Tonight, two boys walk up a street in Rafina at four a.m. The sidewalks are slightly broken as they leave them behind. Drunk Greeks yell and laugh as they enjoy the alcoholic pleasure that is now in their bellies but will be pissed out painfully the next day. There’s a blue and white sailboat in the center of Rafina’s square; it’s decorated with Christmas lights. It’s not very cold for winter. The boys pretend to breathe in the sweet smell of snow they can see across from them on Evia’s mountains. They thought Christmas should be celebrated with those white sparkles.
The reflection of the lights on the marble floor does not move. The lights of the taverns shine and glimmer in the distance. White apartments with green balcony railings peel a bit on the sides. Graffiti of orange and green words decorate the lower levels of the apartments. Once, churches were the only clean buildings left but now, harsh words touch their foundations. The elementary and middle schools are also vandalized but children still play in the yards as if nothing reaches them. The boys see their reflections in the shop windows with words like “cops must die” and “fuck austerity,” because most of them have been closed due to the crisis. Their heads spinning from all the free drinks they have received.
One of the boys is tall. His eyes are silver with a mix of blue and green. His skin is soft and always tan. His fingers are callused from windsurfing all year. His hair is smooth like mine, tied in a bun. The only time it’s down is when he’s fucking you. His hair flicks out of the hair tie and it’s as long as the size of your palm. It makes you want to braid it. His lips are pink and soft and addicting. He has broad shoulders, the type that you like to hold on to while you’re being fucked.
The other boy is short. His hair is also short, easy to pull while you fuck him. His skin is dark and sticks to his bones. He is skinny, your arms overpower his entire body. His hips dig into you while he’s on top but he’s cute and his smile makes you want to smile. There’s also a darkness inside of him, but I can’t quite place it. His cheeks rise and his eyes shimmer as he grins a grin that makes your stomach pulse.
Now, someone has a gun. It might be the tall one but it might be the short one, or it might be me or you, or that guy I see across the street. Neither boy remembers where the gun came from but both apparently know how to use it. Someone pulls the trigger. The gun is aimed at someone’s head.
There is a pull, then a press, a crack, a bang and then a sizzle.
The sizzle does nothing but lasts forever, like the souls who have left us. The pull kills in an instant but lasts beyond our lives—beyond the moon and beyond what we think we know about the world, while taking a piece of my soul. It is both a gift and a curse to feel everything so deeply. I feel your pain as it travels from the tip of your tongue to my inner thighs. It takes my mind across the sea to that blue house in the small village of Hercules where you are not able to grasp it. And the more I feel, the less pain you feel, or so I hope. This is what I strive for—to lessen your pain since it’s what keeps me alive.
The result of this, of everything, is loud enough to shake the silent trees. The dogs bark while one of the boys hears only a ring, and then nothing. His knees, buckling, hit the ground. There is a sharp screwing pain in his chest. There’s a wetness of some sort, like a melted mud seeping through his shirt, finding its way to each individual chest hair. His belt feels tight now. It suffocates his stomach and balls and ass, erecting his pain. He’s sweating or crying, or both. And then, nothing, his body is just space now.
The other boy suffers an ache from his waist to his chest, then a line of aches from his belly button to his nipples, creating two paths of emotionless pain. He can’t comprehend what has happened. He straightens his knees, wipes his eyes. He feels something like a rubber ball at the back of his throat. He bends over and food travels from his intestines to the ground in a matter of seconds. The vomit looks like pieces of carrots. He can taste it on his tongue and cheeks.
He takes a deep breath. His hand wipes his mouth. He desperately looks for his cigarettes, feeling each pocket, hitting his thigh as his hands come up empty. He looks at his shaking hands. His right forefinger and thumb throb. The boy and the gun are on the ground, next to a dumpster with the words em>hope dies last spray-painted in black ink. The boy on the ground shivers.
A girl walks onto her balcony. First, I see her blonde hair. The sun emerges behind the mountain across the sea, the air smells like cheese pies. She brings her cigarette to her lips, licks it. As she lights it, she sees a boy lying on his back. He looks unconscious and his head is facing the dumpster. There is another boy standing next to him. He is looking under the dumpster. He lifts his head, sees her and almost stops breathing.
She doesn’t scream nor does she cry. She inhales her cigarette and exhales. It feels good. The boy continues to stare at her, trying to control his breathing. He thinks, man, I’d like to fuck her, be on her lips, and then smoke a cig. She puts out her cigarette on her forearm and the burn pierces her skin. She thinks that it will soon be like the other marks. The boy’s eyes start to moisten as he sees this.
She goes back inside as the boy imagines fucking her from behind and pulling her blonde hair. She walks in the dark as she feels the walls with soft hands, finding her bed. She slides her naked body onto the silk red sheets. She puts more tape on the battery cap of her vibrator, turns it on, lies on her stomach, extends her legs, presses the purple bead against her favorite spot.
The boy is disappointed as he continues to stare at where the girl once was. He forgets about her, finds a white flower. He bends down over the boy; paying respect for something that will gently destroy him. He places the whiteness on the other boy’s chest and kisses his forehead, straightens his knees. The boy on the ground tries to say something but only gasps, shivers once more.
The girl’s orgasm tingles her toes, stomach, breasts and armpits. She is panting now. Her hands shake as she starts to roll a cigarette, using the moon’s brightness that is shining through her balcony door as light.
Dimitri and Stephan are sitting on a balcony, overlooking the port of Rafina and smoking their rolled cigarettes. They see ferries of blue and red coming to and from Mykonos, Paros, and Andros. Eratosthenes comes to mind as they try to comprehend the shape of the world. They barely see the island of Evia across from them. On a clear day, you can see the small white houses with red roofs scattered about, close to the supply of fish and beach.
The playground’s swings move with the wind underneath them. The fog sets on the mountains, gliding on the white apartments like a man lies on a woman about to experience something magical. The fog slides itself into every crack of every window. It covers the whiteness of the houses, rubbing both of the colors along the walls of each house, making it grey. It blows wind onto the small amount of sand that lies on the marble floors of Greece.
The boys sit, hoping for rain. Very few words are exchanged that day and throughout their relationship in general. They have what you would call an odd relationship. They’ve been friends since middle school and grew up together and the more they did, the less they had to say to each other. They don’t believe in talking to just talk. Maybe that’s why they’re so close, they have experienced so much together and their feelings about each other are expressed in the fact that they never get tired of being together.
Together, they hope for rain. They don’t know why but they know that they want it and they want to be in it. To taste that dash of salt in our rain. To be reminded of the sea without actually having to be in it. They think about the girl they know, who dances in the rain. Or maybe, they think about something impossible, like fish falling from the sky, because rain is too predictable.
Dozens of fish appear right before their eyes. There are little silver fish with small black eyes falling as they hit the cold cement. Clown fish splash in puddles of caramel sand. Bright pink fish and neon fish and half-purple-half-yellow fish are everywhere. A group of bright orange fish babies lose themselves in the sky. They are hiding in the clouds from sharks. Or are they hiding from each other? Or the rules of nature? Or are they trying to create rules of their own?
Dimitri needs a cigarette to calm down. His beard covers half of the filter in his mouth. Chlorine-free paper is in his shaking hands and the Karelias honey-tobacco bag is resting on his crotch. Stephan reaches into the pack, grabs the soft tobacco. He has chlorine-full paper in his hands but he loses focus, the filter falls from his mouth as if he’s never rolled before. He tries again, smiles.
The fish hear the crack of the white lighter and they think it’s a sign. They stop. They stare at the boys as they float above the eastern coast of Attiki. The boys exchange a look of worry but close their eyes as they inhale cancer. They open their eyes, the fish are still falling but faster now, and altogether. Their tiny bodies smash on the floor in red capillary blood, a handful at a time. It is a beautiful storm of fish. The boys can’t tell them apart anymore. Bones and scales clump together in the cracks of the sidewalks. The pieces of their bodies tumble onto the trunks of the trees, slide onto the white paint, creating an orange-purple-green blob on a cracked canvas.
One of the boys weeps. One of them, putting his hand over his mouth, screams. The boys reach for them, their bodies stretch over the balcony railing but they fail to touch them. They just watch nature break and die. All at once.
So, I start to pray. I pray to Aphrodite and Ares. And I pray to Aeolus and Poseidon. Those are my gods. And Dimitri’s finger burns from the cigarette he has forgotten about. Stephan’s eyes start to hurt from all the death. A tear makes its way from his eye to the side of his nose, under his nostril, and rests itself on a speck of coke that only I can see.
They sit there for what feels like hours watching these fish fall. But actually, it’s only been eighteen minutes. Dimitri’s mind feels tired and fucked in all the wrong ways. His eyes are throbbing and his pupils are dilated. Stephan’s hands form into fists, crushing his cigarette. Specks that look like lava burn the flesh of his inner wrist, fall to the floor.
Thoughts come and go, looks are given and received, as they just sit there, still hoping for rain. It could wash away the paint. It could wash away the mistakes. But life keeps falling. Pouring and pressing itself into the Earth.
Dimitri’s heart is melting. Something is seeping from it, through his shirt. He touches his chest, under his nipple, and finds nothing. Stephan’s lungs are tight. His knees buckle. Drumsticks bang on Stephan’s thighs. Deep under his skin, in his muscles. Tiny hands with white gloves pick at Dimitri’s tendons; it hurts everywhere all of a sudden, from his eye to his ankle. It is paralyzing. A tiny heavy ball rests on his big toe. The cold wind barely whispers Eros now. Fish are falling as quickly as people enter heaven.
Dimitri’s hand reaches, grasps Stephan’s forearm. Stephan’s veins pulse as he puts his other hand on top of Dimitri’s, squeezes it. Their foreheads come together, with closed eyes, as their tears fall. And then the drop evaporates but leaves a mark on Stephan’s jeans.
Stephan opens his eyes first. From the corner of his eye, two blue fish float upwards. He shakes Dimitri’s shoulders as now they both see the blue bodies wriggle and shine as they face the sun and sky. The boys’ jaws open, their pupils are next to their eyelids. The cool blue color echoes on the pearl white of their eyeballs. They shake their heads in disbelief but force their aching eyes to keep looking at the fish. They are traveling side by side. One is a bit longer than the other but their noses are at an equal level. They seem to be aiming for Aphrodite’s star. It is always the first star to reveal itself after sunset.
It makes you want to put your hands up to commemorate the fish for flying. You envision spreading your arms wide and above your head as you think about the souls you love and how you would do anything to keep them from suffering. And maybe you’ll find that same something that Dimitri and Stephan are looking for. And that same something that I am now just starting to understand as I write these words.
Zacharo Diamanto Gialamas is from Athens, Greece, and is currently a graduate student for the MFA program in Creative Writing-Fiction at Chapman University. She graduated with a political science degree from George Washington University. She has a range of work experience, varying from a dance teacher at ACS Athens Summer Camp to an intern at the Greek Embassy in DC, to an intern at The Daily Caller online newspaper, to working with survivors of sexual assault and abuse at RAINN. Her ultimate goal is to move back to Greece and help others see the beauty underneath the mess that has been created by a long economic and mental crisis Greeks are experiencing. She wants to do this through her writing.