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‘Helen of Troy,' she said between mouthfuls, adding, dismissively, ‘Well that's
just a play on words. Hellene just means Greek. The Greek of Troy . That's all.
An insult to Greeks.'
He nodded, chewing as he listened.
The sun dappled across their laps.
‘I thought I'd come and feed you up,' she told him, ‘But I'm eating most of it.'
He shrugged, gave a little smile. ‘I'm not that hungry.'
She looked up at the trees, ‘You'll need to stay strong, if you're cutting these
‘I'm not cutting them down, just trimming them.'
Then she said, ‘The Professor told me you're an opium addict? So I thought,
maybe that's why you're not eating.'
‘Heroin,' he corrected. ‘And I might come off it.'
She smiled. ‘No you won't.' Then she said, ‘But try and eat more food, the work
will give you an appetite.'
He ate slowly, in silence.
She continued to eat quickly, and with pleasure.
She told him, ‘And the face that launched a thousand ships? Huh! Maybe seventeen
ships,' she was on a roll, ‘And Odysseus? He wasn't even Greek!'
She shook her head vehemently to underline this statement. ‘And he wasn't even
called Odysseus. He was just a Phoenician. A chancer. On the make, like they all
She nodded to herself at this memory.
‘You're nuts,' he told her, ‘That must have been thirty five hundred years ago.
Do you always make stuff up?'
She furrowed her brow, ‘Thirty five hundred years ago? Nearer five thousand.'
Then she looked up slyly through her long hair saying, ‘Yeah, I make stuff up.
All the time. Absolutely.'
‘Well,' he said, and stood, brushed the crumbs from his t-shirt, clipped on his
tool belt, said, ‘I have to get back to what I'm doing' and looked up at the
She nodded, packed away the picnic in a small wicker basket, fastened the straps
and prepared to leave him. Then she looked up at him, shading her eyes; he was
already twenty feet up, deep into the branches.
‘You haven't listened, have you?' she shouted up.
‘You haven't listened !'
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