The world likes to run on a routine. Waking early and lying alone in the slow silence of dawn; never before has the world been so peaceful.
Our water is cold and I learned to shower fast. I missed the luxury of long, hot showers but replaced it with the pleasure of lingering breakfasts on the hill. Min would be asleep and in a straw basket I’d pack a slice of bread, cheese and fruit. Sometimes Henry would meander behind me and I would feed him crusts and rinds.
That’s where Daniel found me, his long legs carrying him up the hill. I sat with my back against a tree; I was eating slices of melon, the sweet juice dripping all over my hands and coloring my lips.
Daniel looked darker, bronzed almost golden by the sun. His smile was wider and it kicked me in the stomach suddenly how much I’d been missing him.
“Hale hearty stranger,” I called, “where you been?”
“Stuck on the mainland. Give me.” He folded himself on the ground next to me and took a slice of melon.
“We missed you.”
“Did you?” He emphasized the word ‘you’ and I felt myself blush.
“You should come to Aristotle’s,” I said avoiding his question. “We’re actually doing a little business. Not a lot yet but its building. Slowly.”
“I’ll be there tonight.”
Well then. I fooled around with the bread I brought and ended up watching Daniel eat it and the cheese. He told me about sailing around the islands. He told me funny stories about people he’d met and mistakes he’d made.
I didn’t remember a word he said.
Shoosh was disgusted with me and left the kitchen through the back door. She left the door open, probably hoping I’d attract flies. I couldn’t explain it to myself but I was in a frenzy trying to make perfect food.
Min had shown me how to make a spicy barbeque sauce and I was sautéing peppers and garlic. We had chicken pieces spread across the grill; Shoosh had put pieces of olive tree bark over the coal for added fragrance.
A shout from outside caught my attention. There wasn’t often much noise outside during the day, not until the sun was on its way down and the air was rent with a cooling breeze did the world of Dyvos come to life. Otherwise those of us in the square did our business in the morning, closed for the early and hot afternoons and then returned to finish our days.
I left my peppers to cook without me and wandered to the open door. Christos was at his door, his face red with fury. We still had little conversation between us but as the butcher he received enough of my business that we were gaining a slight understanding.
“Pedi?” I asked, assuming perhaps a child was aggravating him. “Or myos?” I was proud to have learned the word for mouse but not how I had learned it which involved me standing on a table screaming while Tino laughed and Min chased the damned thing with a broom.
“Katta!” Christos was a thin man but his voice boomed. He continued to speak but I understood maybe one word in fifteen and that word was katta, or cat.
“What happened, you allergic?” I knew he didn’t understand me but that was okay. To have such a strong reaction to a cat offended me. I missed having cats, I had grown up surrounded by them and after my mother died I had kept her cat until it passed away from old age.
“Good luck with the mouser,” I said saucily, throwing a wave at him. I ducked back into the kitchen and to my peppers which I took off the heat. I fished out a small plate and from the small refrigerator took out our paltry bit of cow’s milk. With only one cow on the island (which had arrived on the same day as Min and I and had been much more welcomed) the milk was a precious commodity. I knew I could have used the goat’s milk which was plentiful but this was more than just cats and Kates.
I returned to my peppers and garlic and added the vinegar and ground mustard seed. As that sautéed I brushed the chicken with honey.
I knew Shoosh would return in time to make the lamb and rice she made daily. Min had been by earlier and we had sat and chopped the slaw as we talked about nonsense. We were both lost in unshared thoughts, despite everything I didn’t know how to tell her what I was feeling. I didn’t completely understand it myself.
But Min had said nothing when I added the pomegranate seeds to the slaw and I didn’t try to keep her when she left earlier than usual. “I’ve got some garlic to plant,” she murmured.
“Near the dovecote?”
She ignored me, as I deserved to be ignored, and she slipped out the door moments later.
Were we both finding ourselves in this lost world of ours?
I added the sugar and water to the sauce I was making and the cooked down tomato. Then that was brushed over the chicken as well. I would continue to brush the honey and then the sauce over the chicken as it cooked.
I needed to choose a salad for the night but I was tired of the onions and cabbage, the olives and cheese that made our diets. I thought of Daniel’s lips glistening with the juice of a melon slice and decided on fruit. Melon balls, cucumbers slivered delicately and curling around the plate. Apples and honey to dip them into.
I almost didn’t see him as I was so lost in my own thoughts. “Well well,” I said aloud, “looks like we have our first customer of the day.”
The scrawny katta didn’t even look up from the milk he was lapping. I smiled and got the melons out.
I wonder if anyone else felt it. The air cooled and the taverna doors and windows opened. Shoosh had made her pot of rice and she sniffed unhappily at the fruit salads I placed in front of our customers. I heard her whispered complaint to Elena even though I didn’t understand it.
“The chicken is amazing,” Min whispered to me.
“Why are you whispering?”
She flushed and it wasn’t the heat of the kitchen. Elena and her husband Stavros were there as they were every night, tonight Christos and his wife and son were customers. We had a small group of the younger set taking a table near a window; they were crazy about the barbeque and demanded ‘more America food’. People would wander in throughout the evening and most would stay put, ordering retsina and lemon cake.
Daniel had come in early, his large body taking up a small table to the side and stealing much of the air from my lungs. His hair was still wet from a shower; small curls clung to his neck. His white shirt was unbuttoned enough to show sun darkened skin. His eyes sought me out immediately and spoke eloquently without words. My stomach was jittering in response.
“Do you want me to serve him?” Min asked. There was laughter in her words and I ignored her. I took a plate of salad and went to his table.
“Nice to see you.”
“Kate.” He sat up straighter and reached out. I flushed; I hadn’t expected that he would take my hand in front of everyone. I reached out to take his hand and almost groaned as he took the plate from me instead. “Are you okay? You’re red.”
“Cooking.” I waved a hand in front of my face. “Cooking makes me hot.”
“Will you cook for me then?”
“Daniel. Kate.” Nick had entered and I hadn’t noticed.
“Landlord Nick.” I loved to tease the man; I don’t think many people ever did. “Did you find out anything about getting us beer?”
“Beer?” Daniel grinned. “I love beer.”
“Of course you do,” I said dismissively as Nick made a similar comment. “Nick, sit?” I moved away from the other chair at Daniel’s table but Nick was scouring the taverna.
“No,” he murmured, “I think I’ll say hello to Alex.” He wandered away from us but seemed to be zeroed in on Min whose face was turning the color of her hair.
“Somehow I think Alex might feel ignored.” I turned back to Daniel who was watching Nick.
Daniel’s eyes lifted from Nick and he looked at me in the way that made my stomach dance again. “Will you meet me tomorrow again? I’d like to show you something.”
“Is this a pick up line?”
“If I said yes would I have a better chance of you showing up?”
“I don’t know what to do with you,” I said quietly.
“I have ideas…”
It was exciting and uncomfortable, truly it was wonderful and terrible all together and I wanted to run away as well as sit and never move. However a new customer in the doorway provided me the escape I needed. He was most definitely not Greek and not from the island as his trousers and loafers, and wrinkled white shirt with long sleeves could attest. He looked like a tourist who missed his boat and I inwardly winced for him.
“Hi there, welcome to Aristotle’s,” I said chirpily, “can I help you?”
“Yes,” he said in a slow drawl, “have you seen my wife?”
I was ready to reply to the negative when a crash of dishes answered for me. I turned to see Min at the door to the kitchen, the tray she had been carrying on the ground and broken pottery and spilled food a mosaic at her feet.
“Patton,” she said in the sudden silence and I wanted to cry.