05 October 2006

a story

they're on a mediterranean island, one with windy curvy streets that don't seem to make sense and they constantly get lost (never finding the proper restaurants in their guidebook) but always ending up at their private room at their tiny hotel (or villa, as it's called) just when they're about to give up. they don't know the language, and as this isn't the most touristy of the islands, they keep quiet and she speaks with the few words she's learned from the guidebook. five months ago, when they bought the tickets, he promised to learn enough greek to get them around, "hopefully on a basic level or even intermediate level," he said, spending $75 on language cds that he listened to once.

this was only a symbol.

they slept late, made love or rushed straight to the beach, eating sticky pastries for morning sustanance. on the beach, she tanned topless like the other women, and he slathered sunscreen on her back for her. she read thick complicated novels while he dozed or read pablo neruda. they would head over to the cafe on the beach, sitting in the sand, eating thick slices of bread, large salads topped with enormous chunks of feta cheese, and other local specialties that they often weren't sure what it was, but it was good. then they would head back to their towels or chairs, relax in the sun, maybe splash in the waves. as the sun headed down, he would flag down one of the waitstaff circulating the beach in shorts with drink trays and order them two drinks. they would drink their drinks, watching the sunset. then they would dance at the outdoor club or head back to their room to nap. when they'd wake up, they'd take turns showering in the tiny cubicle, get ready to go out to eat, late like the locals. sometimes they'd make love, but often, he would want to when clearly she had put too much time into her appearance to get mussed making love. they would eat dinner, then walk the confusing windy streets again, get wine at a local wine bar, talking in low tones to each other. if he wasn't too tired, they'd make love when they got back to their hotel.

so the making love time was often a maybe.

more often a no.

on this vacation, they enjoyed themselves. after eight days, he picked a fight with her in a restaurant. she was not responding, disgusted at his behavior. "this is not working. it's not working," he paused and addressed the other diners, "it's not working because you are a bitch." he threw several notes on the table, and left. she sat there, waiting, tears in her eyes.

he did not come back, although she waited for him to.

she finished her meal. the waiter came over and offered two dessert wines. she drank them both. she asked for the bill, and paid with the notes he had carelessly thrown at her. she took her time, sipping gently, ignoring the other diners staring, wondering "what does "bitch' mean?" in their language. her face burned, she had a lump in her throat: she would not cry.

outside the gate of the restaurant, he stood there. "i'm sorry but you were being a bitch. anyone would agree with me." she said nothing.
"i don't know the way back to our room. look, i'm sorry. i love you, okay?"

"okay," she said in a small voice. she tasted the sweet dessert wine in her mouth and wanted more.

back in their room, he was not too tired to make love, but she said she was. she went to sleep quickly.

when they woke up the next morning, they made love. they did not talk about their fight. they bought sticky pastries and bitter coffee and ate their breakfast at the ocean. they went swimming. they tanned. they took naps in the sun.

they made love again.

they made love again.

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