Richard Pierce

Life, Writing

Day 177

We stayed up too late last night because we’d got a bit tired of all the same faces in the full-board hotel, faces we don’t actually much speak to because they’re mostly English. We were the same on our honeymoon in Veniceand Bellagio over 31 years ago, spending most of our time just in each other’s company or talking (trying to talk) to locals.

We spent a long time talking with Giorgo, the guy who owns the bar/restaurant which has the concession to the strip of beach we sit on each day. He came to sit with us towards the end of our evening and told us all about his life, the struggles the bar has been through since he opened it 10 years ago, and how he is a great believer in kindness, and how good things will happen to those who wait and work for them. He’s an impressive young man (20 years younger than me), and we met his wife K and daughter M. He works from 7am each day 7 days a week until well past midnight. We told him (although he wasn’t very convinced) that that kind of work ethic can be difficult to find in England nowadays (all generalisations are false, inc this one). And his co-workers are alongside him all the way.

My Greek vocabulary is improving, and I’ve managed to have at least two or three broken Greek conversations with G and others here on the beach, and with S back at the hotel. Part of me wants to stay here for at least six months so I could make myself fluent (and be warm).

It’s now past 5om local time, and I just popped back to the hotel for something. On the way back down here, I saw a lad carrying a pick-axe and a walking stick to a car. We need all sorts of tools to live.

AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 131

The gaze between the two women doesn’t lastong enough for he car to swerve this time, but long enough for their connection to become even stronger.

‘What?’ Lilibet says.

‘Why would a man leave someone as beautiful as you?’

‘Because he went off with someone else.’ She ignores the compliment, and Aggie can’t see her blushing in the dark. ‘Why would a woman like you be on her own?’

Aggie laughs. ‘A monstrous outsize woman like me, you mean?’

‘What are you talking about? You’re tall, yes, but that’s a lovely thing to be.’

‘You missed off fat and uncoordinated and massive hands.’

‘You’re being ridiculous now. How would the woman you’re describing have climbed to the top of the tower, how would she have overpowered someone with a gun?’

‘Sheer size and determination and luck.’

‘You think you’re lucky?’ Lilibet says. ‘Skilled and strong and clever is what I’d call it.’ She starts to reach across to Aggie, but stops herself.

Aggie ignores the motion, however much she wishes it had been completed, puts her foot down, ans the car shoots along the motorway well past the speed limit now. ‘Lucky in some things,’ she says. ‘Unlucky in others.’

‘Did you ever have someone?’ Lilibet risks asking.

‘A long time ago. Unless that’s another false memory. And he betrayed me.’

‘Sorry. We’re in the same boat then, sort of.’

The dam has broken for Aggie, and her stomach is hurting with the worst memory of all. ‘And a child. It died. Before it was born. They ripped it out of me. I nearly died.’ She grips the steering wheel so hard she can hear it creak under the strain.

Lilibet does reach across this time, puts her right hand Aggie’s left hand. ‘I am so sorry. Don’t hurt yourself so. I can’t imagine any of it is your fault.’

‘I don’t know. I can’t tell. I don’t even know any more if it’s real.’

‘Do you have any scars?’

‘I’ve never really looked. I don’t like to look at myself. I’ve only checked I don’t have a device.’

‘The scars would be lower. Below your navel. Below your bikini line.’

‘Can you imagine me wearing a bikini?’

Lilibet doesn’t let go of Aggie’s hand. ‘Yes, I can, and I imagine you would look superb in one. I can check you for scars.’

‘I’d have to die first.’

Lilibet does let go of Aggie’s hand this time. ‘What are you so afraid of?’

‘Myself,’ Aggie says. ‘Myself.’

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