The Two Half Ones
A man is lost in a thick forest, with the night descending in on him. In every attempt he makes to find his way out, he seems to end up in the same open space. Suddenly, he hears a man’s voice. He tries to follow the weak light of this person’s torch. The stranger is a hunter who has lost his dog and cannot find his way out either. They settle in the open space, gather some wood and try to light a fire. The hunter uses a letter, which he says he has been carrying around for many years, to ignite the fire. They start recounting the stories of their lives as night falls. The first man starts; he grew up in a monastery and was told that his mother had died at his birth. His father, a fearsome monk, brought him up in a very strict way. Against his father’s wishes, he finally escaped from the monastery, made it to the nearby port where he jumped on a boat and finally succumbed to sleep. To his surprise, when he woke up he realised that the boat had left the port. He went up to the deck only to see two men fighting. He picked up a gun from the floor and killed the one who appeared stronger. Our narrator prayed for forgiveness until he realised that the surviving man was a criminal, and the cause of the fight he had witnessed was a small box full of money. In the next port, our hero disembarked with the small box. There he befriended a man who owned the local pub, and who gave him food and work. With his help, he bought a big house using the stolen money. A sudden fire burned down his house and he stole his friend’s wife before leaving for the capital. There the couple lived a miserable life characterised by hard work and guilt, until finally she left him. He spent his days working in the kitchen of a dirty restaurant, descending more and more into the abyss, until one day his real mother arrives. She told him that his real father had died many years before. It is revealed that our hero was only two when he escaped from his elder brother’s hand in the busy port and got lost. The monks found him and kept him. She had been looking for him for many years. After the revelation, they made their way back to their homeport, but the mother died, her exhausted heart finally giving up. Ever since, our hero has been wandering without aim or purpose from place to place. He had no desire to look for his brother. The only point of similarity that his mother had described was that they both had a mole at exactly the same point on their chest. It is now the hunter’s turn to tell his story, who has been sitting tearful by the fire. He stands up and uncovers his chest. He has that mole; he is the long lost brother. The hunter did not know that their mother had died. The letter he had burned in order to set the fire was her last message, stating that she was finally getting closer to finding her lost son. The hunter recounts how he deliberately allowed him to get lost because he was jealous of him. He talks of the years of guilt he suffered, having told nobody what really happened that day. Silence falls between them until the lost dog of the hunter suddenly appears. As the dawn approaches, the hunter finally tells our hero that he is now married with the woman that our narrator had previously stolen from her husband. He met her while they were both hunting out in the same wood. The two brothers had lived all their lives apart without ever being really separated! The dog leads them out of the wood where they embrace, before departing on their separate paths.
Published in Greek: Οι δυο Μισοί, Stigmi, Athens, 1995.