Emanuele Quindici
“Yes, tomorrow is Sunday and I’m not sure what I want to do. I mean in one way I have a million ideas: I’d like to conquer the world, but then I also feel like relaxing; I’d like to catch up with friends and then again I’d like to be on my own a bit. It’s always difficult deciding what to do with a Sunday . . . There should be two of them. Or at least there should be two every other week.”

The living room has that resplendent feel of a new house, already full of life and things, magazines on the crystal table and post-its on the little whiteboard crammed with appointments and bills, and the ipad is open and on it lots of apps are open, and electric windows in the roof are now half open onto a sky which is half white and half blue on this Saturday afternoon in this suburb. It had been silent in that white living room, but there was the hum of Saturday thoughts, and in each of their mental atmospheres they felt the weight of interests, wishes, boredom. It was she who broke the silence.

“For example, I haven’t told you – because then I don’t know if you’ll be pleased –anyhow there’s that friend of mine, Jenny, you know . . well, she’s not really my friend as such, we just sort of like each other, I think we’ve spoken twice or something. I gave her my number. Now she calls me every other day. She likes to have plans with lots of people. It’s like having a lot of followers, it means you’re “popular”. Anyway, she wanted to know if we’d go to hers tomorrow, do something on her terrace, she’s got a friend there from out of town and she wants us to meet him . . . Wait are you listening to me?”

“Yes, yes . . . what is it: this Jenny wants to invite you to go somewhere with her? Go then, if you want to, go . . . I’d prefer to be free tomorrow: follow my Sunday karma, wake up just at the end of my circadian cycle: feel the sun on my face during the day, and if I’m not in the mood for it, the sun that is, then I’ll wear a cap with a visor: or maybe I’ll pull down the blind on the balcony . . . I’ll notice how Saturn is in quadrature with Uranus, maybe I’ll get out of the city, because Sunday in the city is depressing, it’s not like we even have a dog to get us out of the house.”

She is distracted for a moment by her mobile. The suburb wavers gently, softened in the indolence of four o’clock on a summer’s afternoon in a residential suburb. Perhaps in reality a dog had barked for a short time, but nobody had heeded it, not even them, or maybe the person telling this story had just imagined it, or maybe it was just car alarm going off down in the street . . .

“What’s tomorrow then? The solstice? Or was it Saturn descending on the city? . . . I’m joking, come on, but you know I don’t get this stuff right? Anyway, Jenny messaged me. She’s invited us to go to hers tomorrow, her friend will be there as well, the one from Cuba. She says she’s doing some wonderful drinks and nibbles, I don’t know what, but it’s important to her. You know what Jenny’s like, she has these friends, she likes to show them off to other people, like collectables. This one is from Santiago de Cuba, he’s dark, you know, and she likes that about him, it makes her feel radical and chic having a friend of colour. But I don’t know . . . and then, Georgia and her new man will be there: I’d prefer not to see them, it’s so awkward, we don’t speak to each other after what happened. Not that we ever really did speak: only ever over Facebook, with the whole world watching. But she just irritates me you know!”

“Look I don’t want anything too strenuous tomorrow, my biorhythm is at zero, my alchemy needs copper and potassium. I need to reflect; no, more than that, to think, to realign a series of things which have been weighing on me for days. To feel the hairs of my beard growing on my chin. To bring the I and the me into balance again. I need to regain the desire to want. I told you didn’t I?”

The sun slowly follows its parabola over the fumes of the city, bringing down its summer ecliptic. It was a dog, that was barking earlier, the narrator hears it clearly now, you only have to listen.

A bicycle goes past now: with every turn of the pedals, one rubs against the chainguard; it’s clearly a bicycle from times past. At the crossroads, someone has crossed the road, or maybe it was just a friend to be greeted on the other side, or maybe the dog: the bell of the bike has rung twice, and it was an original bell, with its mechanisms, the trill of departure and of return, and the cover has the brand embossed on it. The street has intruded on the living room: a real bicyle has passed beneath the balcony and her nostrils, and his, have caught a whiff of the grease mixed with dust that will never come off the brake shoes, and of the rust on the old scratches on the frame. The bicyle has gone past in the street, the one we all know, from when we were children, and when, during the summer siestas, we would pass by it, stroking it in the half-light of the cellar, or the space under the stairs, or the garage, and it belonged to our uncle, or our grandfather, or the father of our friend, and it would wait there in anticipation of one day returning to feel its wheels on the road once again, to send the metalic trill of its bell echoing into the air.

The bicycle has gone past and leaving the white organza curtains rustling in the breeze, and the fleeting structures of the complexity in her logic, in his, have crumbled in the absolute silence, destroyed by the breath of fresh air that has crossed that lazy living room, swollen with twisted thoughts. A silence, long minutes, fill the room. He has watched the smoke unfurling from the cigarette butt, extinguished in the ashtray, without getting up from the sofa. He hears her approach, her red hair tickling his neck, then his cheeks; he has kept his eyes closed. He has heard her voice: “Do you hear what I’m saying? I won’t go to Jenny’s. I’ll take you to the mountains tomorrow, not to just any old place you know. To a magic one, one which is good for us, one that “connects the I with the you”, do you like the sound of that? Sky that touches the earth, and if there are a few clouds it will be all the nicer, the smell of the cows. The best sandwich in the world, and we’ll eat it sitting on a rock, whilst our sweat dries in the air. And chocolate in the rucksack, don’t forget that! Are you coming?”

“Yes, I’m coming. I love you!”

Translation by Rosanna Forte
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