An old home
Helen pulled on her blouse and tried to fan herself a bit. As soon as the airport’s doors opened, the heat choked her and sweat appeared on her temples. She looked around and found the taxi line. Thank goodness her mother had insisted she learn how to speak, read and write in Greek as a teenager. She got in line and waited until the next available taxi pulled up. She walked up to it, as the driver lowered the passenger window to speak to her.
‘’Where are you going?’’
He talked in a very broken English. She handed him the paper with the address on it. He nodded and stepped out of the taxi. He was in his late fifties, sweating profusely, with a round belly and an even bigger Greek nose. He seemed like a sweet man despite his appearance. She had found that almost every Greek person she had met since her trip began was very polite and sociable. He started bombarding her with questions as soon as she sat down in the passenger seat. He had insisted she sit beside him because the back windows did not open all the way and the heat was sure to kill her. She never would have agreed in any other place, but her senses were telling her that he was a good person and she concluded that she was right during the ride. They were after all going to be spending a little over three hours together. Might as well talk a little bit.
‘’My wife Voula is the perfect chef. Yesterday she make best pasticcio I ever tasted. Nobody make food like my wife. You should come one day to try. I invite you.’’
Helen smiled and nodded. Clearly people here were very friendly, yet she somehow felt like it was genuine, not just words. It made her feel good, like she was part of an enormous family. They spoke during the rest of the trip, mostly about why she was there and where she should visit in the town she was going. She made a list and promised to do the things that were on it. When they arrived at Kalimera Notaries, she handed Antonios some money and he gasped.
‘’This is three times the price, you make mistake.’’
Helen smiled and shook her head.
‘’No mistake. Buy Voula that bread machine she has been talking about.’’
She gave him her hand to shake, but he pulled her into a close hug and thanked her profusely.
‘’I hope you find what you look for here in Greece.’’
She nodded, thanked him and entered the notary office with her bags.
She yelled so loud; she was sure the whole town had heard her. Amalia, the notary in charge of all the legal documents, seemed blasé about it.
‘’I haven’t spoken to the man in ten years and he leaves me a house!?’’
Amalia looked at her again with what seemed to be very little interest.
‘’Yes, it happens sometimes.’’
She handed Helen a pen and told her where to sign if she wanted to accept it. She signed and was suddenly struck with amazement. A house, a freaking house. Something she never would have been able to afford back home even if she saved up her entire life. What on earth had made her father leave it to her? He had not been much of one to show his emotions, except for the violent ones, so she could have never known this would happen. Maybe he had finally changed by coming back to Greece? She had not heard of him in all these years and suddenly she had something that had belonged to him. Something she could touch and see. She felt strange about the whole thing. She would have preferred he leave her something smaller, something she could sell quickly and move on. However, with the house, it would just remind her of him, and she didn’t really want that at the moment. She gathered her things, took the legal papers with the address on them and went back out to see for a taxi. While she walked, she wondered if life was going to throw her any more curve balls. She felt as though her entire life was beginning again, what other new thing was going to happen?
As soon as Helen arrived in the little town, she asked the taxi driver to drop her off where she could get a bite to eat. She was starving and in need of a good bath. The bath would have to wait. She didn’t know what kind of condition the house was in, maybe she would need to stay at a hotel until she figured things out. She took a deep breath and sighed. She felt like the house would be an even bigger headache than she anticipated, she just didn’t know why yet. As she entered the restaurant the driver suggested, she passed by a few people who were staring at her very intently. She waited at the entrance sign to be seated. She had to admit it, the interior was quaint and cozy, it felt like someone’s home. An older man greeted her and sat her down near the kitchen door. The smells were heavenly. She took a big sniff and the man laughed.
‘’My wife is the best cook. Everything she makes is delicious. What will you have?’’
She smiled and looked down at the menu.
‘’Can you choose something for me please. I have no idea; it all seems perfect right now.’’
He nodded and disappeared behind the kitchen door, only to reappear a moment later with a beverage.
‘’This is the freshest lemonade you will ever have.’’
Helen smiled and thanked him. Truth be told, she hated the blasted beverage. She didn’t like the aftertaste, so she just avoided it altogether. However, as with everything else in this country, she had been pleasantly surprised so far. She brought it up to her mouth and took a small sip. All the bad memories of lemonade before this one had vanished. It was as though she was drinking a sweet lemon, if such a thing was possible. She took a few big gulps, caught his attention as he was passing and asked for another one.
‘’I knew you would like it. I usually am not wrong with these things.’’
She smiled and thanked him again for the discovery.
‘’I don’t mean to be rude, but who are you?’’
She explained who she was as simply as she could. She knew other people in the restaurant were probably listening and she didn’t like gossip feeders. It was a small town after all and with small towns everyone knew everyone else’s business. She wanted to keep some privacy if possible. The man welcomed her officially to the town and disappeared once more behind the door. What happened next, she didn’t see. The man walked up behind Ash, one of his cooks and slapped him hard against the back of the head.
She wiped the sweat off her forehead and looked in dismay at the house she saw. It was sort of like she remembered her father, old, weathered and in good need of some repairs. She laughed when she thought about it now. Did she really expect anything different? It was almost in ruins and the more she looked at it, the more it seemed like it was about to all come crashing down. She stepped carefully across knee length grass and pushed on the front door cautiously. To her surprise, the inside wasn’t as bad as she would have imagined. It was a small house, but the floor plan was open, so it felt bigger than it was. The style was typically Greek, something she had always liked surprisingly. She set her stuff down in the bedroom and found the bathroom to freshen up a bit. She took off her shirt, splashed some water on it and used it as a washcloth to pat some water on her face and neck. She felt refreshed instantly. As she was walking back to the room for a new shirt, the front door opened, and she yelled. She quickly ducked behind the bedroom door. ‘’Whoever you are, you are trespassing. Leave now or I will have to use force.’’ And she meant it. She had a black belt in karate, something else her mother had talked her into doing when she was younger. She had found a passion for it and she still practiced as much as she could. The stranger laughed. She heard footsteps coming towards her.