His heart felt as though it would burst out of his flesh as he recognized her…the girl he loved...
He had one day, one day to win her over, only a handful of hours to convince her to come back to him, to come back with him, to be his. His heart had thudded in his chest for the entire plane ride from Italy.
There was nothing to even say that she was still on Corfu, if she’d ever been there. For all Frank knew she could have cousin’s with the surname Durrell in mid-western America. He hadn’t told the guys where he was going, just that he needed a few days to himself after their last concert on the first European leg of the tour.
They only had a four day break. They were due in Texas on the 14th of April. It was cutting it fine, and he knew that, but he knew he had to chase her as well.
He had had to charter a flight from Greece to Corfu, the tiny planes that normally shuttled tourists were all booked. He had sat next to the pilot, his fingers digging into his thighs for the entire time. Would he find her? Corfu wasn’t a big island, but she could be anywhere. He figured the best thing to do in a place like that was to ask in the local businesses, assuming that the workers and owners got to know everyone.
He had left the plane on shaking legs and promised the pilot that he would be back at the same time the following day to be flown back to Italy. Twenty-four hours, never had that length of time seemed so short, so inadequate, so inconsequential to him.
He barely noticed the beauty of the bay or the cobbled streets of the old town as he wandered through them, a satchel over his shoulder. He did notice the stares though. It was mid- morning and he stuck out like a sore thumb in his tight black jeans and black hoodie. Something was being set up in the streets, marquees were going up and tables being assembled. He stood in the town square, not knowing what to do.
Frank chose a café at random and strode in. An elderly man was sitting slumped on the other side of the counter.
“Good morning” Frank greeted him, trying to keep his voice light and cheerful.
The man stared at him from heavily lidded eyes topped with dark, bushy eyebrows.
“Can I please have a ristretto?” Frank asked, taking a seat at the bar.
The man nodded and moved to the coffee machine.
“Is something happening in the streets today?” Frank asked lightly.
“Carnivale” The man replied gruffly.
Frank nodded as he received his coffee. Three more customers walked in, all middle-aged women, and took seats near him. Frank squirmed in his seat, suddenly uncomfortable.
“I am actually looking for someone” Frank told the man who showed no sign of having understood.
“A friend…from America…her name is Escher Drake, do you know where I can find her?” He asked.
The man remained silent, appraising Frank with his gaze.
“She’s short…like me,” He said with a nervous laugh, trying to ignore the chattering of the women.
He didn’t seem to notice that he had caught the attention of one of the women who was already pouring ouzo into her coffee.
“She uh, has long, dark hair and she’s yeah, American…Escher Drake…”
The man remained impassive and was beginning to unnerve Frank, for some reason he reminded him
of Jamia’s father the first time Frank had met him.
“Do you know her?” He asked.
Finally the elderly man spoke:
“Long, dark hair? No, I do not know this person” He said quietly and turned away.
Frank groaned and let his head fall onto the counter.
He finished his coffee, still not noticing the excited whispering of the three women nearby, and stood to leave.
“Excuse me?” Said one of the women,
“Leave it Zelda,” The man began, “You are such a gossip”
“Oh you know who he is talking about Spyro”
Frank turned in surprise.
“You know Escher?” He asked the woman.
“Oh yes, I am the post mistress here, she comes to use the phone to call New York, her friend, Sarah?”
“Yes that’s her” He said, unable to contain his excitement, “do you know where I can find her?”
“She and Ludivine will most likely be out on the boat at the moment,” Zelda said slowly, “they take it out almost every morning”
Frank resisted the urge to tell her to hurry the fuck up,
“It’s a little motor boat that belongs to Con and Grutzelba” Zelda explained and Frank nodded and smiled politely despite wanting to wring her neck to hurry her up.
“But today, she and Lu will be going to Carnivale, they have been excited about it for weeks”
“Yes it’s a festival, music, food, dancing”
“When will it start?”
“It is starting now, you should find them there sometime today”
“Thank you so much” He gushed, resisting the urge to kiss her now in thanks as he hurried out of the café.
“Zelda, what do you know of him? It is none of your business” Spyro admonished.
“But what if that is the boy she was speaking about on the telephone?” Zelda asked and the women all nodded.
Escher would have been horrified to discover that pretty much the entire island knew the rough details of her romantic history, but they wisely kept their knowledge from her.
So Frank had wandered around the stalls for hours, his heart dropping with every hour that went by without a sighting of her. He could have kicked himself that he didn’t ask Zelda where Escher actually lived. But when he went to the post office to ask, it had been closed early.
He had found his way back to the town square where, in the late afternoon heat, hundreds of people had flocked to dance and drink and eat. He stood alone, desolation spreading through him as he watched people dance and laugh. Why had he thought he would be able to find her? He had come so close.
He was staring at one couple, two women, not really seeing them, just their movement. The way their white skirts flew out around them as they danced crazily, in no formation. There was no pattern to it but they laughed like Gods. He only really noticed when one suddenly stopped dancing. She was barefoot and her blond hair was falling out of the floral clasps she had bound it in. Her cheeks were flushed and her big grey eyes were wide, and staring right at him.
His heart felt as though it would burst out of his flesh as he recognized her…the girl he loved.