We never carried ill intentions towards Camila Penca. We simply prayed for our village’s old peace to be restored and, thank God, He answered our prayers.
Camila was born into a well-bred family in our respectable village nestled on the tusk-sharp escarpment of Hell’s Mouth Bay. A village still standing with pride and resilience after centuries of Atlantic rage. Camila spent childhood in her own world. She climbed up and down the escarpment, collecting gull feathers, splashing in the tide pools, plucking at the sea urchins, ‘she loves me, she loves me not,’ then, with the first tides of puberty, ‘he loves me, he loves me not.’
Some say that all along Camila displayed an inclination to stir up havoc. Surely there were instances of wickedness, as she had spied on people in their outhouses or stood on other girls’ chests to help them muscle up breasts. But who has never been possessed by wicked moments?
Mostly, we blamed the late Ti Bernardino Mudo for leaving the mouth of his old well broad to the sky. Trapped at the bottom, the smells of the rotting wooden foundation, the sweet moss and the salty ocean mist tingling her nose, Camila crouched in a puddle, peering at a sky that resembled an eye. Not even the waves’ consoling murmur found her ears. Gulls and rats were her only company. Gulls hopping from beam to beam above her head and sprinkling earth crumbs on her hair, rats scurrying over her body for a fish bone.
Lord, forgive us for such evil thoughts, but one would almost have wished Camila had never survived that cursed hole. We searched the land. We launched fishing nets and combed the bay, in the hope her body lay entangled in the sargasso. We peeked into the cleavages of rock for her trapped body. All without luck. Her mother, waiting on the beach with the moon and the stars, wailed
the child’s body ashore, as months before she had waited for the breakers to return her husband. It was she who spotted the green balloon tied to the gull, swooping and diving above the cliffs, against the rising sun. Camila had carried a green balloon in her pocket since she was knee high, “will lift me one day into the sky like Icarus,” she would sing.
The Scent of a Lie is a book of fourteen inter-connected stories, set in two charismatic towns in Portugal. Characters weave in and out of the intertwined stories, which can be read as a novel in fragments.
(2002/2012) – Paperback (140p) Format: 196 x 126 – ISBN:978-0978184766
from: The Scent of a Lie, LPO 2012 – 2 edition