Chapter Three – Maria
(Translated from Greek and all on one sheet of paper. Unusually this sheet was written in pencil whereas all the rest are in a cheap ballpoint pen.)
The ceilings are so high here, making me feel small in each room and tiny in the house as a whole. I’m left here each day, as if I’m rattling around in a big box on Skiathos; a box that’s referred to as The Villa and I don’t know what to do with myself. I want to be useful but there’s nothing for me to do, as far as I can understand, and I haven’t done anything for a week now. It’s making me feel lazy and guilty about receiving my wage. I love to sit in my room, like this, and write, but I have nothing to write about.
The agency woman said it was six months work, looking after an Italian family who were holidaying on this island for the summer. They asked me if I spoke any Italian and I answered them truthfully and said no. I was shocked when they then offered me the job. How can that make sense? Nothing makes any sense here, away from the mundane life of my island where everything made sense. Have I done the right thing?
The agency in Athens wanted to know everything about me to make sure I was a decent and honest girl. I proved it to them, I think, when I told them that Manolis (he was no longer Manos to me), my boyfriend, wanted me to go to bed with him and finished with me when I told him that I would, but only on our wedding night. This was sort-of the truth and the reason that I looked for a job away from my village on Alonnisos. I explained to the lady that I’d caught a boat to Skiathos, and then another to Athens, and she smiled to know I was good and honest. I told her I came to Athens to look for work and maybe find a nicer boy and she told me there are no nice boys in Athens, but I was suited to island work so here I am on Skiathos, half way back to where I started from. Maybe Skiathos is good for me and a stepping stone between my island and the dream of Athens, and I know that, one day, I’ll attain my goal of living and working in my country’s capital. In the brief time that I spent in Athens it seemed an exciting place with millions of people milling around, all in an important hurry to get to some other place in the city.
I found The Villa easily enough from the description and some vague directions from nice people in Skiathos Town. Even though a lot smaller than Athens, there are more people in one street of Skiathos Town than on the whole of my island, I think. Eventually, a bus stop number was given to me by the bus conductor, who told me to get off the bus when I saw that number on a post. Then I found out that the so-called Italian family consisted of two women, both older than me and very attractive and rich and neither of them Greek speaking.
After a few days I was taken back to the main town by both of them, on the bus, to a clothing shop run by an Italian woman. They bought me seven sets of a sort of uniform to wear every day and they paid particular attention to the short skirts that they seemed to be saying suited my long legs and skinny body. The tiny skirt is very tight, and it wasn’t until I got to my room and looked in the mirror that I realised that it’s so tight that you can see the shape of my bum under the material. Modern, but not really me.
I feel tiny in front of both of my bosses and my breasts that now poke out of the top of this white button blouse seem tiny compared with the younger woman. I think that if I had breasts like her I would have masses of confidence and could even have allowed Manolis what he wanted and might be looking forward to getting married now back on my island. Of course, I could also be not looking forward to being single and pregnant and receiving the shame of my parents.
Maybe the Italian women knew about my lack of confidence, because some days after buying the uniforms the younger one placed into my bedroom several new bras but they were too small for even me. When I told her, using embarrassing sign language, she showed me how to wear them. She shortened the straps so that I was much higher and used her hands to place me into the small cups so that I not only filled them, but bulged upwards. It was obviously a trick, to make your breasts look a lot higher up your body, but bigger and with a gap underneath them that you can’t see because of the blouse material. For any man looking at my cleavage and not knowing about the air gap under my bra, I would appear to be bigger than I am, but a woman would know that they are too high up to be natural and that my nipples could jump out at any moment, which is a bit scary.
It was nice of them to be so thoughtful and modern towards me. I am still trying to get used to the nickers with no backs to them that go up your bum, and feel so uncomfortable. They look like the bikini bottoms that Italian women wear on the beaches of my island, that allow the whole of their bums to be sunbathed, but with me it means that no nickers can be seen through my tight skirt. Perhaps the two Italian women wear underwear like this and think that everyone else should do also. I call them the two Italian women because I don’t know their names.
If I do find anything to do around the house, say picking up one of the older women’s cigarette ends, that she casually drops on the wood-block floor, then I must bend my knees to go down to floor level otherwise I would be showing both my bum and my breasts at the same time. I’m careful to do this even though I’ve seen only one man here. I don’t want my employers to think that I am anything but decent. However, when I first presented myself in my new uniform it was the older woman that undid three blouse buttons making me feel exposed at the time, but I’m used to it now. I suppose doing the blouse up to the collar was really a bit old fashioned and meant that my new bra had little effect. I doubt that I could leave The Villa dressed like this though and may go back into my bra tops for the winter.
My big problem is that I sit around all day while the women go out, and my only duty is to answer the door when the cleaner arrives in the morning and then to let her out again around midday. This does nothing to boost the little confidence that I had, even before Manolis walked away from me and told such lies about me. The money is good though and they take nothing out of my pay for my uniform and underwear. My meals and bed are also free, so I’m saving to help my family back home. I couldn’t have earned like this back on Alonnisos.
It’s night time now and I’m writing this bit sat in my bed, unable to wait until tomorrow to write down my thoughts before they leave me. Earlier today I was writing about having free meals. There was a dinner party for an English guest tonight and I think he’s still here in the house somewhere because I haven’t heard him leave. My room is two floors above the front door, so I would probably have heard him leaving and would have watched him walking away from me, probably for ever. He is handsome and intelligent, with incredible manners and dress sense. He reminds me of the maturity of my old teacher but with muscles; big muscles on his arms and his chest and, purely in my imagination, muscles to his legs also under his long trousers.
I would marry him straight away if he asked me, I think, but he won’t be interested in me because he is twice my age, or about that, roughly. He is probably attempting to marry the younger Italian woman who may be of a similar age to him. She’d be very lucky because he seems very kind, as if he’d treat her gently. It’s strange how a man with such a large and strong looking chest and arms can also appear to be gentle. Melting in front of him, when I let him in, reminded me of my schooldays with my teacher but this man feels as if he could sweep me off my feet, to give me a life of luxury, without having to be a maid for the rest of my life. It wasn’t until he melted me with his eyes and my legs went wobbly that I realised that I’d always been sat at my desk when melted by my teacher, so that wobbly legs weren’t a problem back when I was just a girl. This is no schoolgirl infatuation though, this, I am sure, is true love. In my dreams tonight, he’ll love me back.
When I answered the door to him, he greeted me in basic Greek and I expected to be ignored as a mere maid. I nearly fainted when he looked me in the eyes and told me his name was Jeffrey. Such a beautifully sexy and foreign sounding name, I think maybe English. He probably has no idea that the slow way in which he speaks his learned Greek is so incredibly erotic. He penetrated my brain with his deep brown eyes that told me immediately that I wanted his babies, wanted his brown-eyed babies. No Greek boy has ever had that effect on me by just talking and it was as if Jeffrey, using his eyes on me like that, made me warmer inside than Manolis had ever done using his hands.
We had a small conversation in Greek as he handed me his jacket and I told him my name as my hand fished around for the jacket that I couldn’t see because I was staring into his eyes. Unfortunately, I talked rubbish and told him that my duties were only to open and close the door to people, but he told me that he’d kindly speak to the Italians to find out if I have any other duties. ‘I would like the duty of laying naked underneath your body’ I thought but didn’t dare say it out loud. I think he is both kind and lovely and would not go mad with me but would love me tenderly, but I know I shouldn’t think like that about a guest.
We were having a normal conversation in which I made sure that I mentioned, yet again that my name was Maria, but my head was somewhere else imagining what he would do to me in my bed. I was so disappointed when he went further into the villa, away from me, and I think I may then have stopped blushing but felt as if a bit of me was missing inside, as I watched him walk down the corridor.
As he was greeted in the hall by the older Italian woman, he turned and looked at my legs and then my cleavage in my new bra that I’d already pushed even higher especially for him and then I started to blush even more as I silently prayed for my nipples to not pop out of the top of my bra. I didn’t want to take my eyes off him but found myself turning away from him and praying that he was staring at my bum that was moving about sexily as I walked away. I was that taken by him. I will definitely dream of him tonight, and for nights to come, as his strong body looked as if it could protect me from any harm and love me tenderly. If he’s in his thirties, let’s perhaps say thirty, then he’s twelve years older than me. I know the difference between twelve and twenty-four is huge but between eighteen and thirty, it doesn’t seem to be that much. Although I knew that nothing could possibly happen between us, I went to my room to find the razor that had been left in my little bathroom and I removed all the hair from my body, especially the hair that might possibly get caught up in my panties, like it did with Manolis. A modern woman should be prepared, just in case, but it was also to make me feel good, like a confident foreign woman.