He had decided to leave the environs of the Temple when her voice was carried on
the sultry air and over the ancient rock and stone like the scent from wild flowers.
Her words floated in the air, like pealing bells, before sweeping over him, like the in
coming tide. “Zeus was the chief God of the ancient Greeks and ruler of the heavens.
His statue by Phidias was said to be one of the seven wonders of the world”
He spun round and shielded his eyes, the sound of the voice leaked into him like hot
liquid. “Upon the great columns an entablature would sit and then horizontally we
would find an architrave upon which would be the frieze. It was here that the temple
was ornamented with statues, depicting Gods, horses and soldiers a cornice would sit
on the uppermost division of the entablature, however, unfortunately the crowning
entablature has not survived the statues on the other hand have and today they are to
be found in an excellent condition which we will see once we visit the museum”
He scanned the area, intent on finding a face to match the voice. And already an
image was forming, just like when one speaks on the telephone to a total stranger, a
the timber of the voice announces an age and the features of a face evolve.
An impulse to advance into the crowd, that strewed across the temple floor, and
discover the owner of the voice was compelling. A warm delicious feeling
radiated through his stomach. His eyes became strained as they peeled off people, a
young couple with a camcorder, a man consulting a guide book and a group of elderly
people shading from the sun under an assortments of hats. A collage of colour
fluttering in the heat haze seemed to decrease the distance between Louis and the
crowd he desired to be sucked into.
A slight tug of irritation persisted to dwell within him and he could feel a sense of
panic soak into him, like spilled water.
The voice again lifted above bobbing heads, he turned his head to the right, she was
slightly obscured by a semi circled huddle. She spoke slowly and a discernable
warmth levitated from their delivery, almost glowing, Louis considered. And then,
like a lamp being turned on in a darkened room, she became visible.
A wash of light illuminated the profile of her face, as he scanned its features, as if
studying a portrait in a gallery. The texture of her skin was soft and smooth, like
velvet, he thought, as he watched the way in which her mouth moved as he followed
the curve of her lips and like a fly in a web his eyes were snagged there.
A tickling sensation erupted within him, spreading upwards from deep within his
abdomen, like a fountain. She gestured with her hand and he noticed that her
elaborate movement carried a presence of elegance within its simple deliverance.
Her eyes her dark, like chocolate, he thought, as a notion of familiarity announced
itself, yet, he could not place from where or from when.
He observed that her neck was long and the curve of her bare shoulders fell upon
arms where olive skin covered smooth muscle, He traced the pronounced bones of her
clavicle and followed the fabric of her dress. Her frame was small, yet he was aware
that she emanated an influential aura amongst her party of tourists.
Louis abandoned his cautiousness and ventured closer, impelled, as if in a dream. The
air was flushed with heat as he detected an ambience of contentment in the way she
His eyes squinted as a feeling of wanting to be sick suddenly tugged at his throat.
Louis felt dizzy, his head became light and as he looked at the ground his eyes
blurred and the white sand of the earth seemed to move of its own accord. A slurred
thought fought its way through his brain, he needed to sit down and then suddenly,
like a felled tree the ground was moving towards him.
He startled her as he appeared like an apparition and it seemed that he had
walked from the very stones she was describing. She saw him from the corner of her
eye and she found herself relieved that she had stumbled upon him for the second
time. And then quite un expectantly she was astonished to see the colour drain from
him as instantaneous shouts arose from several people and there was a clamour to
rescue him from his fall. It felt as if her heart had jumped from her chest. She did not
see him thud against the ground for as he fell her view was obscured by two large
sisters whose frames employed them as effective barriers.
He looked as if he was sleeping as a mantle of contentment suffused his face. She
noticed that his hair was so dark that it was almost blue. It was cut short, about an
inch in length and drawn forward, above the forehead it was pushed upwards and
glistened in the sun. His skin now no longer the parlour of wet cement had a natural
cooper glow. She was drawn to his eye lashes that seemed unnaturally long for a man
and she instinctively thought that most women would kill to own such a lavish
The sky became a vast blue lake in which he could feel himself dive into and begin to
swim. Something smooth brushed his skin, long hair flowed down a slender and
naked back, a woman swam next to him. Her skin exuding a creamy white
complexion, she smiled as she turned to face him and in an indistinct murmur she
said something. In a rush of blinding light he broke the surface.
He blinked several times before fully opening his eyes and she was struck by their
depths, reminding her of water that was deep and mysterious. His eyes rolled once in
their socket before fixing on her and she noted silver flecks that subtly speckled them.
An earthquake pounded in his head, like a hammer. He attempted to stop it
spinning by focusing on a pillar that swayed, like a branch in the wind. He took deep
gulps of air to quench the tidal way of nausea that broke over him sending a hot flush
that crept over his skin like a reptile. Cold beads of perspiration dripped onto his
eyebrows, he wiped them with the back of his hand, he lifted his head and shielded
his squinting eyes.
Wrapped in the preoccupation of nursing his palatable embarrassment, Louis was
unaware of the woman leaning over and staring at him. His head spun and felt like a
stick of dynamite had exploded inside it as the world continued to swaye backwards
“Are you all right?” She asked soothingly.
“I think so” he said rubbing his head where a lump had began to emerge, like a new
born island rising from the sea.
He could smell her perfume and he fought a compulsion to draw closer to her.
She brushed strands of hair from her face with a slender hand and offered him water.
“Take a drink, its unopened..... I have another bottle any”
He noted that her hair parted in the middle of her head and fell off each side, like fine
shining sheets that emanated a polished glaze. The sun sprayed its warmth across his
face and he became aware of other faces, pressing down and peering at him curiously.
She offered him the water as he attempted to stand and test his balance. He sat on a
small section of wall.
“Thanks, I feel better now and a little embarrassed, I should have had something to
eat at breakfast”
“Never go out on an empty stomach, that’s what I always say” offered the small man
that Maria had snapped at earlier who was still perspiring as he wiped the back of his
neck with a stained and discoloured handkerchief.
A slight breeze lifted and it felt as if someone had breathed across his skin.
He drank the water and was grateful for it, wishing now that he had brought a bottle
“Your welcome to join our tour” Maria offered, “I’m sure no one will object”
A consensus of approval radiated from her party.
“Good idea” said the perspiring man.
“We’ll look after you my dear” said one of the large sisters.
The smooth oval of Maria’s face broke into a smile. The soothing effect of the water
replenished Louis and seemed to retrieve his senses as he thanked her for the
invitation and at the same time hoped that he had preserved his dignity.
Louis’ head floated, leaving a light sensation, however, he felt a lot better than he had
been. The imminent release of his stomachs contents no longer threatened to spill
over onto the ancient dust.
He made an effort to scoop himself from the wall and onto his feet.
“You can walk with us” one of the large women said in amotherly voice. “I’m
Dorothy and this is my sister Lucinda”
Lucinda smiled, “Pleased to meet you......”
“Louis” he injected.
“Pleased to meet you Louis, I use to be a nurse you know before I retired, a charge
nurse in fact so you are in good hands”
“Well, that is a cmmfort to know” Louis said glancing at Marie.
“I’ll leave you in their safe hands.....Louis” Maria smiled, pleased to be able to put a
name to the man.
“She is our guide” Dorothy whispered, “A lovely girl, very knowledgeable on Greek
culture and history”.
“Of course she is, its her job to know such things” Lucinda retorted incredulously.
“Now Lucinda, lets not give this fine young man a bad impression of ourselves”
“Oh your right dear, come on Louis, we don’t want to be left behind now, do we?”
Dorothy laughed a high pitched cackle, “That would be nice, imagine two old ladies
alone in an exotic country with a nice young man”
They both looked at each other and laughed once more and then gestured for Louis to
“Don’t worry Louis we will be gentle with you.”
Within the guided tour that followed Louis learnt that the sound of her voice painted
pictures within his mind. It conjured from the dust alluring images where history was
transported to the present day where he felt that he could almost touch, smell and hear
Louis stood and gazed at the site where the Olympic flame is born, given life every
four years by the heat of the sun onto glass. Maria informed the group that it was here
that the flame begins its traditional journey in a tribute to the original forefathers of
The Games consisted of foot races, chariot races, boxing, wrestling, pankration a
combination of boxing and wrestling, long jump, discuss, javelin and men and boys
events. The winners of these events wore given olive branches cut from the sacred
grove of Zeus by a boy whose parents had to be still alive. The winning athletes were
given large pensions, they became heroes in their villages, towns and cities and had
statues erected in their honour to celebrate their achievement and by their very nature
bestowing on the athletes immortality.
They walked a dusty track that led to the stadium entrance. It was on either side of
this path that the statues stood. On one side the winners of the Games were
represented and incredibly Louis thought, the stone plinths and bases had survived
the ravages of time, the athletes name and that of their town or village imprinted for
eternity on stone. Louis noticed that although the statues no longer stood in victory he
saw the imprint of where the feet would have stood..
Maria explained that opposite, another column of statues would line the entrance to
the stadium, however, unlike their counterparts-which faced them in jubilation, these
were the stone images of those exposed as cheats. Maria continued to expand
on their derogative nature by explaining that their humiliation was a doubled edged
sword for not only had they to suffer this public spectacle, the name of the town or
village from which they came was also carved into the stone. To the echoes of
approval from her party she instructed them that finally, the last indignant act
bestowed upon the cheat was that he had to pay for the statue, the statue being the
symbol of his degradation.
The stadium itself lay just beyond this symbol of human achievement and failings that
straddled the path. To gain access they walked under the remains of an archway that
spanned the entrance, and in between two intact walls that lead into the stadium
proper. Once through the entrance Louis found himself standing on the sandy white
earth of the original track. His first impression was tinged with wonderment, yet
flavoured by a dash of disappointment. He had envisaged a stone construction but as
Maria explained the stadium was built on banked areas, the spectators would have
been seated on the sloping side. It was constructed with one curved end, long enough
to accommodate the running track, where the contestants ran up and down and not
around the track. The track would be found in the middle where boxing, wrestling and
field events took place.
“Can you imagine,” Dorothy speculated in the direction of her sister, “Forty thousand
people attended these events. It must have been one of the wonders of the world
for its time”
Maria drew their attention to a line of stone sills thought to have been starting blocks.
They spanned the full width of the track, each sill was about four foot in length, on
the upper surface of each sill two lines were cut horizontally along its length.
“How about a race” Maria suggested. “For those who are able of course”
A small band eagerly stood in line, the temptation to stand at the archaic starting
blocks and then follow in the foot steps of the world’s first athletes was an irresistible
Dorothy and Lucinda opted to count down the race and declined to partake, “It would
not do to fall and bare ones mortification for the world to see” Lucinda sighed, “And
besides we are no spring chickens, in my younger years...well that would have been a
Maria stood beside Louis, she was a head shorter and he felt her arm softly
touch his skin.
“Are you sure you are feeling ok to run?” she asked
“I feel fine now thanks” he raised his eye brows “You wouldn’t be trying to get rid of
“What competition?” she smiled.
“On your marks.... get set..... go” Dorothy yelled in anticipation.
They ran in a straight line before the leaders staked their claim by leaving behind the
others, who already struggling were dropping of, like flies, as they shouted
encouragement to the remaining runners.... Maria, Louis and a young couple recently
married and on honeymoon.
Maria swiped strands of hair from her face as she edged in the lead, her dress flapping
around her knees, like clothes on a washing line, and it was then that Louis noticed
she was running in her bare feet.
The warm air brushed his ears, he tried to swing his arms faster and with more effort,
yet, the more deliberate his action, the further the distance between himself and Maria
opened up. From the corner of Louis eye an image appeared. He had left his wife
trailing behind, who was now slowing to a stop, and was now at Louis side, both men
breathing heavily, willing air into their protesting lungs.
Then as suddenly as it started the race was won, Maria throwing her arms into the air
in victory, to the vociferous encouragement of her spectators as she turned, hand on
hips and head tilted to one side as if to say ....and what competition was that then.
Louis was bent forward, his hands resting on his knees and inhaling large gulps of air
as she approached him.
“You run fast Maria.....very fast” he spluttered in between breaths.
“I know...I’ve not lost a race yet” she said brushing past him.
“No but you lost your shoes” he muttered
She looked over her shoulders and smiled, “I run quicker without them...oh but
of course, you noticed that”
He straightened himself and flapped his t-shirt to fan air around his upper body, “The
Greek Zola Bud” he laughed as he gestured for her to wait on him.
She stood and watched him walk towards her and the thought occurred to her that
they were flirting with each other, this man that she had only just met, yet she
couldn’t deny the definite and palpable appeal of it.
“We will be going to the museum now, would you like to stay with our group?” Maria
“I went earlier this morning” Louis said, before quickly regretting the words.
“Oh never mind....there are so many beautiful pieces there” she added, attempting to
hide her disappointment.
He wanted to say-but none as beautiful as you, but held back.
“What will you do after your visit to the museum?”
“We have lunch in the village and then leave at three o’clock to go back to Killini
where we get the ferry to Zakynthos”
“Oh, so you do not stay here in Olympia?”
“No, I live in Zakynthos, the people in our group are here on a day trip. I work for a
tour company based on the island where we organise tours and excursions for people
“I see for some reason I thought you lived here”
Maria looked at him and smiled.
“No I prefer to wake up to the sound of the sea in the morning”
Louis’ thoughts reclined back to the sunrises.
“I can relate to that, do you know that before I came to Greece I never really
appreciated or for that matter paid any attention to the sunrise or sunset but now I
love watching them over the sea”
“You do” Maria said.
He shrugged, “Yes I do”
“My father use to say that the best sunsets could only be found on Zakynthos. I
think he was slightly biased, as a girl we would watch the sun set together, he would
describe the colours to me as if we were in a gallery looking at a painting and use
words like, intense and vibrant. He always said that apart from his family they were
the most perfect creations on God’s earth”
Louis smiled and caught her eye. She looked away towards the tourists filing into the
“Are the sunsets on Cephallonia the same as the ones on Zakynthos?”
The question hung in the air like smoke.
“But why do you ask” Maria said puzzled.
“It’s where I was going to go next, there’s no point in going if the sky can’t produce
an inspiring sunset”
She looked at him surprised. She wanted to know more about this man called Louis,
her eyes drank him in as she asked, “Are you on holiday?”
“Well...I’ve been in Greece now longer than two weeks so I suppose I don’t qualify as
a packaged tourist, you could say I’m a free spirit just travelling.....following the
sunset” He said
She laughed, “Then Zakynthos would suit you fine” she smiled.
“Let me buy you lunch” His opportunism surprised even him.
“I do not think so” Maria said abruptly.
Louis’ heart sank, he had moved to quickly, she was rebuking him, he had offended
He frowned annoyed with his flirtation as he fought to conceal his frustration.
“That’s ok I understand” he fumbled.
She raised her eyebrows.
“I’ll make a deal with you” she said mockingly, enjoying the moment, “If you let me
pay for my half, I’ll let you pay for your half”
A slow perceptible smile spread across her face and an expectant expression danced
in her eyes. Louis scratched his forehead and returned her smile. She has been playing
with me, he contemplated and a considerable warmth emanated from his abdomen.