Richard Pierce


Day 179

The decision to turn off Wifi while not within reach of a free network seems to be paying off. Perhaps I’m not as stupid as I think.

Part of me is increasingly unconvinced at the wisdom of taking a package holiday – at lunch I found S leaning against the counter, plainly exhausted beyond tears, upset (possibly by something that went on last night when we heard shouting in the corridors after we’d gone to bed), so gave her a hug. The level of exploitation here is difficult to assess, but to have two or three people working all hours (and I mean all hours) just doesn’t sit comfortably with me. The counter argument is that these folk wouldn’t have jobs at all if it weren’t for tourism, especially in the current Greek (global) economic climate. There are arguments and counter arguments everywhere, and different levels of exploitation. Who’s not to say that those bar owners on the strip aren’t being exploited by organised interests which make it even more difficult to make a living (and whilst feeling in danger constantly) which might make life a lot more uncomfortable than “just” having to work all hours. I am at a loss as to how to address this. Suffice it to say that my lunch tasted bitter whilst having these thoughts.

On another front, that of linguistics, right now, I am trying desperately to find the right words, not to say something, but simply to find the right words in the right language. I am trying to teach myself some semblance of Greek by asking G and S and S for sentences that would be useful, but I’m also hearing a profusion of languages I understand (and many I don’t), and accents, and many of them simutaneously, and my brain is getting its languages and their words all muddled. And I do want to show the locals I am not just a tourist but someone who wants to add their language and culture to his overall knowledge and make-up. M tells me off for beating myself up for not getting phrases and words perfect, but I see it as a failure when I don’t. As usual, I am competing with no-one but myself.

At least I have spent three hours this morning not thinking or competing, but just lying in the shade doing absolutely nothing or reading.

Other things – a cruisehip (medium-sized) is anchored just off the beach; my sunlounger in the shade is surrounded by others which encroach closer than the antisocial man I am feels entirely comfortable with; it’s very windy, and gusts throw up handfuls of sand; people who insist on being on speakerphone/videocall without headsets are really pissing me off.


It’s still dark when Aggie drives them into Montrose, and frost rimes the dark streets. Lilibet has slept all this way, and Aggie is grateful for it, for a variety of reasons, not least her recognition that she has found another true part of herself and is afraid to be rejected again, the way she has been forever rejected. She follows the signs to the beach car park, and pulls into one of all the empty spaces, glad to have made it all the way up here with a quarter of a tank of fuel left, and the electricity level still halfway up the dial.

As soon as the car stops moving, Lilibet opens her eyes and sits up. ‘Thanks for not waking me.’

‘I told you you needed to sleep. You’ve been through a lot, and you’re not indestructible.’

‘You’re not indestructible either.’

‘Some people have told me I am. Someone once told me I was never going to die.’

‘Did you believe them?’

‘At the time I didn’t understand what she meant. She said she’d made me into her best weapon. But that could all just be yet more false memories.’

‘Perhaps the best thing to do is just to believe your memories and not to ask yourself if they’re real or not.’

‘Easier said than done.’

‘I know,’ Lilibet says, puts a hand on Aggie’s shoulder. ‘I’m sure you’ll get there.’ She looks around, the lights of the car park throwing orange circles onto the frosted ground. ‘The beach. I don’t live far from here.’

‘That was lucky then,’ Aggie says, and her head suddenly feels heavier than it should, and her heart feels like it might stop.

‘Are you ok? You’ve gone really pale. I told you to take a break.’

‘It’s not tiredness,’ Aggie says. ‘It’s time that’s gone too quickly.’ She looks into Lilibet’s eyes and hopes she’ll understand

Lilibet doesn’t avoid the gaze. ‘We can walk to the house from here. Probably safer that way. And the fresh air will be good for both of us.’ She smiles. ‘Everything will be the way we want it to be.’ She opens the door and jumps out. ‘It’s not as cold as it looks.’

Aggie pushes her bulk slowly out of the door on her side of the car. Her heaviness of heart dissipates with her first gulp of the fresh air, laden as it is withe the scents of seaweed, salt, and the wide-ooen sea. ‘Take me to your house then. I pray your children are there.’

‘So do I.’ Lilibet takes Aggie’s hand and squeezes it, doesn’t let go.

Aggie feels Lilibet’s warmth coursing through from just this one point of contact. Her smooth skin feels like silk in Aggie’s paw. She looks down at their joined hands, surprised to see Lilibet’s enveloping hers entirely. Her breath catches.

‘Should I let go?’

Aggie mutely shakes her head.

‘Good. Because I don’t want to.’

Aggie wants to ask her why, but bites down the question, wants nothing more than to savour this moment, and store it in her mind forever.

They stroll along the path through the dunes, past one end of a golf course, joined hands and arms swinging in an easy rhythm, a rhythm as old as the ages. As they walk off the dunes and into Christies Lane, the sun begins to rise behind them, and when Aggie looks at the pavement, their shadows are almost the same height.

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