As the sun dropped behind the mountain, the road fell into shadow. There was a man standing at the road’s edge, beside the turnoff for a track that curved away from the main highway and up the mountainside. Eylül slowed the car and hesitated a moment. She probably shouldn’t pick him up. But how heartless to look into a hitchhiker’s eyes on a deserted road and then step on the accelerator and drive away. Also, he was obviously going to the monastery. Perhaps by giving him a lift up there she might get to see inside it.
Eylül was on the hunt for a suitable venue for next year’s Festival of International Theatre which was organized by her theatre company. The director of the theatre was Eylül’s lover. It was him who had sent her on an exploratory trip to this island. They’d been together for seven months. Briefly after they had met at a bar that was frequented by the experiential drama crowd of Athens, Eylül moved into his penthouse flat in Monastiraki. You could see the back of the Acropolis from his balcony.
« If you have time, you should definitely see the monastery, » he’d said as she was putting her small suitcase in the trunk of the airport taxi. Ever since she was a child Eylül had sought out monasteries, temples, abandoned churches on side streets, hoping for something — though she couldn’t say what exactly. Would the secrets of the universe be whispered in her ear? Would the hidden symmetry of coincidences be explained, death’s enigmas solved?
On the far side of the island there was a potentially perfect amphitheater for the festival. Eylül’s job was to test its acoustics, then get a general feel for the island. She’d completed her tasks quickly, so had a free afternoon and evening ahead of her.
« If a story just like that one — dying babies, divine retribution — had come back to me from childhood memories, it would have seemed fantastical, unreal. »
A story about quarks and antiquarks, beauty quarks and strangelets, gluons, muons, prions, hadrons and charms.
A story about a lonely railway guard on a desolate steppe. « In the cursed August of 1991 the radio informed Kasatonov that there was a state of emergency in the capital. Then it fell silent, as if the receiver had broken. »