After they had not made love they did not go to sleep. Nor did they talk. They lay side-by-side on the bed in silence. It was not an awkward silence. It was the silence that exists between two people who have become comfortable and unhappy with one another. The sounds of the Cretan night drifted through the open window. The cicadas did not sing at night, moped engines and Greek youths returning home did.
The sun began to show through the gauze curtains. Helena sat up and drew her knees to her chest. Nick looked up at her. He knew it was over. He had hoped the summer in Europe would give them time to heal, but he saw now that Helena could not. Most of all Nick wanted to see Helena smile without the haunted pain that shadowed her every expression. He put his hand out to brush a hair from her face. Helena looked at him and got up from the bed.
‘There is nothing more I can do?’ Nick asked. Helena stared at the dawning orange-blue sky reflected in the clear sea. Her hands smoothed her stomach where the scars gave a constant reminder of their loss. She turned back to face Nick and shook her head.
‘There is nothing left to do,’ she said.
Later that morning they walked round the market in the town. The local colour and noise raised their spirits. Helena bought a brightly-coloured scarf from a woman who had made it herself. They ate fish at a small taverna, drank tsikoudia and lay on the soft sand in a small cove.
When they lay down side-by-side in the hotel room that evening, Nick gently kissed Helena on the cheek.
‘I will leave tomorrow,’ he said. ‘It’s time I returned home.’ Helena returned his gentle kiss and nodded. They both knew they could survive apart.
Written as part of a writing course I am currently taking. The task was to write a 300 word story from a given first line.
The line ‘After they had not made love’ was taken from a poem by Fleur Adcock, titled ‘Happy Ending’. You can read the original poem HERE.