a single word is an invitation
Pitre was one of the few who followed the King into the mountains of Albania. Now his home village of Sphakia brands him a traitor.
“Death!” They shout. “You returned but your friends did not.”
The winter months of February and March on the isle of Crete are extremely cold. The snow lies thick on the ground and the city folk return to their ‘horio’ to tend to the olive harvest. Oniro Mellos of Larissa was one of those, albeit on the mainland near Thessaloniki where her olives were not a mere patch, but a giant orchard. Throughout Greece the olive tree is the symbol of ancient ways binding the people in a common courage to withstand the forces of separation and difference.
This is Crete
The Crete of Rodino’s birth and the very place where sky touches earth and life erupts. Along this forsaken coast the Son of Xanos burns insane in the twisted wreckage of his dreams.
In the Tradition of Honor
The lies fabricated against Pitre cannot be challenged and the crowd bay for his execution. He topples forward his face on the cold stones of the courtyard.
An old man loads the body onto a donkey
Rodnio hears the tinkling of the donkey bell coming closer and closer and watches from the goat enclosure. Felice appears in the kitchen doorway and collapses shivering uncontrollably. She gathers herself and indicates for the old man to wait hurrying back into the kitchen returning to hand him a coin.
“Thank you,” she manages to whisper.
Inside the house Pitre’s body lies on the kitchen table. Felice and Apolonia sponge him down from a pot of hot water. Maria leans over Pitre’s head stroking his hair. Rodino enters and stares at the hole where the bullet had struck his father’s chest. No one cries and no one talks, they do what they have to do in dignity and silence.
Felice brings Pitre’s army uniform and they dress him. Maria tries to stick the feather from his hat between his fingers, but it falls to the floor and she leaves it there. They carry him into the open fields beyond the vegetable garden and the outer wall where Rodino digs a shallow grave and they lay him to rest and pile stones over his body until they cannot see him anymore. Maria sits flat-legged on the ground throwing her little stones one by one onto the pile.
Rodino remembers the time Pitre had made a fist and Rodino had copied him and made two fists holding them above his head. So their goodbye that day was done and so it is today.
And the coldest months begin
On the second night Felice forgets to make the scratch on the wall marking the days of Pitre’s absence, but unbeknown to her Apolonia keeps count, making the scratches that she knows will bring her father home and in so doing entering into the passage of time and the holding of hope.
- I am a Soldier and I think as a Soldier (sonofxanos.wordpress.com)
- The Cretan Dagger a dying art
- Travel with a Challenge