There was a feather on his pillow when he settled down to sleep that last time. He had no idea where it had come from. If it was time to die, so be it…
Always the same beginning to the dream; the swim to the hidden beach on the Greek island, the beautiful sun blazing down on his naked body, far from the world he had left when he plunged into the water and began the half-hour’s endurance.
That much had been real, though the recurring dream gave it a new quality. When his world had come crashing down, when all meaning had seemed lost, he had gathered up his meagre savings and taken that last minute holiday to the poor, tiny place on the Greek island; its white rocks reflecting the sun amidst the glittering, dark blue of the Mediterranean sea.
He remembered actually falling asleep and waking to see the patterns in the bright rock face above him, though upside down to his normal vision. He had renewed his climbing as an act healing for the breakdown; a form of living therapy that absorbed him and took his febrile mind away from its imagined woes…
Upside down and with his climber’s mind, he had seen, clearly, the foot and handholds in the rock. Most would have missed them, but the strange perspective seemed to emphasise their position, their do-ability. And then, above the visible way-markers – far above them – the opening of the dark cave, set midway along the cliff face. For a second he had glimpsed the tiny outlines of vertical rocks set as pillars in that mysterious elevation. But, when he blinked, he couldn’t see them any more.
He remembered, then, the regret at having to swim back, the now sunburned skin left foolishly unprotected. Then hauling himself out of the water, at the beach next to the old villa that was his home for a while. A short walk to his towel, trunks and tee-shirt and he was back in the little village with the two tavernas, sipping cheap Greek wine and washing its appalling refreshment down with bottled water and a salad. How hungry he had felt, then.
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