(The beginning of my book GODS AND GUARDIANS .... fantasy-reality literature.Titans, ancient Greek gods a prophecy, a love beyond all limits! This book is looking for a publishers or agents abroad)
“I’ve told you that ancient gods are unworthy of speech”, Leonidas, or Leo as I used to call him, repeated to me once more and turned his back to walk away from my side with an ironic, full of depreciation look.
I gave him a sincere, wide smile, one of those that made him so many times fret and closed the book I had bought on TV sales and spoke of the ancient gods and their relation to modern history. Fairytales that charmed me and provoked my interest.
Since I was a child I had a huge obsession for anything related to the deities of the antiquity. My love for them would start from Greece and go till the Far East and the depths of all centuries. I didn’t know exactly what was it that had driven me into this passion, though many times I recall my mother talking to me since I was in the crib about the achievements of Zeus, his intriguing but no so unjustifiable wife and the ones of his countless children. Maybe that’s why I had finally decided to study archeology. I couldn’t see myself in any other industry apart from this one.
I raised my eyes and gave a gaze on Leo and his totally comfortable movements till the sit in the opposite side. Definitely a lot of other women would gaze along with me fascinated by his mysterious and tough looks. He was a young man who would draw the attention of the opposite sex with every step he would take and would dissipate it with his every word. I smiled wider and he gave me an unsearchable glance. His eyes, wonderful with split edges and green like the eyes of a cat, looked at me beneath his dark brown forelock that would fall messy on his beautiful and at the same time masculine, triangular face. His eyebrows were technically thin and upright, his nose straight and two rough lips that would smile from slightly to never. He was thin and tall, neurotic and self confident. Yes! He was my friend and faithful guardian.
I turned my head and noticed that indeed most of the women that were in the boat’s big room looked at him with particular interest. They were absolutely right. Maybe if I hadn’t known him since I was a child I would be in their position right now, if I hadn’t met Phoebus of course as none of them had that chance.
In the thought of the Italian cousin, my cheeks became deep red. Perhaps this was because I had never seen a man more handsome than him. Him that I was traveling to meet... My heart started beating hard in the breast and I took a deep breath in order to come round. But before I could manage it, I observed Leo’s look that stood cold for a few seconds on me and the turned and wandered outside the window’s glass indifferently as if he could untwist something in the dark of the night.
Why was he accusing me for? He couldn’t read my thoughts though I felt like he knew me like the palm of his own hand or even more if that is possible.
Leo showed up in my life when I was in the tender age of seven years old. I hadn’t met my father because as my mother had told me he had left this lad to travel in heaven and we couldn’t follow him yet. Of course, she wouldn’t talk to me about him in general so I initially believed that she was just hurt every time she mentioned him. Later I understood that probably something else was happening. I don’t know exactly what that was and if my father had died, I’m not even sure of that, but she would show no real interest into the being that marked her life by offering her me. The truth is that when I was younger I would ask various questions but as I grew older the more I forgot. Maybe because by meeting Leo, the blank of the male element that was missing from my life was in some way filled in.
I was living in my village located on the fringes of mount Olympus when I first met him. It was a small, quiet place, filled with people warm and joyful. My mother lived there from the beginning. She had moved a little while before my birth from Athens where she had lived the youthful years of her life.
I was growing up calmly, with the love and protection small societies can often offer. In these societies where life flows with slow and mild paces, anything new comes as a sudden flurry to shake up everything. Like that, when my dear friend with his foster parents came to live there, I learned it immediately as it was natural. With no second thoughts I left the spot where I was playing with sand and soil as the other children that accompanied me and ran to take a look at the removal.
I immediately had noticed the tall and thin boy with the straight brown hair, short to the neck but longer in the front, that fell wildly in the eyes trying to reduce of the cold gaze. He looked extremely interesting because most of the boys I knew had always this look of a man who observes with stupefaction, giggle and laugh at everything. So I remained to stare until I realized that he at the same time had me as an observation subject. With my little mind I couldn’t figure out the reason although I quickly gave him a wide smile, one of the ones I used to give away at everybody with no precaution. Then he had darkened even more and had turned his head elsewhere like he probably did every time I irritated him.
He was six years older though he never looked like that. He was always very serious and mature for his age. He was in high school when I met him but he went to university with me…
I froze looking at him contemplating. He had chosen to postpone his studies working as a guardian in a private protection company and returned to it when it was definite that the time for mine had come. So the last two years we ended up…fellow students and roommates because nonetheless I preferred him to anyone else to be close to me. Together in the most times of my life and apart at the same time.
I sighed and looked at him with more intensity.
Leo always had the way to walk on the same path as me but also keep a certain distance. He was my friend, my roomy, my psychologist as he had the tendency to listen to me endlessly speaking while he wouldn’t open his mouth to say a word, and finally my guardian! He would stand by me always but at the same time he would step aside when I made friends with others but him, when I wanted space and time, when I tried to touch him… Even in the most difficult time he stayed standing close to me without touching me, giving me courage just with his presence.
The only times I can clearly remember him spreading his long, neurotic and stable hands on me are the ones I was in danger of something. The first time this happened was during the first months of our acquaintance. Young, with absolute sense of freedom and being indifferent to every danger I had climbed the stairs of the house and was wandering how far I could jump every time in order to avoid the stairs beneath. The first one was alright, it was easy anyway, and so were the second and third but when I reached the fourth one I got impetus to jump, then he came out of nowhere to grab and hold me. This happened several times and in various time periods. He was always around to prevent and restrain every fall or accident. In the end I had figured it out and was trying to provoke his intervention, having fun with it. I was jumping over ditches, climbing trees and doing any kind of nonsense that came to my nonexistent mind, in order to bring him close to me and protect me. Finally, one day when I tried to do it again on purpose by letting my hands off the bike’s steering wheel and having just learned how to drive it without training wheels he looked at me with a cruel look and indignation and turned his head around on purpose pretending he wasn’t seeing. As it was natural the bike leaned and I got a big scratch on my femur, blood on my ankle and a tatty ego. This certainly was the last time I tried to challenge my luck!
So in time he had managed things that to others seemed from curious to weird. My good friend Anita, classmate and friend since primary school and permanently in love with him, had several times mentioned our relationship as one of the most enviable and bizarre incidents. But who could possibly psychoanalyze Leo? He was neurotic, rude, dark and unapproachable while at the exact same time faithful, calm, strong, discreet …
For a girl happy and kind of dreamer like me, with no father since childhood and after the loss of the mother…with just a few relatives and the only person that interests her miles away he was like a gift from heaven..
Talking about myself I could give a lot more characterizations but the most valid would be the one of being spontaneous. I would say what I wanted to say, laugh easily and could make friends in a second, I wasn’t thinking badly of other people, I thought everyone in the world was kind and I wasn’t particularly serious or mature, nor special. I didn’t stem from a noble generation and had no especial luck. It was just me. Ordinary and continually happy. Anita had told me not a few times that my sign of the zodiac was to blame for this. Sagittarius!
I would like to nestle down into the pages of my book once more but my friend had pulled me away from it and right now I didn’t feel like reading at all, so I got up to stretch. Leo did not turn his head towards me but I know he had seen me getting up. I took a few steps on the red and brown fitter carpet of the lounge and loafed at the people lying half-asleep in the airplane seats of the ship. A company of young people turned towards me and observed me in interest making admiration exclamations that were as welcome as never before, while trying to look indifferent. After all, I want to be very beautiful now. When I meet Phoebus, I want to steal his mind as he had stolen mine!
I moved a little more and opened the heavy door that was leading to the deck. The night was starry and the humidity made the smell of the sea, which was lying asleep underneath the paunch of the boat that was purring contented in its course, even more intense. I leaned on the wet gunwale and my mind ran to him. I remember him in my life since always. He would come during summers along with his mother and stay in our house just for a few days. My mother and his were related and from what we knew of she had been married to an Italian and followed him to his country. Phoebus was their only child.
Of course I believe that they didn’t have to have another one! They had given him the best anyone could have genetically given to a child. Light, beauty, charm! His long, until the shoulders, straight and layering hair, adorned unruly and daintily at the same time, with golden color his beautiful head. Two big blue eyes that escaped the limits of blue to be purple lighted in melancholy a flawless face with soft ankles, fleshy lips and absolute symmetry of characteristics. A little older that Leo and a little taller too, but thin with a perfect body. Calm, melancholic and serious, he always had a smile to give to that indifferent little girl I was. Each smile of his could surely make an amphitheater full of girls including me pass out at once.
His letter inviting me to go close to him was the most wonderful thing I had lived the past few years. Despite the fact that I was a student and my life should be full of happiness and revelry I had just experienced a tragic fact…I lost my mother…This thought suddenly brought the darkness in me. It was six months since mother decided she had to follow father’s path to heaven. And I would have been alone if it weren’t for Phoebus and Leo….
With the tip of my eye I got a movement on the other side of the deck. He had leaned lazily as he always used to do on the wall and had his hands in the pockets of his cotton pants. He wasn’t looking at me. He looked straight ahead in the darkness of the fastening.
“It’s really beautiful here” I almost whispered to him, still influenced by the previous thoughts…
“Hmmm” was the only answer.
I smiled. Frugal as always. “In how many hours will we be there?”
“At seven am we will reach Bari” he informed me with the same severe tone.
“What about afterwards?”
“Afterwards we will travel north to Rome and from there to Tuscany. Phoebus’s castle is located inside a forest.”
“It’s in a forest! How great!” I raised my voice in excitement. Bizarre and interesting place for someone to live in. “I hope we won’t get lost” I supplemented with a light questioning. “But didn’t you tell me; are you happy to see your friend?” I asked with quite an appetite to tease him.
Leo did not speak and looked at him facetiously. Personal conversations were something like a big forbiddance X to him. He didn’t like talking about the things he felt and never did. But I could understand a lot of thing about this tightly reserved creature that accompanied me all these years.
Since the first day they met, the two men of my life immediately showed they could not stand each other. And I say this because that’s what they really looked like doing.
The two of them used to sit and talk. They kept a distance between them, looked at each other the least possible but it was obvious they had a lot of things to talk about. Leo behaved as he always did, he was distant and rigid and Phoebus as well was typical and melancholic. I observed them with my childish eyes and many times saw them observe me too in between their sayings that I would never hear though. Despite all these I felt like they could understand each other well and agree to what was important. I sensed that something connected them even though they were pretty different.
Leo was adopted. It was a common secret but he also knew because one day when I told him his mother was calling for him he rushed into correcting me in anger that Tasoula was not his mother. This had made me upset because inside me I wanted him to be really happy thing he seemed to be not. On the other side, Phoebus had both his parents and lived far better considering the economical part. His clothes were always extravagant; he had studied music and never had to work, while at the same time he had various structures in his possession including a tower in Tuscany that he used like a music school.
All these were the exact opposite in Leo’s life who had to work via the duration of all our studies in Thessaloniki. He was carrying this burden since he was really young. I never managed to understand where he found all that strength to work through the problems without saying a single word, not even expressing a complaint.
“When I’m with you I fear of nothing!” I teased him returning to present, though I truly believed what I was saying. “I know you will find the way though you already seem to know exactly where you‘re going!” I noticed the certainty in his attitude.
He gave me a serious look, “Your beloved took care of getting on my nerves with his recurrent instructions and then, there always is the phone” he admitted nervously.
“Oh!!” I kept my teasing tone. “You really believe he has an actual tower? It seems strange nowadays. I surely hear now and then in gossip shows for people with a lot of money from abroad that live in places like that but seeing in is something else,”
He kept silent.
I turned ahead and closed my eyes. I let the wet and cold atmosphere enter my lungs with bulimia. To be honest I didn’t care if Phoebus had a whole palace. I was so happy to see him again. The last time was when mother had died… he had learned and came with the first plane to be with me in that difficult time. He gave me his hug every time I bursted into tears and minded to wipe my tears and console me. His big mauve eyes looked at me with sadness and tenderness and that made the pain more sufferable, my loss less unbearable. He had taken care of everything and stayed for two days with me before he took the plane back home again. This departure of his was the most painful for me. But now he was inviting me to go to his home! He was inviting me close to him for the first time!
It took him so many years to do this and I wonder why took him so long…
Leo entered the interior of the boat as quietly as he had come out. I decided to follow him and let myself fall asleep. I needed the sleep since due to the excitement of the trip I was sleepless for two days already and I don’t think I would like to get to Italy being worn.
I got as comfy as I could on my seat and closed my eyes. The voices around had now silenced and I could calm. I waited for a while till I started getting dizzy and in the end sleep didn’t take long to touch me.
I sank slowly, with pleasure even to the most unapproachable parts of my mind and it rushed into giving me a weird and scary dream.
I got in a scene wild and wonderful at the same time. It looked like a virgin forest and sacred as the ones I watch on TV in documentaries or better in adventure movies since there where ancient ruins all around. Nature was rich. Tall and thick trees opened holes in the earth and sprouted in order to touch the sky. Their branches forked and embraced making thick knitting that darkened the sky, thick plants hanging from one another and the humidity covered everything from top till the shooting ground that was covered in plants and lichens. Between all these, white marbles, pieces and remains of another era lied scattered here and there, like they had also germinated along with the grass and the dull wild flowers. The light around was weak. I could not understand if the sun was sinking or rising, but there was an atmospheric red color that dyed everything with blood and made them look creepy.
I was wearing a white silk dress that covered my body till the ankles but was so graceful that I almost couldn’t feel it on me. Across from me in a little path among the thick wooden trunks a sort of a procession was taking place. Many beautiful young women dressed in red were walking one behind another in an absolutely modulated pace. Their faces were severe but in none of them were the characteristics obvious in fact. It was like I couldn’t understand them. At the end of the procession there was a man. Or that is what I believe anyway. His presence was powerful and dark while he was giving off something ominous that hurt my guts. I stood still and watched groggy. He was very tall and thin, huge while the same as the women ahead. His face was dark but curiously charming with a magnetism that swallowed me though there was nothing there. Two dark spots for eyes that seemed to be fiery eradicated everything else. He turned his look on me and I felt like sinking and vanishing. A swirl pulled me down. I tried to move in fear but understood that my parts were paralyzed. This made my heart slam with force. My body was covered with cold sweat and I tried to move once more but his look kept me transfixed. The more he approached the more I was vanishing, the more intense was my need to get away…
I woke up bathed in sweat. My scared eyes searched in the low lighting of the night boat for the form of Leo. He had his head tucked and was sleeping as the rest of the people around. I was breathless. This dream was one of the most weird and scariest dreams I had ever seen. I don’t know what was it that had scared me so much; the form of the man, his eyes devouring me or that peculiar sense of danger? All together and nothing at all.
I drank a small mouthful of water from the bottle I carried in my bag and wiped the sweat from my forehead and neck. My tiredness and anxiety for the trip had psychologically affected me and that probably came out from my subconscious. On the other hand if I lived in ancient Egypt they would tell me that Bes, god of dreams, was using the theory of the opposites and had sent me this dream to tell me that wonderful things will happen to me and I should not be afraid. Perhaps that scary man was the spectacular Phoebus and the fear I felt was the joy and happiness he would offer me.
I smiled to my own explanation despite the fact that something inside me was still intensively reacting and pulled the sleeping bag until my shuddering waist. My heart may have been pulsing in fear but I should pay no mind on dreams. Or at least that’s what I wanted to believe. After all it was reality that mattered and I needed to get a rest.
“Helen…” Leo’s voice came to my ears from far and awoke me.
I opened my eyes and saw his fully green looking at me with warmth. That made me blink in surprise but when I recovered the centre of my attention, his face had the usual self-righteous and distant vein underneath the disordered wisps of his hair. This is it, I thought intimidated. This is Leo as I know him.
“What happened?” I asked while stretching my hands to get rid of the numbness. “Are we there yet?”
He nodded in the affirmative and laid a plastic cup of French coffee that smelled like heaven to me. “In a few minutes.”
I grabbed the cup with longing and sipped a mouthful of the coffee that hot and sweet as it was plummeted on my dry throat.
People around had started rising and packing their luggage. They all seemed tired of sleeping on the chairs of the boat and with no particular energy. But I was different. I have always been different. The blood had already started streaking inside me, perhaps because of the coffee or my joyfulness we had finally gotten to Italy. Nevertheless, apart from my beloved, it was the first real trip I ever had.
I got up with pleasure, despite my friend’s bored look, I cared to wash myself and talking about this or that it was time for us to debark.
Leo had his stepfather’s car with him. It was a little Japanese car, many years old but as tough as a mule. We got in and set off.
Bari was a town still asleep. The sweet light of morning licked the buildings and the wide streets, the few and bleary passersby on the pave walks. We got out of the city quickly before I made it to see anything special and got into a big motorway. I was chirping happily for anything I saw before me. I was impressed by the hundred thousand acres of olive trees that scattered on the sides of the road, the vineyards and wheat. The soft air that formed streets among them and moved them in a sweet symphony, in a mystic soundless music, was making living paintings for my eyes. All the signs were in Italian only so I often was forced to quit the observation of the scenery to consult the map that I cared to obtain before I left homeland.
My friend was driving with consent and serenity. He was not speeding and always had his eyes set on his course. He cared to make two or three stops in rest areas that were situated on national way so we could stretch and take some coffee or something to eat. As the distance was reducing my agony was growing bigger. I wanted to jump over all these kilometers and get to Phoebus more quickly. To kind Phoebus.
After several hours of road trip and after starting to shut up in the end, understanding that perhaps I was getting on Leo’s nerves with my verbiage, we got into Tuscany. We had passed out of Rome and despite my intense desire to stem the trip for a while and visit the city, the need to get to our destination proved to be bigger. We got off the main street and turned right to move east that is the backbone of the country. The growth became thicker and our course started being uphill. A quarter later we saw the first sign “castel de la foresta” which means “castle of the woods” and it was the one Phoebus owned. We turned left and got in a provincial road that led straight into a rich forest. We moved among impressive, tall trees that were meant to cover the sky and make a heavy shadow beneath, full of strong smells of plants and humidity. This place brought my dream in mind for a second, but I rushed into driving away this thought and leaning on the window, took my face out on the fresh air to enjoy the wild beauty of the landscape. For five to six kilometers we moved on like that following more signs, inside this imposing, beautiful and at the same time scary landscape that surrounded us, when we suddenly got to a glade.
Then...we saw it.
A tall and old building, remain of many years. It was totally imperious, aesthetic and dynamic, and in an absolute harmony with the environment.
It was made of grey, green and ivory rocks. It consisted of two departments that were pieced together in a central gate and surrounded by a common external wall. From the one side, squared and tall stood a building more like a nowadays structure with small skylights and windows. On the other side, there were four cylindrical buildings in various sizes, the biggest of which, in the background, trying to outreach the front ones in order to highlight its beauty. It had faded green cones as roofs, decorated with chimneys and countless windows to have enough of the rich Mediterranean sun. The plants were spread on the external walls with bulimia to join their bodies with them in an erotic bargain, constructing a cover of greenery. Amaranth, yellow and pink flowers enriched the décor with colors and scents while small, trimmed trees prowled the wall with symmetry.
I got out of the car bewitched.
“Now you can close your mouth” murmured my friend next to me with irritation, “here comes Phoebus”.