What We Did On Our Holidays

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
'He looks up at the sun and in its glare imagines Icarus and Daedalus, on their impossible flight, huge wings futilely beating, venturing into their fiery unknown. Did their sun look the same as this one now, beating down on these same people, beating down on this same parched landscape?'
A package holiday nightmare brings all the problems in their relationship to the surface. Under the scorching Greek sun, nothing is what it seems, and nothing will ever be the same again.

Submitted: July 15, 2012

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Submitted: July 15, 2012

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What We Did On Our Holidays

 

 

He looks up at the sun and in its glare imagines Icarus and Daedalus, on their impossible flight, huge wings futilely beating, venturing into their fiery unknown. Did their sun look the same as this one now, beating down on these same people, beating down on this same parched landscape? He isn’t wearing sunglasses and sunspots seem to burn across his retinas. He looks out to sea and for a moment is blind, the world looks completely different, like a mirage floating in front of his eyes after days in the desert.

 

He looks across, further down the beach, back to the boys kicking their ball by the shoreline. He shelters his eyes with his hand, looks again at the slight boy with messy dark blond curls. Slim figure, short for a boy and - though he has no curves, from the back he might be of either sex, although his chest is bare. The football is kicked over in his direction and the blond boy moves toward him to fetch it. Closer up, he has delicate features, face softened by the messy curls. How old might he be, he wonders? Maybe 17, but he moves with a lightness as if the weight of the world barely touches him. How old was Icarus? Perhaps he too felt only the lightest of touches from gravity, perhaps that was what made him believe he could fly. The boy collects his ball, and for a moment looks up at him. The boy knows he has been watching him. And what is that expression, is that a smile? Perhaps he just wants it to be, or maybe not.

 

He looks further along the beach. There are young girls too - topless with small, taut breasts. For some reason everyone on the beach today seems slim and beautiful. It can’t be the case, but he can see no other tourists at all. He feels big and ungainly and hairy next to them, a gatecrasher at the party of these beautiful people. This is a world that he doesn’t belong in. He should be sitting round the hotel pool, with all the other tourists, sipping on all-inclusive watery gin and tonic. But he can’t face going back there. He leans back down on the towel, closes his eyes. He can still feel the burning sun though he has covered his face with his hat. He can still hear the beach soundtrack too, the gentle lullaby of the waves, the distant children playing, the hum of the jetskis far out beyond the bathing area, the occasional local voices shimmering on the air.

 

This is Day 13. Tomorrow, all their sandy and sun-bleached clothes will be stuffed back into cases. The replica Parthenon statues, the cheap ouzo, the postcards they never got round to send, the pack of old Olympic stamps, the shell necklaces – they will be stuffed in too. The coach will arrive to collect them and ferry them back to the airport. And then, somehow, they will have to find a way to step back into their lives.

People will want to know all about their holidays. Maybe Danny or Zoe will have to write a piece for class – what we did on our holidays, something like that. And what did we do on our holidays? His mind spins back. It seems so difficult nowadays to move a few people a few hundred miles. Was it that much more simple back in the times when this nation ruled the known world, when their legions marched across Europe? Who could say.

 

How far back should the story go? Back to the hours and arguments spent poring over the travel brochures, back to the disagreements about where they should go, and when, and how, and to what. Or back to him trying to book on the internet, as she hung over his shoulder and gave confusing directions – no that one, no that one, I SAID that one, are you not listening to me? We’re going to miss it, I told you we have left it too late, that one’s fully booked, quick, quick, try this one’. And really he had the easy part. All he really had to do was supply the credit card number at the end.

 

Then came the trip to the local hypermarket, to buy all the new clothes that would be stuffed back into the cases. T-shirts, shorts, canvas shoes, those things which inevitably disappear from one holiday to the next, despite never being worn in the interim.

 

And then the waiting. The time from booking to going that always seemed to be the longest part, complete with endless threats – ‘If you’re not going to be good then you won’t be going on holiday’, ‘If we’re going to be like this then I can’t see any point even going’, ‘Well, you can go on your own then as I don’t even want to go now’ and endless variants on those, spinning around and around their conversations for months before, hanging there in the background, the ghost at the table, the elephant in the room. It gets built up, so much pressure, so much expectation, as if a 2-week vacation can fundamentally change the family dynamic, as if the suncream can possibly cover over the cracks of everything they are and everything they are not.

 

And then the packing. Trying to hunt down the suitcases from wherever they have been hiding since the last vacation. Packing clothes for every eventuality and every climate variation even though it’s been scorching hot every day and most of their clothes haven’t even been worn. And then trying to manhandle them into the car, out of the car, across the airport concourse, up the escalator, down the escalator, into and out of the transfer coach.

 

So much time and effort and planning. But what did we do on our holidays, he wondered, what did we really do? Could the story ever live up to the anticipation of its telling?  All those months waiting, only to discover the one thing you can’t escape is all the baggage you take with you. But it was a foreign country, there were different rules, different laws, when in Rome and all that.

 

The atmosphere had been fraught the whole journey. She had scowled at him when he even ordered a beer on the plane. The children were shouted at, ingenious and ingenuous threats made to keep them in line. He had gone along with it, kept quiet, tried to keep the peace. He couldn’t bear the shame of arguing in public, of everyone turning around and looking at them and whispering and pointing and talking about them. But it wasn’t easy.

 

They had chosen a family friendly resort. Entertainment was laid on for Danny and Zoe, people being paid to amuse their kids whilst they were here. Once they had checked in, and deposited the bags, showered and changed, it was as if she breathed out. Determined to let her hair down. The children were off having fun with the other luggage kids. She looked at him and he looked at her. They were drinking free drinks at the newcomers reception. One of the tour reps came over. He was dressed in the tour company uniform, red blazer, white shirt, red shorts. The shorts were tailored and very short and he had long tanned legs. He was tall and it was obvious that he loved working out, his hair short and quiffed with atomic precision, his face so tanned it had turned a rich, nutty brown - he looked carved from wood, chiselled, sanded, oiled and polished.

‘Hey, I’m Zac’, he said, though the introduction was unnecessary as there was a big yellow badge pinned to his red blazer lapel saying ‘Zac’. Zac – what Zachary? Zachariah? He didn’t believe it for a moment, but he guessed out here ‘Zac’ could call himself whatever he wanted.

Zac had greeted them with a cool, down with the kids ‘Hey’, not ‘Hi.’ He clearly looked after himself, but he was sure Zac was older than the image he was trying to fit. What, late 30s? Maybe even early 40s? Surely that was too old to be a tour rep. Was that really a job for a grown man?

He had tuned out almost immediately, went to get another glass of free wine. She was listening rapt to Zac’s pitch about boat trips, excursions, authentic historical recreations, family entertainment – all the delights they were going to be served up. He wandered around the room. Idly picked up some of the leaflets and brochures. He knew already what the deal would be – organised hilarity, forced entertainment. They would spend many days and nights together over the next 2 weeks, drinking games, souvenir shopping, listening to dreadful bands in hotel ballrooms. His heart sank, he had finished the foul wine already and walked out into the main bar and bought a bottle of lager.

He pulled up a stool at the bar and drank from the bottle. After a while he went back to look in on the welcoming party. The kids seemed happy in their group. She was still talking to Zac, there was a big yellow folder open in front of them. No one seemed to be missing him. He went back to his bar stool and ordered another beer. At the other end of the bar was a dance floor with disco lights although no one was dancing. The music was some Europop which didn’t sound modern enough to even be popular out here.

The bartender started chatting to him – practising bad English. He realised he was already on his fifth beer, and could feel his head going warm and fuzzy. The bartender was a young guy, trying to grow designer stubble. He seemed to imagine himself some bar artist, some cocktail king, though the bar was quiet – for most of the time he was the only one sat there. Everyone else was drinking the free wine.

He humored him. The boy had come from Athens. He was working here for the summer, some student break thing. His girlfriend had come with him too – she was a singer in one of the other hotels. The boy was chatty and clearly enjoying his work. Sure it must be minimum wage, but at his age and at his time, none of that mattered. Life was great.

He didn’t want to disabuse the kid. He kept asking him questions, a completely one sided conversation. That’s the way it plays out – tourists want to know all about the place they have come, everyone is entertainment, everyone fair game. And they come to escape their own lives, not to talk about them.

By the time she came to search for him, he was really quite drunk. Zoe and Danny were tired and fractious. She marched them all up the various lifts back to their holiday apartment. He lay down on the bed and was asleep almost instantly. He woke up at 3am. He found himself spread-eagled on the bed, fully clothed, shoes still on. She was asleep under the covers. The children were asleep in their own room off the main room. He lay there for a while, looking up at the ceiling. He felt quite drunk, but in a happy way. He liked the idea that all was quiet and dark and only he was awake. He knew there would be hell to pay at breakfast, could already predict the recriminations and accusations. But for now all was quiet, he didn’t need to worry about any of it. He lay there, rewinding to the bar, sitting there drinking ice cold beers, but imagining instead that there was no family waiting back in the room, imagining he had no ties, imagining his life if you could wind the clock back, if none of this had ever happened. So many other options, so many other scenarios. In life you keep choosing routes at each different junction until one day you find yourself on a road that seems to go on forever, and suddenly there are no turnoffs any more, and it seems to get darker and darker, and you don’t know where it is leading. All you know is that you don’t want to go where it is taking you but you have no options now and no alternatives and the car seems to be driving itself, on ever on, and there is nothing, really nothing that you can do about it.

He felt depressed now. He got up, made himself a coffee, took his clothes off and climbed into bed. Eventually he fell asleep.

 

She had booked them on a heritage tour. The bus was so air-conditioned that they shivered as they watched the burning world outside. Zac was doing commentary – potted history of this land, rewinding back to happier times. The cradle of civilization, he called it, lifted straight from some text book or other. About an hour in, she wandered down the coach, ostensibly to ask some question of Zac, but she didn’t return and occasionally he could hear her voice, softly laughing, hanging onto Zac’s every word. It was clear he had made a big impression on her. In the back Zoe said she felt sick and he had to hold the sick bag for her. Danny was playing up – complaining about the smell, complaining about the trip. Both were bored – there was nothing to look at which interested them. He tried I-Spy but even he couldn’t think of much to look at, let alone them. The landscape was uninspiring, scorched earth, sunburned. His head felt thick and heavy now from the beer the night before. He wanted to stretch out and go to sleep under some coconut palm awning, not to have to get through this.

 

Eventually they were all marched off the bus at some crumbling monument. The sun immediately began roasting their chilled, air-conditioned skin. Danny and Zoe were far too young to appreciate this cradle of civilization, simply wandered around, bored, scuffing up clouds of dust with their feet. They wanted to go back to the hotel. He couldn’t blame them, would rather be there too.

 

She was up ahead. Zac was wearing a headband microphone and kept up a constant stream of stories and anecdotes about everything around them. He tried to picture it, the exotic beasts that might have been fought in these amphitheatres, the huge crowds gathering to watch the staged battles and re-enactments, the tragedies and comedies played out, the fickle tyrant looking on. But it was a struggle to relate that to the mundane reality of these broken stones, which they trudged up and down whilst sweating and sipping Coca-Cola.

 

Eventually, Zac closed the history book and they stopped for lunch at some touristy taverna. She rejoined them and spoon fed Zoe some strange savoury cake which she clearly didn’t like. She seemed distracted. They hardly talked, though he didn’t make much effort either. He closed his eyes, tried to imagine himself back in time, as if he might open his eyes and see those myths and legends made real, cower from the wrath of Helios the sun god blazing down on him. But when he finally opened his eyes, nothing had changed.

On the way back, Zoe slept and Danny got lost in Nintendo world. She soon wandered back down to the front of the bus next to Zac. She wanted to know more about the boat trip. Or something.

 

The days seemed to pass like that. Some days they went on city trips, walking amongst more ruins, other days they went out on boat trips, swimming in the clear green sea. In between days they just lay by the pool, drinking ice cold drinks, slapping on the suntan lotion, doing all the things that tourists were supposed to do. In the evenings, they always stayed close to home. First night there was ballroom dancing. The children were still up and at the start were called up onto the dancefloor and danced on their own whilst the grown-ups smiled, and took pictures, and said how lovely it was to see the children dancing, how they really must enrol them in dancing class - and secretly imagining some golden Strictly Come Dancing future for each of them. The tour guides in their smart red and white uniforms showed them some neat moves, whisked them around in foxtrots, cha cha chas, tangos, sambas. Zac picked up Zoe one time and spun her around and around off her feet and she squealed with laughter.

 

Gradually the children were disappeared up to bed, and the adults came back down to enjoy time on their own. But he didn’t feel like dancing, and didn’t really dance anyway. She asked him in a perfunctory way, and seemed hardly bothered when he declined - although of course she knew what he would say. When Zac whirled by, she asked him if he was going to rescue her from her spoilsport husband, who refused to dance, and of course he agreed. Zac spirited her away, and for the next hour he saw only occasional glimpses of the two of them in the mirrorball lights, her newly tinted hair, his polished walnut smile.

 

He didn’t say anything. He just wanted to close his eyes and let this pass over him, pass by him, let it happen as it wished. He was drinking too much beer again. They had their arrangement. She had her own personal tour guide, with his seemingly endless myths and tourist soundbites. He had, well, he had a hiatus, a few days of grace.

 

The next night she had booked them onto a traditional Greek evening. The bus came to take them to a huge restaurant where the walls were stucco, with scenes from Homeric tales stencilled in gold paint all around and the waiters and waitresses were all dressed in traditional costume - the men in tsolias, the women in karagounas. In a corner the band scraped away at their curious shaped ouds, it was a perfectly Hollywood recreation of a perfectly Greek experience. It was loud and vibrant and noisy and crowded and hot. They arrived there late and the children were already getting irritable as the food seemed to take forever to come.

They were all seated at a long rectangular table. The guy opposite him was in engineering, he tried to start a conversation but soon lost heart. There were conversations going on all but none that he wanted to be involved in. On the tables were huge decanters of wine, baskets of bread and dried olives. Danny and Zoe were giggling now and talking to a boy on the other side of the table, playing some table game with cutlery and cruets. Beautiful waiters and waitresses kept coming over to him and ensuring his glass was permanently full. There were worse places to be. At one point he even got up and sort of danced. But he felt thirsty in the bright lights, and the room felt unpleasantly warm - the outside temperature had hardly dropped at all. It seemed that the more wine he drank, the thirstier he became. Somewhere inside he knew he was drinking too much but that seemed some tiny mischievous voice that was all too easy to ignore.

The night wore on. He noticed almost incidentally that she and Zac were together again. The music seemed to settle into some background buzz. He felt hot and more and more uncomfortable. He had undone the top 3 buttons of his shirt but that didn’t seem to help.

Suddenly he realised he was sick. He clambered to his feet, ran in the general direction of the toilets, but it was such a long way and there were so many dancers and waiters and tables and benches to negotiate. He made it to the toilets, just, but not actually into the toilets. He was violently sick all over the floor. Dimly he was aware of people trying to step over him in disgust. He seemed to keep vomiting, his stomach spasming. Eventually whichever waiter or employee had drawn the short straw was sent to help him. He was pulled up, his head forced roughly under a tap. He felt ice cold water running over his hair, flowing down his back. He took a deep breath, took a deep deep gulp of cold water, then promptly vomited again. He staggered back and leant against the wall, gasping for breath. Dimly he could sense the waiter looking at him with disgust. His stomach felt painful and empty. He went back to the tap and gulped more water down until his stomach cooled, then leant back against the wall, aware that he was making small moaning sounds.

He looked up again and saw Zac standing there now. Awkwardly the rep patted him on the back. Don’t worry, guy, happens to all of us. Are you OK? Are you feeling better? Or words like that. He just nodded, couldn’t say a word.

He was aware of the stench in the toilet. He looked down at himself and saw flecks of vomit all down his shirt. He went back to the sink and tried futilely to wipe it off. Dimly he was aware of Zac leading him out of the toilets. He saw her standing outside, at the head of a crowd, just looking at him. He dropped his eyes and she didn’t say anything. Zac ushered him quickly outside.

They were standing in the fresh air, looking up at the stars. The night was still warm. There was no sign up in the heavens above. A taxi came and the taxi driver looked him up and down and clearly didn’t want him in the cab but Zac got in with him and they drove away. He had the window rolled down and leant his sore, bitter head out of the open window. He was aware of his lips dry, a salty taste in his mouth, which he didn’t understand.

Zac took him back to the hotel and led him back up to his room and left him there. He climbed into the shower and ran his head under cold water until it began to hurt a little less. Then he washed his clothes in the shower and hung them up to dry on the balcony. He gulped down some more water, but couldn’t get rid of the salty taste or the dryness in his mouth. Finally, he stretched out on the bed.

 

When he awoke it was dark. He reached for his watch on the nightstand and read the time – 3.15. He got up and looked in the adjoining room. Danny and Zoe were fast asleep in their beds. She wasn’t there. He looked all around carefully, but she definitely wasn’t there. He got up, took another glass of water, and went out onto the balcony. The night seemed to have finally cooled. There was no traffic outside, almost no lights on, the nearby town in complete darkness. No parties dragging on this late in this resort. He wondered where she might be. He sat for a while out there on a chair, taking deep breaths of cool night air. Eventually he went back to bed.

When he woke again she was drying her hair. The side of her bed had been turned down but he had no idea if she had been sleeping there or not. It was after 8.00. Breakfast time.

 

She didn’t say much about the previous night. He discovered that Danny and Zoe had thought it very amusing to pour salt from the salt cellars into his drinks all night. Zoe even cried and said sorry, Daddy. He didn’t know whether to be furious or ashamed. Part of him wanted to fly into a rage, but if he hadn’t been so drunk anyway he would have surely tasted the salt. But he couldn’t face breakfast, nor could he face the inevitable looks from the other guests. He told them to go down without him.

 

He spent that day trying to avoid everyone. He needed a walk and left the hotel and walked into the nearby town. He tried to disappear, to lose himself in its pretty cobbled streets. The sun beat down overhead. He wandered through the tourist shops and stalls. Eventually he realised he was hungry and curiously the only thing which looked good to eat were huge doughnuts in the shape of hands and feet. He bought a box of them and a large bottle of water and walked out of town, up the hill and sat down on a rock. He ate the entire box under the pitiless sun. After the last night, a box of doughnuts surely wasn’t the ideal thing to be eating, but his stomach didn’t seem to mind.

Some while later he walked back to the hotel, back to the room and lay low.

 

The next morning was pool games for the kids. She said she wanted to go into the town, buy some presents and souvenirs to take back for people. He took Danny and Zoe down to the pool. The SwimOlympic games were held once a week. The kids played water polo, water-volleyball, diving games, swimming races. There were other ball games by the pool side. The winners all received cheap plastic Olympic medals and eventually the losers got them too. It was all in fun. The swimming instructor was a bulky blonde who liked to blow her whistle a lot.

He lay on a lounger whilst they played in the pool. A waiter brought him round a complimentary margarita. The sun was blazing down again. He had taken down an English newspaper which he had bought in the town a few days before, but after a while he caught himself reading the business section and the property pages for a second time, and it hadn’t been interesting the first. He saw a blank crossword on the back page and decided to go up to the room for a pen. He told the blonde to watch out for Danny and Zoe.  

He climbed up the 3 flights of stairs, turned the key in the door and opened it. Even as the door swung open, he recognised the sounds from within.

 

She was lying naked on the bed. Zac was lying on top of her, naked except for his bright red shorts which were pulled half down just below his arse. He noticed Zac’s buttocks were white and taut and hairless. The tour company shorts were a vivid red, stretched round his muscular legs. He watched those stupid red shorts bouncing up and down, he watched those clenched taut buttocks bouncing up and down. He heard Zac panting, banging away rhythmically, energetically, enthusiastically. He heard her breathing hard, sucking in air underneath him.

After a moment she opened her eyes and saw him standing there. She looked at him. Zac couldn’t see him, had no idea he was there. She just lay there looking at him, the moment seemed to stretch out, just looking at each other, then all of a sudden she closed her eyes, involuntarily moaned, quivered underneath him, let out a little moan, then a longer one, and a longer one. Zac’s arse bounced up and down faster and faster, those little red shorts becoming a whir of red, banging up and down, up and down, up and down. Zac was panting harder now, little grunts escaping with each thrust up and down.

She was clutching his upper arms, urging him on. She let out another little moan.

He shut the door, and turned around.

 

About 15 minutes later she came back down to the pool. She was carrying a paperback novel and stretched herself out on one of the sunloungers. A short while later he saw Zac, over on the other side of the pool, in his bright red shorts, involving himself in the pool games, not looking at either of them. Danny and Zoe played on.

 

He stood up. She hadn’t said anything to him. ‘I think I’m going to go down to the beach’ he said. She just nodded.

 

*

 

He opens his eyes and looks back up into the sun. He blinks and his eyes water. He realises he has been sleeping, he doesn’t know how long, probably only a few minutes. He has been dreaming of Icarus and Daedalus, but the sky overhead is empty and blue. If they still fly up there then they are far beyond where his eyes can see. He raises himself up onto his elbows and looks at the water. He can’t see or hear any sign of the jetskis now, nor the floats and ropes marking out the area. He looks down the beach. The boys playing football have gone, the girls have gone too. The beach is almost deserted now – far, far away he can see a solitary old man walking along the shoreline. He wonders if he has been asleep for longer but he isn’t wearing a watch so has no way of knowing. Gingerly he feels his arms, his legs, to see if his skin might be burning, but it seems quite cool.

He looks out to sea again, does it look subtly different? Perhaps the tide has changed.

He stands up and turns around. He starts walking back to the town. When he gets to the road, it seems unfamiliar, and he can’t remember the buildings. Perhaps he walked further today than he has before. Perhaps he was preoccupied, not thinking clearly as he walked down to the beach. He doesn’t remember the hotel and keeps walking further on down the road.

 

The next hotel is unfamiliar too. He keeps on walking. He realises that his neck is burning, he can feel the heat and there is no shelter from the sun. He keeps on walking. He comes to another hotel, but this one is unfamiliar too. He walks faster now despite the heat. Something seems slightly wrong. Something seems more than slightly wrong. It feels like watching a movie in an old movie theatre where the film keeps slipping slightly off the screen, sliding out of focus. Eventually he sees the town up ahead, and relaxes as he recognises it. But as he gets closer, although it is familiar, there is something subtly wrong, subtly different. He walks through the town. The streets are the same and the buildings are the same and the roads are the same, but the stalls and the shops are somehow not the same. He walks past the shop where he is sure he bought the doughnuts the day before, but today it is selling handbags. Something surely isn’t right.

He stops, and looks back. He knows he must have already passed his hotel. The hotel is on the road before you get to the town. He must have somehow walked by it and arrived in town. He turns around, retraces his steps. On the edge of town is a large 3-storey peach coloured hotel called the Corinth Palace. He walks up the long paved drive, but doesn’t recognise the hotel and it is definitely not his hotel. He turns back around and continues walking up the road, away from town. The next hotel is all sparkling white and is called Hotel Dionysius. It has two huge kidney shaped swimming pools. He recognises none of it. It is definitely not his hotel. He walks further along the road. There is one more hotel, the Hotel Hellas. Again he doesn’t recognise it and again he knows it is not his hotel.

He turns back around and retraces his steps once more. 20 minutes later he is back in the town. The familiar town, although there are still the same differences.

He has walked this route from his hotel to the town about ten times over the last 2 weeks but now he doesn’t recognise any of these hotels, and he knows his hotel is not here. It must be here, it should be here, it surely was here, but it is not.

He walks up the paved drive of the Corinth Palace Hotel. He walks into reception. A pleasant girl looks at him and smiles. He is wearing a T-shirt and shorts and flip-flops and a blue sun hat. He carries nothing else.

‘I am looking for the Hotel Mykonos’ he says.

She looks quizzically at him. ‘Hotel Mykonos?’ He nods. ‘Hotel Mykonos – where is that?’ she says.

‘It is here’ he tells her.

She looks strangely at him, starts to say something then thinks better of it. She disappears in a back room and reappears with a fat swarthy man wearing a tie who is clearly the manager.

‘I am looking for the Hotel Mykonos’ he says.

The fat man shakes his head, ‘No Hotel Mykonos’, he says. ‘No, no’.

No Hotel Mykonos. No Hotel Mykonos. He feels in his back pocket, but hasn’t brought his wallet down to the beach. He feels in all his other pockets, but they are all empty. He has nothing but a T-shirt, shorts, sun hat and flip-flops.

 

Two hours later he is sitting on a bench outside the Corinth Palace. There are 2 Greek police cars parked in the drive. One policeman is talking to him, the other talking to the hotel manager and other guests. They have taken his name, asked him some questions, asked him for ID but he has none.

He knows now that he is in the right town, but there is no Hotel Mykonos in this town. They have taken his name and phoned every hotel in the town but his name is not registered anywhere. They have phoned through to the next towns up and down the coast but his name is not registered there either. The police look confused. They don’t know what to do with him. A few tourists from the hotel have come up to see what is going on. He is lucid and chats to them but none of them know his hotel or his party and none of them recognises him. He tells them the tour company they came with, describes the red and white uniform, but no one recognises that either.

 

People are fussing around him. They have no idea what to do. They don’t know where to put him or where to send him. He should be worried, he knows he should, but strangely that is not what he feels. He has no money, no clothes, no passport. He has no room, no hotel, no identity. He doesn’t know where he is or how to get back to where he came from. But nevertheless he feels strangely calm. His mind seems to have reconciled itself to whatever is going on around him. None of it seems too strange. None of it seems too scary. No one knows him, no one knows where he has come from, no one knows where he should be going to. That is his new reality.

They are arguing about it, arguing about him, gibbering in Greek – ‘all sounds Greek to me’ his lazy mind thinks and he half smiles to himself. He sits there on the bench. The sun still burns down. His neck is still hot to touch. He looks back up, up up up into the glaring blue sky, at the brilliant golden sun, he lets the sun’s rays flood his pupils, feels the heat, feels the brightness, the glare exploding in his eyes, he looks long and hard, up into the sun, until eventually his eyes start to adjust, and this new world seems to come swimming into focus.

 

Somewhere up there, far far above, up in the sky, up in the heavens, he is sure he sees Zeus wink.

 

 

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2017 craig turner. All rights reserved.

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