The building featured in this painting, with that far reaching view towards the mountain of Stavrovouni, can be found on the outskirts of a little village called Kalo Chorio near Larnaca. You usually wouldn't give this abandoned Turkish dwelling another glance in its desolate and uninhabitable state; it took more than 50 years to catch Theo's attention, despite the fact that his parental home is located a mere 50 meters away from it, but when the sun caught the building in the right light, it brought the dwelling once more to life.
From time to time Theo's paintings have inspired short stories. Here is one by Theo and Neil Smith that he would like to share with you for his painting Stavrovouni:
The house seems much smaller now; when I was small, everything seemed bigger, I guess. I can almost see Katerina peering out of the shutters or striding up and down the lane, playing her flute without a care in the world. That jet black hair and those emerald eyes. Oh, those eyes.
Forty long years has taken its toll, on the house and on me, but not on my memories. My family’s home now long gone, but her house still stands… just. The view from here remains the same, the old monastery on the mountain, watching over me.
Katerina and I would sneak off and meet at the well with our buckets; she would think up new dares every time and, if I accepted, she would flirt a little and pull up her long, flowing skirt, showing me her soft, delicate thighs, more if I was lucky. We had our first kiss there, she taught me a few things.
A neighbour saw us; her father had me arrested and jailed for a whole day, but it was worth it.
I don’t even know why I’m standing here, now. The house has clearly been empty for some time.
Katerina and I would walk to the stream half a mile up the hill and idle time away with our toes dangling in the water. I was very proud of the flute I made for her, it had a beautiful sound and she learnt to play in no time. She would serenade me for hours, a simple life. We would plan to marry, and her brother Andreas was to be our best man.
That was our plan, our future, a future that died that fateful night.
Andreas was like a brother to me and when I wasn’t with Katerina I spent all my time with him.
We started to hang out with the local gang, they were all much older than us but we talked big and they seemed to like that. We took to gambling. I knew how to handle a deck of cards and we were soon on a winning streak, or so we thought. On this fateful night we were soon out of cash, mounting up a huge debt with no means to pay. We left in terror, with promises that we knew we couldn’t keep.
I slept uneasy that night, every creak in the house made my heart race. Just as the sun came up, Katerina’s screams tore into the early hours, her parents in shock and disbelief. But where was Andreas? The answer chilled me to the bone, his head was found in our well, sliced clean.
Petrified that I would share his fate, my family hid me in the mountains, and three days later I was on a boat, heading for England. I never saw Katerina again. I heard that she died a few months later, and I know a part of me died along with her.
My life has been lonely as a presser in a foreign land. The steam and the fumes from the heavy machines has affected my lungs and taken its toll with my health.
And so, here I stand, forty years on. I don’t really know why I felt the need to come back now, but I can feel the tears stream down my face, thinking of my first love.
As I walk away the gentle sound of a flute stops me in my tracks. I turn and see a young girl smiling at me, she has jet black hair and emerald eyes.
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