The hot wind announced the rain―at least that’s what people used to say back in his hometown. When he was little, he celebrated those days when his mother accepted, in defeat, the disorder in her hair against her usual hairdo. Hot winds are good to spend time at the balcony and enjoy the silence of the house while the water is still contained inside the scattered clouds.
Now, he could see Marina and the children at the vegetable garden, the TV was on mute, and the kitchen looked like it hadn’t been used for quite some time. He could choose a book from his old collection, dust it off and remain there, growing roots, pretending he was reading, feigning the life he always wished to have, leaving his watch forgotten at the bottom of a drawer. However, he had only come to drop off the family, so they could enjoy the estate before it was for sale. Would they really sell it? After all, the apartment and the office were a few minutes’ drive from there. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep the place as a retreat for moments of leisure.
He imagined an idle afternoon in the middle of a workweek, spent at the balcony enjoying the warm kisses from the breeze or walking to the park nearby. Having a country house, for those moments when the apartment or the office were unbearable, was a bucolic dream that resembled those hot winds.
Taking a stroll without deciding on a goal or precise path seemed like a good way to fill in that planless time. The streets were crowded and the park was sprinkled with colors: An euphoric girl eating a popsicle, laughter, street vendors selling different kinds of trinkets. His shirt was sticking to the skin in no time. He envied the easy-going fellows that had the audacity to tie their shirts around their heads and enjoy the heat while sipping something cold. In his case, allowing himself a few moments of inactivity under a willow tree by the side of the lake, enveloped by the faint green tone he knew so well from his childhood, was eccentric enough.
The setting was an invitation to start reading. Among the books available―Harlequin novels, philosophy, Cervantes, Drummond―he selected an old edition of The Autumn of The Patriarch as company. At the edge of the park, there were some spots on the grass under the shade that were far away enough from the agitated children and dogs. There he found some comfortable seats and got close to silence. Still, the movement of restless people under the sun in all its exuberance was incessant.
He went through quite a few pages, but the narrative tone conflicted with the temperature that surrounded him, like a creeper sprightly growing during the raining season.
When he was sure that he would be unable to focus on reading, he stared with an honest hostility at people coming and going and decided to leave. Weaving through the crowd of window shoppers had become his routine. With no money even for a coffee, he walked against the clock that set a time limit for the exile from his usual territory. Out on the street, he watched life moving around him, trying to allow himself to feel the soul that left him bit by bit each winter and not always came back after the cold had gone away. Indifferent to his search, people walked past him taking purposeful steps―some were talking on the phone, making arrangements for dinner or happy hour; others walked without a destination, holding hands and oblivious to their surroundings. There were also some who simply sat at a bar watching the traffic through their drinking glasses. He was avoiding the only path available, allowing himself to be consumed by the lack of protection. He was lucky enough to get on the bus before the rain came down; otherwise, the book he still intended to read would end up getting soaking wet. Lucky indeed, even though he didn’t know where that bus would take him.
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