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A Summertime Scene

On that hot summer day, Dr. Roberto left the office earlier than usual. As he had no patients to see, he wanted to enjoy the afternoon to swim in the club.

I’ll take Felipe with me. After all, missing a day of school won’t be such a big deal. He’ll love it!

He called home and told the nanny that he would pick up the boy himself. He asked her to call the school and say Felipe would miss that day.

Sitting in the car, he was listening to a song of Gal Costa and singing along while driving. Traffic on that Friday was hellish, slow and noisy. Roberto thus closed the windows, turned on the air conditioning and increased the volume of the radio, remembering a concert of that singer he saw with his wife years ago.

I wonder how Marina is doing now, He thought, reproaching himself for not visiting her more often. I’ll see her with Felipe next weekend. It’s a long trip, but the three of us can take a walk in the forest near the hippie commune where she now lives, and I can talk with the supervisor to hear about her recovery. After all, it’s been over a year since she was hospitalized, and she seems healed already.

When was the last time Marina was in town for a psychiatric examination? Roberto wondered, remembering his wife’s first crisis.

The traffic jam dragged on, and the music playing would not help him keep his good mood. 

Of course! Every time he thought of Marina, he felt guilty about the affair he had with his secretary in the past. Everything had been rapid and disastrous for the family, especially for Marina, and for little Felipe, and, why not say, for himself as well. 

Suspicious, she started to chase him when things started not working out between them. And she almost came to blows with his secretary - what was her name again? -  if he hadn’t arrived at his office at the exact moment when Marina pointed the letter opener at the young brunette with long legs.

But that young woman had such a beautiful smile... and those provocative legs incessantly walking into my field of vision. How could I resist...? And it was so good! Not that I no longer loved Marina, I loved her madly, but that brunette just made me lose my mind!

Now approaching his home street, Roberto shook away these thoughts, convinced that everyone was fine, not as before, but they were just fine.

He parked his car and stepped into the elevator of his building. When he reached the hall of the apartment, he could hear a melody coming from inside which caused him a strange feeling.

This is no children’s music. Nor those loud, bad taste songs the nanny usually listens to.

He fumbled with the bunch of keys, trying to fit the right one to the lock. 

This song is... Who is singing this? It can’t be the nanny who put it... How silly of me! She must have messed with my CDs. 

However he remained in front of the door for a few moments listening.

In the moment he finally got the key to fit, Roberto knew who was in the room, sitting on the old blue armchair by the window and listening to that music. It was not the nanny. It was Marina. 

He opened the door slowly and glanced at her profile. He stood there watching her, sitting in the blue chair. Marina had her eyes closed. Maybe she was sleeping or just enjoying the music, who knows?

Absorbed, she seemed so beautiful to him, that he almost had the impulse to say something, to go to where she was and give her a kiss, but at the same time he felt afraid of her.

Calm and secure, there she was, just like the old days where the two used to sit in that very room after work and enjoy some glasses of wine, while chatting about their day, about Felipe, or just listening to their songs.

Incapable of any movement, Roberto remained in the doorway. Mismatched images and thoughts went through his mind, as a still unedited video sequence. Finally he took a deep breath and Marina moved.

She looked at him and it felt as if a lightning had fired through his body. Roberto noticed his mouth was dry.

“Where are Felipe and the nanny? They’re going to the swimming club with me.”

“Hi, Roberto! Don’t you even say hello or give me a kiss anymore?” Replied Marina with a mischievous smile.

“Sorry!” He said, coming up and giving her a kiss on the cheek.

“But where are they? Felipe! Felipe!” He called, trying to scare away an uneasy feeling as he walked toward his son’s room.

“They went for some ice cream, I gave them money. I want to talk to you.”

“Talk? We’ve already talked about everything, haven’t we? Is it about Felipe? I know I should be visiting you more often, but I was planning to see you on the weekend.” 

“It’s not about any of that!”

“So, are you here for your check-up? But today is Friday and your doctor doesn’t work on Fridays. When is your appointment?”

“I did not come for any appointment. I came to see you and Felipe. I miss everything here. Especially family. It’s been so long!”

“What do you mean? But when is your check-up? Are you fine? I had planned to take Felipe to the swimming club...”

“Why don’t you sit down and relax? I just want to talk about ... about my comeback!” Said Marina, clasping her hands together.

“For God’s sake, Marina, we’ve talked about it a thousand times. And besides this, you have a boyfriend now.”

“I broke up with him! I want to go home. I’ve thought of everything. I think I want to go back to teaching, what do you think?” She said, giving Roberto a questioning look, with a wry smile on her face.

The conversation was getting tense and Roberto sought to keep things calm. This discussion is useless, He reflected.

“First your check-up and if all is fine with you, we can talk about it, okay?”

“I just don’t want to keep going for checkups. It is being quite a long time since I’m healed, as the doctors said. I’m not crazy, I haven’t hurt anyone, anymore. And I want to have my life back. Or are you seeing anyone else?” She said in a louder tone.

“Not at all! I just want the best for all of us, for you and Felipe,” Said Roberto, trying to calm things down.

“The best for Felipe and for me is our family. The three of us together again. I have forgiven you, haven’t I? Haven’t I?”

“Yes, yes, take it easy! I’ll get a beer, do you want something?”

“A beer is fine!”

Roberto went to the kitchen, thinking about how to resolve that issue. He just couldn’t let Marina stay there. Her proposal to live together with him again, the tension of that situation and her presence were pulling him off balance. He needed to take her away from home, without any struggle or fight. 

He returned to the room, with the beer and the glasses. Everything was silent. The song ended and she remained sitting in the blue armchair with her eyes closed. 

Upon noticing his presence, Marina looked at him. It was a cold, unfeeling look. For a few moments, Roberto had the feeling that he couldn’t move any part of his body, as if he was paralyzed. In the next moment, he disguised his feelings, and asked about her friends from the commune, while serving the beer. 

“I’m not in the mood to talk about it.”

“Did something happen there? Has anyone fought with you?”

“Nothing happened. I didn’t come here to talk about them, but about us.”

“But, Marina, there is not much to talk about us. You have a life there, your friends, the coral that you love and I still have my life here.”

“I knew it! You’re seeing someone else, you’ve rebuilt your life and you don’t want me around anymore, isn’t it?”

Impatient, Roberto sat on the couch and put his head in his hands. The conversation was not getting any better, he was not being convincing, and this irritated him.

Where did the nanny go with the boy and why aren’t they back yet? He thought to himself.

He had to do something, to take action and get that woman away from there, but nothing came to his mind. 

He felt angry, but controlled himself when he looked at Marina, who now had her eyes filled with tears.

He thought about calling her doctor, but he could not remember where he had left his card. Maybe he should have called the supervisor of the commune. But could he convince Marina to go back there?

Marina stood up crestfallen and said she was going to the bathroom. Tears flooded her face.

When she left the room, Roberto called the nanny and ordered her to come back with the boy. Then he looked for the phone number of Marina’s doctor, but he only found the one of his former office. He was dialing the number of the commune where she lived when he realized that Marina was behind him.

Her face was peaceful and serene, she no longer cried. Approaching him, she gave him a long kiss.

“I’m leaving. Coming here was a mistake and I don’t want to take your time. You may still be able to go to the swimming club with Felipe. It’s so hot and such a beautiful late afternoon.”

Roberto breathed. As soon as she would leave, everything would go back to security and routine. He would remain the respected doctor who he had always been, he would meet his friends on the weekends, he would watch his son grow and he would still be a free man like he always wanted to be. He did not need anything else.

Thanks to him, his ex-wife had a comfortable life; she had recovered and she was integrated in her commune.

His son was also happy. After the crisis, he brought his grades up, he was doing well in school and he had his friends.

Yes, everything would return to normal within a few minutes.

“I’ll call a taxi to take you to the station. Do you need money? Do you think you can find a ticket in time?”

“Don’t worry! I have some money with me.”

Roberto then dialed the number of the taxi and turned around to ask her something. 

Then he saw what she had in her hands: the revolver he had bought after the house where they used to live was robbed.

For years he could not remember the gun. Where did she find it? Was it the same gun? Was it loaded?

“Please, Marina, calm down! Give me that gun and we’ll talk. You are healed, and you will not go out of control anymore. Please dear, let’s talk!”

“Now you want to talk! A few minutes ago, you said we had already talked about everything. Liar! Cheater!”

“Marina, put that gun down! You’re scaring me. Don’t turn everything into a tragedy! Please!”

The explosion was flat and short. A dull sound that mingled with the noise of his son and the nanny slamming the back door.