Other people’s stories

Untied shoes, a foot in a puddle. The umbrella got stuck between the bag and the coat, one of the long ribs
got caught in the pocket, and she pulls it, until she almost loses her balance: the umbrella is broken. It is
raining cats and dogs and the cold-water sticks to her hair on the front head, it crosses her braid and slides
down the neck. She is mumbling something, tired after the workday, as she hears the phone ringing from
the other pocket of the coat. She has to answer, it is Matteo. She looks up and she sees a giant red and
white M. She does not think twice: she will take the metro. After running down the escalator and getting
under cover, she starts panting. Her glasses fog up and she answers the phone in a faint voice. Matteo, her
ten-year-old son, absolutely needs to tell her, before she comes back home. He needs to tell her that he got
a reprimand because he forgot to do his math homework, but at the same time he wants to point out,
making it clear how much the sentence had been long studied, that he also got a Bravissimo with a
smiling emoticon in Italian. โ€œEverything is okay, right mum?โ€ Chiara bursts out laughing: โ€œyou are just
like your father, two peas in a pod. We will talk about it later at home, I am on my way backโ€. Chiara,
smiling, laces up her shoe, validates her transportation subscription, and walks down towards the metro.
Usually, when she leaves the hospital where she works, she does not take public transport nearby. She
generally takes a nice walk and takes the bus, almost from another neighborhood, to go back home. Once
she arrives at the platform of the metro station, she is pleased to see that she has only to wait two minutes
before the bus arrives. She is thinking about what to cook, she wants to check if the supermarket below
her place is still open and when, on the other side of the station, across the two platforms, she sees the
mother of the patient in bed number 3 of her ward. She knows that her name is Silvia, that she has been
inside the hospital all day long, just like her. She also knows that she is going somewhere to eat, because
her ex-husband has arrived at the hospital. They changed shifts with some cuddles but no hugs, perhaps
because of grudges still aroused by a recent break-up. Silvia sees her, she smiles at her discreetly. Chiara
waves her hand, and signals to her that tomorrow she will find her back at the hospital. The metro arrives,
Silvia gets in it, keeps smiling at her through the glass, which picks up speed. Chiara, with her broken
umbrella, a deafening headache, gets in the small subway car. She looks around: the metro stop below the
hospital can be surprising. Someone might be holding a flower, someone else a present. Someone does
not feel like talking and so listens to music; someone stares into space and others do not even know that
right above their heads there is a children’s hospital. These are people’s lives that bump into each other in

tiny spaces, where they remain silent while a rotating box takes them from one side of the city to the
other, while they are busy with commitments, they have imposed on themselves; with appointments,
visits and deadlines. They remain silent and let themselves be carried away. And while Chiara forgets
about Matteo’s reprimand and her husband, who never scolds him, to concentrate on what Silvia was
going to eat, alone, for dinner; a couple is leaving, leaning against the door separating the various subway
cars. Mrs. Teresa, with the exams in hand, is going home happy, and Mr. Gianni is reading the reports
without fully understanding the difficult words. Then there is Marco who also studies in the metro for the
next day’s exam; Ludovica listens to a podcast and Mario sleeps with his head banging on the window. In
that underground quagmire, stories bump into each other, come closer and then move apart, perhaps
forever. And the next time, in any city, we will arrive with an untied shoe, on a rainy day, with a broken
umbrella, and we will sit down next to an ordinary person, not knowing that it might just be Mrs Silvia.

Pubblicato da Grandi Storielle

Siamo sei ragazze, Carola, Celia, Hannah, Livia, Morena e Sara che si sono conosciute in Erasmus a Chambรฉry e hanno ora deciso di mettere a disposizione la loro piccola ma grande arte per tutti.


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