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  • Tonia Markou

Summers in Greece | By Tonia Markou

Our grandparents’ house smells of musty old rugs and comforters,

of goat cheese and Trahaná.

The entire village groans under the heat and dust

while me and my sister put our warm cheeks on the cold stone floor, not minding the ants parading past us

(they have somewhere better to be)

It is the 90s, but it feels like the nineteenth century—

no electricity,

no toilet,

Mother heating water in the fireplace to wash our hair.

The mosquitos won’t let us sleep at night, but I’m the only one wearing their marks the next morning

(you have sweet blood, child)

Grandma— seventy years old, a gray braid reaching down the small of her back.

I’m tempted to pull at it like a bell rope, give it a purpose.

Grandpa, a hard man, hardly there, working in the fields.

Out of reach is the sea; the smell of pine trees cools our skin instead.

We eat tomatoes as big as baby heads, enough juice for a whole loaf of freshly-baked bread.

In the afternoons, we make a game out of squatting flies,

paint new worlds in our minds, pretend to be other people with more interesting lives.

And no bodily functions.

I dread the steep slope to the outhouse,

afraid of breaking my neck,

pants down,

donkeys watching.

After six weeks, we leave, not sure when we’ll be coming back,

maybe in two years,

probably in five.

We get older, the world grows bigger, and we visit other places,

but our summers in Greece stay with us—

a strange gift we never asked for,

a reminder of who we are.


Tonia Markou is a Greek-German polyglot and globetrotter with an unhealthy obsession for stationery, mugs, pajamas and Chuck Taylors. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Dime Show Review, Youth Imagination, Corvid Queen, little somethings press, Scarlet Leaf Review and Havok. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Medium at @toniawrites.

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