Walter locked that Sunday inside the apartment and left it there, amid the mugginess coming from the wall that had been exposed to the sun all day long. He joined cyclists at the park, weaving through stands selling popcorn and sugar cane juice. He wandered while paying attention to conversations from people under the shade of trees, sprawled on the grass, trying to find shelter from the sun, and begging for rain to come down pouring soon to cool things down and allow a good night of sleep. A boy wearing a dirty pair of shorts watched out for the cop as he dove into the fountain at the park. He wasn’t being naughty―that dive was out of necessity. The place was swarming with activity: old LPs, magazines that brought out old times, books of every style, china pieces stray from the set to which they once belonged. He thought about going through the boxes of books to find company or an escape for the afternoon, but the lazy heat urged him to look for a shade and tune out the thoughts that afflicted his mind―and that’s what he did.
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.
He abandoned the book as if to repeat the gesture he had made when he left home with nothing but a backpack, without saying anything to his parents, leaving only a quiet kiss on his grandmother’s cheek when she could no longer see the difference between a boy leaving for school and an everlasting, heavy with sorrow good-bye that would take time to heal. Walking down the sidewalk that would take him to his refuge, he thought back on the cover of the book he didn’t read. That image was a photograph he wish he had taken himself. He walked and focused on the sensations that the wind was spreading through the street, determined to look for his camera and take the streets again to find a suitable frame to capture all the melancholy that the city had awoken in him. At the margins of his path, the few leaves left on the tree whose name he did not know continued to fall from the branches, being swept in the same direction that his feet were taking him.
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