Last Day On Earth Essay

Those who had lived there and found happiness in the agreeable little gardens and those who had celebrated birthdays and watched their children grow old, all of them, one way or another, had left, giving in to the pressures of this new age and the barrio began to have no voices, was given over to gusts of wind, to the impacts of falling cornices, to the leaves eddying in corners with bits of paper that may have once been letters.

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And this was how a shared life began, a life of doing only what pleased them, passing the long, hot summer's days in games, conversations, sharing meaningful silences, savoring the minutes that went by indifferent to what would come next, putting their minds to forgetting the calamities of the recent defeat.

They pooled their remaining money; when it ran out, they'd sell anything that was of any value and with the proceeds acquire on the black market whatever was required for their well-being.

Halfway through the morning they made a succulent meal; the smell that came from the kitchen and that at midday would be carried on the air through the gardens attracted roving cats which watched at a distance as, in the shade of two leafy acacias, the trio would lay a long table with a white cloth, vases of flowers, dishes, and glasses for a long lunch.

The smiling stranger, whom they'd dubbed Falstaff, brought new and surprising things from his house every day to amuse the couple who, for their part, showed him stamp collections and talked him through the stories behind old family portraits and laughed at the rigid attitudes and the strictures of those past times.

and passing through the spaces between these heaps prompted comments, meaning that they found out about one another's opinions and tastes.

When they came back out into the garden where the bonfire had died down, the couple suggested the man come and eat with them.But the next day he shouted to them from the street and when he came into the garden they saw he'd brought them a present, an old gramophone that they hurried to turn on, playing record after record; it became clear that they were also equally lovers of music.At points, Caruso's voice or one of Chopin’s waltzes appeared to awaken echoes in the neighboring gardens but if the mechanism ran down they'd hear complete silence and, faraway, the roar of the machines carrying on their ruinous advance.As the mutual surprise lasted the couple contemplated the man: he was in his thirties or early forties, serious-looking and with an uncomprehending frown, and he was graying at the temples.As for his two observers, they were perhaps about the same age, a little older perhaps, and they had similarly attentive, watchful expressions, used to having to judge, and there was a touch of disappointment in their eyes.Only one thing was unfamiliar to them, a noise; it could have been footsteps through dry branches and, coming closer to the house from which the noises were coming, they happened on a man in front of a tall bonfire with a mountain of papers crackling between barely visible flames turning into smoke.Books; from the gate they could see that it was books.Since they'd taken the final decision, the couple had been making exquisite meals and they'd amused themselves cooking sumptuous dishes and they'd bought the best wines.And in this first meal with the stranger they made clear the reason for such cares and he was only too happy to take part.Everything was ready for this last day and its imminence conferred a greater effusiveness on their words, their exchanges of opinion, their caresses and laughs; the days they were being deprived of would be taken in a trusting peace, full of beautiful reminiscences of all that had matured them, and a tacit forgetting of a civil war that had put paid to convictions and aspirations.They strolled through the places they knew, remarking on the trivialities of solitude as well as the greenness of the gardens, which reached over the top of the railings without obscuring the view of the interior.


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