ZUGZWANG

A visual essay

The beach is where nothing happens and nothing is supposed to happen – the sooner you are at peace with this, the better.

Every few days, before going to the beach, my mother and I would go to the local newsagent to buy something to read.

One day, we found a cheap deck of Neapolitan cards sold with a local magazine – the cards were roughly cut and way too flimsy, but they were okay for the time being.

My mother taught me the game of Scopa and we played until the edges of the cards started to flake and rip apart – “We should get the original cards”, she said.

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The afternoon heat was almost unbearable. Most locals around me surrendered to the lethargy and vanity as they laid in the sun for hours at the lido – their bodies were slumped on flat beach-chairs as they slept until their skin darkened to a deep olive shade.

The older men grouped at the bar, drinking beer and playing with cards – the wives usually stayed at home, sitting by the door and chatting with their neighbour. Their sundresses were caressing their calves as they fanned themselves with an old magazine or newspaper. People sat at their doors, looking at the passerby - same old, same old, until they saw a new face. They stared at every stranger and I chose to look away from them.

It was my turn to be judged.

You know the figure of speech of the wolf dressed as a sheep so it can get the trust of the herd? Everyone, here, is a wolf dressed as sheep. Nobody really trusts anyone in these small towns and there is a comforting solace within that.

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