In honor of Regression Month, Lily Graham is sharing an excerpt from her novel The Summer Escape. She has an e-book to share with one lucky reader, as well!
This tale from Ria Laburinthos’ childhood is actually the prologue within The Summer Escape, which I thought absolutely fit your theme of regression as it is really takes her back to the time in her life when she is happiest, with her beloved Yaya, who tells her about how she got her name and why she was named after one of the most tragic, yet bravest heroines in history.
Her hands were like old parchment: brown, mottled and thin; yet to my five-year-old eyes they were capable of anything, magic not least among them. Today, they were a domestic symphony rolling out the dough; the flour, like fairy dust, sprinkled on the long, flat marble. Her arms were strong and wiry, and as she kneaded she beguiled me with stories from far away. Stories that conjured wisps of sun-drenched olive groves, plum-coloured wine sipped out of short glasses on cobbled sea-front tavernas, honey drizzled over thick, creamy-white Greek yoghurt, and wild, pink-tinged peaches warm from the sun.
‘Yew kno’ the story of how yew got your name?’ asked Yaya in her heavy Cretan accent. Flour smudged on her soft, brown cheek as she peered down at me, a smile edging the corner of her mouth.
I grinned my gap-toothed grin, perched on the counter, legs swinging, and clutching my latest and most cherished possession, a collection of fairy tales.
‘You named me, Yaya,’ I said. My name was collateral damage from my Greek heritage: I was doomed to walk through life with the rather foreign-sounding name of Ariadne.
‘Yes-a, but do yew kno’ who I named yew after?’ asked Yaya, holding up the index finger on her left hand, which curved ever so slightly at the tip, as if she would lift each vowel along with it in her lyrical burr.
I shook my head, espresso-eyes wide.
‘I named yew after one of the most famous princesses of all-a time, eh… the one who suffered the most-e,’ she said, with a sense of pride about the latter. ‘Unlike these silly princesses from your fairy book.’
My mouth formed an ‘o’ of surprise, my feet paused mid-swing.
‘Why I do this, eh?’ she asked.
I shrugged. She was a bit mad. This wasn’t exactly news. I loved her anyway and maybe a little because of it.
‘Well meli mou, the goddess Ariadne suffered most terribly, and it was her bravery and courage, not her beauty, that made her a hero, which I think-e is what really makes a hero, a hero, no?’
I supposed so. I liked the idea of the girl being the hero, though.
Yaya continued. ‘She was the daughter of a king; a mad Cretan king ’ho ordered a young man named Theseus to enter a maze and kill a wild, monstrous beast that had killed many people before. Knowing that this young man was facing certain death, Ariadne helped ’im escape and they fell in love. Together they fled the kingdom, Ariadne believing that she ’ad found a love that would last-e forever. Only, it wasn’t to be.’
‘Why? What happened?’
‘He left her. He left her sleeping in a cave one-a night, so they say, and he run away.’
I gasped. That was not how the story was supposed to go. ‘What happened to her?’
Yaya looked at me with her beetle-black eyes. ‘Well, there are many different stories, and everyone tells different ones. But for me, the story my own yaya told me is still the best-e. After Theseus left her, Ariadne sank-e into despair, barely able to keep going. Feeling sorry for the woman who had sacrificed everything for this man, Dionysus, a god ’ho knew all about suffering, rescued her, though there are many who would say that in the end, she rescued him too. You see, meli mou, life is never what we think it will be; it’s not always like these stories,’ she said, tapping the green cover, leaving behind a faint film of flour. ‘It can be filled with joy or misfortune, but mostly it’s a mixture like this dough. A real hero is like the bread – rising after it has been beaten.’
Her first two novels were Amazon bestsellers, and are being re-published by Bookouture, starting with The Summer Escape, which is out today. (Happy pub day!)
She lives with her husband and her English bulldog, Fudge, and brings her love for the sea and country-living to her fiction.
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