I was never one of those girls. Deep in my envious moments I’d wanted to be one of them: the cheerleaders and popular ones who never missed a dance or special memory and always had someone by their side.
I’d had boyfriends in high school but mine were the funny ones with pimples or the tall, painfully thin lawyer-wanna-be. In college I had crash and burn relationships and played that out for years after. My sad yearnings for someone special seemed to be based on romantic movies and never on what real life had to offer.
Daniel appeared at the taverna the evening after our walk to say he was leaving. “Naples calls. Should I bring you back some pasta?”
“Are you serious?” I was dumbfounded. “You’re moving to Italy?”
“Not moving silly, sailing.” He was sitting at the wood table in the kitchen; he had katta in his arms and making him purr loudly. I was pulling pork ribs from the grill, trying not to splatter sauce and cause kitchen fires. My wrist had a weltering burn from an earlier mistake.
“Okay, so you’re sailing to Italy. And then?”
“And then I’m sailing back.” He was grinning like it was a great joke but his eyes were intent. “It’s what I do. I like to sail.”
“Then you sail.” I shrugged. “Sounds like fun.”
“It is fun, you should go with me.”
“Well I think Italy might take me away from a new life for too long.”
“Not Italy but maybe some of the islands here when I get back.”
“If you come back.”
Katta hit the floor with all four feet and Daniel was up, his hands grasping my shoulders and turning me to him. “I’ll be back Kate. And I’ll expect you to be waiting for me. Just because I sail doesn’t mean anything changes between us.”
“Be careful,” I said trying not to crack a smile. “Stavros seems to be getting quite attached to me.”
“Tell him I don’t share.” Daniel let go of my shoulders. “And tell him you’re not interested in anyone that isn’t me.”
“You assume,” I said turning back to my cooking.
“I don’t have to assume when you can’t hide your feelings.” Unexpectedly his arms circled me and his face was warm against mine. “Miss me, okay?”
I thought of a million sharp answers, multiple ways to wound and draw blood. Instead I said, “I will.”
I refused to be ruled by waiting. I did have a new life and so it seems, did Min. After a morning prepping food at Aristotle’s I came home to find Oscar had befriended a Felix.
“Why are there two chickens?”
“I was afraid Oscar might be lonely.” Min was planting strange looking roots into the ground, tips pointing up. She was leaving a lot of space between them.
“I don’t think chickens are naturally social animals. What the fuck are those things?”
“Grapes.” She wiped the back of her hand across her brow. Her nails were ragged and dirty.
“We’re going to have grapes?”
“Not for a long time. It can be years before they produce fruit. But one day we’ll be able to just reach out and pick our own grapes. Or even make grape jelly.”
“Insanity,” I clucked. “So any other surprises?”
“Not really. I got the garlic and onions planted. Makis is going to bring me lettuce and a variety of beans.”
“Sounds wonderful.” The sun was passing over and the intense heat of the day was passing. I was drowsy in the afternoon and loved the feeling of the heavy lethargy sinking my body down and losing myself in a soft doze.
“It’s going to be amazing.” Min was moving but I was drifting. “Is it okay if I borrow your silver watch? I misplaced mine.”
I muttered something in assent. If I said anything at all. I never heard anything else Min said but when I woke I was alone in the courtyard and it was time to get back to work.