I’m sitting outside the Padaria Pastelaria Mariazinha. I say outside, but in fact the area I am sitting in has a roof and four walls- although the one next to the road has a glass panel in it.

Occasionally I’ll hear a great whooshing sound as a car or a bus zooms past. In the background I can hear the babble of children and a hubbub of foreign chatter. The café’s tinny sound system pumps out whiny europop, and plates clatter as closing time draws near. Dusk is just starting to settle; the air has a certain bite to it. My stomach aches from the spongy custard roll I finished a few minutes ago. Its vanilla sweetness was tainted by the stale cigarette smoke that drifts from the men in the corner, along with snatches of laughter.

In the street there is a chorus of barks as the neighbourhood dogs grow restless. I look back inside the café and realise that there is only a handful of customers left; time to go.


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