Lisbon (Fragment #03)

I look down. It’s very busy today and the rain doesn’t help. The cars concentrate more, they move slower, and the sound increases in intensity with the wet road. I hesitate whether to stare a little longer, maybe I’ll see an accident. With this weather it will probably happen..

I look at the clock, there’s no time left. I have to get ready to leave.

I look ahead, I see the light on at Helena’s house. She’s waiting for me. How many years has it been since we missed the weekly afternoon, just once? The end of Saturday afternoons, in front of the TV watching a film, spending the whole week discussing it until we reached a consensus.

I look down. Damn the road. We were both already living in these houses when the council decided to build a major road, “an important thoroughfare”, they said. Maybe the city won. It was we who lost. We lost the yard, where the kids played ball, where we played catch, where the market was held and the vendors of roasted chestnuts perfumed us with autumnal smells. Now the smell is of fuel and burnt tyre, the sound is of engines, horns, ambulances and trucks.

I look at Helena’s window. Before, all I had to do was to take the lift down, cross the yard and go up to her floor. Now, the road has cut off our connection, but not our friendship. It has cut and extended the distance between homes. Now, I have to walk 15 minutes to the viaduct that allows me to cross the road, then another 15 minutes in the opposite direction to Helena’s house. And then return. The once five minutes have been turned into an hour, in the name of progress.

I look at the road. Poor Amílcar, my neighbour in the 2nd grade. He did as so many others do – he crossed the road right here, to go to the opposite mini-market. But a 75-year-old man… As far as I remember, in the last 10 years, four of our neighbours have already stayed there. Thank God I’m healthy enough to walk to the viaduct. I don’t know for how long. Helena, poor creature, for a few years now her legs and hips have barely allowed her to leave the house, let alone come here. So it’s always me who goes. But age is also weighing me down and I don’t know for how much longer I’ll manage.

I look at the clock, I have to go.

I call the lift.

Carlos Norton

Published on 22-11-2022

Technical File


Sound recorded with Roland CS-10 EM binaurals

Lisbon (21.10.22 ; 08:58)

38º 44′ 53,38”N ; 009º 11′ 19,66”E

Recording at the window of an 8th floor flat opposite the 2nd ring road.

To know more:

The Neighbour in Front (5 Neighbours in 5 Fragments)

Ficheiros audio

O Vizinho da Frente em Lisboa


LOCAL: Lisboa

LATITUDE: 38.70789889999999

LONGITUDE: -9.135365199999997