She awoke in total darkness, with the last fleeting memories of a dream that had filled her nights sleep, escaping out the window with the hints of a new dawn. A dream of exotic pleasures and the wonderful company of a man that she would never have the pleasure of meeting.
She stretched through the length of her body and wiggled all of her toes, thinking about whether or not it was worth getting out of the bed on this rather unimportant day. She thought about the arbitrary amount of time it takes for her planet to rotate once, which for some reason governs the pattern of all of the lives on this rock, and then thought about what it would be like living here if the days were shorter or longer. She decided that because of the extreme improbability of her existence alone, that it was worth getting up. She sluggishly rolled around until she could be sure all of her body parts were in fact present, and she braced herself for overcoming another day.
She turned herself toward the sky, sat up and splashed water on her sleepy face from the small bowl next to her bed. She then reached for her bright red cotton shawl with yellow tassels and her black wide brimmed hat, slowly feeling the texture of these two items, remembering all those others that she had loved that were lost in the flood. She sighed with longing for an easier life, and wrapped her shoulders from the chill of the morning air and covered her head with the anticipation of another hot afternoon. She stood, finished dressing, slipped on her sandals, grabbed her walking stick and shoulder bag that held a small coin purse, cigarettes and the novel she was reading, and then headed through the cloth door on the front of her wooden framed tent where her house used to be, out into the unforgiving world.
She walked down the path as she watched the sun rise above the trees, the little bursts of light popping up past the tips of the spring leaves. She smiled, not knowing why, but she did. Through the twists and turns of the wide dirt path she planned and prepared for the day. What to say to the people who had come to see her, how much she thought she should sell on this particular day and worst of all, what to do with those light fingered children decided to make her day miserable. She eventually came upon the aghora, and she heard it before she saw it, the unmistakable noise of children and animals bustling about, making much more noise than they need to. She walked through the noise, deep into the heart of this small collection of civilization and found the small shop where she would spend the next twelve hours. She walked up to the blue door, remembering all of her hard work when the resident stray dog came up to her like he did every morning, looking for a good scratch. She obliged with another smile and then unlocked the creaky door and stepped into the darkness.
It was a small shop, with only one room in it, but she was immensely proud of it. Last year she had finally saved enough to redecorate the inside, and so had painted it her favourite shade of blue. It looked lovely with the green/blue tiled floor, and contrasted with her sparkling fare. She had been selling her handmade adornments for ten years now at this market, making beautiful necklaces, bracelets and anklets out of the most spectacular coloured beads with silver and gold accents. She was almost to the point of calling herself a successful business woman when the flood came, but that seems so long ago now. It wiped out so much of the surrounding village she was lucky to still have walls standing around her. She lost a large amount of her merchandise but not as much as the fabric vendors or bake shops that surrounded her who seemed openly bitter about it. She was able to save much of her work but the beautiful new paint job was ruined, along with a large part of the floor and her displays.
All the vendors were told that business would pick up again once everyone got back on their feet so be prepared. What they didn’t tell her is that when times such as these got tight, no one would be looking to spend their precious pennies on frivolity such as her jewels. She watched as people came and went from the cloth shop, the bake shop and the other stalls in the market, but scarcely there was a man or woman that would come to visit her. And since the flood tourists had diverted to another more prosperous village on the north side of the island, leaving her with hardly enough money to feed herself, let alone buy a proper home or repair the inside of her shop again.
All seemed to be lost, including hope, but she stuck to it knowing it was the only way to get herself back on her feet again. She would think about the earth, rotating around the sun, in the vast solar system in an even more vast galaxy. She knew it was unlikely that she was alive, so she clung desperately to that thought to keep herself going. When lunch time rolled around she stepped outside and lit herself a cigarette in lieu of not making enough to justify buying lunch. It was one of her two simple pleasures, that along with reading. A long drag on a cigarette plus the escape into another world while reading a novel made for a near-perfect lunch hour, near-perfect only because food was out of the question. She was content.
As she was standing outside her shop, oblivious to most of the world with her nose in an old book she was approached by a man who, unknown to both of them, would change the course of her life forever.
He coughed in an obvious manner and she poked her nose over the top of her book, raising an eyebrow at his striking yet unkempt appearance.
He gently waved a cigarette in the air and asked, “χετε μια λυχνία?”
She had a light, but the question was whether or not she was going to give it to him…
-Miss Hailey Jane