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Greek Romance June 16, 2011

Posted by Nemuu in Fiction.
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The ceiling fan whirrs slowly above me. In the dark of night, I close my eyes and dream.

Tonight I am wandering the streets of Greece. The smell of roasts burning fills the air around me. Music rains down and around, a whirlpool of voices and melodies. A woman is dancing in the street, for the amusement of another, sitting in a lonely space at the cashier’s of a small shop. She moves lightly, gracefully, almost impossibly. The two women laugh. Their mouths move in the same way – they have the same smile. But different eyes, different noses, different hair. Everything is different but for their smiles and the look in their eyes. They must be in their early twenties, but looking at them, one would think a hundred years had passed in which they were never without each other.

Across the street, a young man sits alone at a coffee house. He pretends to drink the poorly-brewed coffee, but really, he is watching the girl who keeps shop. Something about the way he sits, his posture and the convenient angle of his seat suggests this is not his first time here. His eyes never leave her. He seems to be waiting for something. Her friend to leave? The perfect moment? No. No, he is waiting for courage to come knocking on his door. I can almost hear the frantic beating of his heart above the mix of song and noise.

From the roof of the coffee house, a small bird flutters down to land on the man’s table. It cocks its tiny grey head to one side, then takes a step forward, two. The man notices nothing. So fixated is he on the cashier that the bird gets away with a large chunk of his bread.

Farther ahead, a little girl is running up the footpath, her white dress only managing to stay down for the small rucksack on her back. She trips over an empty drink can that someone has carelessly thrown over their shoulder. She stumbles; then falls. Her ordeal almost goes unnoticed but for the cyclist behind her. He is too close; he does not have enough time for the brakes. He swerves but he, too, falls to the ground.

All eyes on the street turn to the pair now. The child, having picked herself up, now rushes to the cyclist to help him and apologise. Her white dress is stained with dirty greys and browns, hands and knees scratched bright red from the fall. The woman in the street has stopped dancing; she, too, rushes to aid while her friend stays, helpless, alone guarding the shop.

The cyclist’s face is flushed. Flowers from the basket attached to his bicycle lie strewn across the pavement, even to the road. Luckily for him, it is a small road that very few cars trudge along. His flowers – lilies and daisies and orchids – are safe. Woman and child pick them up while he picks himself up off the ground and rights his bicycle. The rest of the street resumes their play button.

All the flowers are collected now. The woman moves towards the cyclist to return them – then startles. It is a familiar face that averts her gaze – red, but familiar. She knows him. He dares not meet her eyes; the flowers were meant for her. Weeks and weeks of planning and summoning his courage – wasted. He wishes she would not see him, but right through him instead.

Quite surprisingly, the child has managed to pick this up. She cannot be much older than ten – twelve at most – but I suppose sometimes children see things with greater clarity than even the best of adults do. She smiles, puts the flowers in her hands back into the basket, then appears to be rearranging it. She looks up at the woman and gives her a suggestive wink, then runs off in the direction she was originally headed.

The woman glances down at the basket. A card is nestled comfortably in the middle, facing up towards her – ‘For You.’