It was so cold inside the bookstore. The lighting was cozy, but the lack of openings on the walls did not allow him to guess the color of the sky outside the mall, which separated him from reality ― something that the clock alone was unable to resolve.
The tall bookshelves made of dark wood felt good to the touch and were nice to look at, but when he touched them he had the impression that he should be wearing warmer clothes. The speed at which people were walking around caused some discomfort. Most of them were customers coming into the store, approaching the clearly-labeled shelves and, after a little bit of effort to find what they were looking for, walking back to the cashier with the object of their interest in their hands. There were only one or two people who, like him, browsed through the shelves without asking for help from a salesperson and the computer terminal. He had given it a try once, but if the young girl didn’t even know how to type the name he had mentioned, how could he exchange some ideas with her about the author and his work? He’d better look for it himself while walking around aimlessly.
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.
He left the reading and babbling aside, took a long deep breath and chose the least straight line possible to go on walking and let the afternoon wear itself out. Through those streets where he wasn’t used to walk, he dedicated his slow pace―somewhere between apathy and diligent movements―to observing the façade of old buildings. Some well-preserved houses transported him back to the time when the neighborhood was occupied by prosperous business owners who, during intense summers, would talk to their neighbors on the sidewalk while the heat did not favor any interaction inside due to the lack of an HVAC system. Imagining the routine from past times was a way to melt away his discontent with the present. It gave him the improbable satisfaction of comparing the everyday tranquility with the absent converser at his house. It filled him with the warmth of others―he could almost feel their caress. He was happy to see the colors that his eyes captured on exuberant flower beds, despite the fact that they seemed a little thirsty, and the shreds of music that escaped to the sidewalk. The act of postponing his usual silence enhanced the inseparable joy he felt by the absence of walls and brought about an unprecedented decision: He would call Andrea to go watch the sun set over river Guaíba, as they used to do in the past.
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