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Silence

by Rita Sebestyén

Buildings of eclectic styles stretch along a couple of hundred meters. The houses seem to be violently pushed next to each other. Their fragility is in the open. Height, width, roof. Broken lines cast against the foggy sky.

The street is completely empty. No one is tinkering in the front yards. No one is trimming the trees. Or manicuring the lawns in front of their cardboard homes. Well, there are no lawns, but there are trees. No one is out for shopping nor has a drink and a cigarette in front of their porch. Not even listening to music or tv. No bickering between the neighbours or their children. No children are playing in the streets.

Completely deaf Saturday afternoon.

Finally, two high-school girls emerge around the corner. Vivid and synchronised walk next to each other in silence. Both are tall and muscular. They lift their gaze up in perfect harmony.

‘You all right?’ The two high-school girls are blocking the way of Streetwalker.

‘Yes, I am.’

Doubtful pause for a couple of seconds.

‘I mean, I’m not lost’ adds Streetwalker. None of them can decide whether this latter answer is bold or coward. Kind or smug.

Then they all crack a smile.

The two high-school girls open the way.

Nobody’s convinced. Everybody carries on.

A car draws up to the front lawn right now. The driver jumps out of his seat, rushes around, and opens the back door. A corpulent man is trying to get out of the car from a very leaned-back position. Surrealistically wide smile and giggles. Streetwalker stops right next to the car. Casts a glance inside. The two girls have walked away about a minute ago, and the street is completely empty and silent again. Streetwalker is frozen. Staring mesmerised right into the jovial face of the corpulent man stuck in his leaned back position in the rear seat of the car. All the driver’s efforts to get him out of there seem to be in vain. Chubby, white- and ash-grey smoke is swirling through the open door. Chubby, heavy, curly-wurley smoke. The leaned-back man grimaces like someone who’s roaring with laugh, but no sound accompanies his facial expression. His soft leather jacket is falling back on his shoulders. His paperboy cap is sliding back on his head. He is roaring with silent laughter. Almost dissolved in the smoke, in his own cheerfulness, he’s staring back at Streetwalker and stops laughing for a sec. ‘You all right?’ His words are sharp and clear.

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