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    Malahat Review – Seamless Stories Haunt

    The January 2014 issue (#185) of the University of Victoria’s Malahat Review features a review of The Green and Purple Skin of the World.   Fiction Review by Norma Lundberg The Green and Purple Skin of the World: Stories by paulo da costa (Freehand, 2013). Paperbound, 208 pp., $21.95     The sixteen stories in this collection proceed so seamlessly a reader might initially suspect them of being slight—a smooth skin of words, a faint echo from the title. But just as our skin is only the surface of our complex bodies, these stories are alive with characters in their own complicated worlds. They slowly enter the reader and haunt…

  • Fiction,  Stories,  Stories - S&L

    The Scent of a Lie

      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…

  • Fiction,  Stories,  Stories - S&L

    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…

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    Pleasant Troubles

    A sudden, involuntary flaring of his tongue, a hideous contortion of his face; and apart from this peculiar affliction, Bonifácio Careta remained an ordinary child. The villagers believed everyone entered life with unique, God-given graces—some born to nose-picking, others to continuous spitting, others to limping. They never spent a second thought on Bonifácio. Bonifácio Careta’s life would have proceeded without remarkable attention if misfortune had not brought his peculiar condition to public notice. Bonifácio’s fortunes changed irrevocably on the occasion of the long-awaited Papal tour of the country with the Pontiff’s brief, unscheduled bathroom stop in Bonifácio’s forgotten village. While the Pontiff bestowed upon the gathering crowd his holy blessing,…

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    Flies

      Foot raised on the shoe-box, Senhor Osório sat at the entrance to the tavern enjoying the overdue shine. The question mark of his cane supported his thoughts as he rested his chin on the wrinkled knuckles clasping the wood. His gaze followed the blur of legs striding past. “Give it a good polish, Armando.” “Yes, Senhor.” Armando stopped, wiped the sweat under his beret and brought his wrinkled hand to his kidney, the gesture intending to readjust it to a tolerable position. The few coins in his vest pocket rattled their protest. Armando hoped there would be plenty of time for leisure in the grave, very soon. He sighed,…

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    Not Written in Pencil

    Arial and I weren’t bad people or nothing, just different spark plugs misfiring under the same hood. It’s like this. Arial lived for now. I lived for tomorrow’s bills. I‘m not thinking she exemplified a young case of Alzheimer’s or nothing. You might think she slipped to forgetful on her wedding vows, but I say no. No more forgetful than most if the scandal rags are anything to go by. She lived for the tic of every second. So much that she would forget details like coming back home at night. Now that I give it a proper think, Arial was a genuine Buddhist wearing all prayer bells and whistles…

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    The Green and Purple Skin of the World

    Dear B,                                                  Quinta da Garrida, courtyard three weeks   The morning yawns and sighs in the lungs of the birds. I begin the day on the front steps, in my bathrobe, blowing soap bubbles. The birds’ harmonies melt the thin veil of frost covering the ground to reveal the green. You phoned last night to say you won’t be at Pearson airport to meet me. You’ll be in Victoria visiting your aunt. In this corner of Europe the sun shines through a winter blue. Oranges on the trees glow and kiwis shrivel on vines. All this fruit doesn’t tempt me to stay. Since my last visit my father has relocated…

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    My Real Mother Would Never

    From “My Real Mother Would Never” (The Green and Purple Skin of the World) by paulo da costa:  I didn’t plan on running away. It happened. You stare at me from down the street, and when we cross paths, you turn and shake your head as I walk along, stuffed rabbit under my arm, rainbow-coloured sling bag bulging with my comfort blanket and my Anne of Green Gables book collection biting my shoulder. If you stop and talk to me I’ll tell you, “My real mother would never do such a thing.” I’m dead sure my mother isn’t my real mother. I’ve got eyes. I mean, look at us. I…

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    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…

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    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…