The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Fiction from Mexico City

Flash Fiction

By Natalia Ilia, Greece (Published in issue 18).

Flash News

"An airplane travelling from Athens to Spain crashed in a forest area, outside of Rome. So far, we have no information about survivors. Rescue teams are currently on their way to the crash site. Experts estimate that torrential rain and strong winds blowing above the Ionian Sea interrupted the normal course of flight, causing problems to the material and technical equipment of the plane. We will interrupt our program for anything new. Until then... "

Sometimes, I think that it would have been great if all my memorable moments had taken place through sunny mornings or hot summer nights or even by chance under a spotless sky. However, it turned out to be nothing like that at all. I even tried to create virtual scenarios that were more pleasant than reality, but it was useless. So, once I accepted the pain of realization, I watched all my thoughts with clarity. And now, I’m barely able to keep in my mind two or three enjoyable moments of my life being ruined by a rainy sky.

One such event happened in 1979, back in my twenties. I was going to Monastiraki Street market to buy the "Blue" by Joni Mitchell, a record that I was desperately longing for since I learned that it had been released. I was so excited about buying it, after all that searching and running and bother. Try to imagine that for two years I used to beg a shopkeeper in Patission Street to bring me this vinyl record. I would have paid him as much as he wanted to. I simply didn’t care about the cost as long as I could keep it in my hands. But, he was always so crabbed and used to wave his head and say: "Let the hippies running naked within the meadows. We are Balkans. Buy Kazantzidis' records or Christakis' and learn what music really is." And all this, until one morning - otherwise sunny - a friend of mine told me "There is a record store in Monastiraki that has what you need in limited copies."

The next minute I found myself running to that store, coming down the stairs and approaching the manager, short of breath. He was standing speechless behind a red desk with his large sun-glasses and his black beard as if he was forgotten there by another decade. He did not ask me anything or perhaps I did not give him the time he needed to open his hairy mouth. "Joni Mitchell's Blue and hurry, please," I said while I was making an effort to take a deep breath. He gave it to me, I paid him and in that exact moment that I was holding my beloved record in my hands, I felt as if I was a child buying his first ice cream. And for that, I promised myself never to forget that feeling. I came out of the store and took a quick glance at the sky which was dark now. However, I didn’t pay much attention, because I knew that in a while I would be home, locked in my room listening to that ecstatic music of my favourite singer.

Then, and again almost breathless, I reached Mitropoleos Street and while I was walking light-hearted, all of a sudden two cars braked in front of me and some crazy old drivers began to fight and beat one another with punches and kicks. Everyone, including myself, sat and observed that spectacular attraction as if we were stoned. One yelled: "Keep honking at me and I will shoot you. What the fuck is your problem, man?" And the other one defended himself while beating his opponent's body to the pavement "You are driving as if you own the fucking road, you stupid motherfucker." Needless to say that I was almost amused by that show that I did not see what it was coming. So, while I was laughing at their fight, one of them approached me with a face full of rage and in a blink of an eye grabbed my bag with the record inside and smashed it into the other one's head. My favourite record had turned into small pieces of vinyl and I was screaming like some hysterical bitch who had seen a cockroach near her legs.

After a while, patrol sirens filled the air and everyone left in different directions. And though the place emptied, I had become a human trash, standing on my knees and staring my broken record being pressed and pressed again and again by passengers' feet. In front of my eyes there were lying innumerable small pieces of black vinyl like helpless ants. And while I had collected almost every piece, it began to rain. Tons of water came out from the sky that day and it was like heaven mourned for the loss of our beloved and precious disk. In the end, I walked in the rain, though I was not thinking of my loss anymore. Instead, I was calling myself names because I hadn’t kept enough money to buy a bus ticket and return home dry. I just had to go on foot.

Tonight I fly to Spain. In less than an hour I have to be to the airport to check in. Unfortunately, I have been so preoccupied with the preparations for my trip that I forgot to listen to the weather report. However, I look at the sky and it is as clear as my thoughts. Nothing is going to happen. Wish me a nice and safe trip...

--

Natalia Ilia was born in Athens in 1983. She is a Sociologist with a Master Degree in Criminology. For the past ten years she works on music projects, while she uses writing as a self refuge. Her first book titled "Next Door Men" is as in-depth study on serial killers from around the world. It was released in 2010 by Oselotos publishing. Most of her short stories have been awarded in nationwide competitions. Her first theatrical script entitled "Monologue of a Dog" was awarded and presented in Athens in May 2012.