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The Last Man

By Antonios Maltezos

Dimos nudged her with his foot, just to make sure, and then chose a path through the olive trees. He wanted an open space, the sky. He felt trapped in the groves.

***

Looking around for some evidence of life, he realized that the house was all alone on the mountain. There were chickens roosting off to the side. He could hear their gossip, and wondered whether they were talking about the goat. He was mindlessly chewing one of the wooden supports holding up their crude shelter. The goat must be hungry, he thought, and then noticed a feed bucket not too far away. Someone had filled it to the brim. A woman must have lived here, Dimos believed, the same woman who hung the oregano and thyme by the door.

He backed away, careful not to disturb the goat.

***

At first, Dimos tried to take everything in with his eyes, the dresser, her hair brush—the clothes she wore the day before, the unmade bed. He wanted to get a sense of what it must have been like for her, if it was anything like the torture he endured.

Her room was still warm, so he closed his eyes, inhaled deeply. Dimos could smell the last woman lingering in the air.

He was going to let out a whimper then, but he knew he couldn’t bear the sound of his own voice. Instead, he tried to imagine her words, whispers, soothing him into believing that it hadn’t all somehow come to this.

***

He remembered sitting with his father at a little café by the esplanade. His father was staring at two young women walking by.

“Let us watch as they swing their hips for us.”

His father chirped like a bird, and just as they looked back at him, he made a loud popping sound with his mouth. Their buttocks quivered at the sudden noise, and he laughed as if he were the only person on the crowded esplanade.

***

Sitting on a boulder overlooking part of the sea, most of the groves in the valley below, he thought that maybe he wasn’t the last man. There’s always your reflection, his father would say after arguing with Dimos’s mother. Remember that, boy.

But it had been different for his father.

Dimos pulled out a little mirror from his pocket.

“My name is Dimos,” he said quietly, “and I am the last man.”

Antonios Maltezos has stories forthcoming in Night Train and Ink Pot. One day, he says, his novel will feel finished.

Antonios has been a regular contributor to VerbSap. His last story for the magazine was The Fortunate Son.

 

Top photo "BW Self Portrait" courtesy of Alessio Vairetti.
Bottom photo "Footsteps on Woolami Beach" courtesy of Paul Ive.

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