It had, of course, totally passed me by that I have now been writing this daily for over half a year. The truth is that I didn’t really think I’d be able to keep going at any sort of consistency, and am proud of myself for doing so. And even prouder of the fact that I came up with the idea of Aggie, and that she is going in directions I hadn’t anticipated when she was born out of a single thought I had (or she implanted in my head) which was that to be happy meant not thinking at all (which we all, including her, have difficulty with). We will see on 31st December where she finishes up – well, I will; you’ll have to buy the book to read the ending.
Last full day here, and I am full of sadness (and apprehension over the travel, apprehension I never really feel when travelling alone; apprehension I can’t explain or rationalise). Part of me is glad we’re going – I will not miss the daily morning routine of smearing gloopy sun cream onto the parts of me which will be exposed to the sun (direct or reflected); I will certainly not miss the fact that the hotel bar (and other places) are turning into English pubs, albeit 1,700 miles.from England, and I’m hearing accents and voices and views I’d rather not hear.
I will miss too many things to list, and when we come back (if we come back, as life is full of vagaries) I will make a greater effort to speak and understand Greek (the remembered realisation that rhythm is as much a part of a language as pronunciation has come a bit late again this time round). And of course I’ll miss doing nothing while trying to do something. I’m disappointed I haven’t finished the short story (or even got into the meat of it), and wonder if I’ll be able to write it based on all the notes I do have when I’m no longer in the heat and chatter and benevolence of this place. Part of me does believe this is a blessed place, although the cynical and frightened part of me is already putting a cage around that emotion so I don’t totally break down when we do leave. It’s an old cliché, but it’s the truest of all – partir, ç’est toujours un peu mourir.
I’m glad we came here. I have been illuminated in many unexpected ways.
PS – It’s now gone 16:30. I had planned, after finishing an awful thriller by someone who should know better, to read something good all day. Instead, I have written all day, written so much on the short story (tentatively called OPPOSITES), which looks like it might become a novella instead, that I ran out of characters in the Keep Notes app on my phone and I had to start a new one. Still quicker than long-hand. I also have café Giorgos’ address now because I promised him I would send him something when we got home. I’d better finish this short story/novella fast so I can send him a signed ms of it. However ridiculous it sounds, my heart is heavy. But better to care too easily than not care at all.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 138
‘It’s a two-seater training aircraft,’ Aggie says. ‘How did you get in?’
‘That ladder with wheels on it was next to it, and the cockpit top open.’ Lilibet points at the ladder on the other side of the hangar, incongruously parked up against the curve of wall and ceiling.
‘Did you look into the back seat before you sat down?’
‘I … I can’t remember.’
‘And the girls?’
‘They were keeping watch right at the front door. They were indulging me, and we didn’t think anything bad would happen.’
‘Always the way,’ Aggie says. ‘It’s not natural to be on your guard all the time.’
‘Not like you.’
‘Like I keep saying, I’m not natural.’
‘That’s not how you seem to me. Just a bit hyper all the time.’
‘I won’t know till I’ve seen you naked.’ Lilibet blushes.
‘You don’t want to see me naked.’
‘I think I do.’
Aggie plants a quick kiss on Lilibet’s mouth, bounds across the hangar, wheels back the ladder, and slides it into place next to the plane. ‘We’ll see.’
‘What? Nakedness or cockpit?’
‘Cockpit,’ Aggie says. ‘Priorities.’
Lilibet smiles sadly. ‘You’re right, of course.’
‘Hardly ever.’ Aggie clambers up the ladder, releases the cockpit latch, and the cover rises slowly, almost soundlessly, just a slight hydraulic hiss. She climbs in carefully, into the back seat first, sits down in the trainer’s place, surpeised she fits. ‘Mmm, very roomy.’
Lilibet, who has by now climbed to the top of the ladder, looks at her, lifts her leg to climb into the front seat.
‘No!’ Aggie holds out her hand. ‘There’s something weird here.’
Lilibet stops, brings her leg back out of the plane, sits down on the platform at the top of the ladder, her face level with Aggie’s. ‘What is it?’
‘I don’t know yet. Give me a minute.’ Aggie’s head disappears below the edge of the cockpit. ‘Did you close down the hatch?’ Her voice is muffled.
‘No,’ Lilibet says to the now empty-looming cockpit.
‘Ok.’ There’s a sound of rummaging. ‘Ah. Interesting.’
‘Hang on.’ Clanking and ripping sounds. Silence. More mechanical sounds. ‘Gotcha.’ Aggie’s head reappears, and she has wires and levers in her hands, and something that looks like part of an air gun or humane killer. ‘There wasn’t anyone in the back seat.’ She lifts up her right hand. ‘Spring-loaded mechanism. As soon as soneone sits on the front seat, bang, tranquillizer dart through the thin seat back. Thank you, and good night.’
‘And the girls?’
‘We’ll need to ask your mother and them what exactly happened. Someone must have distracted them or something. Or just very quietly taken you out through where we came in while they were looking out of he front door.’
‘But why? I could have been anyone, not someone who’d been in the Special Forces.’
Aggie climbs out of the cockpit still clutching all the bits she tore from behind the front seat, sits down next to Lilibet. ‘To be honest, I don’t think they were targeting you. Those devices lend anyone almost superhuman abilities. I think they just target the inquisitive and those with a bit of initiative.’
‘That’s what I wonder, too,’ Aggie says. ‘And its apparent similarity with where I was kept is what’s really worrying me right now.’