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.

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.

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