I always wanted a sister. My mother had given me both a younger sister and older brother but they might as well have been strangers, from distance in miles and distance in our hearts. Min had become my sister almost immediately, through shared thoughts, interests and long distance affection.
It was a shock to realize she was a stranger.
We ended up with take-out chicken in a bucket and sodas from the vending machine in a dingy motel close to the airport. Min’s tampon box savings was a surprising windfall that paid for her ticket and would help swing the hotel rooms we’d need till we got to our destination.
“The island is called Dyvos.” I tore skin from the chicken in little bits and ate each slowly. “It’s not a major island, it’s pretty much owned by one family who has one of the largest olive orchards in all of Greece.”
“Okay.” Min spooned up a dollop of potatoes and spoke around them. “I could probably get a job picking olives.” She flexed her fingers and I had to laugh.
“Well here’s the thing.” God, I hated this. I’d thrown everything in my life out of whack in a spurt of dissatisfaction and Min had now thrown it even further south. And I knew she wasn’t going to be ready for my confession. “We kind of have a job.”
“You bought a house and got a job lined up?” She looked at me with admiration, undeserved admiration.
“The house was part of a package deal.”
“How is a house a package deal?”
I shoved some chicken in my mouth to steal some time. Min was watching me and I swear, she looked so wary that is was all I could do not to throw myself at her feet and beg forgiveness.
I swallowed. “Well it’s like this. I didn’t buy the house actually. I bought the tavern and the house was thrown in the deal for an extra seven hundred dollars. It’s a bit of a fixer upper.”
“You bought a tavern?” She had that haunted look again.
“Well it’s called a taverna. Aristotle’s Taverna. It’s really more of a restaurant. We’re going to be restaurant owners.”
“What do you mean we?” Min picked the potatoes back up and spooned out a small amount. “I’m going to pick olives. You’re on your own Julia Child.”
We landed in Athens early in the morning, two lost American women stumbling blindly over their feet, completely overwhelmed with their choices.
We hadn’t slept in the motel and we both hid our tearful moments well. At one point as I was laying in the darkness, staring into my own depression, I saw Min in the muddy light reaching for the phone but after a heartbeat she retracted her hand.
I knew how she felt. I wanted to call someone to rescue me from my choice.
But we got on our plane the next day and Min pulled out a small envelope. “These are Patton’s sleeping pills,” she said. “I don’t plan on being awake on an international flight. You?”
I snorted. “And what about Patton?”
“Oh his doctor won’t do any early refills so he can have some sleepless nights. Maybe he’ll take the time to think how he could have been a better husband.”
“Why Min, how evil. I love that about you.”
If Patton was dependent on those for sleep then he’d probably be sleepless for awhile. They knocked us both out and we groggily made it off the plane and bumbled through our confusion.
“We take a boat to Mykonos,” I said looking at my paperwork, “and there’s a special ferry that will get us to Dyvos.”
“Can we see The Parthenon?”
I looked at the bags on the ground around us, the papers in my hand and I started to laugh. “Babycakes, we can do whatever the fuck we want. Let’s go see some ruins.”
Min smiled. “Start with a mirror babycakes, we’re pretty ruined ourselves.”
I grinned up at her. She was still pale and carrying that luggage under her eyes but there was a spark of life in the girl that had been missing before. “Speak for yourself Min,” I said bravely, “I’m 27 if I’m a day and as young as the day is new.”
Her laughter propelled us to the back of a cab and the beginning of our life in Greece.