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Romance Sad Thriller

Morning broke over the island of Sikinos. As far as the Greek islands went, it was completely unremarkable; it had just two towns connected by a single road, one of which sat on the shores of the Aegean and received the occasional ferries of tourists misled by their travel guides’ claims of Sikinos’s picturesque beauty into believing that it was a place truly worth visiting. To be sure, it was beautiful, but it was an intangible, natural kind of beauty, the kind that had so captivated Byron to fight and die in a land over a thousand miles from his native Britain. Yet there was very little that truly made it stand out from its fellow Cyclades. There was a Byzantine church nestled high in the mountains, but it was little more than a weathered cube of brick and marble, only significant because of its age. In fact, the better portion of what Sikinos had to offer were these oblique glances into the ruined works of Greeks past, which inevitably found their way into the backs of photo galleries behind the white houses of Santorini or the bustling port of Mykonos. For that reason the tourists came only in trickles, and never just for Sikinos, always as part of some greater excursion across the Aegean. The people of the islands liked it that way. They lived as their fathers did, and their fathers before them, making honey from the bees and cheese from the cows, never in any great number - there were only two hundred fifty people on the whole island - but always of great quality, a testament to centuries of unbroken tradition stretching back to before the kyanólefki flew over Alopronia harbor. Their world was small, and their world was simple, although, on account of the couple standing on the docks, that fact was subject to change.

“I swear to God, Alex, I’ll do it,” the woman cried, her voice trembling with emotion. “I really will.”


“You never loved me, did you?” She breathed. “For once in your life, please, Alex, be honest with me. These could be the last words I ever hear from you. Choose them carefully.”

There had been very few times in Alexios Matthiou’s life where he had been utterly lost for words. That morning was one of them. 

Alex had always been good at dealing with people. Whether it was in the boardroom or on the golf course, he knew how to take command of a conversation like the dozens of container ships that had made him his fortune. He considered it his greatest skill. As he’d gotten older, and his hair had started going white, and his skin began to shrivel up like Peloponnesian grapes in the sun, his wit had never failed him - except for now. Now, his wife was about to throw herself into the sea, and he had no idea why.

Sarah was twenty-three, dishwater blonde, drop-dead gorgeous. They had been married for three years, and of those three years, Alex couldn’t recall a single day in which she had been upset, let alone crying her eyes out like she was now. He was far more used to seeing her happy. He loved how Sarah’s smile lit up her face when he’d take her out for a cruise on the Mediterranean, or fly private to Milan or Paris and treat her to a shopping spree. Alex did everything he could to make sure that smile never faded. He was a man hopelessly in love in the twilight of his life, and some days he felt almost guilty for wanting to spend time with her at the point where common decency said he shouldn’t. Alex didn’t care. Recently he had distanced himself from his company, spending ever more attention and money on his wife, to the point where some of his friends and associates questioned his sanity behind closed doors. Sarah Matthiou was his whole world. But, at this rate, his world would soon be at the bottom of the Aegean Sea. So his mind raced for a solution, and found the words:

“When did you think I stopped loving you?”

Sarah paused for a moment. “That one night in Piraeus, on the waterfront, where you drafted your will, and gave half your estate to your brother.” She sniffled. “I-I always had my doubts, but when I read it, I knew then that you hated me” - another sniffle - “and that you took some kind of pleasure in watching me go through shit like this.”

“Sarah, honey, I want you to listen to me,” Alex said, panic and indecision playing among the wrinkles of his face. “I don’t know where you came up with all that, but none of it’s true. Ever since I first laid eyes on you, I loved you. I always have.” He took a hesitant step towards his wife, who herself was looking longingly down at the sea, as if its depths were calling to her like the sirens to Odysseus. “Now, Sar-”

Stay away from me!” she shrieked. A long moment passed before she spoke again, this time in a low, passionate voice. “You don’t care. You never did...you never will. I was always your little toy to fuck in the late night drunk off your fancy wine and forget about in the morning. How many other girls did you try out before you found I was the one? No...you didn’t stop, even after our wedding. You sick fuck. I know what you and those rich pricks you hang out with get up to at those parties. That’s why you never let me come, isn’t it?”

Alex took a step back, and then another, raising his hands as if to try and absolve himself of this supposed guilt, before asking, in a quavering voice bordering on a whisper: “What do you want? Do you want to fly to London again? We can be gone within the hour.” His voice picked up. “Yes...that’s it. We’ll go to London. Or maybe Brazil. Or Bermuda. Or we can go to Santorini, keep it close to home. Wherever you want. Whatever you want. And on the way there we can work this out. Just-please, honey, step away from the water.”

“It was never about all the vacations,” Sarah said, shaking her head. “It was never about the money. Do you remember that one time when you went on one of your business trips to Spain and dragged me along with you? Barcelona, I think it was?”


“Do you remember when we saw those homeless people by the Sagrada Familia, and I told you to give them some money, and...what did you say?”

Alex looked away. 

“No, go ahead,” Sarah goaded him. “I’m having a little trouble remembering.”

“...I said no, that it’d be like throwing my money away. But, honey, you have to understand,” Alex said, more forcefully now, “these people are animals. That was three months ago. If I had given them a million each they’d probably have spent it by now. I worked my way up from nothing, from going out and catching fish off Crete in the middle of the pouring rain, to billions. Anyone can become rich. Those people we saw made the conscious choice to ask for spare change instead of making a living for themselves. But-”

Sarah turned to the crystal blue water, her back to her husband. Alex realized in that moment that he had said far too much. Maybe, in his old age, his mind was starting to fail him after all.

“Those people aren’t so different from me, you know,” she said. “You don’t let me in on the business. You don’t give me an allowance. I can’t remember the last time we went somewhere that I wanted. But I don’t care about any of that. I saw you walk by those poor people, and I thought to myself - what kind of heartless bastard did I marry?”

Alex was utterly defeated. Not only could he not think of a response, but nothing he could say now would change Sarah’s mind. At any moment he was convinced she’d leap from the docks to her death, weighed down by the spite that filled her heart. The irony of losing her to the very same body of water that had laid the groundwork for his fortune was not lost on him, and he, too, began to cry.

“What do you want?” came the question, repeated. “How can I fix this?”

“Have the will changed. You’re going to make this right. Cut your brother out. He’s made his money already. You’ll put the entire estate into a trust in my name, and I’ll use your money for good. Charity.”

“...You want me to cut Philip out? How can I do that? My very own brother?”

“Your very own brother has been CFO of Matthiou International for twenty-odd years. I think he’ll be fine.”

“But you’re already getting half the estate. That’s two billion. Surely that’s enough?”

Sarah shook her head sadly. “I told you, Alex, it was never about the money. Not, at least, for me. Imagine all the kids in Africa or the Middle East I’ll be able to feed when you’re gone. Or those beggars back in Barcelona. The point is I’ll be able to do even more with four billion than I will with two. That is, unless…”

She took one final, precipitous step towards the water, her gaudy white heels nearly hanging over the edge.

“Alright!” Alex cried, casting a quick glance over his shoulder at the growing crowd of villagers. “Alright. I’ll get it changed. Just please, honey, please, step away from the water.”

“You’ll get it changed?”

Alex nodded.

“You mean it?”

“Yes, Sarah, I do. I’ve never meant anything more.”

For a moment, there was no noise but the sound of the breeze and the sea lapping at the white sand. Sarah stood there silhouetted in the morning sun, her white dress blowing in the wind. 

“Maybe I’ll take you up on that trip to London after all.”


Despite Philip’s vehement protests, the last will of Alexios Matthiou was revised two days later on a Gulfstream en route to Heathrow Airport. The pilot would later testify that nothing out of the ordinary took place on that flight, and that Sarah and Alex looked every bit a happy couple as they left. When the Metropolitan Police arrived at their palatial hotel suite on the West End a week later, they found him dead, the result of a heart attack in his sleep as determined by an independent autopsy funded in part by the newly-founded Matthiou Trust.

It seemed like all of Greece was in attendance at his funeral. By his request, he was to be buried in a private plot in the heart of his native Crete. Thousands of black-clad mourners processed behind his hearse down the dirt roads, past the verdant olive farms and antique vineyards, and up the hill that was to serve as his final resting place. All of them - family, friends, business associates and acquaintances he’d met over the years - wept for the loss of someone uniquely dear to each of them, but none more bitterly or more loudly than the widow, Sarah. 

As the funeral came to an end, and the last bit of dirt was being poured over Alex’s casket, Philip looked over at Sarah, who was busily drying her eyes with a monogrammed handkerchief. In between the streams of tears, he saw, ever so faintly, a smile touch her lips.

And the people of Sikinos were left wondering exactly what it was they saw take place on the docks that day.

August 21, 2021 01:38

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1 comment

K. Antonio
18:54 Aug 26, 2021

Hello, Alex! I was given your story from the critique circle! So let's just get down to it. - I really liked how you started the story, but I felt that the introduction would have been more appropriate for maybe the first chapter of a novel. You spend a lot of time explainining the setting when I actually feel that you could have shortened the introduction or even just started the tale right on the dialogue which was actually a nice point of tension. I also (and this is just my opinion) feel like the conflict could have been stronger....


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