And so we meet at last …
As a young girl I had a crush on him. Kind of silly, given that he’d been floating dust in the wind for like two thousand years by then. Still, it’s with a dry mouth and sweaty palms that i hurry through a dusty, hot Pelas in the general direction of the gymnasium.
Men look at me. let me rephrase that; they glower at me, and I increase my pace, intimidated by all these stares.
“Women should stay at home,” someone yells at my back. I pull the sheer cloth of my long veil tighter round my head and face.
In the gymnasium, seven or eight young men are working out. A time warp, almost, because apart from the fact that they’re all stark naked and that there’s not one single piece of high-tech equipment, this could be a bunch of fitness g´freaks in the twenty-first century. They compare muscles, they laugh and play around, and in their constant midst is Alexander, thick curly hair like a golden mane.
He is not the tallest nor the broadest, but his skin is a delicious coppery tone, his teeth flash white when he laughs, and his eyes … I clear my throat. He’s a boy, I remind myself sternly. A boy? He sees me, comes towards me, and for all that he can be at most seventeen he carries himself like a man, a prince, a conqueror.
He comes to a halt. I draw back my veil and smile.
“Pleased to meet you,” I say.
“Do I know you?”
“No,” I say, “but I know everything about you.” Including how he’ll die and what his future wife’s name is, but best not tell him that. This vibrant young man doesn’t need to be reminded of his mortality, not yet, not now when he glows with life and purpose.
His mouth quirks. “Everything?”
“Almost.” It’s difficult to stop myself from staring at his physique. He smells of oils and clean linen, of oregano and sea salt.
“Are you an oracle?” He smiles as he says it, so i suppose I don’t look like an oracle – all in all a good thing as I imagine oracles to be wizened crones with no teeth and papery skin.
“Not really.” I take his hand and he lets me, long fingers lying relaxed in my hold. “You are destined for greatness,” I tell him, “long after your mortal life has ended, people will still remember your name.”
He closes his hand round mine, a strong, insistent hold.
“Of course they will,” he murmurs, looking me straight in the eyes. When he tugs me into motion I follow – anywhere he wants to go I’ll follow him. Definitely not a boy. Definitely a man.