Category Archives: Stella Pierides

Confession by Stella Pierides

The lake sparkled. Puffs of cloud travelled on its surface. The mountains were wrapped in haze, as if wishing to hide from view.

I walked on the pier listening to the water swishing through reeds and lapping to the shore. I thought a big branch floated ahead. Shocked, I realized it was Johannes, our local war hero gone missing.

He was still dressed in black, as always since he returned from the war. Facing down as if obsessed with the bottom of the lake, he rose and fell with the water. He’d been my hero too, though whatever else transpired between us in the past was no longer there.

He had come back another man, spending his time by the lake fending off imaginary enemies. Youths teased him and asked him about the war. But he never answered them.

The mountains across the lake now looked as if sitting in judgment. I found a piece of wood and, leaning over, tried to pull him towards me. A water snake slithering away frightened me and I swayed to avoid falling in. I stood there feeling guilty, as if I had violated him with my branch.

Once the water settled, I saw he was now turned sideways, the way he shyly used to turn whenever I tried to catch his eye, before he went away. At that moment, I saw shades of dark red, and dusky purple on his face, and I thought, I must confess, that these colors suited him.

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Fishing by Stella Pierides

If you are looking for a disaster story, stop reading right here. Turn the page, if you can. Make yourself a cup of coffee. This story is not about disasters, or even little unhappiness. In all truth, it is not even a story. You know, it has no plot. It is just me writing and you reading. What did you expect?

I am reminded of a cute little tale, but this is neither the place, nor the time. May I show you my home? Look around you. The Isfahani rug, by the fireplace, is priceless. That globe on my desk was once aboard the Nostromo, in the captain’s cabin. As a child, I used to spend hours tracing with my finger the Amazon, the Thames, and the Nile.

I hope you like the sound of the waves crushing on the rocks below. For me, it is the music of the seas. From your face, I can see you like my home. I am never alone up here. Many like you visit me. Sleepless, they scour the internet and stumble upon my doorstep, expecting sympathy, a little entertainment, even excitement. Well, I say to them, and to you, well, you should’ve stayed in bed, should’ve snuggled up to your wife, should’ve appreciated your sweet home. Why? Because by now, my homemade virus XFauDE.xe has bored into your computer and infected your system. Because, by now, your soul’s essence, together with your passwords, is downloaded onto my computer.

Thank you for visiting!

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Cold front by Stella Pierides

In our part of the world, the weather is unpredictable. It has defied
the best of our weathermen. Except, of course, Tim Bates, at least for
a while. But then, no need to tell you that story, is there?

I see a question mark on your face. OK, you are not from these parts,
and you’ve come a long way. Internet roads are long and littered with
all sorts of bits and pieces. I’ll tell you. He always got the weather
wrong in the beginning of his career. Young Tim’s wrong again, we used
to say, winking. He had a cute way of admitting his mistakes every
night on the box. He was devastated, though; ambitious little thing he
was.

So, they say, he made a deal with the devil. He promised him his soul
in return for precise weather reports. That’s how he made his career.

Then the devil changed his mind. He had a better offer from a
weatherwoman. He gave her the right information, and Tim the cold
shoulder. Poor man! Suddenly, he got his predictions wrong again and
had to apologise. We could all read the fury in his face. He didn’t
last long. The corporation sacked him. He now spends his days on his
riverboat fishing, they say. I know it is true. I often set up tackle
downstream on the towpath. I hear him sigh a lot. And he wears a heavy
coat all year round, as if expecting a cold front.

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Written by Stella Pierides

Even though Nikolas was born on an island – which he left at 18 to study abroad – he hated the sea. He never swam in it, or even walked by this unpredictable medium. Water was not his element. It introduced a level of uncertainty for which he was constitutionally unprepared. You can imagine his surprise when his publisher asked him to write a novel set by the sea, with boats, swimmers, fish and sand in it. Add the whole damn lot, he had said, even sea shells. Even sea shells. Nikolas, despite bearing the name of the patron saint of the seafarers, felt his heart sink. However, not wanting to miss a deal in this climate, he bought a ticket for one of the most advanced, and at the same time exotic islands on earth, which was bound to inspire and inject vigor in his writing. An island so far removed from his everyday life that it was bound to help him overcome his hydrophobia: Japan.

It took a lot of courage for him to stay in the quiet fishing village. He forced himself to walk next to his imaginary foe, learned to breath-in deeply the salty air and watch the sunrise over the horizon. In fact, when the tsounami surprised him, he had been standing right next to the sea, lost in thought, marveling at two tiny sea shells in the palm of his hand.

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Empathy and other human traits by Stella Pierides

After falling through the rafters and getting trapped under heavy perches, Lucky was rescued three days later and adopted into a happy home. Being both smart and considerate, she settled in well, and became her savior Molly’s pet. Despite appearances though, she never liked the Badedas bath she was regularly given. It smelled strange to her, too human. Why didn’t Molly use it herself instead, Lucky wondered. But she would not count her blessings.

She knew she had been lucky. She had watched the other 11,999 chickens in the factory suffer; she had felt their terror, together with her own, when they were all taken to be turned into something humans call ‘stock cubes.’ She had squeezed herself to the furthest corner. When she fell, she just became numb. At heart, she is indeed a chicken. If Molly knew her secret of survival, she would not admire Lucky. She would pity her.

It was all down to the fact that Lucky dislikes crowds. In the barn, the more the other chickens flocked together, the more she kept apart. Although she rubbed feathers with the others, she kept herself at the edge of the flock.

Now, from a corner in the lounge, Lucky clucks to warn Molly against rubbing shoulders with that human she calls her husband. Humans are strange, she thinks. So clever, yet they don’t realize attachments can be detrimental to survival. Best to stay in your corner.

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Grey Skies by Stella Pierides

Ever since the militia thrust a Kalashnikov into Gamal’s hands, he
stays indoors.

“Use it,” the men had shouted at him.

After their car sped away, Gamal fell on his knees wanting to cry and
pray at the same time.

At seventeen, he is no stranger to guns. His old father keeps three
well-oiled specimens under the carpet-covered divan. These Persian
carpets with boteh paisley motifs, hide three weapons against the
enemies of the state.

“May God forgive you, Father,” Gamal repeats to himself. But he
himself cannot forgive his father.

“He knows our leader personally,” mother explains to him, as if she
feared he’d forget. “It is tribal loyalty.”

That’s no excuse for supporting a killer, he says to himself. Deep
down Gamal knows it is not out of loyalty his father supports the
regime. It is out of fear.

Now Gamal is expected to fight on the same side. The thought of the
dictator makes him sweat. So he stays indoors and watches the sky from
the inner courtyard: normally a beautiful square of blue, fringed with
overhanging cherry blossom, it now tells him the news of the city.

The last few days, the sky has turned grey. Black billowing clouds
carry an oily smell to Gamal. Ash snows on jasmine, geranium, and on
his mother’s beloved cacti. He is hiding ‘his’ gun under his mattress.
He dreads his friends coming for his father. He knows he’ll have to
act, then; he’ll have to choose sides.

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Serendipity by Stella Pierides

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
lovingly.

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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