The last lawnmower is switched off at half past four; the garden erupts in a burst of sunshine, only to return to shade almost immediately. Someone brings tables and chairs outside, one of the neighbors tightens the rope of a hammock so it won’t brush the ground should anyone decide to lie in it. The speaker cable just about reach all the way to the French doors, and all is well. Easy jazz wafts between swarms of midges and swathes of lilacs, between paddling pools and dartboards. Sella carries glasses, plates and cutlery outside on a tray, sets out an ashtray. She found a packet of cigarettes in a long forgotten jacket in the hallway earlier that day and decided to try smoking for the first time in years. A glass bird decorates the garden table; its breast is chipped. Over in the playground an adult kicks a ball so high up in the air that, for a brief moment, it seems as if it will never touch the ground again. The children vie to be the first to catch the ball before it lands, one of them will bump into the fence and hurt themselves. Later, one will accidentally cut their finger on their knife during dinner and have a Band-Aid put on it. When they have all gone to bed, another will get a visit from a mother or father who will sit on the edge of their bed and read them a story.
While all this is happening, a family turns off at the junction after several hours on the main roads; the driver chooses a lower gear now that they are going through a residential area with its numerous “Caution, children playing, please drive slowly!” signs attached to trees and streetlights. They have many miles under their belt, the air inside the car is stale and oxygen depleted; ice cream wrappers and takeaway boxes with congealed hamburger dressing have been discarded on the floor. There is plenty of room now that they are one passenger short. The water bottles are empty. A bottle of pop sits warm and flat in the cup holder on the passenger side. The car is light-colored; garden plants, trees and houses reflect in the windscreen, the driver and the passengers can just about be made out behind the glass. Otherwise everything is as it always is: the dog stickers are still visible on the rear window where their daughter put them many years ago, they feel the pothole in the road just as sharply as always when the right front tire hits it, but their irritation is not as great as it usually is; nor does the driver swear when the fizzy drinks bottle topples and falls to the floor. And the sun just keeps on shining. The ferry, which will take the islanders home, waits for a ship carrying concrete to turn around in the narrow strait. Cries of frustration can be heard coming from the bridge.