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       The ferry was delayed, as usual – he said. She smiled complicit. – The good side is that we will arrive with the sunrise. I will not miss my morning coffee on my balcony by the sea. – Do you live there? ­– I moved four years ago back to the house where I spent my childhood, after thieves entered my place here in the city, taking away my most precious belongings and, worst of all, the money that I had saved for my life dream: to buy a small sailboat and spend my last years at sea. For some time I thought I could start over, after I got fired and found myself retired at my early sixties, yet still full of energy. But they started to cut my pension. First, ten percent, then twenty… Today I barely get a third of what I was meant! They put new taxes on properties. I got kicked out. No way I could keep my flat, the place where I had lived for forty-seven years, less after the robbery. – I am so sorry to hear this. – It was so close! My dream retirement, after working so hard! When I finally realised it was gone forever, I fell in depression. If it was not for my wife, I do not know what would have happened. Now I think we have got used to the island, somehow it has brought us some peace. 

– What brings you there? – I´m just taking some days off. I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately. – I can understand. The city can feel suffocating, especially in these times, not just for the heat. So what are you doing here? She silenced for some while, weighing her answer as if the question was a deeply existential one. – In a way I was expelled from my home-city as well. Though to me it was far of a misfortune. I did not come here directly. It was just after some time that I realised, out of intuition I think, that in this city I would find traces of mine. Instances of the life I want to live, already familiar, yet until now ungraspable to me. – Interesting. So the same forces which dragged me out, pulled you in. He smiled, but she looked down, uneasy.

– Why did you come back? – I needed to pick up some medical tests. Just a quick two-day visit. – Do you have family here? – I have a cousin, who lodges me in these cases. My children are abroad, as you. – Good you have someone to stay with. – Yes. We barely see each other in these visits though. She wakes up “very very” early in the mornings to go to the ministry, where she works. – Oh! I had thought civil servants did not have too bad working hours after all. But I am seeing that that was an assumption of mine. – I think it is a still rather valid assumption. But she is a cleaner. She needs to be at the building by 5.30pm. Still she is happy and very proud. Haven´t you heard their story? – I think I might.

– She was one of the five hundred and ninety five women who were sacked as one of those disgraceful measures imposed on us to pay off what was not ours. They fought for almost a year claiming to have their jobs back. They won. They became a symbol. They gave us hope. I myself was strongly moved by their courage and determination. She was so into it. The experience brought us closer.

The ferry appeared in the distance. Some minutes later the heavy gate started to descend solemnly reaching the dock with a tragic snap. Once the passengers on arrival disappeared behind the walls separating the port from the city, the impatient crowd swirled at the entrance of the huge ship as if they wanted to board all at once. They were almost by the security when a young man just two people ahead of them was halted. – Sorry man, you need to wait here. He made no objection and just moved aside to give way to the rest. As they passed through, she and the guy held by the officials looked at each other for a moment. She felt an urge of saying something, yet she did not. She thought of a friend of hers, who had tried it three times until he finally made it. – He will just go back to the city – she said to herself –, so to be reassured.

Outside the street´s daily grasp, that overwhelming artefact of concrete sprawling indiscriminately in between smooth mountain ranges, faded away in a nocturnal twinkle, weaker and weaker as the ferry advanced across the calm sea. With the vanishing of that illusionary vision, she left behind the hot and smoggy atmosphere of the intricate streets. Those that she had learned to navigate so intuitively in short time. TV screens turned on. The 24-hour channel again was repeating the same mantra of the last few days; either another bailout or we would go to hell. She thought about that “we”. – Was her new friend in? His cousin? The guy left behind on the dock? And she? Was she herself in?

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