Postcards from Greece

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

postcards from greece


“I’m a big-ass feminist,” proclaims the sixteen-year-old tourist, his enthusiasm leaping through the stacks and first editions displayed at Atlantis Books, in Oia, Greece. “I’m a drama student,” he says in demi-pointe. “But I don’t like Shakespeare. He’s a dick. Romeo and Juliette is a parody of love. I want to go to university in the U.S.” He glissades into the next room. “I have to get out of Bahrain.”

A large, ruddy man fills a Santorini-to-Crete ferry seat and overflows into the next one. A standing woman smiles, gesticulates, and says in a language the man does not know, “I believe this seat is mine.” His jowls assume a belligerent stance and he settles his bulk deeper into F3. She tries to convince him, proffering her ticket, tightening her smile into a scowl. He adjusts some phlegm. Another man, across from him, equally red of face but two-thirds the person, says to him in a language she does not know, “Don’t be a jerk; just move over,” and he tousles the hair on his miniature version sitting beside him. The larger man hefts into the next seat. The woman takes possession of F3 and starts her new book. The boy inflates himself with a family-size, chocolate-iced pastry.

Two women, plump with age and abandon, dine at a beachside taverna, while grandchildren wander, gathering sand. The women laugh and scold and drink to themselves, bend heads together in randy prayer. Eating baked potatoes as delicate fruit, they peel back the skin, probe the white meat with eager fingers, and kiss the tender flesh from its rind, laughing again.

She’s uncertain: Did the servers greet them with hugs and the double cheek kiss because she and her companions are swell or because last night they tipped as though they were in the U.S.?

The shopkeepers’ son, a small boy of large, dark eyes, pokes at a kitten with a stick. Across the street, servers and guests half watch through a veil of cooling drinks, warm sea breeze, the scent of fish frying. He grabs the cat and squeezes it, drops it and resumes his poking. They cluck their tongues, wonder why he is not controlled by nearby parents, determine to save the kitten, to take it home and make it theirs. Then the food arrives.

She awakes before the sun and rises into the soft sounds of a sleeping house, presses a cup of coffee and tiptoes to the patio. Adorned in grapevines sweet with fruit, it's surrounded by olive trees and stalking cats, survivors of taunting children. The cicadas’ roar silenced by night, she can hear the music of turtle doves cooing from tamarisk trees, the Sea of Crete drumming pebbles to the shore and roiling them away, the crescendo and diminuendo of passing cars, the cadence of a holiday coming to an end. The sun appears and the cicadas’ timbals beat a new song.