Days Away

Liz was reading the book that I had dropped in the sea earlier today, Britte was cleaning the bedroom, Patrick was tying the yellow down with cable-ties and Louie Louie was licking his balls whilst the sea kept gently moving in and the sun hid up behind the clouds. I hid nothing but carbon copies of your fingers, which I kept in the pockets of my shorts for rainy days.

The sun tucked all of winter’s cruels away and to bed and I forgot how cold I had been in that old dark house. At 6 o’clock, when I had lay down to rest off yesterday’s excess, I remembered the name of the man whose lips I had met last night. Two kisses and many words had passed between us and off into the night. Now I could not say exactly of what we had spoken so intently, but I know that we both had broken hearts and that we tried to kiss them away knowing that really, it was as futile as you and I. He had been in the army and now he was thinking of what to do next. He said he would stay here forever, on this island and be content, and I would go back to my island and continue our tug-of-war over my heart. The sun would not be so brilliant, but you would be, and the insects were smaller and you would be my fly net on the days that you were spare.

You could hear the goats in amongst the dry trees, their little bells clunking whilst they meandered along. When we had walked up into the hills into a little village, we had gone into the old man’s shop to buy water and small timid cats with patchy fur had played outside the door. Another old man sat in the shop drinking lemonade and watching the box television. Everyone was friendly and most people smiled, but not as much as we did because we were lazy to the core and we were getting fat.

Lots of people rode mopeds and as they rode, they talked. They rode side by side so they could talk as they went, they said “hello” as they passed and some of the boys whistled you on the way by. I saw a young boy of twelve or thirteen riding, his dad on the back, a big proud grin, so big it covered both of their faces. No one wore helmets, not even the children. Billy rode drunk last night and I had told him off but Patrick said there were no rules, or not any that people took any notice of, anyway. Patrick had been out drinking until 1 o’clock this morning and when Liz had asked if he had driven-drunk he said “no,” but did a little smile and turned his face away towards the sea. A man at the bar in a crumpled cream linen suit had come up to me and said, “You are beautiful,” then stumbled his way diagonally out of the door and sped off into the night on his moped. A compliment is still a compliment, even from a drunk. “Is it?” said Elizabeth, laughing to her wine.

The bugs strolled along window, the cats strolled nonchalantly by our table and we strolled lazy through the days. The only thing that was busy was the wind, and even that was kind.

Britte was a good cleaner but a better talker. If she cleaned as much as she talked, we’d all slip off the floors and into the sea. Britte told me she best liked animals and people who have learning disabilities. She said the world would be a better place if everybody were dogs or learning disabled. That way, she said, there would be no more wars. She said the dog followed her all over the island and introduced Louie Louie to us as her boyfriend. She said he could run miles, no problem. I liked that they named him twice.

We slept for four hours then we went to meet Georgos to get the boat. We could not believe that anyone would give us their boat to use by ourselves, especially as we were most likely still drunk from the night before. We found a little beach that you could not reach by land and tied the boat around a rock and went for a swim. It was noon and the hottest part of the day. Liz opened the bottle of wine and we drove back around the little bays, the clouds falling behind in our wake.

Up on the mountainside we saw stone steps that were worn smooth with four thousand years of footsteps. We took our footsteps carefully on flip-flopped feet with goosebumps on our shoulders. 

Patrick was just passing us, driving home from the shops but took us took Bruno’s house. Bruno was an Italian artist who had thick white hair and a white moustache which was stained yellow where the cigarettes hung. He spoke Italian and Patrick who was South African spoke in Italian, while Pierre, who was French but lived in Geneva as an English-French translator, tried Italian and the French doctor spoke English whilst one of the English girls understood Italian and the other understood a little French but we all got by apart from the dog who only barked at ankles.

Bruno had painted frescoes on the walls of the old church. It was a white-washed stone building with a little bell on the top. Bruno had painted a picture of the forty saints who had been put to death. He had painted one saint to look exactly like him. In his house was a painting of a nude with her tongue sticking out suggestively. I looked for her but the forty saints were all men. I suspected Bruno was no saint.

Jerry was bad for our health. He fed us waffles with butter and honey and every type of alcohol he could find. I liked that when he made cocktails he dropped cherries on the floor and spilt orange juice down the bar. He was the most ramshackle cocktail waiter in the world and I liked this about him. Liz did not swear but she did after she had been to Jerry’s. He kept the bar open until we wanted our beds, and even then, he tried to persuade us to have one more. No one seemed to have anywhere to be.