Read the first part of the story “It doesn’t matter, it feels like summer”- HERE
The road had bleached, gray colors, I could barely separate the white line in the middle and the asphalt seemed to run together with the wheels, panting to exhaustion. The arrow on the speedometer was trembling over the steaming red area and it was probably frightened as much as me.
‘Can you, please, slow down! Id’ like to arrive to the airport on time, but alive! If possible!’
‘Evil doesn’t die that easily, honey!’
The wrinkles of anger on his face were a definite sign to keep quiet and abstain from smart comments, even if I had one ready. One thing that I didn’t know how to handle with Stefan was his bad temper, especially when I was the reason for his devilish behavior.
My first trip back to Bulgaria after two years in Greece, I had finally sorted out my residence papers and with that, the right to come and go out of the country whenever I liked. The time faraway from my family seemed like an eon from another universe. I couldn’t wait to see them and all my friends. The residence permit came unexpectedly a week before Christmas in 2003 and going home was scheduled at the very last moment. Stefan didn’t like the idea of me going alone to Bulgaria, he wanted to come with me, to meet my parents and then to introduce me to his parents who lived in a village near by. My confident and non-negotiable “No” didn’t blend nicely with his emotions. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t accept the fact that all I wanted was 10 days with my family. The week before my trip was a little nightmare, we spent every moment together arguing about silly things.
Asking him to drive me to the airport was not my first choice, but it was the only one since that day there was a strike of the public transport and a taxi from my place was a fortune. When we finally arrived and I sighed with relief, he stopped the car, dumped my suitcase out on the side walk and drove away, murmuring something with a rather nasty sound which I’m sure it wasn’t “good bye” or “have a nice trip”. I almost shouted after him “idiot”, but then I knew it wasn’t worth. I had 30 minutes to check in and I needed a moment to get rid off the unpleasant and awkward situation. I sat on top of the suitcase, searching for a cigarette, ignoring the looks of people who witnessed my little shame, when right behind me a voice made me feel like I am in a deja- vu scene.
‘Trouble in paradise, sunshine?’
‘Now that makes sense! Of course I am in trouble, it usually happens when you’re around!’
‘At least I didn’t find you walking to the airport. Having a ride for a change is a huge progress!’
And we both laughed and hugged, exchanging greetings.
‘What are you doing here?’, I asked him, noticing for a first time his green eyes, ordinary green, if it wasn’t for the sparkles of sweet danger, that made them glow.
‘My brother is flying to Thessaloniki for Christmas, I drove him here.’
”Aren’t you going home for Christmas too?’
‘Well, if you hadn’t left while I was still asleep that morning in Halkidiki, we could’ve had a coffee and a chat, and now you’d know that I was there only for the summer and that I live in Athens. You owe me an explanation and a name if I remember correct?’
The game of teasing, running away, the chase had this delightful taste with him and again I couldn’t resist…
‘It’s a long story, summer boy, and I am going to miss my plane, so maybe some other time.’
I walked towards the entrance of the departure hall, smiling, mostly inside my heart, on his reaction.
‘No, no, no! You can’t do that again! Wait! Give me at least your phone number, please!’
I stopped, worried, with a thought- ‘What if Fate doesn’t give me another chance to meet him? I’d sure regret it for life’. I turned around and I told him:
‘I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. Be here on the 2nd of January. My plane arrives from Bulgaria at 7.45 pm. And I’ll tell you my name.’
‘What you gonna do in Bulgaria?’, he was helpless in such a cute way, I could see all the questions on his face, but ‘Merry Christmas, summer boy!’, is all I said and I got lost in the crowd, happy, thrilled.
By the time 2nd of January came, I completely had out of my mind the little date I’ve arranged for my arrival back to Athens. Christmas at home, family, friends and moments by the fireplace with presents and wine made me forget Alex or I, on purpose, erased the thought, because I was afraid he will not come. Once the plane landed on “Elevterious Venizelou”/ the name of Athens airport/ and I collected my luggage, the first thing I did was to swap the Bulgarian with the Greek card on my mobile and to check my messages. None from Stefan, which was good, I wasn’t planning on calling him either. Plenty of wishes left on my voice mail- Happy New Year, all the best, may you find true love, let 2004 be your year … and as I was walking towards the exit, there he was, standing tall, handsome, made out of sunshine and smiles.
I love airports, always have, always will. The chaos of people chasing time and destinations, checking-in, hand luggage, Swiss chocolates, the smell of Armani perfumes … Even the airplanes in the sky, the turbulence and the feeling of creeping ants on your back, I love it all, but that night, the moment I saw him waiting for me, it was like a summer, sapphires in the ocean’s waves, palm trees under the bliss of the sun, sea shells kissing the sand right in the middle of winter.
It’s funny how I remember every little detail, every moment together with him; his words, my words, expressions and emotions, places we went to, things we did, but I don’t remember how and when we decided to be just friends. Alex still says that I was the one to promote the idea, but I have no memories about it. Maybe no one had the courage to take the next step or whatever started after that night on the airport was much bigger and few hours lust in bed were not worth to destroy it. Because there was the lust, in his eyes, in my heart and in the air every time we’d be together. Sometimes it was unbearable/ to me at least/, but spending time together was an adventure, every day was unique and different. He would follow my ideas without second guessing and I loved his surprises. Pancakes at 3 am, calling in sick at work so we could have a coffee in the middle of nowhere, on the other end of town, riding 100 km with the bike just because we saw an advertisement of a restaurant in the newspaper. But most of all, it was the talking, the conversations that mattered; sharing our souls out, intimate thoughts that I’d never share with anybody else, even with my very close girlfriends, weaknesses that he would never admit as a man, I trusted him and I knew he trusted me back.
In the first week of June we planned a long weekend away again. A colleague of Alex had a family hotel near Lavrio/ a village 50 km away from Athens/, it was a place we’ve been before and we liked very much, and it wasn’t that faraway from Athens. I couldn’t leave with everyone on Thursday night, so I was supposed to take the bus on Friday after work. When I got there the first thing that I noticed was a girl called Afroditi. She wasn’t their colleague, just a date Alex had one night a month or so ago. I even remembered Alex calling me after the date, at 2 am, to tell me the evening was a total disaster. Seeing her there sent a nauseous impulse to my stomach. Ever since Alex and I found each other in Athens and became friends I’ve never seen him dating a woman twice; every time it was a different girl and on trips away for the weekend, with friends, I was the only one he’d bring and we’d stay in the same room. He’d flirt with some of the local girls, which was totally fine by me, because I was dating other men too, and sometimes he’d come back to the room later than me, but he’d always come back, wake me up and talk to me about everything.
Seeing him with the same girl a second time didn’t feel right at all, but he welcomed me more than happily when I arrived, the whole evening in the restaurant and after in the night club he was around me just like every other time so I didn’t ask him or tell him anything about Afroditi. But when he didn’t come back to our room all night, when at 7 am I was still awake and pretty upset, I got up, packed my bag, checked the transport to Athens on the reception desk and I left. At 8 am I was on the back seat of the bus, with sun-glasses to hide my tears. I remember thinking of the people who died on Titanic, steel and glass swallowed by the salty, icy monsters and the odor of fear and death. No hope! Just screams of agony! In an hour I was in Athens and the pathetic, tearful wave of emotions had transformed into a heavy self- criticism and I was mad at myself for crying about nonsense, for letting my guard down. I didn’t have the right to feel the way I felt, but sometimes it’s impossible to fit in a tortured soul a big heart and even bigger logic and to make them beat in harmony at the same time.
In September 2002 when I first met Alex and I woke up next to him, to find myself happy in his arms, thinking of waking him up with a kiss … I left only so one day I won’t find myself crying on the back seat of a half-broken bus. I promised myself that whatever the cost, I will not let him near me and there I was, holding the pieces of that promise. I was going home and I was convinced that I will manage to get over it. A few movies and a day in bed seemed like a good idea. I stopped by my neighbor to collect Jasmine/ the kitty that I had at that time/ and at the look of the little creature’s eyes I was already feeling better. I found TV series called “Spooks”/English series about MI5 officers/ to watch online and hugging Jasmine on the couch, in my pajamas, there was not a single thought about Alex left, just the sound of the rain starting to drip on the window glass. At some point I must’ve fallen asleep and when the door bell rang I heard Jasmine jumping on the floor, but the idea of getting up wasn’t accepted that well from my body, so I thought that I won’t open. No one knew that I am back and it was probably someone trying to sell saucepans. And the door bell rang again and again and on the end I got really annoyed and stormed out to see who the intruder was.
The sight of Alex, with leftovers of rain on his hair and jacket, standing by the door and his green eyes flashing with madness came on me as a cold shower and the waking up effect was shocking. I tried to close the door but he was already inside the flat and there was nothing I could do to push his robust body with muscles distributed amazingly evenly. I stood there, speechless…
‘Enlighten me, please, what the hell are you doing here? And why did I have to find out that you have left Lavrio from reception dude?’, his voice was like a thunder, all I thought was when the lightnings are going to join us.
‘Eirini called that Jasmine didn’t look well, I was worried and I came back.’
‘Oh, come on! The cat looks more than fine’, and to made me look like a very talented liar, Jasmine jumped perfectly happy back on the couch and started playing with one of the remote controls. Damn cat!
‘It’s you and me B., leave the lame excuses and spell out the real reason, why did you leave?’
The sounds of Titanic sinking under the frozen waters came again and I couldn’t breathe and the previous night when I was alone waiting for him came together with the sinking boat and I couldn’t hold my thoughts locked anymore and ocean of words just flew out.
‘Maybe because I am sick of watching you fooling around and making out with blonde, silicon Barbies who have not a single curve on their brains? Maybe because I didn’t sleep all night, hoping that you will come back. Or simply because I wanted to leave! Suit yourself and choose a reason!’
‘Come again?’, at that moment I was sure he will somehow take a gun out and shoot me, but instead he pushed me to the wall, caught my face with his hands and spoke again.
‘Look me in the eyes and tell me, who’s idea was to suggest, repeatedly, that you and I should be great as friends? Because it wasn’t me! And who started bringing dates here and there first? Tell me!!!’
I was scared of the tone of his voice, I knew he won’t get violent, but still, I could feel my legs trembling from all the adrenalin in the room. I got annoyed how he tried to control me with his male power and the last thing I was planning on is to give up easily on his words.
‘Oh, give me a break! There is a huge difference between my dates and your dates. I let them take me dancing, I have a drink or two with them. You! You skip everything that starts with “innocence” and finishes on “decency”; and you and your male ego go straight to the bold, night activities, only so you can kiss them “good-bye forever” an hour or two later and to never see them again. Have you ever thought how one of those women must feel on the next day? And why would you think that I would even consider of being one of them? So yes, friends is all you get! Now, why don’t you go back to Lavrio and continue having fun with Gwyneth Paltrow!’
And then there was a silence, sporadically interrupted by my heavy breathing; and Alex staring at me, outlandish sparks between his face and mine. It was probably only a moment made out of a few seconds that escaped out of the tension between our bodies, few seconds enough for both, mine and his brain, to synchronize. And then there was the kiss, the first kiss. Silver raindrops and shy moonlight, quietly pirouetting in on hot summer night …
TO BE CONTINUED …
Visit Amber Church at “The Craft Project“
© 2012 Broken Sparkles