Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou





Mum and Dad are in the living room, discussing, and I’m sitting across from them at the dining room table with the white, knitted tablecloth on. I’m painting a mandala, round with concentric circles of plaits, triangles along the circumference and another triangle in the centre. They’re trying to plan our summer holidays, decide on a place to visit. I don’t want to take part. They know better. I told them I have an Art class project tomorrow, paint this mandala. Let them decide for me.

They don’t seem to disagree or argue, as usual, but rather as if they can’t make up their minds. The room is full of interweaved, polychromatic sounds, which are slowly determining their hues. Dad recommends and Mum stares out the half-open window and into middle distance, biting the nail of her index finger, twisting a strand of hair around another finger, bending her head and murmuring, ‘Mmm, that sounds good, whatever you want, whatever you think is best, you decide,’ words with lots of consonants, one beside the other, crammed like grey grunts.

Dad sounds peculiarly beaming and azure, talking about colourful islands, Rhodes, Santorini, Milos, sun and light, sea and cerulean fish tavernas, swimming and boat rides in serene, cyan creeks. Lots of bright vowels, slowly and clearly articulated, his tongue like water slithering along pebbles, his eyes clapped on hers, like those glue rolls flytraps Gran used to hang from the ceiling of every room in our country house in the summer.

When I hear Dad, I use yellow and orange around the mandala, but when Mum speaks, the plaits become grey, brown and blue. The louder Dad, the hollower Mum, the fuzzier the triangles around the mandala.

‘Whatever you wish,’ says Mum.

‘No, no. It’s important to have your say. If you disagree, nothing can happen,’ says Dad and really, he sounds so weird, so crookedly glaring and he keeps sticking the flytrap under Mum’s lowered eyelids, as if trying to lift them up, discover bugs underneath.

‘There’s plenty of time till summer. Why decide now, early March?’ she says and rubs her eyes, tugs at dry glue shreds and slivers.

‘We can organize things better. We’ll have fun. And the kid. Think about the kid. She’ll unwind, after all this hard schoolwork.’

Mum struggles to lift her eyelids, manages to glance up at me but pygmy, annoying bugs, swarms of them,  – how haven’t I noticed before? – glued under her eyelashes, seal them shut.

‘Yes, we’ll see till then.’

Dad unrolls a second flytrap and aims at Mum’s blouse, trying to unbutton it, expose her. ‘August isn’t that far. I want to know now. End of story.’

Mum takes a deep breath and says, ‘If everything’s fine by then, we’ll see’ and looks out the window. The bugs, red coleopteran in pairs, antennae tied in knots, stream down her eyes, surge into her cheeks, like sparkles, like flames, blinding me.

The flytrap is now stuck onto her skin, under her left breast, pulling at it.

Dad’s booming voice colours the mandala blooded red, burning my eyes. ‘Now, wait a minute, Rita. Are you planning to shuffle off this mortal coil and we know nothing about it? What’s this all about?’ His eyes full of terror and suspicion, fixed onto the coleopteran that stride down her chest, clusters of red, busy beetles that mutter things to each other I can’t see. Mum moans, dark stains hurl themselves against the plaits, turn the mandala into a whirling wheel, triangles twirl too, everything becomes a spinning top that spatters something like blood and muddy tears, the glue has torn Mum’s skin and she cries, the beetles rush now to shield the wound and for the very first time I see these disgusting coleopteran, discover with dread how they treat and cure the wound and I despise them even more because only they seem to be able to do something like that, protect the larva and the baby bugs, kill all pests and parasites, heal the wound and Mum lets them, as if they’re part of her own body, reddish or purplish, and she cries and she laughs, and Dad is dumb, for the very first time in his life he’s tongue-tied, and the mandala a top that can’t stop spinning, splattering colours like firecrackers everywhere, smearing us all, until it catches fire and becomes a piece of coal that leaves indelible shreds and blotches on the white, knitted tablecloth.



Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou lives in Athens, Greece and writes in both the English and the Greek language. She holds a BA(Hons) Literature and an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her stories have been published online and in print in several literary magazines and anthologies and some of them have won in competitions.

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