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Andrea Zanin | After School

The man is black as night, so not really black at all. He sits on the frayed seat of his ramshackle bicycle and waits. Neither here nor there. He turns his face toward a sky of purple, stretching out his arm to catch a Jacaranda flower idly floating to the tune of the moment’s lethargic cadence.

A premeditated gust of wind catches the blossom and pushes it to the left of the man’s splayed fingers.

The school bell rings.

His fingers curl into a fist.

The aftershock renders noise silent. Slowly, it unravels. Bird song. The hum of traffic. An occasional dog. A car hooter. Children chattering. Louder – louder – louder.

A group of five or six boys, engaged in some good natured argy-bargy, frisk their way out of the school gate; shirts untied, legs the colour of grass stain, one sock up, the other down, like a heartbeat around the ankles. But it’s the girls who first spot him. They unlink arms and run full tilt, ululations straggling behind, conversations forgotten.

For a second, the man’s eyes widen, exposing life’s toll, before shrinking to their usual, watchful state as he readies himself.

The boys follow.

Then more…

Boys and girls.

Wild buzzing, unfettered delight—they swarm.

The ice cream man is here!

He prises open the lid. Mist pours out of a white box jimmied onto the back of his ride. The children hesitate, sweaty fingers clutching 50c coins, awaiting the genie in the box. “Yiphi?”, says the ice cream man. Fingers unfurl. Two flavours: watermelon or litchi, in the shape of a hand – like those novelty foam fingers that you see at the cricket games, sending batsmen off the field. Go thataway. Litchi. The first exchange – quick and simple. Then another. Then one hundred.  And then, one last one.

The road quietens.

The great trees breath.

The man sits on the frayed seat of his ramshackle bicycle and waits.

Until tomorrow.

———–

Image: Microsoft Co-Pilot AI modified

Andrea Zanin
Andrea Zaninhttp://www.ourfiresidestories.com
Andrea Zanin is an 'all over the place' producer of content and stories. An expat South African living in London, with a passion for tales from her homeland, found on ourfiresidestories.com

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