voice dropped low, so that only those at the table could hear. “I’ll make it up to you,” he said. “I shall travel to the netherworld Svartalfaheim, and steal for you a great black pearl from the dwarves!”
“Not good enough.”
“I shall have my daughter, Thrud, weave you lace from threads of pure moonlight!”
“Not good enough.”
“I shall go to icy Niflheim, and wrestle from Hel her great cloak made from night and stars. “
“Not good enough.”
“I shall… I…”
“There’s only one way you’re going to make up for it.”
Thor looked at her with a suspicious eye. “And… And how is that?”
She leaned forward, mouth next to Thor’s ear, and whispered “Give me a cuddle.”
Thor looked at her then, aghast, then at the horde of Odin, ten thousand warriors looking to their role model, waiting expectantly for the thunder-god’s response to the unknown request.
What else could he do? He gave his mum a hug.