“Why did you run Escher?”
It really was like living in different world, Escher mused as she re-read the express posted letter in the early morning sun on the balcony of the villa. It had arrived at the villa the day before, and it had probably arrived at the tiny post office the day before that. In the past, in New York, that would have infuriated her, she would have ranted and railed about inefficiency and bumbling bureaucracy. But she was learning to slow down herself, and not mind the pace with which time crept slowly, slowly forward here, taking only baby steps.
The letter was from Sarah, mostly to tell Escher to be at the post office later that day to receive a phone call. She didn’t have a cell on Corfu (it wouldn’t be much use anyway) and the villa did not have a telephone, so to make or receive calls she had to go into the town.
Could write about how the whole place is falling apart without you, but it turns out you picked Laz and I well! The Canary is doing great business, you’ll be very pleased and we scored an awesome review last week for the food (courtesy of the new chef Laz hired).
Spoke to G last week because we’ve had an idea about the Saturday nights we got started a while back, with the full 1920s theme that sort of floundered and didn’t do much. We’re going to extend it through to Sunday as well and apply for a 24-hour trading license and run the bar like an old parlour.
G loved it. I know you said I don’t need to run things by you while you’re away, but The Canary is your baby and I want to at least keep you in the loop.
Laz and I are looking after the apartment as well, and have kept your room as a shrine to all that is our benevolent dictator!
I still can’t get used to having to write to you instead of just seeing you or calling your cell. We need to talk ok? So I’ll call the post office at 2pm on Thursday, I remember you told me it has to be before 4pm your time because the lady who runs the post office sneaks off for ouzo and then falls asleep. I still don’t know whether to believe that…
She looked at the post mark, it had been express posted from New York the previous Friday, God knows how long it sat in the post office before Zelda’s dizzy mind sorted it and sent it with the postman (a seven-year-old named, you guessed it, Spyro) to the villa.
It was already 1:00pm and Escher decided to stroll down to the town and get a coffee before going to the post office.
She had created quite a stir in Corfu town when she had first arrived in her skinny jeans, doc martens and band shirts. It wasn’t as though the inhabitants of the island were backwards in any way, she quickly found out, in fact she suspected that a lot of the provinciality of the place was an act for tourists who wanted authenticity, someplace untouched by modernity. The same tourists who then bitched and whined because the café wasn’t a wifi hotspot, they couldn’t get service on their cells and why the fuck didn’t anyone speak English?
Escher felt as though she was in on the joke to some extent, and had relaxed into the scenery. Of course she still stuck out like a sore thumb but she had even let Grutzelba make her a couple of peasant dresses. And the locals had begun to relax around her when they saw she wasn’t just there to snap off a roll of film and catch the ferry back and on to the next island until she reached Ibiza.
She ran her fingers through her newly shorn hair. The night before Ludivine had attacked her with a pair of Grutz’s fabric shears and cut off her long hair to her shoulders, adding in choppy multiple layers. It made her hair kick up into golden curls all around her head and she wasn’t sure if she liked it (though Ludivine did tell her that if she dyed it black she’s look just like Joan Jett).
It took about 20 minutes to walk into town if you didn’t dawdle. There were other methods of getting around but Escher didn’t trust the old Buick rusting to death in the grounds of the vineyard and the bicycles didn’t entice her, even less so the donkeys, although Ludivine swore they were a good way of getting around the island. Escher preferred to walk though, it was therapeutic, she’d always thought so, remembering back to how many times she had walked home from Reprise because Frank had upset her.
She felt a pang at the thought of him but suppressed it quickly as she came into the end of the town.
As predicted, Zelda had tippled in her afternoon ouzo and was draped across the counter of the post office, half asleep. She smiled lazily at Escher when she walked.
“You’re getting a call from Ameyerica?” She asked with her thick accent.
“Yes from my housemate, she hasn’t called yet?”
“No, no and I’ve been here all day” Zelda assured her, with the wide eyed innocence of someone lying through their teeth.
Escher sat down with the book she’d brought with her and waited for the call.
Typical of Sarah, the call was fifteen minutes late.
“I’m sorry, we had trouble getting the last customer’s out” Sarah explained, the line crackling a little. It would be 2am in the morning in New York.
“That’s okay, how are you?” Escher asked, more excited to hear her friend’s voice than she had thought she would be.
“I’m good, we’re good. I met a guy!”
Escher rolled her eyes.
“Who would have guessed it?” She asked sarcastically.
“No he’s /different/!” Sarah said emphatically.
“They always are”
“No, this one is E”
Something in her friends voice made Escher stop. She had never known Sarah to be serious about someone. She had flings, week-long romances that were over before they started. Occasional bursts of tears and dramatics, but never anything serious.
“What’s he like?” Escher finally asked.
“He’s great, amazing…I mean, he’s not a guitar player in an uber famous band but…”
She couldn’t help herself, she had to throw Frank into the conversation.
“What does he do?” Escher asked.
“He’s a band promoter, I actually met him through Gerard which reminds me, why didn’t you tell me that Gerard Way was your silent partner?”
“Because he was my /silent partner/” Escher deadpanned.
“Right…well, I am so glad that I started working at /The Canary/, I mean where else do you get to meet all your favourite bands and fall in love with their promoter’s”
“Whoa, wait, hold up…in love?”
“You’re in love?” Escher asked, the disbelief in her voce obvious.
“Yeah,” Sarah replied simply, “I am”
Escher was in shock, she had never expected this from Sarah.
“What’s his name?”
“Caleb Young” Sarah said, breathily.
“I can’t believe it”
“I know right?” Sarah’s voice was light and deliriously happy, but there was an edge to it.
“You never expected this, did you?” Escher asked, leaning on the counter.
“No,” Sarah replied honestly, “I just thought that what I was doing was as good as it got, I never thought that if I just said ‘yes’ to the right person, that everything could work out so well”
Escher felt another pang, what would have happened if she had said ‘yes’ to the right person, and meant it?
“Why did you run Escher?”
Escher drew in a sudden breath, they hadn’t spoken about this before. The first time she had contacted Sarah was when the plane had touched down in Italy, that was to let her know that Gee was silent partner if there were any questions about the business and to let her know that she was safe. Sarah had been livid and terse on the phone. It had taken a few weeks before they could talk civilly to each other, but they always avoided this one topic.
“I’m only asking now because I understand what it’s like to be in love and I just don’t know how you could have run away like that”
“He asked me to stay,” She admitted, “And I said yes”
“So why didn’t you?” Sarah repeated.
“I was in love with Frank for a long time,” She said softly, knowing that Zelda would be listening in, “And then after eight years and so much that had happened, he comes back into my life and I fall in love with him all over again. But I know, in the back of my mind, that it’s all one-sided”
“But he said…” Sarah began but Escher interrupted her,
“I’m sure he meant it when he said he wanted me to stay,” Escher went on, misunderstanding what Sarah was trying to tell her, “but the simple fact is, I would always be the one that was more in love, and I can’t do that”
Sarah was bursting to tell her what Frank had said that day in the Canary after Escher had just quit, but would she listen?
“I saw him, on Christmas Eve” Sarah said, remembering how drunk he’d gotten, how hopeless and despondent he had been. Gerard said he still wasn’t himself, he was mopey and quiet but he wouldn’t admit that he missed her.
“Great, great, look it’s great news about you and Caleb Sarah, and I really am pleased for you but…”
“But you have to go?”
“Yeah,” Escher said apologetically, “Thanks for the call and I’ll call you soon”
“Ok I…” Sarah trailed off as she heard the dial tone of the phone in her ear, “I miss you” She mumbled into the dead receiver.