Fiction

  • Fiction,  Stories - G&P

    Immortality

      Vera rummaged in the wood crate overflowing with fluffy moss she and her brother had collected that morning in the pine woods behind her parents’ riverside home. The moss’s cool softness dampened her fingers. After careful inspection, she found a wide patch of greenery to cover the refuge of stacked pebbles and slate roof she had assembled on the fireplace mantle. The refuge, in reverence referred to as the Holy Cave by her mother, would shelter the clay figure of Baby Jesus in the manger, surrounded by Mary, Joseph and the cows. Through the moss an oak seedling thrust upward, lending a realistic touch to the miniature world Vera…

  • Fiction,  Stories,  Stories - S&L

    A Millstone, Always a Millstone

    The blessed water trickled upon the infant’s sleep, pronouncing him Maria das Dores.  His cry of betrayal echoed in the serene sanctuary, pleading upwards to the gothic columns, where it ricocheted from the stone ears of the Saints, deaf from centuries of parishioners’ petitions. Padre Lucas proceeded with the baptismal ceremony, his austere voice disregarding Maria das Dores’ supplications. “I shall remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. I shall place my spirit in you, and make you keep my laws and sincerely respect my observances.” Maria das Dores, for consolation, moulded his tiny body closer in his mother’s arms, just as…

  • Fiction,  Stories,  Stories - S&L

    Birthing Stones

      Along cornfields, past woods, across creeks, Francisco led the villagers to the birthing stones. Large boulders, christened by him as the mothers, covered the crest of the ridge on the rocky landscape of Serra da Senhora da Freita. The Sunday excitement was so high that Mass was prayed on the trail while the rosary of people following Francisco trekked beneath dawn’s first rays. The villagers could have been his goats, but for the prayers echoing against the rising escarpment. Prayers far louder than the tinkle of livestock bells. Francisco had been criss-crossing the range since he was a child. First, accompanying his cousins and the herds of sheep, later,…

  • Fiction,  Stories,  Stories - S&L

    The Visible Horizon

      Olive and cork trees will dot the landscape. We will not fan wind into this image. Instead, we will ignite a blazing sun, tinting the landscape crimson, blurring the horizon lines in the fashion of southern memories. The stunted yellow grass will rest still. We will prompt a raven to shriek and burst the silence. We will place three little shepherds on their backs under a holm oak, name them Lúcia, Jacinta and Francisco. For the sake of pastoral as well as literary coherence, let us surround them with a flock of sheep. The sheep are secondary to the story but may become a minor recurrent symbolic theme. We…

  • Fiction

    Pleasant Troubles

    A sudden, involuntary flaring of his tongue, followed by a hideous contortion of his face; apart from this peculiar affliction, Bonifácio Careta was an ordinary child. The villagers believed everyone arrived in life with unique God-given inclinations – some were born to nose-picking, others to continuous spitting, others to limping. They never spent a second glance on Bonifácio. Bonifácio Careta’s life would have proceeded imperceptibly if misfortune had not brought his peculiarity to public notice. Bonifácio’s fortune changed irrevocably on the occasion of the long awaited Papal tour of the country and the Pontiff’s brief, unscheduled bathroom stop in Bonifácio’s forgotten village. While the Pontiff granted the gathering crowd his…

  • Fiction,  Stories,  Stories - S&L

    Palms

    Tomás leaned against the muddy wall of the trench furiously whittling a knotted tree branch. He paused, controlled his impatience, not wishing to carve the wrong groove. The knuckles of his hand were white, his fingers numb from the relentless work, the iced air. He unwrapped his frozen fingers from the wood and warmed his hands under his armpits before firing random shots into the night. He waited for the enemy sentinel to dutifully respond. The shots echoed over the hill. Tomás sighed. One more hour of silence would now settle over the trenches. Tomás sealed a rolled cigarette with his tongue and lit the smoke under his coat. As…