A Writer’s Perspective

Here is another piece of flash fiction. Again, it’s a ‘Drabble’ being 100 words long and having a beginning, middle and end. It was inspired by a scene I saw on holiday, but it’s completely fictional. Rather entertainingly, we subsequently met some of the performers – including the two lads – in a taverna and were able to express our enjoyment of the concert.

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A writer’s perspective

Those who were to perform in the Festival concert were in the front rows of the audience. Two young men sat side by side. The compere introduced a piece for solo piano, and both boys stood up. One went to the piano, the other stood at the side, recording a video of the performance.

Were they a gay couple, I wondered? The youth turned, looked at me; I smiled back.

Afterwards, he asked me why I had stared at him, rather than watch his friend performing.

“I am a writer. I have to look where other people are not looking.”

The Angel of Epirus

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story with a beginning, middle and end in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

The Angel of Epirus 170727

Photoprompt (c) J Hardy Carroll

The Angel of Epirus

They met in the fragrance of pine trees and the harsh smell of shattered dwellings. Hans should have killed her, but he was sick of violence. Magdalena should have screamed for the partisans; but Hans looked like her brother, dead twelve months. He looked despairing.

Shuddering, terrified, she removed her dowry necklace, pressed it into his hands.

She hissed hated German words. “Walk! Three days!” She pointed west. “Find boat. Pay man. Italy.”

Now the new buildings after the war are themselves old and in disrepair. Magdalena still feels the scars of her whipping. She still hears the whisper “Krautfucker!”

A Chance Encounter

A Drabble is a piece of flash fiction that is 100 words long. The subject of this Drabble came to me as I was enjoying lunch in Café Kentrikon in Syntagma Square, Nafplion. Full of beer and tuna sandwich, I knew that all was well with the world. Life was good. Don’t read too much into the story, though; it is fiction, after all!

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The warm breeze caressed me like a lover. I settled comfortably into my cushioned seat at the café under the plane tree, and gazed across the marble square. I thought of my grandchildren playing there sometime soon.

He was tall and instantly recognisable, despite grey hair; my former boss, the man who had fired me. It had not been an amicable parting.

I waved. He squinted at me, did a double-take.

“Penny?”

“Adrian! How are you? How’s Joy?”

He shrugged.

“She wanted kids. I didn’t.”

“You made it up the corporate ladder though?”

He shrugged again.

“For what it’s worth.”

Kapodistrias – two nations and a pile of potatoes

As those who follow my blog probably know, I’m currently on holiday in Nauplio, which is in Greece. Nauplio was once the capital city of modern Greece, and Kapodistrias was one of the heroes of that time. There are statues to him, and a street and a hotel named after him. He built two nations by diplomacy and not by war. Wholly admirable, I think you’ll agree!

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Kapodistrias was born in Corfu, and educated in medicine and law. He initially practised as a physician. As a nobleman, he was invited to help govern a newly-formed federation of seven islands, which included Corfu, the Septinsular Republic.

There was strenuous opposition to the new Republic; vested interests were threatened. Kapodistrias won them over with his diplomatic skills, and his personal courage. He became Chief Minister of State, introducing a more liberal constitution, and invigorating the public sector, especially education.

The French took over the Septinsular Republic, and replaced the Senate. Kapodistrias eventually went to Russia and made a career in their diplomatic service. After four years he was sent as the unofficial Russian Ambassador to Switzerland. The Swiss Cantons were on the verge of civil war. Kapodistrias immersed himself in diplomacy, preparing draft constitutions, and negotiating with the Great Powers to guarantee Switzerland’s constitution and neutrality. In a very real way, he was the founder of modern Switzerland!

There was then a period when he served as joint Foreign Minister of Russia. He was repeatedly approached by groups promoting the cause of Greek independence, and he was forthright in his rejection of the idea. He repeatedly declined his support. When asked by the Tsar whether Russia should support the movement for Greek independence, he expressed support for the idea in theory, but advised against it in practical terms.

His hand was forced, though, when Prince Alexander Ypsilantis invaded Moldavia, with a view to provoking a revolt against the Ottomans throughout the Balkans. A contemporary account records that Kapodistrias was thunderstruck.

The revolution slowly succeeded in Greece, until they had a defensible territory. Despite his opposition to revolution, Kapodistrias was far and away the most illustrious Greek politician in Europe, and he was invited to become the first Governor of Greece. He was pessimistic about the chances of success, and said “Providence will decide, and it will be for the best.”

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The building with the domed roof was the original Parliament of the Greeks.

Nevertheless, he travelled to Nauplio, the first capital city of modern Greece, and threw himself into the task. He established a currency, used his international prestige to raise loans for the nation, reformed agriculture, established educational institutions, all the time working sixteen or seventeen hours a day every day. It was as though he knew that his time was limited.

And, sure enough, on October 9th 1831, as he went to church, two assassins attacked him. The first bullet missed, and struck the wall of the church where the hole can be seen to this day. The second shot put a bullet through his head, and the other killer thrust a dagger into his heart. The assassins? Greek ‘war heroes’, whose vested interests had been compromised. Kapodistrias had known throughout his life the dangers of these interests. Personally I believe he knew it was only a matter of time before he was murdered, and had been working to his very limit to try and establish the Greek state.

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The bullet hole in the wall of the Church of Saint Spirydon

And he succeeded. Greece stands, and is a part of the liberal European vision, which had always been Kapodistrias’s ideal.

Now, despite the astonishing achievement of founding two states that have survived to the present day, the murder of Kapodistrias feels rather downbeat as an ending for this post. I shall, instead, finish with a legend that exemplifies the way Kapodistrias worked.

He believed that the introduction of potatoes to Greece would raise the living standards of the poorest Greeks, and tried to hand them out to the local population. However, people were suspicious, and wouldn’t accept the potatoes. Kapodistrias then had the entire shipment unloaded onto the dock on public display, with soldiers guarding them. It wasn’t long before people started stealing the potatoes, with the guards turning a blind eye. Soon, the entire pile had been ‘stolen’ and the potato introduced into cultivation in Greece!

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Friday Fictioneers – A Confidant

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, with a beginning, middle and end in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

Photoprompt (c) Kent Bonham

Word count 100

A confidant

Rebekah stretched. It had been a long drive to her parents’ home in Galilee from her workplace, the Monod Institute, in the Negev. The garden, her father’s share of Abraham’s inheritance, held grapevines, a few olives and a fig tree.

Rebekah frowned, as she had for months. Could she tell her father?

She climbed up to be enfolded in her mother’s arms.

“And, guess what? We have your brother, David, for dinner tonight!”

Rebekah tensed with realisation. David! He was a physician, and discreet. She could tell him about the bioweapon, the Doomsday Plague, being developed by the Monod Institute!

Lunch in a storm

Greece in July is always hot and dry, right?

Think again.

We’ve just been lunching at the Καφέ Κεντρικών in Ναύπλιο, watching the rain lash down. The only place I have seen more intense rain was in Singapore, in the rainy season. In Singapore, it was at least warm. Here, I started to wish I’d brought a cardigan.

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The waiters are very good at dealing with the rain. We were sitting under large awnings, and there were canvas gutters between the awnings of each table. The rain ran down the awnings, along the gutters and poured down in cascades outside the covered area. We felt well protected from the elements.

Unfortunately, there is a slope on the beautiful, marble square. It leads towards the café. The square is large and collects rainwater rapidly. I was lunching with my feet in 5 millimetres of fast-flowing water. Although I wouldn’t choose to eat lunch like that every day, as a holiday treat it was rather special!

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This wasn’t even the first storm of the day. The first had been at about 2 a.m. Zeus was banging off lightning bolts in all directions, one of them seeming to strike the Old Citadel directly above us. We waited for a chunk of masonry to plunge through our roof. When it failed to materialise, we reckoned that perhaps we weren’t quite as well loved by the gods as we’d thought (for, those whom the gods love, die young). We would probably live to fight another day. We ignored the lightning, and went back to sleep.

In the late morning, we walked up over the hill past the Old Citadel. Zeus appeared to have spared that, too. There is a very picturesque path around the headland of the peninsular. We strolled along beside the sea, intoxicated by the sweet, spicy scent of pine trees and cactus fruit. The water was calm, the small waves making a chuckling noise as they broke in pools and chambers worn in the rocks by the eddies of a thousand years. All was calm.

Then we looked the few miles across the Gulf of Argos, and the clouds hinted at what was in store for us.

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Still, it’s bright now. The sun keeps pretending that it would like to shine, and objects once again have shadows. Perhaps a siesta would be good; it was a large lunch (I have never eaten four fried eggs at a single sitting before) with twice as much beer as we’d intended…

A small milestone

Thank you to all those people who are following my blog “Autumn Leaves”; you now number 101! I’m delighted!

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The photograph is the view from Nauplio across the Gulf of Argos. Normally at this time in the evening it’s a tranquil scene. Today, thunder has been rumbling intermittently, and the clouds and sun combined to make a stage set. Cue the entrance of Poseidon…