Chants of Bells and Spices.

This ever changing life confused him. Thoughts of her had roused once passion in him, something he had abandoned. No, he said aloud, this time I will not give-in to my feelings. He turned; her voice sounded from beyond the sea and the words uttered through his voice chords frightened him. This could never be his voice. It vibrated with her passionate uttering, and did not belong to him any longer. He had ceased to exist, when she died. She had taken revenge on him, pulling his heart out and leaving his carapace behind. Calcified pieces that pressed into a shell, flung upon the beach; their edges shaped and smoothened by the constant battering of the waves: The eternal sea god sculpting with his powerful hands, causing ebb and flow.

The storms of the night pushed him high into the swell, where he rose to a dangerous roar of the senses. She lifted him high up for a last time, until he cried-out in pain. Soaring into the night air, she let suddenly go. He fell onto the inclined beach, upon the rocks; his pilgrimage to find the truth about her ended, as he shattered into pieces.

The stars above rotated in a golden circle and tumbled down. The crescent moon drowned in high silver-lined waves of emotions that swelled and crushed. Swelled and crushed. Mortally wounded, he sensed death between the shadows of the rocks. It smelled of rotten fish and musky seaweed.

At the crack of dawn a dusky woman would appear. Her slim amber feet placed gently upon the wet sand, tiny bells chimed above her ankles in her gait that matched the rhythmic swill of a low tide. She carried a slender pitcher of glazed ceramic clay on her bare shoulders: Sweet waters of salvation, she sang to the bell’s chime. He longed for a reviving drink. He’d pay for it with a kiss, longings to touch her face. He would adore her lithe body. He’ll die for her fingers that lifted his shell to scoop water from her cool and colourful pitcher; she had dug into the soft sand next to his shell taking it into her slender fingers.

As she placed his shell to his lips, sipping greedily, he sprang into life. He had all day, until the stars appeared for another night, when the dark sea’s tentacles would pull him back into the deep. The recurring chase for love of his elusive mate slipped from his hands like the good-bye from her lips.

He hated her for leaving him, a shell cast away and turned into a slave of the eternal sea.

Day for day he wished to be saved from the spell his deceased muse had placed upon him: I do not want you to go to another woman; she crossed his heart and tore it from his chest, beating in her palms, his life finished. His heart’s red flame – with her last leap from the rocks of Lesvos Isle – hardly lit up the darkness of the void, which claimed her with immediate absorption. He fell like Phaeton to his death, the red flame doused in the expanse of the sea…

No, he cried: I do not deserve this end! I loved her, adored her. I served her whims, composed her love poems and wrote her purple letters. If there is indeed a god of letters, why does he not have mercy on a fellow poet’s soul?

He shouted, swept upon the beach of water-bearers as their shell and he enjoyed being placed against their lips for a cooling drink.

He liked Anna’s lips most. Beautiful and soft-skinned like honey, her dark hair matched the glow of her eyes. Rays of sunlight played from the tips of her pearl-rows of teeth. Her slender fingers like rambling water-lilies clasped around his existence in pilgrim shell.

I’ll serve you as your drinking vessel; I love the touch of your lips. I’ll die for you, he sang and lamented. Did she hear him sing? Did she grasp his words?

He had though no choice in the matter any longer. If he kept still, he’ll reach the thousandth time of the ritual and he’ll be free for the next purifying steps of seven.

He needed to rise to the state of souls on the pyramid’s peak. Freed in a final flight he’d return to the world of the living. Their fate had set another series of tests to begin. Another round of suffering for the red heart commenced. Of a new heart? No, he preferred the one he had, even if it had been battered around, squeezed and mistreated. The juices of life had been regenerated, albeit the scars of love were cut with sharp blades deep into it. He’ll take his heart back again, nurture it and listen to its tales. It had felt well in the water-bearer’s hands. The slim fingers from the hands of the dusky woman, touched him like garlands, soothed his body and the warm glow from her eyes, dancing like sun-rays on the crest of the sea began to heal his wounds.

One morning she did not turn-up and he suffered from anxiety, his wounds opening-up again. He thought of having lost her and he wished to elope to an island in the Med, where he once felt to be at home. He had visited the Mediterranean Sea at night, clasped tight to a dolphin’s fin. He loved the Bay of Makri Giallos, the white washed houses of charming Analipsi.

His thousandth time up, he emerged as a black knight, his half-moon emblem on his fish scaled shirt lit up the way to the winding road that led to a small village. Why would he take the road to a village in the mountains, called Pepperi?

Something inside urged him on this quest to find a secret. Faced with the greatest surprise, he called out: “Anna, you are here?”

“Yes,” she beamed, rays of the new moon bounced from the cusp of her teeth.

“This is a surprise!” He felt overwhelmed, moving around her like a fisherman about an unusual catch.

“Can you show me the magical spice tree?” she turned, a child glowing with great expectation in her wide open eyes.

“Come along my friend, I show you.” He took her hand.

Together ascending the incline, passing the left bend between low rise houses, with dark entrances and open windows, her fleet footed gait pulled him along. His gaze towards the top of the road, his own anticipation raced the pulses in his temples. His silver-haired presence dwindled and the golden locks of his youth curled around his forehead and nape. The magical tree rose in front of them like a giant umbrella; an arching soft cover with its emerald crown.

“See Anna?” he stretched his hands to grab a ball of seeds, red like a cluster of magenta miniature grapes. The enclosing feathered leaves trembled in a breeze that rushed through the rocky ravines and the dusty-brown olive groves from the distant sea. The air turned moist and salty. He rubbed the cluster of red corn between his fingers.

“Mh,” she closed her eyes as his fingertips touched her face. She smelled the strong scent and the spice spread like wildfire into her. She opened her lips and closed her eyes. He kissed her. The warmth enhanced a burn that melted their bodies.

“Ahhh,” she gasped like a fish, swallowing air, freeing her upper lip.

“I’ve done this a hundred times.” He smiled.

“No,” she gasped “where?”

“Every time, you sipped the sweet water of life from the cup of the pilgrim shell.” He gazed at her eyes.

“No,” she blushed with a glow of her amber skin.

“The pilgrim shell, you’ve picked up on the beach near the lighthouse, at Umhlanga Rocks.” He watched her eyes changing as she recalled the incident.

No,” she whispered “my god. That was you?”

“Yes,” he sighed “I had a free wish. You came to this place of my innermost desire.”

He kissed her again. He could not get enough of her carmine-red lips. As he kissed them, he wanted her brown eyes. When he kissed her eyes, he wanted her lips that changed to the colour of the crimson red corn clusters from the magical spice tree.

“The cycles of the moon draw me,” she stood at the full height window. He gazed at her streamlined body, caressed by the rays of a full moon. The flow of milky light transformed her into an angelic being.

He cringed. He hated good-byes. As she grew wings, he closed his eyes.

He’ll never see her again; he crossed his fingers, her scent of red pepper and cinnamon tasted on his dry lips. The air felt warm and he stretched out.

“Anna, let me love you one more time?”

The intensity of his union with her shattered the shell of his locked up existence. The smithereens from his heart fell like drops of dew upon the pale green crown of the magical pepper tree below a sparsely furnished, white walled room.

He could hear cries of joy and chants of pain from a distance. He did not know which force propelled him into the air, into the clouds, only to be dropped from a daring roller coaster ride above the mountainous Isle of Crete…

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