Stella crossed over on to the shaded side of the street.
There was nobody about. The early July sun blasted down the Skipos
avenue and beat against the whitewashed walls of the houses, their shutters
closed against the heat, and that heat ricocheted off back in to the air which
was heavy with post-luncheon sleep and thick with the feel and scents of
Cypriot summer. Her hand-bag, laden with emergency-repair make-up, felt
moderately heavy slung as it was over one shoulder. The elaborate scarf she
had tied artistically around her neck, with a pretty little butterfly clasp to
hold it in place was now limp, like a fading plant.
Although Stella would have enjoyed a love affair, she accepted with
inherent patience that it just wasn’t possible. That was an advantage to being
a bit older – age gives you wisdom, she thought, and she never minded her
forty-eight years. Only the most unusual circumstances and only the most
private and secure position would allow her to even consider a love affair;
and while these conditions did not present themselves to her, there was no
way she was going out to look for them. In fact, it could ruin everything.
It is odd, she reflected, as she made her way rapidly up the steep incline
of the Panayia, how people relate everything to sex. Here in Cyprus, back in
England, all over the world, all men relate all things to sex and many women
do too. Her heels, unsuitable for the cobbled surface of the road, but worn
with stalwart insistence, made loud clicking noises as she walked. Her
ankles were slightly swollen from the heat in high heels and this made her
smile faintly – women do have these problems to contend with, she thought.
Sex, however, was not one of her problems. To be enfolded in the arms of
somebody who loved her would be … lovely, she decided. But it wasn’t
going to happen, so that was the end of that.