Life on a small, subdued island is turned upside down with the arrival of a star of the silver screen.
"Why, of all places, would he choose to come here?”
“Well don’t ask me about the ways of the rich and famous; most money I ever had wouldn’t take me on a weekend vacation.”
“Oh come now, I know, but still! Of all the islands, why this one?”
“Well our island is as good as any other.”
“Don’t kid yourself! You know as well as I that we don’t have anything to offer. Except coastline and that foul lake. And every island has coastline. The dolphins barely even stop by.”
The gossip could be heard throughout the entire town. It was market day and the new point of interest was the arrival of the famed Julian D’Orsay. His agent had been there a week before, as inconspicuous as a newcomer can be to a population of 67, and a few days later the actor arrived by boat. If landing at the south and uninhabited corner of the island at 3AM was an attempt to keep it a secret, they shouldn’t have wasted their time. By nine that very morning every townsperson had heard about the new inhabitant at least once.
What they did not know was why Julian was there. Or why he had chosen their unobtrusive, and in no way unusual, home sweet home. They all knew he could have afforded an entire island anywhere in the world if he wanted to--so why theirs? And why the old villa at the foot of the yellow sands. No one had lived there for years. And certainly no one wanted to. It needed more work than it was worth. And it wasn’t even a proper villa in the townspeople’s eyes. At least a proper villa would attract some sort of revenue, maybe even spark a tourist interest or bring wealthy vacationers cash into their shaky economy. But, they all grudgingly admitted, it finally had in some way.
No one had seen or heard a bit of the actor after over two weeks, including the children, who, on their parent’s prompting, crept through the sand, up the overgrown back garden’s pathways to peer into the windows on the ground floor. Not a piece of furniture had been uncovered, not a light was turned on and not a window was open. The children whispered about the ghostly sheet-covered tables and chairs and the aging actor who must only come out at night. After a month, some of the parents even started to believe them.
On occasion though, it was whispered, a light could be seen at the top floor of the three story villa. Aella told Akantha that she saw him swimming in his private lagoon one morning. “I marched right up to his front door, I did. No right not coming out at all, what with us all waiting to see him!”
“Sure did. And no one answered. So I marched right down the back pathway to that pitiful attempt at a lagoon. And there he was, splashing in the water like a child. And you should have seen his swimming trunks! Honestly.”
Akantha had shared the story with the whole town in less than half an hour. Though she did believe Aella may have seen him, she expected there had been a lot more slinking and stalking in bushes than marching and knocking on doors.
It was about three weeks in when there was finally movement from the villa. Julian’s personal assistant walked calmly down the hill, past the staring faces, up the only street in town, and into the marketplace. The townspeople were taken by surprise, but their pride soon stepped in and they continued with their trading and their talk as if he wasn’t sitting calmly by the fountain watching them all.
American, they whispered from behind the grape vendor, European, from the cheese stand and undecided, from those huddled close at a cafe snacking on dakos.
Whatever he was though, he was not verbal. Nor was he shy with the directness of his gaze. Deep, dark and hooded beneath strong brows, his eyes observed steadily. He was wearing a light, white shirt, top two buttons opened, with perfectly pressed linen pants. Two girls carrying bins of tomatoes whispered how the stranger must look more of a movie star than Julian even. The man must have gathered what they were discussing from their giggles and their flushed glances, but he showed no sign of it.
Finally, when his eyes fell on Miranda, they showed expression alright. She was helping an old woman lift a large melon into a basket. The man took note of her hair and her body and her actions and a slight curve touched the corner of his mouth. He would come and he would watch again tomorrow.