Those who had lived there and found happiness in the agreeable little gardens and those who had celebrated birthdays and watched their children grow old, all of them, one way or another, had left, giving in to the pressures of this new age and the barrio began to have no voices, was given over to gusts of wind, to the impacts of falling cornices, to the leaves eddying in corners with bits of paper that may have once been letters.The murmuring on the far side of the barrio was neverending as the heavy machinery demolished homes, flattening and covering the soil with stone for the sidewalks and asphalt for the Gran Avenida designed for victory parades.
And this was how a shared life began, a life of doing only what pleased them, passing the long, hot summer's days in games, conversations, sharing meaningful silences, savoring the minutes that went by indifferent to what would come next, putting their minds to forgetting the calamities of the recent defeat.
They pooled their remaining money; when it ran out, they'd sell anything that was of any value and with the proceeds acquire on the black market whatever was required for their well-being.
But the next day he shouted to them from the street and when he came into the garden they saw he'd brought them a present, an old gramophone that they hurried to turn on, playing record after record; it became clear that they were also equally lovers of music.
At points, Caruso's voice or one of Chopin’s waltzes appeared to awaken echoes in the neighboring gardens but if the mechanism ran down they'd hear complete silence and, faraway, the roar of the machines carrying on their ruinous advance.
They decided not to accept moving to the apartment blocks where the noise and the improprieties would disturb their needed repose and intimacy.
When the steamrollers did arrive, it would be more agreeable to die along with the barrio and all it represented.
Everything was ready for this last day and its imminence conferred a greater effusiveness on their words, their exchanges of opinion, their caresses and laughs; the days they were being deprived of would be taken in a trusting peace, full of beautiful reminiscences of all that had matured them, and a tacit forgetting of a civil war that had put paid to convictions and aspirations.
They strolled through the places they knew, remarking on the trivialities of solitude as well as the greenness of the gardens, which reached over the top of the railings without obscuring the view of the interior.
and passing through the spaces between these heaps prompted comments, meaning that they found out about one another's opinions and tastes.
When they came back out into the garden where the bonfire had died down, the couple suggested the man come and eat with them.