The winter of content

When the man was still a boy, he lived with his parents and his younger brother in a tall block of flats. There were five of the buildings altogether, one just like the other, looking like thin, prolonged shoeboxes. In between them, there were lawns. On the lawns, dog shit. Among the dog shit the boy sometimes played football with other boys from other shoeboxes. From time to time, an older woman or man would yell at the boys and order them to get away from the lawn because “it mustn’t get trampled”! The boy loved the smell of freshly cut grass.
The boy did not have too many friends from among the neighborhood kids. They were tougher than he was. He was a mommy’s boy. Bookish. That’s why he loved it when one winter, for the shortest period of time, he found himself to be a member of a gang of local boys. The boys would come to his apartment in the evenings, ring the bell, have a short chat with his parents and then he would go out with them. To this day he is not sure why he was included in the group in the first place. They were all more experienced lads than he was, more daring. Some of them were probably older than he was. Nevertheless, here he was, walking around with them, hands in the pocket, in the dark and cold neighborhood. They would go to a nearby lake, slide on the ice, tell stories about girls…
It did not not last too long, though. After the winter, their friendship tapered off somehow… But later, when he was already an older boy/young man and would find himself by the lake, that winter of 1984 or 1985? would always come to his mind…

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