Why had I been so stupid? Walking alone at night is a really dumb thing to do. I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing such a thing at home, so why here in this ancient town? My holiday mood had gotten the best of me, obviously.
The slap of running feet on the stones makes my head snap upward. It isn’t possible to press my body into the door any further. If I run now they will be able to see me. My eyes search the doorways on the opposite wall but all are closed. Praying for a miracle, I knock gently at the door behind me. The warm touch of a hand startles me. I turn to face a hunched old woman in black. Her face is wrinkled and brown from decades of sun exposure but her smile is friendly.
“Please help me. There are men chasing me.”
How do I make her understand? The footsteps are closer now. I don’t have time to explain so take her hand and close the door. With a finger to my lips, we face each other in the dimness, listening intently to excitable chatter, halting steps and then running feet fading away. Once silence returns, I take her hands and nod hoping this gesture conveys my thankfulness. She nods back and leads me into a kitchen with pots and herbs hanging from the ceiling. Motioning me toward a wooden chair, she places a kettle upon the stove and opens the oven door, releasing the scent of freshly baked bread.
My stomach grumbles and she smiles as she places cut tomatoes, olives and oil beside the sliced bread. The coffee is strong and makes me wince, my companion signals me to continue drinking whilst patting her chest slowly. So much caffeine may calm her nerves but to a confirmed tea drinker, it is only makes my heart beat faster. I dip the warm bread into the oil and lay a tomato slice upon it before taking a satisfying bite.
I will have to return to my hotel shortly and deal with the ramifications of a police report but for now, I am enjoying the peaceful surroundings and kind company after my misadventure of the night.