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A short story in small instalments: PART VII

He was seized with the idea of what was really important and what was not, and that his life would require many changes, but he wasn’t sure where to begin. He walked every day and felt a renewed kinship with the world that had been family to him as a boy: the friendly wind, the susurration of the cork oak and stone pines high above, the silvery trembling of squat olive trees, the bitter taste of fruits plucked too early from wild trees in ditches, and the touch of spikey tall grasses against his bare legs. He unearthed an old, old pair of short pants and his legs were shocking: pasty and knobbly; but what did he care? He wanted the feeling of the grass on his legs.

The family came and went.

“The rock garden looks nice,” said Isabella, the eldest. “What are you doing next?”

“Doing?”

“Yes. Now that the garden’s done, what are you going to do next?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I walk . . .”

“But, Papa, you need to have a plan.”

“You need to keep busy,” said Daphne.

“I am busy. I’m busy enjoying this beautiful, beautiful world.”

They both looked at him askance.

“But really,” said Isabella, “what’s your plan?”

“Oh, well, if I must have a plan, then, let’s give away all this stuff.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I hardly use any of it. Someone who needs it should have it.”

“What? Give away all Mama’s things, everything she kept so pristine all those years? Be serious,” said Daphne.

“You have to do more than just walk around. Life isn’t all beautiful roses or whatever,” said Isabella, and then she was distracted by the baby, Tatiana, who was learning to crawl and had gotten herself stuck behind the kitchen door.

Olivero Russo only smiled.

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