Anticipating, almost tasting the pleasure of biting into a new book’s story, I set off down Hornby Street in search of a quiet bench to cradle my reading.
Trees lining the alley start to say their autumn goodbyes, tickled by the last bittersweet rays of August. The wind casts intricate lace designs of gold and brown on the sidewalk, whispering, hushing me into a new rhythm of thought. I draw my face up to the sun, meeting its beaming smile with my own, slightly shy and uncertain. Reassured by its warmth, I continue on to a small courtyard, lodged between the polished silver of high rises.
Casually strewn metal tables and chairs seduce me with their bright colours – green, blue, pink, orange. I settle for the turquoise blue, under a tree, with a perfect view of a crowd of students noisily discussing something in what seems to be Portuguese or French. Teenage boys and girls lazily lounge on the steps, animated by cares of the youth, dashing and daring among the bright colours of the courtyard.
As if unnoticed by others, a girl breaks away from the group and walks to a tree, where the keys to the streets public piano is hidden. A melody escapes from under her fingertips, as light and eerie as the breeze, in tune with the tinsel-like shimmer of leaves. The music bubbles up and floats aimlessly into the atmosphere. Funny how this courtyard – without special acoustics, drowned by mid-day traffic and crowd – holds the music in its special way, making it one with the summer. It seems as though the piano naturally belongs here, reminiscent of a little European town, poised and elegant, charmed by history, stories and nostalgia.
I put the unopened book down and listen, as the French melody sunsets at the horizon of my 38th August.