Monday, February 16, 2015


The theater looked older than its 100 years.  It could not be described as dilapidated, but it was being held together by love and tradition at best.  Ethan looked about as he always did when entering a new place.  Snow fell outside and he pulled Brit to him rubbing her arms to help warm her from their brief walk to the doors.  A woman and man sat at a table just inside the door and bid them ‘welcome’ as they entered the Plays and Players Theatre.  On the table was a display of sparkly objects, postcards, and posters.  “Would you like to consider a souvenir to remind you of the evening?”   

Bridgette smiled at the offer and looked slowly over the items on the table.  “A postcard perhaps?” she asked Ethan.  “I can put it in my book!”  Over the past two years, Brit had started to keep a scrapbook of sorts filled with pictures and small items to remind her of things they did.  Ethan admitted to the guilty pleasure of peeking at the scrapbook once in a while.  The memories were warm and pleasing.  His eyes scanned the table surprised that Brit had not sought sparkles.   As he looked at the items, he blinked seeing that all of the sparkly items were pasties.  Some had tassels and others had shapes such as stars and hearts. 

The woman giggled, “I am sure we shall sell out of those tonight!”  Ethan smirked as his fingers went to the tickets in his jacket.  The man sitting next to the woman said, “We have a bar both upstairs and down.  It is open seating and the doors shall open promptly at 9 PM.”  The woman asked for their names and Ethan gave her one that he often used when traveling.  Scanning the list, the woman checked off the names on her roster beside the ticket numbers. 

Ethan dropped a $20 into the box labeled “Donations” for the postcard.  “Let us see the bar, Brit,” he said in a low voice as he directed her toward the steps.  Brit looked from one set of stairs to the other.  Ethan read the tickets carefully.  Not getting an idea of which direction she should go, she skipped down the steps with him following at a slower pace still examining the tickets.  Other than the name of the show “Fin: Two Acts, 400 Years. Vampires, Courtesans, and the End of Love” and the ticket numbers, there was no other information.  Ethan pursed his lips considering that he should have read the information that Brit had given to him when she first found the play.

In the basement, there was another couple who seemed normal; however the bar was nothing more than a small table with several bottles of wine, beer, and water to be served in small, red solo-cups.  A total of two other tables and four chairs were all that was found in the room.  Shortly after, the small room filled up with an artsy crowd.  Ethan mused that he had challenged Brit to find something she wished to do for Valentine’s Day.  After all, she had learned to do simple searches using the Netbook he had purchased for her.  Though he thought she would find something within New York City where they had been living for the past year, but he counted himself fortunate that she had selected a venue in the correct country and on the correct coast.  Philadelphia was a short trip. 

Ethan observed the crowd while Brit studied the post card.  Both wore black tonight.  Ethan in a simple black pullover and black slacks.  Brit wore a black tunic with leggings and boots.  "Did you read any reviews or anything about this show, Brit?”  

She shook her head, “No.  Just that it was only for two nights for Valentine’s Day.”  Ethan grinned as she returned to viewing the postcard and tried to imagine the search criteria.  The room filled up with more patrons and he nodded for her to make her way back up the stairs.

The doors opened as they returned to the lobby.  Inside, the décor looked as if it had not changed in most of its years.  Another glance to the ticket indicated that seating was open, so Ethan guided Brit toward the front just to the left side of the aisle facing the stage.  Patrons streamed in.  Most carried their drinks with them.  Even the balcony of the theatre was packed.  People behind them talked about how quickly the show had sold out.

The lights lowered and a black man wearing clothing from a century prior appeared on the stage.  He introduced himself as Armand and the date was 1875.  Armand spoke directly the crowd and the crowd sometimes would answer.  Throughout the show, the actors and actresses interacted with the crowd. 

Others entered the stage.  Innocent Cherise and her young fiancé, his employer, the rich and powerful senator and the senator’s paramour Camille and two of her friends.  The introductions were witty and humorous.  As music and dancing started, it was obvious to all that Cherise was not as enamored with her fiancé as he was with her.  Cherise caught the senator’s eye and he invited her fiancé to his home for a drink and “entertainment.”  The boy is obviously flattered and Cherise is delighted to encourage the boy to accept the invitation.

As the two arrive at the senator’s home, which was simply a brothel, Cherise was whisked off by the other girls to find a more fashionable dress.  The boy is plied with liquor.  With the senator and Armand, the boy watched a fan dance by the lovely and shapely Camille.  The dance started playfully and very sensually.  Then, one item of clothing after another was removed until the girl was on the stage with nothing but a G-String and pasties!  Throughout, the talk and behavior of the actors was both bawdry and light-hearted.  Ethan raised an eyebrow, but could not help but grin at the antics and words of the actors even as he wondered how much of the story Brit followed.

The boy became wide-eyed and started to worry about his sweet Cherise.  The senator then accused the boy of being intoxicated and told him to leave.  The boy demanded to see Cherise who tells him that she wishes to stay and that she does not love him.  Her heart-broken fiancé is thrown to the streets.  Without Cherise’s fiancé, the senator obviously has eyes on Cherise.  Camille started to try to pull the senator’s attention from Cherise seeing the danger of being replaced, but she started to cough badly indicating that she was in advanced stages of consumption.

It had been decades since Ethan had witnessed a burlesque show.  The play was authentic to the style of original burlesque given a setting of a comedic, dark storyline.  Time moved on.  Cherise was willingly auctioned to the senator.  Her fiancé was fired and fell into ruin, and Camille was cast aside and replaced by Cherise as the senator's new woman.  More burlesque acts, a can-can with a twist, and more dialog were interspersed with macabre and witty humor.  Both the boy and Camille grow sicker – the boy by his addiction to the bottle and Camille ravished by the disease.  Armand appeared and took the boy’s life as a vampire does.  Then he took Camille’s giving her the dark gift at the end of Act I.

The lights to the theatre came up.  Brit sat wide-eyed as she mused over what she had seen.  Ethan chuckled at his wife’s racing thoughts.  She needed time to process it all, and so he said, “I shall get you refreshments, Brit.“  Seeing that she gave a slight nod and sensing absolutely no malice in the room, he returned to the lobby.  Brit sat blinking for a moment and pondered the relationships.  Armand told Camille that she did not love the senator and more was her woe if she had.  He told her that she should focus on what she is rather than seek another to fulfill her.   And then there was Cherise who betrayed her beloved and, in conversations, was cruel to Camille.

In the lobby, Ethan also found himself lost in thoughts.  Brit had not been bewildered by the multi-faceted relationships or messages.  He also realized with no sense of irony that he was thoroughly enjoying himself with his wife at a bawdy theatre show on Valentine’s Day – a day made popular by a card company, no less.  Picking up his purchase, he returned to Brit noticing the many couples in the audience marveling at the range of ages from the very young to very old, and not all couples were traditional in nature.  He shook his head slightly and handed Brit a small cup of red wine. 

She whispered, “Cherise.  She is not way nice.”  Ethan blinked and turned to Brit fully.  Before he could ask her to explain, she lisped softly, “She only cares for herself.”  He wanted to know more but the lights started to fade.  In the second act, Armand and Camille were shown years later still together.  Whether love or companionship, it was hard to tell.  They met Cherise again who was much aged and done with life.  Her hardness never faded even as time passed. 

Armand told both Cherise and Camille a story of a famous courtesan in Venice in the 1500s.  As he tells the story, the courtesan and her mother appear on the stage with the mother giving humorous lessons to the girl as to how to be pleasing to her benefactors.  At one point, the girl ends up in a tub with the mother pouring melted chocolate over the girl’s body now clad only in a g-string and pasties.  The mother then beckoned audience members to come up and lick the chocolate from the girl.  To Brit's astonishment and Ethan’s surprise, several audience rushed to the stage to the laughter of the rest of the audience. 

Armand’s story continued explaining how the Spanish Inquisition ended the Era of the Courtesan.  The scene faded to an exchange between Armand and the courtesan where it is seen that he valued her poetry and mind more than her body.  He told her that she only need to ask if she needs him to help her in the changing political times.  Shortly after, the girl is captured by priests along with a common street girl and a gypsy.  The three are taken to the church’s dungeon to await their fates.

Chained to a St. Andrew’s cross, the three girls bantered between each other and tried to seduce the common priest and almost succeed prior to the entrance of the Grand Inquisitioner!  Dressed in red, the priest comes forward and the girls beg for mercy.  Removing the hat, the Grand Inquisitionor proves to be a nun rather than a priest and, after removing most of her clothing, ends up dressed like a dominatrix to question and whip the girls.  Armand came to save the courtesan, but the nun turned the cross on him.  Just as it seemed he would perish, the girls escaped their chains and started to chant a demonic incantation until the inquisitioner is vanquished and Armand is saved.  Rubbing his head in wonder why he was not be angry over the heretical turn of events, Ethan shrugged slightly with a soft chuckle.  “Tis only a Valentine’s Day play,” he muttered to the raising of the house lights.  He steered Brit through the crowd of people who were talking to the cast who had emerged from backstage to greet them. 

After Brit was bundled, Ethan swept her into the street and walked with her through the falling snow.  They had been together in such a short time, Ethan mused but, from the first Valentine’s Day over the diner to tonight, he had delighted in watching Brit’s growth in all things from her art to her thoughts.  Tonight, he watched her be able to not only watch, but comprehend a fairly complicated story.  Impishly, he chuckled at the burlesque and admitted to himself that he would not have enjoyed it as much in its hey-day. 

In their room, he twirled Brit playfully before landing in a chair in their suite.  “I have a present for you, Brit.”  Reaching in his pocket, he pulled out two sparkly items handing them to her.  The corners of his mouth danced a bit as he cleared his voice and said, “I wish to see you dance.  You will find that the backs peel away for attaching.”  His hands pantomimed the placement.

Brit’s eyes grew big as she examined the pasties.  “ want me to dance?”  He nodded quite seriously.  She giggled, “Like on the stage tonight?” 

Chortling, he nodded again and said, “To one of the songs in the show.”  Motioning her to get dressed, he reached in his pocket to do a quick search on his phone.  She stood for a moment blinking until he motioned to her again while enjoying the blush creeping on to her cheeks. 

Brit scampered out of the room and he heard her fumbling in the closet selecting something in which she could dance in as he attached the phone to the speakers beside him.  The song started to play.

“Dance me to the end of love?” she lisped.  “I don’t want you to stop loving me!”

He grinned at her words and paused the music.  “You know that will never happen, baby, and I don't think that is the meaning of the song.  However…”  He covered his mouth for a moment and continued, “But if you dance well-enough, maybe just for a moment tonight...well, we shall see what I feel.” 

Silence followed as she peeked cautiously out from behind the door.  “You….you are joking.”

Ethan could not resist a short laugh.  “Indeed.”  She giggled and popped back into the room.  Noting she was ready, he pushed the play button and actually wished for the briefest moment that he still drank cognac.

Dance Me to the End of Love - Leonard Cohen

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We're both of us beneath our love, we're both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I'm gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love


Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Brit stood by Ethan on another rooftop.  She watched silently as he did to the city around them.  With the approach of summer, Ethan suggested returning to the city where they had first met.  It was the city where they married and started their lives together.  "Perhaps I can endure the sunrise in the darkness, Brit."  Ethan resented the summer with its short nights and long days.  The loss of time with Brit was frustrating and the thought of another summer was simply unacceptable.

Nodding to his comment, she paused looking to her husband.  "Oui, tres bon," Brit replied with a giggle causing him to smile.  Since their trip to France, Brit delighted in using words she had learned from her new friends during their lengthy stay.  Her giggles faded as she gazed up and down the streets of the city.  

Ethan quirked an eyebrow when he heard her soft sigh.  Walking toward her, he pulled her back against him wrapping his arms around her.  Her thoughts were confused.  She pressed back against him and he sensed a bit of fear.  Frowning, he whispered against her ear, "What troubles you, baby?"  

Licking her lower lip, she shook her head briefly more to clear her thoughts so she could answer.  "It's all changed," Brit whispered.  Tilting his head, Ethan watched the side of her face.  "This is not the town we know, Ethan."  

It was true that the town had changed.  Buildings had crumbled and more were erected out of the remains of those before.  Ethan gave a bit of a shrug, "Such is the way with all civilizations, Brit.  Everything has its season and time.  With change, the old goes and the new arrives."  

Brit said nothing for a time as she processed his thoughts.  She shifted slightly from one foot to the other and back again.  Resting her head on his chest, she lisped, "Where are the people?"  Bikers rode by toward a small crowd on a corner of the street.  Ethan nodded toward them.  Shaking her head, she emphasized, "No, Ethan....the people.  Our people."  

Ethan looked perplexed and repeated, "Our people, Brit?"  Brit nodded and he continued, "I do not believe I understand, baby."

Pulling from him, she went to the ledge to look down the side of the building.  He followed as she looked up and down the street.  "Where is Denny?  Nikita?  Joah?  Grr?  Where is everyone?"  

For the first time, Ethan sounded oddly like Brit as he replied, "Oh."  He recomposed and gave her a comforting squeeze.  "Brit, people come and go, but..."

For the first time in their marriage, Brit cut him off mid-sentence.  "Have they perished?  There was no one in the library!  Or the church!  There is no one in the pit, and I cannot find the Voodoo Shop from here, I do not think!"  Her heartbeat had increased and she sounded genuinely alarmed.

Turning her toward him, he brushed her cheek with his fingers as he thought of how to reply.  Truth be told, Ethan had not kept up as well as he once did regarding who lived and died in this city.  "Denny, I am sure, will turn up."  Bad pennies often do, he thought wryly and immediately wiped the thought from his mind when Brit's eyes darted toward his.  He was almost sure that she had not caught the thought.  "Nikita, well, you know she travels....I am certain that I would know if she met with danger."  Ethan did not go into the bond he had.  

Nodding to him, she felt his words calm her a bit.  Ethan brushed her hair back and said, "Some others left prior to our trip, baby."  His hand stroked her cheek again.  "Remember, he asked gently.  

Brit nodded.  "I thought it would be"  Her voice trailed as she thought of what else she might say.  "Coming here would be...different by being the same."  He listened to her words.  "Everything has changed.  It's all different.  I do not know this place or these people."  It was an odd feeling to her.

"You did not know the place when you first came here, Baby," he reminded her.  It was an odd feeling to Ethan that Brit would feel concern and he was unsure what exactly caused her to be unsettled.

"This city was a scary place then, Ethan....but...I did not have you then."  Ethan smiled as he felt her start to relax.  "But this is not our home anymore, I do not think."

Ethan gazed at the city and the people he did not know.  "Home is wherever we are, Brit.  People will come and go as will buildings.  Changes will happen, but home is right here."  His fingers tapped her chest over her heart playfully.  "Home is wherever we are as long as it is together."

Brit smiled to him nodding.  It all made sense to her.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Pitie Salpetriere

Ethan watched Brit with no small amount of amusement and husbandly pride as they meandered down the Boulevard de l’Hospital in Paris. She fingered the necklace of orange blossoms delighting in their citrus-like scent. Upon waking, he had picked the blossoms and boyishly strung them together for her to wear while she nibbled a croissant. Paris at night gave him glimpses and memories of the past. He found himself pleased to share the memories with his mortal wife and wanted her to feel that she had experienced them with him.

The August full moon always held meaning for Ethan. As the nights grew longer, the romance and warmth of the summer night, and the illumination from the bright moon, lured lovers of all ages into the streets. Once they were in full view of the Mazarin, the entrance of the hospital, Ethan pointed out places of interest to Brit. The hospital was once a place where gunpowder was made, Brit. It has also been used as a prison and a place to put people that irritated society.”

Like vampires?” Brit asked.

Ethan grinned as he whispered, “Only if they could be caught.” Pulling her close, he chuckled, “At one time, it was also noted for its very large population of city rats. Over 7000 people were housed within so the rats had an abundance of trash to consume.”

Wrinkling her nose, she peered back to the building. Ethan watched and remembered the small blue box in his pocket: a blue camera he had purchased after being asked to take a picture of a young couple several nights prior. He was mesmerized by the digital screen and seemed childlike with his new toy. Positioning Brit where he could take a picture, he fumbled with the camera to ensure the picture would turn out perfectly. Brit did not hear his mumbles about how much easier this was than securing an artist back in the day.

After snapping a picture of the sidewalk, he got the camera centered on his wife. Brit was looking over her shoulder at the building. By the time Ethan snapped the picture, she had turned to watch something he did not see. Brit walked into the hospital compound, past the admissions and seemed to follow a path that only she knew. Tilting his head, Ethan followed her cautiously. “Baby? Where are we going?” She did not answer and he quickened his pace as she walked past a nurse’s station filled with late-evening nurses who were busy with their work.

Smells of antiseptic and medication assaulted his nostrils. Brit continued on her path. Up a stairwell, she emerged on a floor. There were few rooms. Soft beeping sounds of monitoring machines broke the silence of the area. Nursing staff were shuffling about as they silently worked. Each room was larger than normal hospital rooms. Each room contained one patient. Brit walked into one of the rooms.

Standing at the foot of the bed, Brit blinked slowly as she focused on an elderly woman who looked tiny in the bed. Monitors covered her. Brit looked to him with huge eyes and back to the woman. Seeing into her thoughts, he realized that his wife had linked into the woman’s thoughts. The woman felt pain and sadness. She was bewildered and frightened. The scent of the room told him that she was dying and would not likely last to see sunlight again.

Ethan blinked as he saw Brit enter the woman’s thoughts just as he had done with Brit the evening when he first touched Brit’s lips. She walked along and opened doors of better memories. Sunlight afternoons with her new husband were glimpsed along with the laughter of a small child. “Emilie,” whispered Brit.

“Oui! Emilie.” rasped the strained voice as the woman reached out a hand.

“Emilie,” repeated Brit who took the hand and held it. The woman in the bed smiled as she clasped Brit’s hand. Ethan glanced to the door nervously. Brit covered the woman’s hand with her own warm one. The flesh was papery-thin, and the hand shook from palsy. The woman repeated the name smiling as she closed her eyes gripping Brit’s hand tighter.

Brit simply stood rubbing the woman’s hand. In her mind, the woman could see Brit. Brit walked with her to watch her as she sat playing with Emilie, a baby with cornflower eyes and pouting lips that blew bubbles as she gurgled. A nurse came in looking startled. Ethan turned to her as his eyes flashed briefly. A silent exchange had the nurse leaving the room. If anyone asked, the nurse would have told them that the lady’s niece Emilie had visited.

Ethan struggled to get past the smell of death in the room. He could sense the woman’s bodily systems shutting down. His wife touching the hand that stubbornly housed a thread heartbeat caused him some irritation. Death was not far from her, he rationalized. Ethan went back to watching Brit, baffled that she had entered the woman’s mind. He could see Brit intended to stay with her during the final night, and he shifted uncomfortably at the thought of the night passing. Surely his wife would not stay after dawn. Brit turned to look to him and his eyes widened. Surely he read her wrong in that she had thought that the woman needed them to help her calmly pass to the next life! Shaking his head, he continued to watch Brit and grew to feel that he had misread the thought.

Brit’s visit with the woman lasted through the night. Ethan mused that the woman had held no more than a blink of life compared to him but, within the thoughts shared by Brit with the woman, it was apparent that she had enjoyed much in those years. About an hour before dawn, the woman sat Emilie down and motioned for Brit to follow her along the path. Brit followed as she watched Emilie grow, marry, and have her own child. The path came to a house and the woman turned to Brit. She kissed Brit’s cheek and went inside.

The beeping machine sounded a single monotone sound. Nurses ran to the room and a doctor followed. Brit and Ethan were directed outside. When the nurse came to find Emilie, they could find no sign of the couple to tell them that Emilie’s aunt had passed.

Outside, Ethan held Brit as they returned to their resting place. He expected tears and sadness. He was amazed that Brit could enter the woman’s mind as she had. Brit turned to him before the sun came up and lisped, “Emilie made her happy, Ethan. I wonder why she was not there. No one should perish alone.” Brit snuggled against him and slept feeling melancholy missing her new friend.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Ethan pinched the bridge of his nose. For several summers, he had tried to escape the long days of summertime with less than optimal results. Unwilling to travel to another unknown place, Ethan booked passage to a traditional summer location in a part of the world more known to him. “Santorini,” he murmured to Brit as they were ferried to the island from Athens, “has a history unknown to most people these days.” Brit was watching the skies with huge eyes. The plethora of stars caused her eyes to glitter. The stars could be seen even with the full moon that illuminated the night.

The boat pulled to the dock and deck hands scurried to secure it. As its two passengers disembarked, the crew exchanged glances with the deck hands. The dark Victorian dress of the pretty couple who had spent more than double for private passage to the island would give tavernas gossip for several days. A driver from the Vedema Resort escorted the couple into a waiting car, loaded baggage and whisked them into the night leaving a blinking crew behind. One deck hand crossed his self and later wondered why.

“We need to shop, Brit,” commented Ethan. He smiled at his wife picturing her in a summery white fluttery cover. Tracing her face, he conversed with the driver in a language unknown to Brit. Yawning, Brit rubbed her eyes and leaned against her husband pondering what was being said. It sounded to her that Ethan knew the driver. She watched out of the windows and, with the full moon, she could see as easily as she would see during the day. White-washed houses gleamed in the moonlight. Noticing her attention to the details of the island, Ethan smiled. He felt sure that she would find it beautiful.

Arriving to the resort, Brit and Ethan were escorted to the Presidential Villa. The rooms were decorated in turquoise and white colors. Rich elegance throughout the villa combined with views of the sea and vineyards. One of the three bedrooms had its windows covered to prevent even a hint of sunshine into the room. As Brit wandered through, she smiled to him and whispered, “I know which one will be our resting place.” Ethan smiled giving her hair a tug as their bags arrived and household assistants unpacked their belongings.

Pulling her to the verandah which overlooked the cliffs and the sea, Ethan pulled Brit to him. She lisped, “You take me to such magical places.” Smiling, he pulled her hand to his lip to kiss before holding it to wrap her closer to him. Both enjoyed the tranquil beauty of the villa by the sea. A clinking of glass caught both of their attention to the fruit and cheese plate that had been delivered. Settling on the lounge chair, Ethan pulled Brit to him and fed her pieces from the platter.

Brit drifted off after enjoying the fruit and cheese, but Ethan remained awake. Stroking her hair, he closed his eyes inhaling deeply. There was something in the air that reminded him of other visits. Sea air mingling with the scents of the city yielded a distinctive scent that Ethan would recognize anywhere. Feeling Brit fall into a deeper sleep, he mused how it would be to be mortal and wake to the sunrise. As light started to streak across the sky, Ethan picked up Brit to take to the room where they would rest. He undressed her grinning at her sleepy protests and tucked her close to him after undressing for rest.

At sunset, Brit turned to see Ethan standing at the door. She had woken much before he did and was greeted by the concierge who had arranged for a shopping trip to obtain better island attire. Brit wore a thin green caftan-styled dress. It draped over her prettily and showed a bit more leg than he was accustomed to seeing. Ethan raised an eyebrow, but dismissed his objections. It was, after all, an island and he wanted to encourage Brit to make choices. Besides, the dark trousers, white linen shirt and dark jacket she had selected for him was most pleasing.

At the restaurant in the resort, Ethan perused the list of popular night spots. He wanted to take Brit somewhere modern and popular. Reading them to her, she selected the one that was on a beach. “Dancing by the sea,” lisped Brit. Ethan had to admit that the image was perfect. Soon, they were on their way to the popular place. Brit’s bouncing caused Ethan to tell the driver that they would walk the rest of the way when the road became impassible with traffic.

As they walked, Ethan tensed with the thickening of the crowd. Many wore little more than bathing suits. The music thumped from the club. Scents of smoke, alcohol, and sunscreen mingled with sweat permeated the air. Brit looked up to him as he hesitated. As they walked to the door, a drunk barreled from the club and vomited. Turning to Ethan, Brit lisped, “Let’s go somewhere else, Ethan.” He gave her a questioning look as another person passed making a remark in a language Brit did not know. As Ethan glowered at the man, Brit lisped, “I want to go somewhere you will like better.” Ethan raised an eyebrow to her statement. Brit puffed her cheeks remembering the club in France. “If we stay here,” she continued, “someone will lose an arm…or…something.”

Ethan blinked a few times and chuckled. “Indeed, baby.” Another drunk bumped him and he nodded. “Very likely.” Turning, they caught their driver still languishing in traffic. Sliding into the car, Ethan said, “Take us to Thera…Ancient Thera.” Brit looked to him quizzically. Ethan tapped her nose, “It is ancient even to me, Brit.”

Getting them as close as he could, the driver indicated where he would wait for them to walk the ancient city. No one was about and Ethan quickly carried Brit the distance. Again, the nearly full moon illuminated the night. He took Brit to one of the three sides where the cliff dropped abruptly to the sea. As they walked, Ethan painted enthusiastic images of the city as it was nearing the end of its reign. Brit listened as he described the theatre and the festival grounds. His disdain for pagan rituals and practices was evident in his descriptions.

Playfully, he spun her around on the festival grounds where men would dance naked centuries before. “Why did women not dance?” Brit asked.

“Back in those days, baby, they were too busy being women,” Ethan replied. Brit looked to him in confusion. Seeing that many questions were coming, Ethan swung her around again faster than before. She giggled and so he swung her about a third time. “What I mean, Brit, is that they were so busy with their homes and children…” His words trailed off as she nodded. Ethan swung her again to ensure that conversation trail was closed. Kissing her, they continued to explore the city.

Brit found the Temple of Pythian Apollo fascinating. She asked many questions about it and its practices. Ethan flatly discussed the pagans who believed in the false god. As she walked about gazing at the temple and touching the stones that remain, Ethan watched. Her dress fluttered and her hair wisped in the sea breezes. The sounds of the sea were loud beneath them. Ethan vaguely recalled a priestess in fluttering robes and long hair.

Brit walked to him and slid her arms around his neck pulling him down to kiss him softly. As she kissed him lingeringly, Ethan frowned slightly at the image of the priestess sliding her hands up his chest. Ethan broke from Brit’s kiss to walk to the edge of the cliff where he gazed down. This time, his wife’s hand was in his rather than a sword. Over the edge, he saw white seafoam surrounding rocks rather than red seafoam surrounding the broken body of a pagan priestess who dared to charm her way from her fate.

“This is a magical place, Ethan,” whispered Brit. Ethan turned to her. His eyes dark and tinged with red.

“It is indeed, baby.” His fingers trailed to the cross around her neck. Smiling at him, she tilted her head at the red in his eyes. Touching his hair, she gave him a questioning look. He kissed her hand again and whispered, “Let’s explore more than a temple for a false god.” Later, back at the resort, Ethan continued to try to shake the image of the fluttering of Brit’s dress that resembled the robes of the priestess so long ago.