He wants me to play dead in a clearing on Hymettos, under the open sky. I lie down on a flat rock surrounded by anemones and chamomile, and he spreads my hair in a fan shape. ‘You are so pale,’ he says, as if he sees me for the first time. He arranges my limbs in different positions, and I can assure you his touch is clearly academic. He walks around the rock to look at me from different angles, talking all the time about aesthetics. His vowels are precise, his sigmas soft and his nus ring of the best education money can buy.
He drags a finger over the childhood scar on my knee, asks how I got it. I could invent a heroic story; but the rock is smooth, the sun gracious, the breeze carries the scent of thyme, so I just tell him the truth: I don’t remember. He’ll think I’m lying anyway.
His finger now follows my veins, starting from my wrist and traveling upwards until he reaches the web of angry blue that spreads on the inside of my elbow. Blood test, clumsy nurse. I don’t go into details. This is all about the skin, not what’s happening underneath. There is a stinging gleam in his eyes when he asks if it hurts. His thumb presses slightly on the bruise; I give him an exaggerated flinch and he withdraws. He suspects that if he really tried to make it hurt, I’d be making ribbons for my hair out of his face.
He lies on top of me, fully clothed, flat like a plain. ‘Pale,’ he says, ‘cool-skinned and with a heartbeat so faint it’s almost dead.’ Mouth against my ear, ‘Vrykólakas‘ he whispers. Even though his breath is warm, his sigma snakes through clenched teeth and bites. A tiny muscle twitches on my upper lip.
The next moment I laugh so hard and wide the mountain echoes; birds stop their chirping and take flight. ‘Impale me then,’ I say, shaking with laughter. ‘Why don’t you?’
He rolls away from me, thinks we should be going. I don’t do him the favor though before I show him by my own hand what an orgasm out of sarcasm is like. When I’m done, I put my clothes on with deliberate slowness – a reverse strip tease. Then, without another glance at his faint, lifeless face, I take the path down to where we left the car. He follows like a good boy.
It’s a quiet winding drive down to the city. He keeps his eyes on the road; I look out the window. As we reach the outskirts of Kessariani, the sky starts to pulse. Gold flows into the blue, making it transparent. Tides of gold over the white of buildings and sidewalks, pink glinting off side mirrors, glaring off glass doors. We stop at traffic lights. From the car next to us the first notes of Debussy’s Rêverie unfold, and we look at each other. We smile luminous. Smooth and easy. Together. And I think I feel. I think I know.
He wants to take me home; I say I’d rather walk.
We promise to call each other soon, but we won’t.
As a gift.
Basilike Pappa lives in Greece. She likes her coffee black, her walls painted green and blue, her books old or new. She despises yellow curtains and red tape. She can’t live without chocolate, flowers and her dog. Places she can be found are: kitchen, office, living room. If she’s not at home, I don’t know where she is. You can find Basilike up late with a notebook in the Silent Hour.