In the photograph a woman entering her middle age sits crosslegged on the ground between two ancient red clay storage jars bigger than she is, her arm affectionately around the swell of one of them. Though the midday sun is on her she looks cool in a white cotton t-shirt and loose drawstring pants the color and texture of celery seed. The wrist that’s visible is enlaced in one of those elaborate Greek bracelets which you can buy for about a dollar in any shop on the islands and which leave an intricate dark mark along your skin like a tattoo where the fake gold coating rubs off. She’s thirty-five, in that photo, but wears it well. The jars, Minoan pithoi, are some four thousand, and have worn well too—remarkably so, given the number and intensity of earthquakes there on Crete.
Mar is pleased with the composition. It shows her just the way she wanted, she thinks. Amused, defiant, a little ironic. Accepting who she is, for a change; ready to face her critics head-on. And the pithoi—the slow speed film has captured them well, grainy and flawed and wonderful. Their history tangible in them. She studies the photo in the borrowed London flat just before Christmas, and can’t wait to get back to Crete in January, to find out what will happen to that woman.
—Christie, excerpt from Reading the Stones (first draft)