Where the road ends | Part 1

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Screams. Just outside my door. In Greek, so that I don't understand a thing.

But I do recognize one of the voices. Her place at my bed is still warm, left vacant.

Was she trying to sneak out on me?

*****


-I-


"How do you like Daniel?"

"It sounds okay..."

We should have considered names for the baby. But I do like my wife's only suggestion. What I don't like is the fact that she has resumed smoking, just one day after giving birth. She did quit during pregnancy, and I had hoped it was forever.

"I'm not breastfeeding the baby. Daniel, I mean."

She immediately sounds defensive, upon noticing my glare on her cigarette. She stands outside, on the small balcony, when she should be on the bed. Resting, to restore her forces. But by the way she sucks intently on the lighted cylinder, she must believe that only her vice shall kindle her.

"I am not breastfeeding him." She states again, turning her back on me, so that I won't see as she pulls. But I can still watch the smoke rising. Worst, I obviously smell it. So shall the nurses, and the doctors. But it is not my problem, is it, that the chilly breeze arches the smoke into the room? For a moment I consider shutting the glass door, but won't do it. I realize she is barefoot on the cold tiles, but don't mention it. I know she'll sulk at my concern. She hates when I try to protect her from herself. It has happened so many times before that I recognize when I'm functioning on that impulse, and refrain from acting.

"Daniel." She repeats, and I wonder what she is thinking of our new situation, now that we have finally become a family.

I don't want her to come up with justifications for anything she wants to do. They sound awfully more like excuses for the things she doesn't want to do. For my part, I am ready to take on responsibilities. All of them - or as many as I can. As many as a man can.

Instead of starting an argument, I engage with that name. It's a happy day. My son is here, and he has a name. I don't have any friend or relative named Daniel. But there is something familiar in that name for me...

When I glance at the sofa where the layette is arranged in a neat pile, the soft white tricot decorated with royal blue ribbons around the neck, the sleeves and the feet, the bells of my memory start tolling.

Of course.

Daniela.

How long haven't I thought of her?

*****

"Today no bus." The thin guy behind the tiny counter informs me. Smoothing his arched mustache, he eyes me with curiosity and doubt, a mix that I often find stamped on faces all over this country.

"No buses run on Wednesdays, then?" I am trying to understand. A heavy accent makes his basic English even harder to grasp. But I am not complaining.

"Yes, bus run Wednesday." It is a long, difficult word, and he stutters.

"Well, then? Isn't it today-" Supposing it is the abbreviation for the week's days written in Greek, I point at the calendar behind him, "Wednesday?"

"Today full moon."

"And?"

"Crazy village. No for tourists. You crazy?"

"I am." I smile, defiantly. "That's why I want to go there."

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