I Only Want

I was walking down Kassaveti Street in Kifissia, a northern suburb of Athens. It was different from when I had lived there in the 80’s. All was stern, bland urban architecture, bigger and more built up. The air was a bright, pale dusty yellow. The city was completely silent and deserted. I was the only living thing in sight.

I crossed Leoforos Kifisias and headed down Adrianou toward the train station. I glanced to my left. There should have been a lovely park there, formal gardens, sculpture, a fountain. Instead it was all low dusty commercial buildings and above, an elevated railroad. I glanced back uphill toward the center of town: it was still there, transformed but recognizable. There was the can in the middle of the highway where the traffic cop used to stand all day long — cop in a can, we called him. But continuing downhill, the sidewalk was now a viaduct high above ground level, and I was approaching not the train station but a cluster of huge buildings, concrete cylinders with conical tops, windowless, looking much like massive grey crayons. The sidewalk passed directly in among them.

The silo-like buildings were very close together, only a few feet at the narrowest point. A curtain of beaded sea-urchin spines hung across my path. I pushed it aside and entered the cool dim light among the silos.

A few patches of bright yellow light were scattered about. The sidewalk branched to the left between two buildings, and there was my dear wife, wearing a kerchief across her nose and mouth. She tugged down the kerchief and extended a hand to me. In her palm was a small white cell phone charger.

“Did you want this?” she asked.

“No,” I replied, taking her in my arms. “I only want this,” and I awoke.

i only want sea urchin spines


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