Photo Credit: Anton Darius

Photo Credit: Anton Darius

Candles burned illuminating her wrinkled hands as she knitted slowly. Her face was smiling, and sometimes her eye brows would raise and fall as if having a disagreement with someone invisible. 

"Rosalie, who are you talking with?" A curious child would ask her. Instead of answering she would say: "Come here, let me check if you've been eating well" and with that she would grab a little arm and pull the child into an embrace then sneak in a pinch on a plump thigh chuckling, "Ah very good, you've been eating all your cottage cheese with honey". Her mood was always cheerful, even if it was difficult to walk across town without sitting down by the fountain midway to rest. 

Even now a small smile played at her lips as Jul watched. Fire crackling in the fireplace, Rosalie’s blankets around her, Jul thought that she needed Rosalie here more then Rosalie needed to be here.

People of the islands had rules. And one of these rules was that no one shall sleep alone more then three nights in a row. There was a reason for this. They didn’t want to inherit the fate of those before them. People of the past grew lonely and died alone even in the midst of others, in sprawling cities living in stacked houses 18 levels up and higher. In these concrete layers they grew disconnected from nature, never venturing outside, never feeling the sun on their faces or wind on their skin. They grew disconnected from animals, insects, birds and other living things. They grew disconnected from other people even-though they were just meters from another body with a beating heart. At last, they grew disconnected from themselves. That’s when everything started to end.

"Rosalie, tell me about the old life." Jul would ask her on such an evening. 
"During the olive oil harvest…" so would begin a new story.
“The harvest was a time to celebrate being alive. We picked the olives all together. People came on planes to pick with us, taking time off from their own jobs to fly for hours just to work the harvest with us. To touch real fruit, to feel the muscles in their back as they stood for hours picking. To feel true exhaustion at the end of the day. To quiet their mind by giving it focus. To taste food and wine that came from the ground.”

Even-though Rosalie was the oldest on the island and it was understood Jul would take care of her as the closest neighbor, Jul was thankful Rosalie was staying with her. She realized she needs Rosalie as much as Rosalie needs her. After three nights she would sleep at Rosalie’s house. No more then three nights alone was a good rule. No one was lonely on the island. People knew each other. Those living on their own would come together with neighbors, friends, ex-lovers, new lovers, to sleep under the same roof. Never more then three nights alone. Keeping the connection strong.

Alla Feldman