Sunday, May 18, 2008

Galani and Lefkios

Here's one of my very own short stories. It actually sounds more like a fairy tale, but i hope you will enjoy it anyway.

“An angel or a fairy, blessed by god or the devil is this girl?” That was the big question that every single man, woman and child quietly asked at a small and - lost in the vastness of the map - coastal village.
Such a beautiful baby none of them has ever seen before. The priest believed - as usual is the case - that it was touched by the devil, and he prayed day and night to mighty Jesus and the Virgin Mary to save the village from the evil that lurked; but, nobody would listen to the poor old man, and they would go on and visit the baby again and again; an angelic faced blond little thing, always smiling, never crying.
Katrina, the proud mother, would welcome her guests with a warm smile and affection, day in day out. “Oh, what a baby!” “Such a strike of good fortune for you, Katrina!” “The god’s beloved!” the good old ladies would say about her child, and she would thank them with a big smile painted on her face. However, Kalos, the father, a strong built and strong-headed man, would take no part in the feast of joy that surrounded his house. He loved his child, of course he did, but her tender beauty frightened him, and he kept wondering if her arrival in their lives was a blessing or a curse.
Well, as the custom was in those days, when the girl reached nine months of age, it was time for her to be christened. The priest insisted that they should call her Maria in honor of the Virgin, but the mother would never agree to that. Galani would be her name, just like the color of her eyes, a sparkling blue. Well, the people of the village were upset by the strange idea that Katrina just shelled them with, and turned to Kalos for his say on the matter. “I’ll have nothing to do with the name; whatever my wife says, that is going to be!” he said. And so it was. She was named Galani, but the people would call her with different variations of the name, as they always did in the villages back then. Galinio was the most popular of them all.
Oh, they all loved that baby, who seemed to get prettier and prettier as time went by. She had reached her first birthday without ever letting a single tear escape her big blue beautiful eyes. She did speak her first word though, and that was, Dolphin.

This is not my life. I do not belong here. I feel like someone who has just been thrown in this world; like a fortune beggar. Loneliness is to blame of course; that is the reason that I feel so bad, so sad, breathless like. How can I ever save myself from me? Was I born at the wrong place or at the wrong time? Why do I believe everything to be vain? What is that thing deep inside that pushes me all the more often away from people? “You are not a man; you are nothing but a fish!” that old man Fotis, told me the other day. But what does he know? How can he tell anything about me? The truth is though that I only feel alive and free when I’m in the sea, swimming, fishing, or exploring the water caves. That’s where my essence lies. But, what essence is that? And will it ever be able to take my out of this labyrinth of loneliness, where for many years on end I hang about?
Too many questions are troubling my mind, and I think I can get very few answers to them; but not from my fellow people. Maybe I will find them by looking at the heavenly stars, or maybe a siren would whisper them to me on a bright night at the open sea, or even maybe I will see them on the drawings of a cave just before the first day of light.
Oh, enough with these thoughts of mine. I’ll go and find Fotis, to have a drink and to listen to one of his fascinating stories. He has a way with words that old man.

Time was flowing by like water, leaving just a few traces behind. Galani was growing up like a princess; the village’s princess that everyone wanted to caress and protect. And her eyes would become a brighter blue, “just like the devil’s” the priest said, but none would listen to him. As she came to the age of going to school, the whole of the little world that surrounded her seemed to belong to her. The boys, and the girls, and the teachers, everyone loved her. And she was good at everything; a great student, a friendly girl, a loving and caring and always smiling little creature.
Her mother would worship god for the great present he delivered to her, but Kalos was somewhat afraid of what the future had in store for them. He felt happy for having that beautiful smiling girl as a daughter, but he all too well knew, that happiness and beauty almost always come hand in hand with disaster.
One day somebody spread a rumor around the village that he saw Galani at the sea shore talking with the fish, and some one else that - unless his eyes played tricks on him - more that once the he saw the girl swimming along with the dolphins into deep. Well, most people made fun of those stories, the priest kept talking about the devil, and as for her father, just after the sunset he’d start for the rocks to listen to the murmur of the sea, and to pray that the evil that he deep inside was afraid of would not come and find them.

Fotis has started telling me strange stories, about witches and fairies, and about fish that can talk and he insists that: “These are no fairy tales, these are legends, and they are true!” Are they true? How can they be true? Last night he told me the story of a girl called Galani that once lived here. She was beautiful like a painting, sweet as the Virgin Mary, the old man said. One day she simply disappeared without a trace. Only her ageing father kept saying that he knew where she was, but all the others thought that the poor old man’s sadness has turned a fool out of him, and they wouldn’t pay any attention to his words.
Well, as his narrative came to an end I started laughing, but on my way home I kept thinking about what I had just heard and felt cold sweat running down my back. I remembered a dream that I once had seen, a dream so upsetting that I could never forget. I was standing still in a shiny green meadow admiring the nature all around, when I saw a tall blonde girl, dressed all in white, appearing out of nowhere and coming in my direction. She almost looked transparent, and as she came close to me my eyes were caught in hers; a pair of shiny blue flames that seemed to embrace me. I really felt lost in that ocean of blue, out of touch, and as I came back to my senses I heard a voice, whispering softly like the wind into my mind’s ear: “Come, we shall swim together.”

By the age of sixteen Galani really looked like a beauty queen, a pure beauty queen that could inflame passion in any man’s heart without even knowing it. All the young men were in love with her, they all longed for her. At school the boys would be after her all the time, and even the teachers when they’d set their eyes on her wouldn’t be able to hide their agitation.
But Galani was a clever girl, and she was always able to turn them down or push them away, without ever hurting anyone’s feelings. None of those would-be lovers ever heard a harsh word coming out of her lips. She would love them all, but she was not in love with anyone. She would help them all, and ask nothing in return. Even the –at the doorstep of death- priest by then, secretly admired her. Only a mean and ugly old raven like woman, once said that it was obvious that the girl was cursed.
Maybe she was cursed indeed, cursed never to fall in love.

What the hell is wrong with me? Am I really going nuts, or is it the insomnia that has hurt my mind? How else can I explain what’s happening? Hearing voices in my sleep is nothing unusual, but when I am wide-awake and in broad daylight? And to see… Oh, I didn’t sleep at all last night. I guess I was too much upset from the story Fotis told me. I kept thinking about Galani constantly, and every time I felt sleep coming over me, then with my eyes closed, I would see her; I would feel her next to me. Once I even felt her hand touching mine and scared to death I jumped off the bed. And after the first shock, I touched my right hand palm and it felt really smooth, I smelt it and I felt a rich aroma feeling my nostrils; an aroma that smelled like salt and wild flowers, and fear; my fear.
At the break of dawn I went out to sea on my little boat to explore a deep cave for the first time. I entered it with the boat and continued on foot, holding a small torch, searching for drawings or strange formations. As I moved deeper and deeper the roof became lower the light less. I started to crawl on the rocks and in the water, which wasn’t really deep. After a while I’ve reached a dead end, so I had no other choice than turn back. But, as I came close to the exit I felt the air my breath and my feet giving up on me. There was a white, blinding light, covering the exit, and in the middle of it there stood a female figure. “Lefkie… Lefkie… Lefkie…” I heard her thrice call my name. I closed my eyes for a moment, and when I opened them again, it was all over. The light was gone, but the voice, that beautiful enchanting voice kept ringing through my ears and my soul. It still does.

Galani’s extreme beauty made her famous all around the county, so one day a rich man arrived at the village to meet the girl he had heard so much about, and if she was the goddess they described her to be, he would ask her hand in marriage. The girl had turned eighteen by then, without ever been touched by the arrows of Eros. Well, at the very moment he looked at her the man felt enchanted by that innocent beauty and wanted right there and right then to get engaged to her. And so he told the father, as was the way, those days. “If you give her to me, I will make you a rich man.” “Let us ask her, and whatever she says, that will be” Kalos answered.
Galani declined. She was no merchandise to be bought, but she also didn’t believe she could find love and happiness in the arms of that man, who had an evil aura about him. Well, the merchant, used as he was to take everything he ever asked for, was infuriated by her rejection, and cursing the gods and the demons, he said that no matter what, one day she would be his. Kalos just grabbed him by the clothes with an unlikely strength and threw him out of his house. No man could ever behave like that in his home without getting a kick on the butt. However, he was in deep thoughts as the evil man left. He knew that that wasn’t the end of the affair. But he would be there to take care of and protect his Galani, as long as it took.

I told Fotis about what happened at the cave and about the voice that kept ringing in my head, but instead of laughing at me, as I expected him to do, he bowed down his head without uttering a single word. A long time passed and when he looked up to face me he said nothing about the whole thing. He only told me that some of the fishermen have seen a strange looking dolphin swimming in the deep. They said that wherever it was seen the sea was peaceful, and all the fish would gather around to keep it company.
The very next morning I went to that cave again thinking that it was the only way to get rid of my inner demons. But, exactly the same thing as yesterday happened: I saw the white light, and heard a smooth voice calling at me. My name seemed to slip out of her lips as a breath of warm air and reach me as a soft touch. After a while she was gone. But this time, instead of feeling scared of what just happened, I felt the strangest of feelings, I felt complete; complete as a person. I have no other words to describe that feeling.

A dark moonless night, as the people of the village were all asleep, some shadows moved close to Kalos’ house, and after a while two rifle shots and a frightful scream came to upset the silence. Everyone in the little village was awake in a minute and they all rushed to see what was going on. And they came face to face with horror. Katrina, the mother was lying dead from a bullet wound she got on the chest, while Kalos, all soaked in blood, was gasping for breath. They searched for Galani, but she was gone.
Everyone felt terrified and at a loss after the murder and kept wondering: “Why? Why did this thing happen?” The whole village mourned for the death of Katrina and the loss of Galani. Kalos managed to survive from the bullet wound that hurt his body, to endure the pain that harassed his soul. In one single night, he had lost all that he had, his girls, his loves, though deep inside him he felt, that Galani was still alive.

I’ve given up everything; my job, my home, my life; that thing which I called my life, that is. The only thing I now care about is to go to that cave and listen to the voice of my unknown beloved. I can’t tell anyone how fulfilling that is! How alive it makes me feel! Every morning she is there. And every morning she calls me. “Lefkie… Lefkie… come,” she whispered to me today. Yes, she asked me to go to her, but by the moment I was there she was gone. In a moment I knew the reason why. Fotis have called from the outside: “Is there anybody there?” I was smiling as I went out to meet him. “I was sure I would find you here. I came to tell you the end of that old story; the story of Galani!”

A few weeks after that dreadful event a fisherman has found in the sea a nightgown that belonged to Galani, and then everyone believed that just like her mother, she too has perished. Only her poor father kept saying that she was still alive. “She is a dolphin now” he would say, “and she is travelling all the time.” Everyone thought that he was talking nonsense that the pain has hurt his brain, and it was that old ugly raven of a woman that once again dared go against the stream saying: “Maybe, just maybe, what he says is true!” They looked at her in pity, despite various reports by fishermen and swimmers that lately they saw a strange dolphin playing in the waves of their sparkling clear green sea.

I must say that the end of that story really upset me. However, deep inside I feel that the very end has not been yet written. I don’t know if this is a myth, or a weird truth, but whatever it is it just can’t end like that. Something is missing. It doesn’t sound right in my inner ear. But, now, I shall start of, on this bright night, with my moonlighted soul, for the cave where my fair half is hiding, and which who even if it is a shadow I dearly love.

Some people say that in a strange water cave a young man called Lefkios, has met a siren, with whom he had fallen in love and thus put an end to his life in order to lie in her arms. But, some other people claim that it wasn’t a siren, but just a homeless soul that looked for a body to turn into a home, and chose his. However, there is also a very old man who’s survived a century of years and lives in a little hut by the sea, who tells a different story. He, over and again, says: “You have finally found love Galani, you’ve found Eros!” and as he looks at the sea with his ageing wet eyes, he can see two dolphins coming from the deep to wave him hello. The one, he thinks, has deep blue eyes, while the other seems to shine with glory, filling the sea and the land and the heavens above, with the kind of serenity a man will never find.

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