Vera

 

Vera rested, curled in the shade of the womb, meditating on the journey ahead, inch by inch building strength and filling with readiness; readiness, invisible as air that inflates lungs and lends might to voice, invisible as wind that sculpts

landscapes and lends shape to the world. Vera rested until the sting of the syringe ejected her out of her dormant state. She sprang forward, initiating the contractions that flushed her towards the sliver of light and into the blur of expectant faces. Vera darted into the world wearing a premature coat of long

black hairs which prompted her brother to scream in delight on first seeing her, “A little monkey!!!”

Such disturbance, timely orchestrated, to please and greet her father, returning that weekend from several months absence in a bloody military incursion in the southern hemisphere.

“Demonstrating to insubordinate rebels the rules of civility and democratic behaviour,” he proclaimed at the end of his speech in the town square. Nothing could be more festive to welcome the hero home than a living monument to his flesh and blood.

 

In the cradle Vera cried incessantly. Her parents blamed the summer heat and the curse of flies. They drew the blinds, sentencing the house to darkness. Vera’s cries persisted. Her parents concluded boredom to be the culprit and buried Vera in plush bears. The bears could not brighten up her life. Vera feared the absence of light. In darkness she lost the colour and the contour of her world. The brass post of her cradle rose out of the dimness above her infant eyes in the shape of a giant needle.

Her brother, now disappointed at Vera’s inability to swing from trees, blew into her gasping mouth, temporarily choking her into silence. “Stop crying and you’ll be happy,” he screamed in exasperation. Vera’s cries intensified. She tightened her fists and sunk her nails into her flesh, blood filling the carved-out grooves.

Guiltily, her brother surrendered to her cries. He leaned over the cradle and rested his head next to her body, safely anchoring the flailing distressed hand onto his ear. Vera held onto the ear, a shipwrecked sailor clinging to life. She rubbed his earlobe between her thumb and forefinger and her hiccupping breaths subsided. With a fold of the bed sheet, her brother dried the mixture of tears and perspiration that soaked her hair and urged blood to her cheeks. He pulled the string on the musical chime,

 

Rock a bye baby

on the tree top

when the wind blows

the cradle will rock.”

 

Vera fell asleep from exhaustion and her brother slowly pulled away. Sensing abandonment, Vera woke screaming. Over time, her brother learned to leave a pig’s ear in her hand.

(…)

excerpt                         ©paulodacosta

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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

 MP3    Audio-Book (unabridged) Time: 4 h 14 m                  ISBN:9780978184773

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