The first day the square filled from all four sides. A stream of people became a river, a tide, a flood.The festival was beginning.
A woman with a night-black ponytail strides across the square, one arm cradling a ginger-headed baby, the other hand holding a parasol. The shade falls carefully on the babe. The woman squints as she passes the young boy crosslegged on the grass. His gaze, and face, follow the crane’s reaching sweep across the sky and he gently overbalances, a portrait of surprise. Now, lying on his back as the grass tickles his ear, he listens to the tick-ticking of the sculpture students chip-chipping at their stone. Tourists, each with two bags, stop heavily by the sculptors and smile. Their holiday is beginning.
Dusty-haired men lie on hi-vis vests on the grass, their hard hats an orgy of albino tortoises. A woman in silver court shoes is distraught as she drips low-cal mayonnaise down her top; the couple next to her are too engrossed in each other to notice. People wonder who that dog belongs to; and why it is wearing a muzzle. Others wonder if that smell can be what they think it is or whether someone’s lotion is cannabis-laced. A man frowns but continues writing in his small black notebook as the woman behind him reads out her credit card number and security code. He looks around guiltily, trying to say with his expression that he is a writer and he was taking notes before she even sat down. He puts the notebook down on the grass, face-up, so that she can see what he has written. She does not look round. He has no choice but to leave. As he stands, he feels his face burning. Perhaps it is the sun.