I had been out rowing the Stella, a small, creaking boat, in the
waters off the holy island of Tinos, the Lourdes of the Aegean. I was
escaping the constant arguments with my wife about money, or rather
the lack of it. Nine months after closing down our bookshop in Athens,
visiting the island seemed our best strategy: she would be praying for
a job, while I, a sworn atheist, would be avoiding the strikers – who
did have jobs, after all!
Following our breakfast argument, I took Nikos’ boat out to let off
steam. He was asleep when I started off, as he is up all night
fishing. I knew he wouldn’t mind.
Then my eye fell on a golden, filigreed cross the thickness of my
little finger stuck between the boards. My mouth opened. I pictured it
around my wife’s neck, a peace offering. I could see her looking at me
Mesmerized, I couldn’t stop staring at it. The answer to our prayers –
so to speak – given to me on a borrowed boat. This brought me back to
reality. It must have been meant for Nikos to find, not me. The
thought pierced me like a knife. By this time, I had turned the boat
around. Numerous belfries were pointing upwards. I fought with the
currents and with myself.
I knew she’d kill me if I kept it; she’d kill me if I didn’t. And this
was the first time I set foot in a Church.
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