That evening, while washing the dishes, Caterina remembered she needed the olive wood box for the children’s birth records. Alcandor had produced it on their arrival in Australia to prove their identities, but she couldn’t remember seeing it since then. She turned to Alcandor who was sitting at the kitchen table reading a Greek newspaper.
‘Darling, I need the children’s birth records from the olive wood box. Where have you put it?’
Caterina was unprepared for his response. Her husband’s body stiffened and his knuckles whitened as he gripped the pages of the newspaper. He didn’t raise his eyes, and hesitated before answering her with an unfamiliar abruptness.
‘What do you want it for?’
‘I need to take the children’s papers to the school so they can be enrolled.’
Caterina stood motionless, her hands dripping sudsy water onto the floor as she faced her husband. Without looking at her, Alcandor stood up and roughly pushed his chair aside.
‘I’ll get them for you. Don’t trouble yourself.’
Caterina turned back to the sink as Alcandor left the room, her face flushed with shock. He had never spoken to her like this before nor denied her access to the wooden box. The box belonged equally to both of them. It was a family treasure. Why was there a problem now? And why did he speak to her so harshly?
Caterina’s thoughts returned to the last day at the village when she saw Alcandor receive the note from the unknown man. During the weeks after that incident, his behaviour had been odd and erratic, but since arriving in Australia he had been fine. Her request for the olive wood box had stirred up something in him again.
Alcandor brought the papers back to the kitchen and placed them on the table.