Going to the supermarket is one of the highlights of my week here in rural Corfu. I love the novelty of a foreign country, local produce, cultural foibles, different brands and branding, packaging in a foreign language and this week, especially experiencing the Greek version of Christmas. Spoiler alert – it includes chocolate Santas, Christmas stockings, bauble and tinsel that looks the same in Ireland i.e. made in China and a little disconcertingly, though not surprisingly considering the history between Corfu and Italy – Panetonne. I went to all 3 of the supermarkets in Sidari – the luxury of a day off from working commitments. Twice I nearly bought eggs and twice got a flash of the local veggie shop with their basket of eggs on the counter; eggs I have assumed are the result of a co-operative local endeavour supporting hens to live free laying eggs in rustic idyll. I may be completely wrong but the romantic notions won out.
Giant Christmas poinsettias jostled for space in the Veggie shop foyer with sacks of potatoes and onions. Dates and figs appear more prominent and token trappings of Christmas dot their sparkle around the store. It is chill and dim as seems to befit veggies. The eggs are there on the counter – I find a little cardboard egg container and unconsciously pick out 3; then I notice my 4th, tucked away at the bottom of the bowl, a freckled wink captures my attention. A snapshot of a second illuminated and slowed in my memory.
I pile everything up in a cardboard box, it is shallow but well packed it all manages to fit though the light bundles of mountain tea, slide around the top. The shop assistant tells me to be careful, she will close the door for me. I bristle. The door slams, another car pulls up, everything feels precarious and I am now thinking how to open the boot of the car with my arms full. A shout of warning and a bundle of mountain tea flimsies to the ground. I get to the car, rest the box but it tilts, the cucumbers topple out followed by a gay abandon of strawberries and that egg, that one speckled egg, lovingly and carefully selected, delicately plucked from the cosy bottom of the bowl, that egg on its way to a baking dish or a frying pan. Did I curtail it’s purpose with my carelessness, did I push it over the edge or did it defy it’s inevitable demise leaping to a concrete death?
That clumsiness is not new. Carrying too much, overloading myself, stuffing in just one more thing; whether that be into a bag or into time, it is familiar. It is something I do. I have dropped things, broken zips, snapped fastenings, missed flights. For the most part I live with it, it is dysfunctional and awareness helps me curb the worst of it. I certainly wasn’t expecting an ‘oeuf’ to be the straw to break the camel’s back.
It broke me breaking that egg, the cucumber and the strawberries were easily dusted off and put aside for consumption but that egg. It chose me and I chose it. It was supposed to be a breakfast egg, fried or scrambled, eaten with avocado, freshly squeezed orange juice and LaVazza coffee. I didn’t know what to do about it, the yolk wide eyed me shocked and knowing the finality of this moment. I got into the car reversed to get into position and then drove forward to finish the job, I missed, I reversed and tried again, and again. I failed and I left. The broken egg bothered me for the rest of the day, this tiny little fragment of life splintering my consciousness, festered until it became obvious that I had to write an obituary, this obituary and I needed a photo. A race against time as the light drained from the ombre of the violet sky. The shop was open, there were evening customers and cars parked outside. The scene of my crime was lit by a lone street light standing guard. Where I had failed someone else had succeeded. My freckled egg was no longer egg shaped or hermetically whole in any way, shattered shell, faded and pale against the concrete, a yolk-yellow stain a modernist attempt to deconstruct life distorted by the light, fuzzy and unworthy of posting. The strangest, weirdest end to a day and an unexpected eulogy to an egg.