Greece 1913: Finding Love

Diane Helentjaris
15 min readJan 8

A short story of family, yearnings, and fate

Grave marker of a woman. Greek work of the Late Classical period From Menidi (ancient Acharnai), Attica, Greece. Wikimedia Commons.

Fresh air, cool for the Attic peninsula, wafted in from the window. A perfect day, even though it was Monday. The morning sun set the dish of strawberries aglow. The scent of brandy tickled Tassos’s nose. He felt his mother’s hand on his shoulder as she deftly put a cup of coffee beside the fruit. A cookie from Lamia, thickly coated with powdered sugar and sitting on frilled paper, came next. She smelled of laundry soap. Her long skirt swished on the floor as she busied herself in the kitchen.

“Mama, why aren’t the others here? And what did I do to earn this breakfast?” Tassos knew — without a doubt — he, as her firstborn son, was her favorite, though this level of favoritism seemed out of bounds.

“It’s not what you did, but what you are going to do, Tassos,” she chuckled. “The weather is beginning to warm up. I want you to help me with the carpets this morning. Your father let you sleep in. He and your brothers went on ahead to the olive trees. The girls are outside. If you carry all the carpets up to the roof and help me spread them out, then the girls and I can clean them. You can roll them up when they’re dry and put them away for the summer. I think such help is worth a berry or two, don’t you?”

He turned to smile at her. The light from the window glinted in her deep brown eyes. They were the warmest eyes he’d ever seen. He knew his diminutive mother was the most beautiful woman, not only in their village of Acharnai, but probably in all of Attikis, all of Greece, and maybe, all the world.

Sophia returned his smile. Her posture was perfect, every movement graceful. She wore her immaculate cotton dress and apron as if they were the silk and lace of her youth. Her father, a wealthy merchant, had made sure Sophia would attract suitors though he had not planned on Stephanos, Tassos’s father. Tassos knew from an early age the parcels of land his grandfather owned in the ancient town which lay on both sides of the main street. His mother’s family had been prominent in Acharnai for as long as the townsfolk could remember.

And the Acharnaians could remember a very long time, indeed.

Tassos, schooled by his mother, knew the village’s history. His chest puffed a bit when he entertained…

Diane Helentjaris

Writer with a love of the overlooked. Author of the new historical fiction novel The Indenture of Ivy O’Neill,