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A short story in small instalments: PART XIX

Olivero Russo’s mind traced its way through the complicated thicket of memories that had grown up recently, back to the day when he’d gone to get his shoes repaired.

“Oh—you made those? Well, come in. Come and sit down.” Olivero Russo could see their expressions change as he opened the door wide and they exchanged a glance. He knew he looked haggard and ill. Well, he was becoming used to uneasy looks. Even the bird gawped, craning forward and stretching its neck to stare into his eyes.

Slowly, and with effort, and with many apologies for bothering him, Lydia helped Caspertina Passala across the yard, up the porch steps, and over to a wicker rocking chair with deep cushions and they both sat down. By the time this had been achieved, Olivero Russo had retrieved the three pots from the kitchen—the crooked one hastily scrubbed, for he had never cleaned it after the baking. He stacked them on the little table next to the rocker.

“Sorry—sorry about the crumbs. I didn’t get to it . . .”

“You’ve made bread in them!” said Caspertina Passala. “How did it turn out?”

“It was perfect the first time, but the second time, I don’t know . . . ”

“I know what you mean. Bread never turns out the same way twice.”

“How much did you pay for them? We’ll match it,” said Lydia.

“No, no,” said Olivero Russo quickly. He couldn’t imagine he’d ever want to make bread or do anything so quotidian and practical again. “You take them.”

“Well, if you’re sure . . .” Caspertina Passala picked one up and felt it all around. “After all these years I can still remember coiling these. Before either of you were born.”

“Then you must have them,” said Olivero Russo. Remembering how much trouble he’d had getting the pots home with nothing to carry them, he said, “Let me get a box for you. There’ll be one in the shed that’s bound to be big enough.” He turned, but Lydia jumped up.

“I’ll get it,” she said. “You rest here with Granny. Just tell me where.”

“Oh—well, it’s around the side. A little garden shed.” Lydia hurried off and Olivero Russo sank into Lydia’s spot. He was so tired.

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