It had been the start of summer. The sun was warm but the sea breeze was cool. He had arrived the day before, and while waiting for the accomodations to be sorted, he had decided to go explore the island.
The first time he saw her, he was sure she was a goddess. The flowing curls, the soft dress that billowed in Mediterranean wind, her startled eyes as he entered the clearing, the posy of white flowers in her hands – the image was seared into him. A brand.
While he stood transfixed, she vanished into the olive thicket. He had tried to follow but she was gone. A call from the landlady forced him to rush back. Over the next week he tried to find the clearing near everyday, to no avail. In this foreign land, where history and lore entwined, he had been captured.
It was spring now. Soon it would a year since he first arrived. A year since he saw her.
He had settled into the friendly little community well. He helped with the olive picking. He celebrated Christmas for the first time in years. He learnt their dances. He sang their songs. He loved the peaceful beauty, the serene brilliant sea. The scent of salt in the air began to feel like home. Maybe this was the place…and yet, it wasn’t. Something wasn’t enough, just like everywhere else. But what was it…?
Finally spring arrived in a riot of colours. And the pots arranged on his balcony showed buds for the first time. And then one day he woke to a nostalgic scent. They had bloomed. Sweet white flowers. Bright orange centres.
They were her flowers.
They’d been in her hands. They had adorned her hair. Suddenly he could see her image clearer than ever.
It was at breakfast that he heard the name of the flower.
A name that recalled an old story. An old story of love and heartbreak. A story of gods and humans. And of a nymph caught in between.
He took a single flower and set for the woods. Today, he would find her. Today, he knew what to search for.
The sapphire ocean was turning red when he finally reached the clearing. It was a mass of white daffodils.
She sat in the centre, bent over pool, her sad eyes reflected perfectly in the clear water.
He walked to her, carefully avoiding the flowers.
She turned to him, staring wordlessly.
He sat by her side.
There they sat in silence, watching the sun set over the horizon. Surrounded by the narcissus.
There were no words.
Words had lost their meaning to her a long time ago.
They had failed her when she need them the most, and now she sat in silence, in her blissful curse.
He came everyday. And they watched the sun set everyday, immersed in the scent of narcissus. And then, as spring waned, he saw her wane. Her soul slowly slipping away with the flowers. He knew she would leave soon. But there was something he had to tell her.
That day, as the sun set, and they parted, he turned to her. The clearing lay between them, the last of the flowers tinged red in the light of the dying sun.
“I love you.” He called out.
A clear haunting voice came across the distance between them.
“I love you.” came Echo’s reply.
The last of the narcissus withered away.
She had vanished again.
He sat in despair by the satin smooth pool, eirily undisturbed by the wind. So she was gone again.
The scent of the narcissus.
There she stood, dressed all in red, her eyes dancing, a nervous smile on her lips. In her hand, she held a single narcissus.
As he kissed her, the flower fell, finally disturbing the calm of the pool. As the darkness closed over narcissus, Echo shed a single tear.
The story was finally complete.
They were finally home.