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One of the stories you will find inside the pages of
Truths and  Lies

'Betrayal' is the third story in 'Truths and Lies', where we once again meet Father Gabriel and Dimitri who feature, along with Lorna in the preceding story, titled 'Time to Go'.  Lorna and her husband spent most of their married life working their smallholding and loving life on The Island.  There is more about the wine producing family, Mavroudi, in the story 'Nan'.  Here we find, Michelle unhappy in her marriage to Nikos Mavroudi with her bosy mother-in-law making her life difficult.  However, in a twist of fate, Michelle's grandmother, Nan, changes things, in more ways than one.  We meet Karen again in, 'The Barefoot Boy' and 'Sleeps with Wolves'.  In the latter, Karen spots her idol James Williams, walker extrodinaire, who is visiting The Island.  Through their mutual love of walking, the two create a bond but after a lie is disclosed, Karen is left in a state of almost loathing.  These are just a few of the many characters you will meet in 'Truths and Lies'.  The final story 'And Now' brings us up to date as to how everyones lives have panned out. 



     Father Gabriel walked into the kitchen where his wife, Agape, was preparing dishes for lunch.  He sat down at the table and put his head in his hands.  Agape did not turn around to greet him; she was concentrating on a sauce which was thickening in a pan.  She did not want lumps in her sauce; she wanted to impress their son’s fiancée, Klymene, with her culinary skills.  Satisfied the sauce was the right consistency she left it to cool a little. 


     As she turned she started to speak, “With Andreas and Klymene only here for a matter of hours, I do hope you don’t get called away.  Maybe you should turn your phone off.”  Seeing her husband with his head in his hands, she sat down beside him.  “Whatever is the matter?” she asked, putting her arm round his shoulders.

     “I can’t say,” he replied, lifting up his head. 

     “What is it you cannot say to your wife after nearly thirty years of marriage?” she enquired. 

     Father Gabriel took Agape’s hands in his and spoke softly, “I know we are always open and honest in our marriage but this is something professional, between me and God.  Please accept Agape, on this occasion I cannot tell you.” 

     Agape squeezed his hand to show her understanding and returned to her sauce, stirring in two beaten eggs.


     Father Gabriel went back, in his mind, over the events of that morning.  Seeing a group of men in conversation at Konstaninos’s kafenion he thought he would stop and have a coffee with a view to joining in the discussion.  At this time of day Konstaninos’s son Dimitri worked in the kafenion but as he was nowhere to be seen Father Gabriel enquired as to his whereabouts.  Konstantinos told him he had no idea.  All he knew was; a letter had arrived in the post for Dimitri and after opening it Dimitri had jumped on his motor bike and disappeared.  Konstantinos was annoyed that he was now left without any help, until Nikos arrived at midday.  Father Gabriel heard Konstantinos mumbling, as he walked back behind the bar, about children being so inconsiderate.  Father Gabriel joined the group but it was not long before his mobile rang.  He got up and moved outside where he could talk away from the discussion, which was becoming somewhat heated.  It was Dimitri.  He begged Father Gabriel to come quickly to the farm just outside Kallithea where the English lady, Lorna, lived.  Dimitri did not explain why he needed to come; he hung up before Father Gabriel could ask.  Wasting no time, he quickly drank his coffee, put a few coins on the table in payment, got into his Fiat Punto and drove off in the direction of Kallithea. 


     When Father Gabriel reached Kallithea, he took the road leading inland and before long he spotted Dimitri standing by the farm’s gate looking anxious.  Father Gabriel pulled in and as he got out of the Punto he asked Dimitri, what was the problem?  Dimitri gave no explanation but simply said, “Please, we must go inside.”  Father Gabriel made no further enquiries.  He followed Dimitri into the house where, walking into the sitting room he saw Lorna; dead in her chair. 

     “Why did you call me?  You should have phoned Doctor Panousis, not me,” he told Dimitri. 

     “I have phoned the doctor but I called you too, so you can give Lorna the last rites and bless her.”

     Father Gabriel had never been asked to give the last rites or to bless someone who had not been baptised into the Greek Orthodox Church.  Under the Church’s laws, he was sure it was not permissible but then he was not entirely certain.  He needed to check with his superiors but that would take time.  Instead he took, what was for him, the safe option.

     “Dimitri, I can’t.  I can only give the last rites to those who still have breath in their bodies.  I cannot bless Lorna either.  She attended services but was never baptised into the Greek Orthodox Church.  I am truly sorry Dimitri but there is nothing I can do.” 

     Dimitri was distraught.  “But she was married in church.  Look over there at the photograph taken outside the church on her wedding day.  She must have been baptised.  She was a good woman, please bless her Father Gabriel,” he begged.

     Father Gabriel told him, if Lorna had been baptised under another Christian religion then it would have to be a minister of that religion who blessed her body.  He was sorry but there was nothing he could do.  In his distress, Dimitri started to sob like a child.  Father Gabriel could not bear to see this caring and sensitive young man in tears. 

     Relenting, he lifted up Dimitri’s chin and looking straight into his eyes he asked softly, “Is there anyone else here?”

     Dimitri wiped his eyes on his shirt sleeve. “No, just us but when I spoke to the nurse at Doctor Panousis’s surgery, she said he has one more patient to see and then he would come to the farm.  He should be here fairly shortly.” 

     “Very well, there is no time to lose then.  If I bless Lorna, you must promise me to never tell another living soul.  Will you do this?” 

     Dimitri’s face brightened.  “Yes, Father Gabriel.  Yes, I promise.” 


     Father Gabriel moved towards Lorna and took out from the pocket in his robes the bottle of holy water he always carried with him.  With the water, he made the sign of the cross on her face and said a short prayer.  He looked towards Dimitri who smiled his approval.  Father Gabriel pulled out a clean white cloth from his pocket and wiped Lorna’s face dry. 

     “I cannot have Doctor Panousis arriving and being suspicious of what I have done.  There is nothing more here for me to do Dimitri.  I will go now,” he explained solemnly.

     They both turned towards the door and as they did, they heard the doctor’s car pull in through the gateway.

     Dimitri followed Father Gabriel to the door, saying quietly, “Thank you, thank you Father Gabriel.  It means so much to know she is now blessed in the eyes of God.” 


     Father Gabriel and Doctor Panousis exchanged greetings before the doctor headed into the house and Father Gabriel got into his car.  Back in town, Father Gabriel went straight to his church.  On his knees in front of the altar he confessed to God and asked him, if he had committed a sin by blessing Lorna, to forgive him.  Despite his confession Father Gabriel did not feel cleansed.  There was something odd about her death and Dimitri being there because of a letter.  Was it suicide?  If she had taken her own life, this would make things worse.  He knew, since he was ordained, the church accepted that suicide was usually caused by extreme depression and priests had been permitted to offer a funeral and burial for those who had been suffering from this illness.  Father Gabriel deliberated as to whether Lorna could have been depressed.  He considered how difficult it must have been for her after Gerry died, especially as both of them were on the farm together, all day and every day.  He was sure Dimitri’s visits would have provided some company and Lorna probably walked down occasionally to Kallithea but this was a small measure after having the love, trust and companionship from one person for so many years.  Now, he told himself, was not the time to speculate but Father Gabriel knew this feeling, he had betrayed the Orthodox Church, would haunt him over the coming months.


     Father Gabriel got up from the kitchen table.  He had to pull himself together for the sake of his wife.  Surely he had not done anything that terrible.  All he had done was to bless the body of a woman who had led an honest life and who had been a good wife.  The fact he had suspicions about her death and she was not baptised into the Greek Orthodox Church should not come into it he told himself.  More important was what she had done with her life.  He walked across to Agape and lovingly put his arms round her waist.

     “Anything I can do?” he asked. 

     She looked up and smiled, “Go and comb that magnificent beard of yours.  We don’t want Klymene thinking her future father-in-law is some kind of hippy, do we?” 

     He rubbed his beard against her face.  “What’s wrong with being a hippy?” he laughed, and disappeared upstairs in search of a comb.


     Alone again in her kitchen, Agape continued preparing the food they would eat for lunch and contemplated how she could get Klymene on her own.  She needed to tell her exactly what it was like being a priest’s wife.  Everything prepared, Agape walked out of the house and climbed the concrete steps onto the roof terrace.  She could see the ferry approaching in the distance.  ‘Enough time,’ she thought, ‘for me to change my dress, brush my hair and put on some lipstick before we walk down to the quay.’  When she was ready and checked how she looked in the mirror, Agape went downstairs where Father Gabriel sat reading a book in the living room.  “Time to go,” she called. 


     As they started walking down the alley, Agape encouraged her husband not to engage anyone in conversation otherwise they would be late.  He did however, stop a couple of times to say ‘Good Morning’ and pass the time of day but Agape interrupted promptly, if there was any danger of a prolonged conversation.  When they arrived, the ferry had already docked and the crew were directing vehicles and foot passengers off the boat.  Their son, Andreas, was towards the back and easily recognisable in his black robes, hat and bushy beard.  Agape strained her eyes to see Klymene, who in the melee had somehow been separated from Andreas.  As she scanned the passengers, she recognised a number of islanders returning from the mainland plus Karen, the young woman who represented the company ‘A Walk on the Wildside’, or ‘AWW’ for short.  Karen was well known for her nature walks and brought a steady stream of visitors to the island from March to June and then again from September to late October.  But where was Klymene?  She began to worry as to whether she had come, but then she saw Andreas push ahead through the throng, taking the hand of a young woman.  ‘Ah,’ thought Agape, ‘there she is.  I needn’t have worried.’ 


     Agape was sure Klymene looked different from the last time she visited.  Still slim and tall with dark shoulder length hair, she wore a simple floral dress, sandals and carried a large dark red handbag.  Agape felt sure there was something different about her.  Was she rounder in the face?  No, it wasn’t that.  Agape just could not put her finger on why Klymene did not appear the same as before.


     After kissing and embracing, they started to make their way up the streets to the family house.  While they walked, Andreas told his parents they had booked to go back on the ferry leaving just before eight in the evening.  He apologised for their short stay but there would still be plenty of time for eating, drinking and running through the final arrangements for their wedding.  Arriving at the house, Klymene offered to help with the lunch preparations; an offer Agape declined but said she would appreciate some assistance afterwards with the clearing away.  ‘This,’ thought Agape, ‘will be the perfect time to talk to Klymene’.


     Lunch was eaten outside on the patio area, shaded by lemon trees.  Agape laid a white cloth over the table and put out plates, glasses, cutlery and a jug of cold water before bringing out the dishes she had prepared and cooked.  Father Gabriel disappeared into the outhouse and returned with a chilled bottle of white wine which he put on the table next to the glasses.  He turned the label towards his son. 

     “Do you recognise the name on the label?”

     Andreas looked quizzically at the bottle, before asking, “Is this really from the Mavroudi family vineyard?  The label is very impressive.  Someone has taken a lot of time over its design.”

     Father Gabriel nodded his head in agreement. “Whoever would have thought their vineyards would have turned the family’s finances round.  All it took was a bit of business sense.  I’ve heard they are planning to expand.  I say they but of course we all know who the brains behind the business is.”

     “Indeed,” agreed Andreas.


     After they had all tasted the wine and remarked it was a truly fine example of its type, they filled their plates from the dishes Agape had so carefully prepared that morning.  During lunch, the conversation centred on the wedding arrangements.  With the big day just two weeks away, thankfully these were all under control.  Klymene commented appreciatively on the variety of dishes on the table, telling Agape she particularly liked the papoutsakia.  Father Gabriel wanted to know how Andreas was settling in working as a town priest but said this would be talking ‘shop’ and they should discuss this later.  He asked after Klymene’s family, to which she politely replied they were all well and looking forward to the wedding.  Klymene’s family lived in the small town of Foustani where they attended church regularly.  It was at the town’s church where, newly ordained, Father Andreas and Klymene met.  The rest was more or less history, they started dating, fell in love and then one evening while walking her home, Andreas proposed.  Klymene told Agape and Father Gabriel, her brother and younger sister would both be at the wedding but she was disappointed her elder sister, who was heavily pregnant and living with her husband in Australia, was not able to make the journey.


     Both the priests had hearty appetites and were determined to make sure nothing was wasted.  They cleared their plates and with their bread, soaked up the juices and olive oil remaining in the bottom of the dishes. 

     “Waste not, want not,” declared Father Gabriel rubbing his stomach with satisfaction.  “Excellent as ever, my dear,” he complemented his wife.

     “The plates are so clean you have made washing up easy,” laughed Agape and turning to Klymene told her, “Hardly anything gets wasted in this house.  The chickens eat all our leftovers and scraps but today it looks as though there will be just corn for their suppers!” 


     The meal finished, the two priests strolled towards Father Gabriel’s church, Aghios Thomas, leaving Agape and Klymene to clear away. 

     “Just what’s on the table to wash up,” commented Agape, adding, “I did all the pans earlier.” 

     While Agape washed and Klymene started the drying up, Klymene said, almost apologetically, “It’s a shame we could not stay longer but Andreas is concerned about two of the old folk in the town who are both very sick.  He may be needed to administer the last rites; he would hate to let them and their families down.  Such a short stay means we won’t get to see any of Andreas’s friends, but of course we will see them at our wedding.”  Agape thought there was an unnatural pause before Klymene swallowed hard and continued, “We are not driving straight back to Foustani, we are staying overnight with Takis.”


     Takis and Andreas had been friends since childhood.  They had been virtually inseparable, spending as much time as they could together.  It was not until they left school and further education took Takis to the mainland, that they saw less of each other.  Takis, now a qualified teacher, had yet to marry and was working at a school just inland from the ferry port.  When Andreas came to choosing his best man, there was no question as to who he would ask, and Takis had not hesitated to accept.


     Agape decided to delay her talk to Klymene until they had finished washing up.  They continued chatting about the wedding arrangements and with Andreas not around, Klymene showed Agape a photograph of her wedding dress.


     Washing up complete, and plates and glasses put away, Agape suggested they went and sat outside with a glass of lemonade each.  When they had settled in their chairs on the patio, Agape wasted no time.

     “I want to tell you what life is like as the wife of a priest.  It would not be right if I didn’t tell you how different our marriage is to other couples, and this is how it will be for you and Andreas.”  She paused before continuing, “There are three in our marriage, my husband Gabriel, God and me.  I have had to accept, although my husband would do anything for me and I know he loves me, it is God who comes first.  When we were first married, I often cried when God took precedence and at other times I was angered by the hold this inanimate being had over my husband.”  Klymene looked surprised at the frankness of her future mother-in-law.  “A priest is committed twenty four hours a day to his job.  He can’t just shut up the church like a grocer shuts up his shop before going home to put his feet up.  He can be called at any time.  We could be out with friends celebrating a special event or taking some time out with a picnic in the hills,” Agape blushed before she carried on, “or slowly making love on a warm spring evening.  It can be infuriating when the phone rings or there is a knock on the door.  There have been times I have begged him not to answer the phone or go to the door but God always wins.  Sometimes, I have wished my husband was not such a good priest and that just once in a while, he turned his back on people.  I know this is wrong but this is how it has been for me.  If he gets called out during a meal or late at night he will often return home hungry.  There have been many times when in the early hours of the morning I have got up and cooked him an omelette to satisfy his hunger.  Other days he is sad, particularly if somebody who he is especially fond of has died and it is not just the sick and dying he tends to, he is a great mentor and is often called upon to help settle arguments within a family.  If there is an old person who is sick and lives on their own, my husband will ask me to prepare a simple dish or some soup and take it to them.  Invariably I will end up feeding them and doing some cleaning and washing.  I hope you can see Klymene, being a priest’s wife is not all about being asked to this or that social event.  By saying what I have I hope you can see how you could come to resent and dislike God for the hold he has over your husband………like I have.  There I have said it,” she concluded. 


     Agape sat back in her chair and took a sip of lemonade from her glass.  There was silence, with both women feeling a little uncomfortable in each other’s company, but the silence didn’t last for long. 


     Klymene spoke first, with understanding, “Thank you for telling me this.  I think I knew being married to Andreas would be different to any of my friends’ marriages.  When Andreas has been to my family’s home, there have been times when he has had to leave early because of an emergency.  When we were courting and he left in the middle of eating a meal, my mother was less than amused.  She has got used to this now and accepts his premature departures.  Andreas is like his father he is a good priest and I am prepared to tolerate all you have told me.  I love Andreas very much and I am determined to be a good wife to him.”  Klymene waited for Agape’s reaction. 

     “And God?” enquired Agape. 

     “Well, I hope God and I don’t fall out but if we do then so be it.  My priority is Andreas,” she replied smiling.

     “Good,” replied Agape with satisfaction, and changed the subject.  “Come inside and look at the outfit I have bought for your wedding.  I know you said your mother has chosen bright pink.  I would like your opinion as to whether my purple dress and jacket will look okay when we stand together for the photos.  I can always change it, if you think pink next to purple will look a bit garish and out of place.  I want everything to be perfect for you and Andreas,” she said with a smile.


     When the two priests returned, it was decided the four of them would walk down into the town where they could sit at a waterside bar and have a drink while they waited for the ferry to arrive.  Gabriel and Andreas walked ahead.  Agape watched them with pride and as she linked her arm through Klymene’s, she whispered, “Those are two very fine men and we are two very lucky women.”  They looked at each other in understanding.


     The two couples waved goodbye and once the ferry was outside the bay and on its way to the mainland, Agape and Father Gabriel started retracing their steps home.  Father Gabriel was quiet, Agape knew immediately he was musing on the matter he could not discuss with her that morning.  Not wanting to disrupt his thoughts, she too walked in silence and started to think what was different about Klymene.  Halfway up the narrow side street she decided change, if any, had to be in her imagination.  She took her husband’s hand and gave it squeeze in a way she hoped he would interpret as her being supportive of whatever was troubling him.


     On the ferry trip to the mainland, Andreas asked Klymene what she and his mother had talked about. 

     “Mainly about my wedding dress and your mother showed me her wedding outfit.  She was concerned about the colour but it is perfect,” she told him.

     “Ah, well I won’t probe you about your dress but tell me; did my mother try to put you off marrying a priest?”

     “Oh no, nobody could put me off marrying you Andreas.”

     Klymene lifted her head and kissed him gently on his cheek.  They fell silent and while Andreas pulled a book from a pocket in his robes and started to read, Klymene reflected on what Agape told her about life as the wife of a priest. 


     But something was troubling Klymene, she was harbouring a secret.  A secret, which if anyone ever found out would have ramifications she hardly dared think about.  Nobody, but nobody must ever know, she told herself.  She had been aware, on several occasions during the day, Agape observing her with an expression of curiosity.  Klymene prayed her future mother-in-law had not sensed the changes in her body.  Changes Klymene felt but hoped nobody else would perceive before the wedding.


     As they were nearing the mainland, Andreas’s phone rang.  “It’s Doctor Magoulas,” he told Klymene, as he put his book back in his pocket and started to move to a quieter place from where they were seated.  Klymene welcomed some time to herself.  She was dreading seeing Takis and would have loved to find an excuse not to stop at his home that night.  Six weeks had passed since they last visited Takis and she was still trying to come to terms with what had happened.  Klymene lost count of the number of times she had told herself how unworthy she was of Andreas’s love. 


     Even though she knew they had both committed a grave unforgivable wrong, she could not deny making love had been so much more than she ever imagined.  She admitted to herself, she had never felt so ecstatic or alive but at the same time chastised herself for letting it happen.  Klymene had always felt affection for Takis but left on their own, while Andreas had taken the car to the garage to have new wiper blades fitted, she allowed Takis to seduce her.  The result of their undeniable lust and resulting pleasure was growing in her belly.  She now hated Takis.  Yes, she was as much to blame, but how could he take advantage of his best friend’s fiancée?  Klymene had already resolved not to tell Takis she was pregnant.  If Takis was prepared to seduce his best friend’s fiancée, he might equally try to ruin their happiness by telling Andreas she was carrying his child.


     No doubt years of lies would follow.  Giving birth seven months after their wedding, she would have to tolerate aspersions that this was not a premature birth but it was down to her and Andreas’s impatience.  What she could not allow to happen was, for doubts to be cast that Andreas was not the father of her child.


     Andreas returned and sat down beside her.  He had a serious and concerned look on his face.  “It’s Kyria Douka, she has deteriorated.  Doctor Magoulas doesn’t think she will make it through the night.  I told him we would drive straight home.  I hope you don’t mind but if we set off just as soon as we dock, we should be back in Foustani just after midnight.  I have phoned Takis and told him we won’t be stopping.”  Andreas paused before continuing, “Strange but Takis sounded almost relieved.  Maybe he thinks everything is in place for our wedding and we don’t need to run through things one more time.”


     ‘Or maybe,’ thought Klymene, ‘he is ashamed and cannot face you, Andreas.  In which case, how will he cope on our wedding day?  But then, how are both of us going to deal with our guilt on what is supposed to be the happiest day of my life?’


     Klymene took Andreas’s hand, looked lovingly into his eyes and told him it was fine they wouldn’t be stopping overnight and that any last minute arrangements could be made over the phone.  As for Takis sounding relieved, she passed this off as him probably having homework to mark or classwork to prepare ready for the following day.  She lifted her face to Andreas’s, kissed his cheek and then whispered in his ear, “I love you Andreas.  I love you with all my heart.”  Andreas smiled kissing her in return.  They sat hand in hand and as the ferry continued its journey, Klymene took to her thoughts again.  ‘What if it was never as good with Andreas as it had been that one time with Takis?’  If it wasn’t, she told herself this would be her punishment for betraying this kind and loving man sat beside her with her hand in his.

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