Close encounters of the second kind

I liked him at first sight. He was a tall and somewhat ungraceful man of crude and unusual features–as if his face had been left unfinished by the sculptor–suggestive of a sound yet silent character. We had met at a restaurant; actually he was the cook; and though sparing in words, we had stroken up a slow yet heartfelt conversation out of don’t remember what. To judge for the short time we had the chance to talk, I gathered he was, above all, a decent human being, such a rare specimen.
He mustn’t have had much work at that time, because, once I finished my meal and paid the check, he told me to go out for a moment and continue our chat while he had a smoke. Right on the doorsteps to the street, for a brief moment I thought I’d lost sight of hime, as if he’d vanished into thin air; but no: a second later there he was, barely minding his cigarette, staring at the street’s damp grey cobblestones, wet by the recent rain, or looking at the unmistakable indigo of the northern sky above the neighbouring houses’ low roofs. Though we hardly spoke anything, I felt his as a close and pleasurable company; a company I could’ve enjoyed more had it not been for that noise, that fastidious and demanding noise that seemed to gush from within my head with growing strength…
It was the alarm clock. I opened my eyes to an unfamiliar hotel room, through whose window, covered by thick curtains, struggled to get in the fresh morning light. And in that passing slumber I suddenly felt sad for that man, that rare decent human being, whom I had left hanging without even saying goodbye. How ungrateful! That shouldn’t be! I didn’t want him to believe I was a frivolous person that had taken his friendship light-heartedly. So I turned off the clock and, taking shelter under the sheets, where dreams incubate, with all my strength I wished to come back to mine, even if only long enough to say farewell to him.
And I did! Theere he was, smoking his fag, still at the restaurant’s door. He seemed to have missed my momentaneous absence, or maybe he just discreetly pretended; perhaps he was waiting for me. I told him: “I’m sorry, but I have to go now; I couldn’t tell you why, you wouldn’t understand; I’m leaving forever, but I want you to know that I feel fortunate, and honoured, having met you. Goodbye now.” I had only a few seconds left. I held out my hand, and as he was shaking it, and as I was dissolving into nothingness, disappearing right in front of his eyes, he was smiling at me in silence, with an understanding gaze.
Back in my hotel’s room, when the cobwebs of slumber hadn’t yet fully let me loose, it dawned on me that perhaps he too, in that fleeting instant when I lost sight of him on our way to the street, that he too had awaken into his own real life for a second, and that he too had, like me, come back to the dream for bidding me farewell. Yes, for sure that’s what happened. And then all was clear to me.

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