City Stories

Chapter One

The night had ended. And the bus leaving Cais do Sodré was filled to the brim.

Being fully drunk and half high might not have been the best combination of physical and mental states, and yet, there he was. Vincenzo was trying to reap the rewards of another outing, counting change he had felt in his pocket. He had scored a seat right next to one of the bus doors. He celebrated his good fortune.

Outside the big full bus, dawn had announced its entrance and, alongside it, the day was also looking forward to set up shop. The big shiny city lights were looking dim and the streets had foregone their magic. The ugliness of all human-made structures was on display, much to everyone’s dissatisfaction.

The entire ride was stupidly uncomfortable, with people talking loudly and the motions thrusting some bodies against some others and all this out-of-place fanfare that just seemed to push the previous night’s agenda along. Vincenzo had closed his eyes for a minute in a likely pointless attempt to shut off the surroundings. Not even a minute had elapsed and his regretful eyelids gave in to the pressure of remaining open. He looked out the window, and the melancholy of yet another day arising gave him chills. Perhaps the alcohol in his blood was beginning to be processed out and dissolved away. That thought alone made him feel desperate.

The exit stop was inching closer and he got up from his stony seat in a wicked jump. Barely anyone noticed that sudden movement, except for this girl that had been eyeing up his spot for a while. He proceeded to welcoming her onto the seat and made his way up to the door.

The bus got to the intended stop and everyone rushed to get out. It was as if the final destination was some kind of untold hell and the ultimate victory would be to avoid it.

Vincenzo stumbled across the cobblestone and into the grassy patch leading to his address. His usual routine, after such a night, would have been a march up to his apartment place. This time, however, he decided to plant himself on the greenery and take a moment. His eyes faced the buildings and the lamps and the benches. The city had transfigured itself again, as it always did. The most astonishing matter of fact was that said transformation occurred just as naturally as the day became night. Maybe it was simply driven by the progression of the day. Maybe the streets did take on a more authentic form of themselves, as the night took its rightful place.

The morning set itself all around. Most people were visibly either on their way to work or working out. The sun sent its first shy rays toward the earth and its bodies, and the general sense was that a new beginning was afoot.

Vincenzo was not feeling as optimistic, but it might have been due to the fact that he was coming down from a night of heightened euphoria and emphasized lust for life. As such, everything just felt depleted and meaningless. Cold and hard reality had settled back on its usual post.

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