Where the road ends | Part 2

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The screams draw nearer. When they arrive at my door, loud bangs on it follow. I'm still trying to decide whether I'm in danger, and it's out of caution that l get off the bed to look for something to dress - when a screaming woman stumbles inside the room, as the door opens under her blows.

Upon leaving, Daniela probably did not close the door properly - intending to return, perhaps?

We are both paralyzed, as we take in each other's presence.

She falls silent, but her mouth remains open from the last shout.

I'm under full light, coming from the wide-open door behind her. She stares at me, at my nakedness, and when she hesitates, I realize I am not the person she was expecting to find.

The woman is only a silhouette against the bright daylight. I can't distinguish her face, but I do see the side of her dress is drenched with blood, the cloth clinging tight to her plump body. Fresh blood.

And I sense something is going to happen. To my body.

"Stelios!" The woman screams, taking two steps in my direction.

I won't move - I can't move.

"No." I mumble, shaking my head.

"Stelios!" She demands, taking more steps towards me. Blinded by her rage, or be it the obscurity, she nearly tumbles over the bed, that detains her. When she brandishes the shiny knife she is holding tight in her left hand, I see blood drip on the white sheets.

Something else drips, just then. I try to control it, but in seconds the drops turn into a steady flow of warm liquid down my thighs, and soon a pool is encircling my feet.

*****



-II-


Her silver, curly hair is cut so short that I mistook her for a man. And since no Greek woman would wear her hair à la garçonne in that part of the country, I instantly assume she is a foreigner like me.

"You have come a long way!" She exclaims when I approach the car, still holding my backpack against my chest as an improvised shield. Her English sounds fluent.

"You bet!" I bend to peer inside the vehicle, and the first thing I notice is her one wide, glistening green eye. Not that the woman is one-eyed. She is wearing glasses with removable dark lenses over them - and the right one is missing. The effect is comically weird, but that's how I discover her right eye is smiling at me. Encouraged, I say "I am headed to-"

"I know you are!" She won't let me even pronounce the name of the village. "There is nothing else on the other side of this mountain, darling!"

"Would you mind-"

She cuts me off. "Hop in!"

I inspect my skinned knees, as I wait while the shopping bags littering the passenger's seat are thrown onto the back seat, where plenty more bags and boxes already pile. In the process, things fall onto the floor, but she doesn't seem to mind.

As I enter, I find the floor littered with different things. Books, maps, a blue jug, packages of brown sugar-a wig? I hardly find space to place my feet, without stepping onto any object, and I realize I'll have to hold my backpack on my lap.

"I just lost it!" She indicates her glasses, and is again fumbling at the floor under her feet for the fallen lens. "I almost ran over you, didn't I? I'm sorry, darling. It was not my intention to scare you."

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