July 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
‘Immortals don’t die, child. It’s not possible. The day the universe blows up in pieces, maybe they will vanish. Yet, they will not die. They continue to live in a different dimension.’
‘But when the universe explodes, they won’t have bodies anymore.’
‘Don’t underestimate the power of magic, Miss Reed. Mortals see their bodies as the thing that makes them being alive. They might believe their souls continue to exist in whatever place their faith says it exists. But not immortals. Body, flesh. These are just concepts. Perception, as you might call it, can change.’
As he said that, Dr Shaw pulled his sleeves up and closed his eyes. Suddenly, right in front of Agata Reed’s eyes, his body started to become paler and paler. His fingers were becoming transparent and she looked at his face, only to see the wall that was behind him.
‘That. Is. AWESOME.’, was all she could mutter.
‘Please, Miss Reed. Don’t use of this commonplace language in this house.’ As he said that, his body started to become visible again. ‘In fact, I would much prefer if you refrained from using it whatsoever.’
‘But it was awesome!’, she repeated to his utter annoyance. ‘Am I going to learn how to do that?’
Dr Shaw sipped his tea and looked at his watch. ‘In due time. But as I said, the body is just a matter of perception. You will see that when we study transfiguration.’
‘Yet, Miss Reed, you must be aware that it’s a very strenuous process and many have failed before you.’
She nodded, smiling, unable to hide her excitement.
He finished his tea and got up. He went to his desk, where there was a book. It had a black leather bound cover. The book seemed relatively new and he put it in front of Agata.
‘You must read this. For tomorrow.’
The book had nearly 900 pages. She opened her mouth in shock, but closed it just as she realized that Shaw was gone from the room.
She opened it with a small sigh. The book was entitled ‘A Manual’ and it didn’t have an author’s name or year of publication. Agata got up and grabbed paper and pencil to make notes. When she turned her back, she heard a loud noise. It made her jump and drop everything on the floor. She looked up and saw a woman standing by the door.
The woman was short and blonde. Her nose looked like a small potato and her eyes were of a milky colour. She wore ragged clothes and carried a small shoulder bag.
‘Ahn, hello’, Agata said.
The woman didn’t say a word. In fact, she wasn’t even looking at Agata. She was looking at the book. Suddenly, her body tightened up and her eyes narrowed.
‘Are you the girl Shaw is tutoring?’ the woman asked in a demanding voice. Her eyes were inspecting the room. Agata stared at her. ‘Maybe, who are you?’, her ear lobes were tingling, ‘How did you get in?’.
The woman smiled and shook her head.
‘Do you know who I am?’
‘No.’ Agata said defiantly. She wasn’t feeling comfortable in this situation. Where the hell was Shaw?
‘You must be scared. How rude of me’, the woman said, ‘My name is Morgana. I have known Shaw for many years’, she said, sitting down in the sofa and taking off her coat with an effort. ‘What is your name, child?’
‘Agata. Agata Reed. Are you really Morgana? THE Morgana?’ Agata asked eagerly.
‘Yes, I am. Come sit down. Do you have any tea?’
Agata wasn’t sure she should leave her guest alone in the living room. While she pondered, Morgana looked at her with interest.
‘Nevermind. I wouldn’t leave you alone in my living room either.’, she said suddenly. Agata blushed.
‘I thought you were taller. And a brunette.’ the girl said, shyly.
‘I was. Once. Many years ago’, Morgana replied, with a smile. ‘Now, where’s that old rag of a wizard?’
‘He…well…he vanished.’ Agata said, confused.
Morgana looked around the room and got up.
‘Yes, he does that a lot.’, she said, absently. She started to scan the shelves as if looking for something.
‘Can I help you with anything?’, a voice said behind Agata. She jumped on her feet. It was Shaw, wearing a wet raincoat and closing an umbrella.
November 2, 2011 § 1 Comment
Confession blogs have become quite popular on Tumblr and recently I posted a confession on a Jane Austen blog saying I thought the scene in Pride & Prejudice (2005) when Mr Darcy helps Lizzie and gives his hand was just amazing. There’s a lot of sexual tension in that and anyway the movie is not what the post is about.
This scene is one of my favourites because I think it’s very simple and yet it represents a lot of things.
First of all, I’m a fan of Jane Austen’s work and I’ve seen this version of the movie about 10 times (I think Joe Wright is an amazing director). However, I’m not a naive 15 year-old girl who thinks Regency times were this amazing thing OMG. Nope. I know it was a patriarchal and sexist society, where chivalry was merely one of the many ways of repressing sexuality and so on. I know all that.
So, back to Tumblr. My confession was that I love this scene, because it represents a time when touching the person you like was so rare, that the slightest touch meant the world. Which I truly believe.
There was an argument among other people who saw that confession saying I was ‘misguided’ and that I was naive for thinking that (again with the same argument of sexism back then and repressed sexuality) and while I appreciate that maybe I wasn’t that clear, I think they consider themselves persecuted by something which wasn’t a romantic view of the act chivalry (not at all, I can open my own door and pull my own chair, thank you very much). However, someone said something about the ‘oversexualization’ these days and that’s the point I was trying to make.
I’m not against sexual expression, sleeping with random strangers or having thousands of sexual partners. I’m all for it. As long as you are feeling good about yourself, I say, go for it. My point with that confession was that today, when you like someone, it’s usually pretty easy to spot, the hugs, the touches, the clothes you wear when you’re going to see that someone, whatever. Some people are more discreet, some people are very obvious. It’s normal to start a relationship based on touch rather than on feelings (and that sometimes works perfectly fine). What I’d like to bring to the discussion is that what I meant to say was about sexual tension.
Honestly, I LOVE some good sexual tension and I find it kind of hard to come across these days. It’s difficult for people not to touch, if they are friends or even co-workers. If you’ve never experience that almost electric thrill that comes down your spine when you touch the person you like (preferably by accident) then take your hand out quickly kind of scared, then you haven’t lived. It’s quite unique and sometimes people really ignore that. Which is funny, because that’s my favourite part of the ‘flirt’: when the tension is so thick, you could cut it with a knife. It’s scary. It’s intense. It’s fun. And it doesn’t mean I’m sexist. Sometimes you didn’t even know you liked someone until a random touch to reach for the same thing allowed that weird awkward-make-me-blush kind of thing. Even if you are very open about your sexuality and speak freely of the pleasures of the flesh, it’s impossible to ignore that feeling. Because later, when (and if) something happens, it’s like taking shoes off that have been crushing your feet for hours x100.
I might not be the most clarified person about my sexual life (I know I have problems with being seen naked for instance), but I think it’s more about insecurity than sexism. I know marriage was never the happy thing everyone thinks it is (please, most of humanity married for convenience until the last century) and I know people get divorced more these days, because they CAN choose what they want and don’t have to stay stuck in a hopeless and sad union.
On the other hand, oversexualization is a problem. Look at your TV, at your 11 year-old sister (like my own) and listen to what kind of music they listen to – bitches, whores, pimps and so. It’s a bad oversexualization. It’s not for liberty, if anything, it’s for more sexism for the most part of it. Treating women like objects, just like they did back in Regency times and way before that. If before it was no sex at all, now it seems it’s too much, isn’t it? Of course my judgement is still influenced by a moral society grown out of Catholicism, yet in a country where barely dressed women are just normal and you’re weird if you don’t like to wear tight clothes – like myself – seem to be outdated and sometimes even ‘intimidating’ (because I don’t like to wear uncomfortable clothes? How aboutcha). I don’t blame the victims for being raped, because it’s not how you dress that will trigger a sick man into raping you. If you want to dress with tight short and high heels and a cleavage, I salute you , because I feel very uncomfortable in most things other than jeans and a t-shirt. I’m a well-educated woman and I think as they are allowed to dress like that, I should be allowed to dress like I do, without being frowned upon by people saying I suffer the influence of a sexist society.
So, when I say that seeing hands touching it’s more of a turn on for me than seeing girls shaking their asses on some random rapper’s face, I will not stand for being said I was misguided. My romantic notions are pretty realistic (even if I do allow myself an occasional daydream), but I like the mystery more than the obviousness.
December 15, 2010 § Leave a comment
There was a man standing in the middle of Cambridge Circus, right in front of Pizza Hut.
It was peak time (as if it never is in the West End in London) and cars, buses, people, black cabs and cyclists tried to find their way in the middle of the chaos. There was noise from all sides and so many languages could be heard, one could almost think he was in Babel.
This man looks about 50 years-old. He has a longish grey hair, with sideburns in the same colour, but his beard is dark. His skin is slightly tanned, but has a harsh aspect as that of someone who spent sometime working outside under a burning sun.
The man has rough hands, with calluses and scars, particularly one in the centre of both palms. His face also has some scars, he wears a blue bandanna, old and faded like his denim jacket. In his forehead, below the line where the bandanna ends, it’s possible to see some more marks in his skin.
Well, the man is not skinny, he is actually overweight, from years of eating fast foods and drinking beer. Under his denim jacket, he wears a plain black t-shirt, a bit too tight for his body shape. He doesn’t seem to mind, though.
People walk pass him and they don’t pay attention. He’s used to this, sometimes someone will stop and make a funny remark because of his outfit, but he doesn’t care. He has stopped caring a long, long time ago what others think. He has struggled with his sins and with the sins of others and he’s supposed to now be a free man. He’s aware it’s only an illusion, though. He’s free from judgement and from guilt, but no one is free these days.
The man turns his back to the road and stares at the HSBC bank in the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue. He ponders where to go next. The West End annoys him, all those selfish and bored people during the day and all those decaying people in desperate situations at night. He doesn’t mind the tourists, they come and go more often than he can assimilate.
In the back of his denim jacket, who has seen many winters, there are some very faded letters in blue. It’s possible to read “God loves you”, but the y is almost invisible if it’s not looked closely. There’s a patchwork of a big cross involved in fire under the letters. It’s almost black as if it had only been washed by the rain.
So, the man looks up. He looks at the grey sky, the Sun hidden behind the clouds and he smells the air. The West End doesn’t smell good, mind, but he smells the sadness in the air and the loneliness of all those people that walk down the road, hurriedly and having to be somewhere. Those people surrounded by others, surrounded by friends, probably going to the pub later for a couple of pints that will turn out to be 5. Those people who believe that are unsatisfied with silly things and people who need to keep on moving in order to avoid the realization that they are bored and their lives hardly ever have any meaning.
He thinks his time here is over. His time has been over for so many years, he can’t even remember. But he has nowhere to go. Barely anyone believes in him with honesty and those that do are in most shameful shadows of humanity. He doesn’t even know if he exists. Sometimes it seems like it, but it could be all an illusion. The mind can be very tricky. He stares at the sky with his deep brown eyes and he scratches his beard. His eyes have something sad about it, but wise, so wise that they could be said that belonged to an old soul, if one believes in such a thing. Nevertheless, they were eyes that had seen many things, mostly misery and agony.
The man feels the drop of water on his nose. He starts to feel the cold drizzle touching his skin. It feels refreshing. Cold. Wet (it is water, after all). It makes him feel alive. He remembers all the beauty, the joy and the kindness he has seen as well. There’s hope inside humans. There must be. But then again, it could all be an illusion.
He started walking and soon had disappeared among the passing tourists.
November 13, 2010 § Leave a comment
O TEMPO E O VENTO – O CONTINENTE (TIME AND THE WIND – THE CONTINENT), by Erico Verissimo
To more international readers (if anyone ever reads this blog), this will be a great wtf. A bit of Brazilian literature for you. Actually, a bit is not enough, because it’s a bloody epic (think East of Eden 3 times). I’ve chosen to talk only about the first part, because I never really finished the whole series.
It’s a story about a family from South of Brazil, a state (which wasn’t back when the story is told) called Rio Grande do Sul. You see, people from the south are very very proud (I am) and they are considered by the rest of the country as fighters, stubborn, strong-headed people. We are and this book shows it as well.
It’s an epic that goes through several generations and wars, in a small town where they are settled.
The title is brilliant by itself. Time and wind to some extent are women and men, which with its differences are one of the book most debated themes. Women are time, because women wait. When man go to war, they stay and they wait. Men are forces of nature back then, they came and left, leaving pregnant wives, lovers and everything else to go fight for their cause. Men are cyclical, fickle; women are steady.
In any case, the female characters are a joy by itself. Strong and powerful, they lead and carry the problems closest to us, while the men fight in the war. The narrative is stunning and the use of flashbacks and a quite complicated at some points of the timeline turns it unquestionably into an amazing book.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, by Jane Austen
It’s easy and at the same time extremely difficult to write about Pride and Prejudice. I find it that most of the love I have for the book comes down to Mr Darcy and the perfect love story. My romantic ideal of chivalry and the fact I love the historical period in which is set.
Jane Austen books were one of the many literary reasons why I wanted to move to England (along with Sherlock Holmes, Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie). Lots of travels I did and things I went to see because of their relation to Jane Austen or Pride and Prejudice somehow.
More than anything, Elizabeth Bennet was one of the first heroines of “grown-up” books that was actually a smart-ass. Her wit and sarcasm won me over, specially her being the outcast in the family because of so much reading and so much different opinions from everyone else. That’s how I always was to my family.
It’s almost a soft erotic novel for romantic girls and many of them (as I once did) still dream of meeting Mr Darcy (who let’s be honest, is a bit of a prick). However, in the end, this book isn’t only a great love story, it’s a tale of redemption, maturity, selfishness and arrogance. It’s a story of learning how to be humble under certain circumstances, but fighting for what you want when you believe it’s right.
JANE EYRE, by Charlotte Bronte
I read Jane Eyre in 2 days, in every single moment I had free. I remember one day waking up before my boyfriend (at the time) and it was very early. I grabbed the book and started reading and reading until 2h later he woke up. He went to his computer and started playing World of Warcraft (which used to piss me off a lot). I didn’t care. I was so entangled in the book that I just wanted to know how was going to end. That’s unputdownable for you.
I had read Emily’s Wuthering Heights and hated it. I’ve read somewhere that readers are divided into 2 categories: those that like one or the other of the major works of the Bronte sisters. While Heights is about hate and evil characters, Jane Eyre is about love, about growing up and fighting what people want you to be.
I believe Jane is an amazing character that in many ways reminds me of Elizabeth Bennet. She’s fierce and in a time when women were not allowed to say what they think, she had no problems on exposing her opinions. Which, specially in the environment she grew up – where different from Elizabeth, it was not one of love – put her in very difficult positions.
The book mixes a bit of unknown and there are elements (like in Wuthering Heights) of a certain mysticism and paranormal. There are very dark and twisted bits in the book, which proves wrong many people that believe Jane Eyre is another romance written like Jane Austen books. It’s not, the end is actually the final proof of it.
Edward Rochester is an arrogant man full of prejudices (much like Mr Darcy). However, he has a very good reason to be so silent and quiet. He’s not a peaceful man and is indeed has a strong personality, which makes him a distinguishable and memorable character. He is a man imprisoned by his past and hasn’t much choice but living with it.
It’s also a book that when divides religion and kindness very well. While most people say that religion is there to create a boundary between good and evil and what’s right and wrong, Jane Eyre as a book and as a character shows it that it takes only a good heart to make the discernment.
Finally, Jane Eyre is a story about becoming independent and showing the world that you are only one and not a stereotype to be played with. Jane was one of the first strong, powerful and independent women I had chance to meet in literature, if you will.
ATONEMENT, by Ian McEwan
Sadly, I read the book only after seeing the film adaptation (which also features on my top 10 favourite films ever). Happily, the film is amazing already, but reading the book after added layers and layers that no film would be able to translate. Joe Wright is an amazing director and probably one of my favourites of this generation, but you can’t really blame him.
As the title says, Atonement is a story about mistakes and correcting them. Set during the II World War, in rural England mostly, it tells the tale of a girl who makes a terrible mistake that will affect forever the lives of other people. Briony Tallis is an amazing and believable character who much reminds me of, well, me in some ways. She’s a creative child, with vivid imagination and engaged into writing and setting her plays. In a different world with different circumstances she would have been a very likeable character. She isn’t.
Because of Briony’s naivety and to some extent, prejudice, two lives were ruined and several other badly affected. Briony has a terrible problem with separating reality and fantasy and it’s hard to see when she does it on purpose or not.
It’s a great metalinguistic work. I don’t want to ruin the end for those unfamiliar with it, but it does reiterate a relation and the power of literature and creativity when authors deal with the real world. The great structure of telling the story from 3 different point of views (Cecilia, Briony and Robbie) works incredibly and it’s a great narrative resource.
Besides the major theme being redemption and second chances (which is something recurrent in this list as you might have noticed), Atonement has the best sex scene I have ever read. (the film version is amazingly beautiful as well but there are thoughts that can’t be translated into it).
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, by Harper Lee
I had seen this book in many many many lists of best books ever written, etc. I hadn’t come across to read until the beginning of this year. It jumped straight to the top of my list of favourite books.
Harper Lee makes me a bit sad for having never written anything else, but she did a fine work with To Kill a Mockingbird that maybe she would just ruin her career with some other novel (I don’t really believe that).
At first, the book made me feel like I was 11 again, and made me feel like watching Stand By Me and this other film that I don’t remember the name but it was one that I used to watch it all the time 10 years ago about a bunch of kids playing baseball and their weird neighbour with the crazy dog.
It evokes the deepest feelings of nostalgia and sadness. Not only sadness, though. I don’t know you, but I had a pretty happy childhood. I had several cousins that I played with all the time. I had a school that I loved. My parents were happy and loving. So, really, I was happy as a child as really I’ll probably never be and even if my childhood had been a bit worse, the world through a child’s eyes is always a bit more beautiful (as you can see in Angela’s Ashes). Naivety, you could say, but I like to believe is actually just pure kindness and belief that in the end, you have to have fun and be true to yourself.
Kids are not stupid. They’re sometimes wiser than grown ups. However, I’m still to find a child as wise as Atticus Finch, who is probably my favourite character of all times. Atticus is not always in the novel but in the end, he’s the protagonist. He’s the guy everyone reads it for.
Atticus is a lawyer and a true example of how parents should be. He’s wise, kind, honest. Most of all, he believes in what he does and he trusts that all people are equal, even if they have a different skin colour.
In the end, this book is about fearing the unknown. Not only with the case itself judging a black man over the rape of a white girl, but also Boo and his lock down inside the house. Just deal with whatever you’re scared of and maybe you will realise it was just your shadow.
LORD OF THE FLIES, by William Golding
What a disturbing book. It stayed with me for days and sometimes I was scared of reading it and learning what was going to happen. In opposition to To Kill a Mockingbird, this is pure child evilness. Would kids really act like that when alone in an island with nothing to survive with but their own knowledge?
It scares me that maybe they would. I see bullying and I see how cruel some children are. I do believe, that this would happen if they were all grown ups and I unquestionably think they would end up all killing themselves and that strength and cruelty would overcome intelligence and kindness in the end.
Would we act like that? All of us human beings? Would I do that, if I were in their position? Would my sister (who is 11 years old) act and kill to survive? I believe good is part of who you are. I believe we all have inside of us and I believe this book shows how some people have evil in them as well. But, not all is black and white. So, while I think several people would like to think it is, I think that evil people have goodness in them as well as good people have evil inside of them.
You might not have killed anyone, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t do something bad to another person just out of pure survival. We are selfish beings and we act out of sole fear of dying most of the time. The characters here might not be truly memorable, but it doesn’t matter because in the end, they are who we are. Their names, who they were before, that doesn’t really make a difference. It’s about their actions and their choices. Most people would do the same, wouldn’t they?
– The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien.
it doesn’t really require an introduction, enough to say that the films even though being pretty close, don’t capture the whole world that Tolkien created in his mind. I wish I had such a creativity and memory like he did. Friendship at its best.
– Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates.
I’ve read this after seeing the amazing movie directed by Sam Mendes. It’s a great, stunning, absolutely depressing book. I do not recommend it to people who just broke up with someone, but do recommend to incurable romantics because it will shatter a lot of what you think about marriage. It’s much like Mad Men in book.
– Persuasion, by Jane Austen.
The last book written by her and most definitely her best one. It’s down here and not up with my favourites simply because…I can’t really explain it. Probably because my character is much more like Elizabeth Bennet’s than Anne Elliot’s, who yes, redeems herself towards the end. It’s a book about second chances and a tale of time and doing things to please your family against growing up and realizing it’s your life and not theirs. It’s a true book and it has a lot of pondering and questioning more than any other of Austen’s novels.
– The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger.
I hated this book. I really did. Every time I heard someone praising it, I would roll my eyes and say it was overrated. I came around to reading it a second time, about 5 years after the first time. I changed my mind completely. I believe it’s a book that needs to be read at one point of life and if not, it won’t have the same effect. I read it for the first time when I was 15, the age when you’re supposed to be lost and questioning authority and acting much like Holden Caufield is in the book. Except, I wasn’t. The book didn’t affect me at all. However, after moving to another country, graduating in a film school with a degree good for nothing, I re-read it and finally understood what everyone was raving about. It’s a sensitive and honest portrayal of a generation (mine) lost in their own boredom.
– Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
Ok, so, it’s kind of a lie, because Watchmen is not a book, it’s a graphic novel. However, you will hardly find a book with so much depth, beauty, sadness, betrayal and existentialism as Alan Moore wrote and Dave Gibbons drew. A masterpiece of fine writing, questioning and history. It takes us to a world where Reagan was re-elected and the US won the Vietnam war, thanks mostly to super-heroes, now banned from existence. How can someone not want to read this? STILL NOT INTERESTED? I pity you. The characters are brilliant, from the personal favourite Rorscharch with his cruel and insane if idealistic view to Dr Manhattan calculated coldness and blunt honesty. It has an incredible plot twist and the consequences of it will make you not stop thinking about it for months. I promise.
May 9, 2010 § Leave a comment
Had Mrs Mumford known how that would turn out, she wouldn’t have had bought that rare and overpriced oak shelf. Then, again, if she hadn’t bought it, this story would probably not have happened the way it did.
Therefore, we can’t really blame the bird who planted the seed of that oak tree about two hundred years ago. Nor the lumberjack that chopped the tree down for Woods & Thuds Ltd., who then exported from South America to Indiana, US.
When in American soil, we can’t really blame the furniture firm that used such wood to built the book shelf. Not only that, but we can’t blame the young lady who wanted to buy the same book shelf, but couldn’t afford it because she had just been fired from her job due to the fact that she had been accused of sleeping with her boss. Although, it wasn’t true but her boss resented that she didn’t want to sleep with him. We could maybe try to blame the seller, who being a very manipulative one and good at his job, stole Mrs Mumford from his colleague who was trying to sell her a more affordable book shelf, because he had to ‘answer a phone call, but would be right back’.
The said seller, called Paul Smith, had actually called the store and asked for Mr John Petrov since it was a matter of urgency. Mr John Petrov being the gentleman who was assisting Mrs Mumford on her search for a book shelf. Paul did that so that he could convince Mrs Mumford to buy the overpriced oak shelf – the same one the young lady couldn’t afford – because his commission would be exorbitant.
After that, Mrs Mumford would agree, the next to blame was the delivery company, who had sent a ‘suspicious young man’ – according to Mrs Mumford, to deliver the book shelf in her house.
She, on her own rights and trying to protect her precious valuables in the house, had asked him to leave the same book shelf in the living room so that he didn’t have an excuse to perambulate around her house.
Obviously, Mrs Mumford had pointed out, the middle of the living room isn’t the best place for a book shelf. In addition to that, she also had only those ‘nasty, rude and dis-likable’ neighbours , whom Mrs Mumford didn’t trust, not even when asking for help to move the book shelf to her library – previously the basement.
Even though Mrs Mumford – ‘please call me Alice’ – according to her – was a woman of 65 years-old, her body strength and physical structure were quite impressive for her age. Alice, since she insists – decided then to take down her book shelf to the library by herself. The stair to the basement consisted of 17 steps. Alice took only a few minutes to get to the 9th step, but her arms started failing her and with the help of a lump in the carpet, her shoe got stuck in the 10th step. Suddenly and rather painfully, her left ankle twisted, making her loose her balance for a split second. Well, that split second was really more than enough for all the weight and all her effort to be felt on her arms.
Mrs Mumford fell. In fact, the book shelf fell first. It fell and hit a table. A marble table, actually. This impact made the book shelf loosen up one of its sides, a rather sharp one, that by an unfortunate strike of bad luck, was in the exact place where Mrs Mumford’s chest hit.
Therefore, Alice’s lovely green dress, made of 100% cotton, was perforated, along with her left lung, a bit of the right one and her heart – which many people had claimed she didn’t have.
That was enough. Maybe if she had been 20 years younger or if someone had called an ambulance instantly, she might – a BIG might – have survived. That wasn’t the case.
Mrs Mumford body was only discovered 4 days later, when her neighbour stopped by to complain – again – that Mrs Mumford cat was attacking her flowers.
Alice Mumford died alone. As we all do, undoubtedly. No one would know that the last image before her eyes was of her living room, nicely decorated in a Victorian style with chiffon cushions, an Egyptian cotton curtain, several porcelain vases and the huge portrait on top of the fireplace of Mr Mumford wearing his best suit – the navy blue one, with a stripped tie.
Her life didn’t flash before her eyes. Alice refused to be one of these nostalgic old people who spend their final years savoring all their memories. She had always been practical and quite proud of it.
Now, on her last breath, the thought that came to her mind wasn’t of the meaning of life, or how much she loved her children, not it was that of her regrets. Her last thought was: ‘I bet they’re going to attack this house as a bunch of scavengers.’ Then, she died.
They did attack the house as a bunch of scavengers. They, in this sentence, is not only her neighbours, but also her older son and her two daughters. Alice knew that her daughter-in-law would taker her porcelain collection and so she did. Her daughters actually fought for the Egyptian curtains and the mahogany bed.
Mary Jane, the youngest daughter, took Mr Mumford portrait. She tucked it in the attic, never to be seen again.
March 20, 2010 § 2 Comments
While I was backpacking in the UK this week (just came back), I listened to a lot of Laura Marling and ended up writing a short story version of the song “Alas I Cannot Swim” and the impossibilities of love.
I’m going to post here but it turned out to be a bit longer than expected (for a 2min song). Hope you guys out there like it (and sorry any spelling or grammar mistakes)
1: From the edge of the deep green sea
There was a boy. He lived by a very deep and dangerous river. The boy worked all day, helping his father to keep the crocodiles away from the sheep. He could never rest if his father was sick, because his father always did the night shifts and the boy did the day ones, while his father took care of the sheep.
The boy’s father never slept. He was always grumpy and sad. The boy thought his father was sad because his mother – the boy’s – had died giving birth to him – the boy -, but the father never said a word about that. In fact, the father never said a word about anything at all.
From dusk until dawn the boy would sit by the river with a gun. He sometimes would shoot a crocodile, but that didn’t happen very often and so his days were empty.
He wasn’t sad – the boy. He didn’t expect anything, because he didn’t know what to expect. His life was all that he knew and no one ever said that there was something else.
The boy lived day after day and night after night the same way. He used to get a chair and sit by the river and watch the other side of it. The other side was empty and it was an endless field of green grass and yellow flowers.
One day a man came and started to build a house by the other side of the river. He came everyday before the sun had came out and he would stay until after the boy had gone to sleep. When the man finished the house, he started to build a fence by the river, it was long and it had spikes pointed towards the water.
The boy noticed his father was worried. He – the father – glanced at the other side of the river and shook his head without ever saying a word.
The man didn’t come for 2 days. The boy was sad, because he liked the man because the man had golden hair and the boy also liked the house because it was blue with white windows and a red roof. However, the man came back. He came with a horse and a carriage. He took bags from the carriage and he opened the door and suddenly, without knowing why, the boy’s heart jumped weirdly. He held his breath and he saw the girl. She had a long golden hair like the man’s and a pale skin. The girl wore a green dress with tiny red spots that shined and glittered in the sun.
The girl stepped off the carriage and smiled. The boy, oh, the boy had never seen a smile before and just like that, he realized his life was incomplete and it would always be until he could put his arms around the girl. For the boy had fallen in love, even though he didn’t know that word or the meaning of it.
The boy’s father put his hand on his son’s shoulder and nodded towards the house. The boy didn’t want to go. He wanted to stay there and watch the girl while she walked around admiring the house. The grip on his shoulder hardened and he reluctantly went inside the house.
2: To wish impossible things
The boy felt weird. He felt desperate and anxious when he woke up. His heart was thundering and his stomach was as if someone had entangled it. He sat on his chair, with his gun and he kept staring at the house in the other side of the river.
He felt uneasy until the moment the door opened – and his breathing stopped – and he saw the girl. His arms relaxed and he could breathe again. The girl carried a bag of seeds and she dropped it on the floor next to the house. She looked up and across the river and she saw the boy.
The girl smiled. The boy blushed and looked down. She picked up a rock and she threw clumsily in the river. He looked up and she waved. He waved back slowly and she walked away to the field behind the house, carrying her bag of seeds.
Everyday the boy would wake up before dusk and he would sit and he would wait for the girl to leave the house and smile and wave and walk away. For a while that was enough to make him happy.
One day, she came closer to the fence and she picked up a yellow flower and touched it with her lips and threw it in the river. The boy saw the flower following the river’s flow and he ran. He ran as fast as he could because he knew the river turned right a little bit far away and he knew the flower would get stuck in the sand and he knew he wanted the flower. The flower did get stuck in the sand when the river turned right and the boy did pick up the flower.
He ran back to his chair and he showed proudly the flower in his hand. The girl laughed a loud laugh and clapped and the boy heard the most amazing sound he never knew existed until then. He held the flower and he decided to go to the other side of the river. He wanted to put the flower behind her ear, between her golden hair and her pale skin.
The crocodiles. The boy knew they were somewhere, just waiting for foolishness like a boy that would try to cross a river to get to the girl on the other side of the river.
The boy didn’t sleep that night or the next or any night for a week. He couldn’t eat and he didn’t want to eat either. His father never said a word.
The boy had an idea. He got up and he started to build a boat. He would build a boat to cross the river. So, he stayed all night and all day building it, while his father watched and shook his head.
The boy built the boat and he dragged it to the water, while the girl watched eagerly. And the boat sank, because the boy had never built a boat before. The second boat sank too, as did the third and the fourth. The boy grew older and taller and his black hair grew longer, his blue eyes became wiser and his arms became stronger. Nevertheless, he didn’t give up and the girl would send him a flower and a kiss everyday.
One day, the boat didn’t sink and the girl clapped and laughed. The boat floated and the boy slowly tested his weight on the top of it. He tried to move the boat to deeper waters and the boat sank with his weight. The boy ran back to the chair and he saw two eager reptile eyes staring at him from the water.
He worked for weeks and he tested more boats before one finally didn’t sink with his weight. The boy climbed on the boat and the river’s flow took him away from the girl. The boy built oars and tried again.
He crossed half of the river and he saw those eager reptile eyes moving under the boat and waiting. The eager reptile eyes hit the boat and the boat turned it and the boy fell in the water. The girl screamed and the boy tried to hold to the boat while the eager eyes kept coming closer. A gun was shot and the eager reptile eyes disappeared. The boy looked at the river’s margin and he saw his father holding his gun and smoke coming out of it. The father shook his head and spat on the ground.
The boy saw the movement of other eager reptile eyes coming in the distance and he saw his father holding the oar to reach it to him. He grabbed it and went back to his chair, but not before one of the eager reptile eyes had sank his teeth in the boys left foot. The father shot the crocodile and took the boy inside the house and the girl stared at the trail of blood left behind.
The boy fell ill. He had a fever and was in a constant delirium. The father sat by the river everyday, looking out for his sheep and staring at the girl.
The girl would sit by the fence and look at the boy’s house and look at his window and the boy would sit by his window and they would look at each other all day until the man with the golden hair would call the girl and she would go to the field behind the house.
Our story ends now. It ends one day that the boy was so sick he couldn’t sit up and even though he wanted more than anything to look at the girl, he couldn’t make his body to move. The girl cried for him and as she didn’t get an answer, because the boy didn’t have the strength to talk, she grew desperate.
The girl didn’t know what to do. Her heart was heavy and she couldn’t breathe. She felt faint and she started to think the boy didn’t like her anymore, that he had given up on going to the other side of the river. She cried when it came to her mind that he might be dead and that he had died and she hadn’t kissed him. And the girl was decided she couldn’t take it anymore.
The girl climbed the fence and she looked down and called for the boy. The boy wanted to see the girl, because he could hear the pain in her voice and he didn’t want to cause her pain, because he loved her. He slowly moved up, trying to sit down and look at her through the window and he did, he was in pain and he growled and screamed but he finally did.
He sat and he saw her on top of the fence and he smiled. The girl smiled too and her heart grew bigger inside her and she felt happy because the boy still loved her. The girl wanted to hug him and never let him disappear again. So, she jumped.
She jumped in the river and the eager reptile eyes started to come closer. The boy screamed and his father saw the girl with her golden hair and pale skin and he saw the pain in his son’s eyes and the father grabbed his gun and started shooting all the eager reptile eyes.
But they didn’t notice the girl was rapidly sinking, because alas, she couldn’t swim. She screamed and she sank and the boy saw her sink and there was nothing he could do about it. He cried and he cried for her, but she never answered back. He saw her golden hair being dragged by the river’s flow away from the house and away from his view.
That night, the boy cried. He cried and screamed and the father wept his tears. The father left the next morning and he left the sheep. The father left to go find the body of the girl, because he wanted his son to touch the girl at least once. So, the father kept walking by the river’s margin to try to find the girl that was now dead.
The father found the girl and he dragged her body on his old man’s backs and when he got home he saw the dead sheep and the eager reptile eyes swimming away and he went inside the house and he saw the boy. The boy didn’t move and the boy didn’t breathe. The boy had died and the father wept, holding the girl on his arms.
January 7, 2009 § 1 Comment
Primeiro dia do Project 365 (postado no post de ontem), primeira foto do dia, ficou improvisada porque as baterias da camera ficaram carregando em casa.
Fotos dos livros e dvds adquiridos nesse primeiro mes em londres. O Wuthering Heights e Lord of the Flies foram emprestados da biblioteca da Malvern House. Watchmen eh do meu colega de casa, Pedro.
Nao paguei mais de 7 libras por nenhum deles.
First day of the Project 365 (commented on yesterday post). First photo, all the books and dvds bought here in London, except those borrowed from the library (Wuthering Heights and Lord of the Flies) and from my friend (Watchmen). I didn’t pay more than 7 pounds for any of these items.