Athens III

 

„Just a bit up here“, he heard her shouting, „we are nearly there.“
It was a lovely but early thursay morning, end of March, at kap of Sounio, about an hour drive from Athens. They were visiting the temple of Poseidon, climbing up the dusty hill. Nobody else was in sight – maybe because nobody else was so eager about visiting rotten monuments at 8.30 in the morning.
„Okay.“ He didn’t sound excited at all. Waking up at seven o’lock during his free day wasn’t actually his favourite thing to do. Hiking and getting sweaty neither.
She was already on top, waving at him, jumping a bit, trying to motiviate him to go a little faster.

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Finally he reached her and she just stepped aside, letting the view to do the rest. It was breathtaking. A white monument against the clear blue sky, softened by the vivid backround of the sea, columns in a perfect line, cutting a sharp contrast in the untouched nature, having so much grace as if they were standing there from the beginning of the ages, built by the same hands who carved the line of the shore.
He looked at her. She glanced at him, biting her lip to supress a joyful smile. „It’s amazing“, he said.
She shook her head, looking back at the temple. „Imagine the ancient people who saw something like this for the first time; the must had truly believed it was built with the help of a God.“ She had putten her hands in front of her face, as if she was praying; now she took them down: „Let’s go around.“ They strolled around; he had to admit it was a good idea to visit the temple that early in the morning. The sun wasn’t high but it was already strong. And they were alone except of a french couple, taking pictures of the columns. She was jumping from rock to rock which were laying around the temple while she was explaining the history of the monument, he was looking at the sea, just listening with one ear. She was talking of sailors, Homer and Theseus, of Poseidon of course, and Athena. She was showing him Lord Byrons name carved into the north side of the temple, telling him about the white marble of Agrileza, about the settlements and roman coins and ways. The were walking the latter, down the hill towards the sea, the white temple in their back. She pointed out to the left, „These rocks built once a wall“, she said, „it was called the ‚Titan wall‘ as it was said, they were as tall as titans.“
„I would love to see those“, he said, looking at the stones. The titan walls, what a wonderful name. „The most famous titan was Kronos“, she said and he continued, „the father of Zeus. He killed his father, as Kronos killed his.“
She nodded. They were reaching a platform with a shield explaining the findings of roman coins. „Do you want to sit?“, she asked him and they took place on a small bench. Out of her bag she pulled a bottle of water, dates, cumquat and oranges and they began to eat. They weren’t talking fort he next minutes, they just took everything in – the sea, the wind, the smell of salt and water and heat, the dust, the laughter of people visiting the temple.
A bird cried, sitting in the mid of thistles, looking around, a small grey dot in the colourful gras. It opened its red beak and cried again. „Do you know the name of the bird?“, he asked her. She wrinkled her brows, thinking, then: „Actually I don’t.“ She laughed and he laughed as well.
„It’s the first time, you don’t have an answer for one of my questions.“
„Is it?“, she asked, turning quiet again but still smiling. „It’s such a lovely day.“ She pointed out to a boat. „Look there, your yacht is coming to pick you up.“ She laughed again.
„It isn’t mine, it’s way to small“, he said in a serious voice which made her laugh even more.
„I would love to have a boat one day“, she said.
„A boat?“
„I could go to every island of Greece. I could meet people and learn about their lifes and stories. I could start a trade with oranges and then I could go back and tell everyone what I have experienced.“
He smiled, „That sounds wonderful.“ Pause. „May I ask you a question?“
She nodded, „sure.“
„What happened between you and your boyfriend the other day?“ It was an audacious question, he knew that. She looked at the sea, putting her hands around the water bottle, keeping quiet. And when he thought she wouldn’t answer at all, she started to speak: „It’s nothing actually“, she said, „sometimes I am feeling just… caged. Like I would be running in circles and I can’t break out.“
He glanced at her. The wind was touching her hair, playing with it.
„We have the same fights, the same arguments, again and again. That night… I wanted to break up. I couldn’t.“ She turned her head, „sorry, this is supposed to be a fun excursion.“
„It’s okay. I am having fun. And I asked you, already forgot?“
The sound of the sea was calming. It made you feel like everything was going to be okay. Another boat was coming, a smaller one this time, and from a different direction. It glided through the sea as it was cutting through air, driving to one of the houses in the bay. Maybe it belonged to one of the house owners.
„I am coming with you on your boat“, he said.
She smiled at him: „That’s an great idea.“ They stayed silent for a few more moments. Then: „Let’s go.“ And she stood up, packing the food and the water bottles in her backpack again. They were climbing up the hill again but now there were more people on top of it, standing around the monument, taking pictures of themselves and of the temple, smiling, making dorky faces, explaining, listening. It was a good idea that they had visited the temple that early in the morning.

Alisa Riechmann

 

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