I Guess I'll Never Know
Tahlia Whitten, Grade 10, University High School
I guess I'll never know why Melissa wanted to live in a cave. She told me it was nice, but as far as I could tell, it wasn’t very. She said because her statue-making business was too loud around others, and another perk was getting away from said others, but why not just live on a farm? Why a seaside cave (that I’m pretty sure was government property) under a cliffside of the small Greek village I was raised in.
Yeah, this is a confusing start, so let me go from the beginning.
Just a few days— two, in fact, before meeting the most interesting enigma of my life, Melissa, I was diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica (we’ll call it PMR), which was indicated by severe pain all over my body, especially in my joints. I thought of it as “old person’s disease” which was a little insulting.
I had plane tickets from my home in London to Athens, then another plane to Lemnos, then the train to my home town of Tsimandria, ancient and by the ocean.
I’m gonna be honest, I was hoping a little hometown-magic could help me feel better. At the doctor’s in London, which also served as an optometrist’s, the pathologist took a look at my eyes and said I’d be practically blind in 48 hours. Well, then.
Needless to say, the plane trips were not the most enjoyable. Filled with sweaty tourists and tiny, lumpy plane seats, I was most definitely looking forward to arriving at my childhood home that my parents had left to me before they died.
After two plane trips and a train ride, I’d expected to be quite fatigued, and since that was an additional symptom of PMR and I was feeling the distorted vision setting in, I was surprised to feel quite restless. I could smell the ocean as I lay down on my parents’ bed, and decided I could fit a quick trip to the seaside before it got too late in the day.
Of course, I get to the beach (after a walk that I remember being much shorter as a child) and start feeling terrible. The doctor told me the distorted vision would hit hard, then ease up as my medication kicked in, but at that moment with the sun going down and endless beach around me, I could barely see.
Of course, it began to rain.
Long story short, I stumble into a cave, find out there’s someone who’s made a home there, and she (this is Melissa) offers to let me stay for the night so I don’t get lost and drown.
If it were anyone else, I’d’ve politely declined and taken my chances sleeping with the fishes, but Melissa just had this aura about her. I couldn’t describe it if I tried.
We talked, and though she avoided just about all of my questions, I still felt comfortable around her. When I told her of my ailment, she offered to give me a massage.
‘Please, Alex,’ She said gently when I refused. I accepted. Magic hands, that woman had.
The next morning I woke up, feeling like a spring chicken and sight like a hawk. I called out around me to thank her, but it seemed Melissa was gone.
I left, turned back, then left again.
If I’d looked one more time I would’ve seen her shake her snake-hair loose.
I guess I’ll never know why Melissa lived in a cave.