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by Valentina Rizzi

When you least expect it, on the roadside, another summer is gone and there comes Michele, the son of the candy seller. Sometimes they come back: memories, the slanting rays of the autumn sun and the shadows cast across the time flowing under the wheels. Sometimes thoughts come back too, those of a life made of streets and paper, rain, shakes and precariousness. But sometimes also children come back, after a few months, one year, and surprise you. You still the same and them giants, you retreating on your chair and them more and more striving towards the sky. You like a sunflower looking for some light and them like sheaves of wheat in search for the wind. It happens as you arrange your books and look for a shelter from humidity. 4-year-old Michele rushes towards you and you recognize him from his features because now he scampers alone and self-confident whereas last year he was always clinging to his mother’s skirt. He arrives at lightning speed and gets in your way before you even realize it. “Hi, temme a ’tory!”. You recognize him from the way he mangles the words and you go back to one year ago, when you were robbed of your stuff and he climbed up your legs to comfort you asking for a story, but then, after half a second, he stood up and came back with a (sweet) crêpe for you and, half a second later, he disappeared behind his mother’s skirt. Now he looks at you and once again, with the same voice, taller, with the same face, after a year he comes back and asks but you can’t answer, so you ask in turn, “Hi Michele! How are you?”
“Why you not come?” “When, where?” “Always, the other times, where you?” “Around the world. I have come back, you see. Now I am here!” This time he doesn’t move and waits. And comes back every evening. Evening after evening. He sits down and stays there waiting. He no longer looks like the naughty and impatient child he was last year, the little silhouette stumbling over dreams and words. Sometimes they come back as little men. And when you are leaving, when even the last lights of this procession are about to turn off and you say goodbye to each other, at the last hour of the last day, sometimes they come back, they stay and they don’t listen anymore. They tell stories. They tell stories all of a sudden, with a clear and self-confident voice. It’s him now, who still doesn’t know the words, who takes the images by the hand and tells me one last story before he says goodbye. His first story.
Sometimes they come back. Grown-up.