All this happened on the way to the station

Before moving here there was some checking out, on google maps. “You’re moving to the only part of Italy without a highway. Look, such a backwater, there is nothing there!”
Well, it might be because it’s a damn oasis, as in a proper WWF Oasis, the first nature reserve in Italy, and building is mostly prohibited. (The highway is already in the blueprints though, regretfully.)
And it’s not true that nothing ever happens.

It’s not a station where trains stop, but a station where stations stop.

Every day I walk to the train station, to meet my returning impiegato tecnico. It takes less than half an hour. I pass a donkey, a field, a school, a kindergarten, a barking dog, a whole lot of cats, and then I reach the town.

As I pass the bank, I stare in disbelief. It seems to be in a dire need of fixing. Overnight it had turned into a construction site. There is a policeman standing in front. I can hear the man selling fish out of a van opposite say to a customer: “Oh yes, a bomb in the night, didn’t you hear? The ATM machine in front of the bank exploded.”

The grey-haired man approaching is the only one in this town who greets me, or at least the first who started doing it. He is just finishing his ice-cream on a stick when he gets noticed by the bestia who attempts to jump high enough to reach the ice-cream, and as usually almost succeeds. Instead the man leans down, gives the wooden stick with some remaining ice-cream to the dog and says: “So that it’s clear – veterinarians have a heart too.” Slick, face-to-face marketing, and yet we have already chosen his colleague in a nearby town, on recommendation. Sorry, man.

As I come closer to the train station, I can see that an unusually big crowd has gathered around the little covered bus stop opposite. This means ten people or so. Just then I hear the sirens and an ambulance arrives. I still have some distance to cover and when I do, the ambulance is gone, the people are gone, the only thing that remains is a pool of blood on the ground under a plastic seat. It is very dark red. I don’t let the bestia smell it. I try to imagine what could have happened. Was it a fight? A disease? Something connected with the bank robbery?

I pass a house with a thickest, greenest hedge. As the bestia is doing his meet-and-greet the aromas with an unusually high dose of alertness, I hear a sound from the other side. Urgent yelping. The greenery is so thick that nothing can be glimpsed through. And then a hole is found and a black lab head appears that urgently wishes to get out of there. He is pushing and pushing but the gap is much too small for his body to follow. And when he realises this and wishes to retract the head, he sees that it doesn’t go back either. He must have grown in the meantime since that was last possible. And now he’s crying and fidgeting, and before he hurts himself I reach in and push his head to free it. It is an impressive head for a puppy, he will grow big and strong. Passing his property I can hear him run along the hedge until we are gone. As he grows he would never bark at us.

In front of the house with the dog there is the town noticeboard with death notifications. I skim through the names and something catches my eye, the age of a deceased man: 104. Oh yes, complimenti, this is where and how I wish to live and die too.

And then the little bell starts ringing and this means that you are coming.

Photo: MM

Not everything above might have happened on the same day.

And it might be all that ever has happened, and all that ever will.

But story is where you find it. And those who look don’t even need to invent.

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈


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