By Akis Papantonis
HE IS LEFT-HANDED. SHE IS NOT. He always quotes famous people. She always speaks with innuendos. He runs five miles every morning. She drives to work. He will not have a meal without dessert. All she has is dessert. He only listens to Scriabin. She will not turn the telly off. His parents died when he was six. She visits hers every other weekend. He talks to her about everything: the weather, the novel he cannot finish, his aching joints, his phobias—acquired or inherited. She won’t reveal a thing to him: neither her ex-husband’s name, nor her resentment of his cooking, her increasingly worse hearing, her love for 80’s pop music. When he’s serving her dinner, he does so with a sense of guilt-ornamented gratitude. When she’s ironing his shirts, she does so under the spell of inescapable habit. He agreed to this marriage without knowing how convenient it would prove to be. She proposed it while dreaming of a green card. He couldn’t have imagined that he’d regret undressing and slipping into her bed that night. She couldn’t have imagined that she wasn’t just returning a favor when she spread her legs that same night. If he were to die first he’d leave her his unfinished manuscript and the car, which she uses anyway. If she were to die first she’d leave him a letter she hasn’t yet written. On the coffee table lies a photo album with pictures of the two of them in Croatia. They’re both wearing straw hats.
Akis Papantonis studied biology at the University of Athens and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Cologne. Short stories and essays of his have appeared in Greek literary journals and newspapers, the OpenPen and Oxford Magazine, and the anthologies “We are all immigrants” (Patakis, 2007) and “11 words” (Kalentis, 2013). His first book (in Greek), a novella entitled “Karyotype,” will be published in 2014 (Kichli Editions).