The leaves did not make a sound upon falling, but the way they were piling up over the thin layer of water made it look like a rainy afternoon. Despite the absence of raindrops, the rain would always make him melancholic. Resisting the sadness that threatened to overcome him, he quickened his steps and went into a bar, asking the waiter to hurry. That was it. Noticing the questioning look hovering above the bow tie, he realized the lack of precision in his order. He laughed and corrected himself: Vodka.

It hadn’t been three minutes since the last time he checked his smartphone to see if there was any mail, but he repeated the automatic action again. There was only an ad in his inbox about garden supplies on sale. Lately, he just didn’t have the spirits to work on the garden or anything like it. He returned the cell phone to the pocket and corrected his unnecessary haste as well. He sat at a table that was the closest to a stand with newspapers and magazines and noticed that there were some books available to customers. He thought the initiative to be interesting, even though he wondered whether alcohol would mix well with the written pages.

He drank it all up at once and paid for his drink. Before leaving, he checked the books that were arranged on the small bookcase near the window. The weather was unstable on the other side of the glass.

Walking aimlessly was a good way to spend some idle time, he thought, taking a book under his arm. He tried the path made of hard-packed dirt between the seedbeds, collecting dust on his shoes. From afar, he saw children who didn’t mind the dirt stuck to their skin and didn’t even seem to miss the TV or videogames.

Someone seemed to have waved at him from a distance, but it could just be his imagination. Still, he waved back and kept following the winding path, letting the warm wind carry him through a light course, like the movement of the swing he had on the balcony of the house where he grew up. He felt an urge to go back there for good.

Before undertaking the walk back home, he tried to make himself comfortable on the grass near the old bandstand. The shade welcomed him and the yellowed pages offered themselves to him.

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.

Give a title and share this story