(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Marini is a flight attendant on an airline route between Rome and Tehran. During one of the thrice-weekly flights, he sees a small island through the plane window while he is handing out lunch trays. One of the crew tells him that Xiros, the island, is one of the few places on the Aegean that tourists have not discovered yet. Although from the plane Xiros appears to be little more than a speck, a strip of white sandy beach rising into a desolate central plateau, Marini falls into the habit of looking at it every time the plane flies over, which happens around noon during each flight. Seen from a high altitude, the small, solitary island has an air of unreality, as if it exists only in Marini’s imagination. For Marini, flying three times a week over Xiros seems as unreal as dreaming three times a week of flying over Xiros.

The island does indeed exist, and when Marini is between flights he gathers information about it. He locates it on maps, reads about it in travel guides, and frequents secondhand bookstores searching for books about Greece. A few weeks after first sighting Xiros, he is offered the glamorous Rome-to-New York route but turns it down because he does not want to stop seeing the island several times a week. Xiros has become the center of his life. His strange fixation not only produces a rift with his girlfriend Carla, who is not interested in listening to endless talk about Xiros, but also creates friction with the other flight attendants, who do not...

(The entire section is 606 words.)