KR OnlineFiction


Translated from Portuguese by Edgar Garbelotto

(having you sleeping by my side was all I ever wanted)

Davi looks at what is happening in front of him. His mouth is open. He can’t breathe. He looks, but he can’t see. He is twelve.

A man is on the ground, the black shoe of another man kicking him in the guts, the stomach, the large and small intestines. A stream of blood runs through his sinuses and gushes out of his mouth. It stains his gray-and-white-striped shirt and sky-blue tie a vivid red. A thick liquid forms a puddle on his dark suit, on the asphalt. The man turns on his stomach, protects his face with his hands. He gets kicked in the kidneys and ribs. The flesh around his internal organs can no longer cushion the sound, and the boy hears a noise louder than branches snapping in two.

Of course there are voices and car noises. The kicking man opens his mouth and yells, but the boy can’t hear it. He only sees drops of saliva flying. The man on the ground contorts himself and closes his fists. The asphalt is rough. The boy hears “puff, puff.” Liver, spleen, and internal hemorrhage come to mind. The man’s shirt is stained with blood. Somebody will have to work hard to clean it. If this man wants to kill my father, he should kick him in the neck. The boy imagines the various bones of his father’s neck breaking, and it makes his teeth shiver. His stomach contracts. A wave of acid burns in his throat and dies in his mouth. The boy’s thoughts swirl.

The body on the ground hasn’t stopped moving. The man turns it on its back. Davi looks at his father’s face. The face is smeared with blood and rough from the asphalt, but it is a beautiful face. He understands that the face is beautiful; it’s a face that pacifies him. His father’s open eyes don’t say anything. The boy blinks, wants to close his own eyes, but they open again. The man who is killing his father breathes deeply, bends his knees and jumps. His shoe is millimeters from landing on his father’s face, and the boy’s gaze finally moves from the ground and finds a tinted window where he sees his own reflection. The noises return, sharp now, and break the endless links between him, the words, and all the things related to his father’s death. The last instant his memory keeps is the boy’s face howling in the tinted glass of the bank window.

From the car, Davi sees the palm trees of the Botanic Gardens to his right, the wall of the Jockey Club on his left, the red traffic light in front of him and, far away, Pedra da Gávea. In the rearview mirror, he sees Christ the Redeemer on the Corcovado.

Davi and Flora wait for the green light. Some boys walk on the sidewalk to the left, they appear and disappear in the side mirror. They cross the street, pass in the rearview mirror, and disappear on Rua Pacheco Leão. A young white woman approaches Davi’s window with a placard around her neck saying something about the Brazilian cinema and the movie director Glauber Rocha. Two young men hold a banner, letters in black and red: CINEMA IS COOL. The young woman says: Do you want to help Brazilian cinema? We don’t have any money to finish the movie. Davi shakes his head. In front of his car, on the back of a small truck full of construction waste, there is a placard that reads: WE TAKE TRASH 2576-3535. Sitting on the trash, a black man swings a rusty fish knife between his legs. In the rearview mirror, Davi sees workers drilling in the street. Tiny shards of black asphalt fly through the air, and signs indicate: MEN AT WORK. CAUTION. DETOUR. A young worker is resting, sitting on the curb. His profile looks like a work of Russian futurist art. A little girl with curly hair and olive skin sells gum to the car in the right lane. She hangs on the car window, and her feet do a dance that reminds him of the hands of seventies’ rock ‘n’ roll singers. A boy sells candy. Other boys offer boxes of strawberries that are too ripe. The light turns green.

Davi steps gently on the gas; he doesn’t see Flora’s face. He looks ahead, drives the car through the slow traffic and says, Sometimes, I don’t see him but I know it’s him that I’m dreaming of, in the middle of another story, his red eyes, even though they may be calm, even in the face of an old woman, even if they are not red in that moment, they appear and wake me up frightened. Yesterday, it was in a crowded street, he had his back to me, he walked embracing a woman, his hands held and caressed her waist, slowly.

I woke up and you were far away. I needed to hold you tight, bite you. I needed you last night, and you weren’t there. It seemed like I was going to fall into my own heart if I couldn’t hold you. There was a never-ending black hole in the middle of my chest, and I was going to fall. I had vertigo, I had to grab onto my bed, dig my nails into the sheets. I woke up and you were sleeping so beautifully. I cried because you slept so beautifully. I knew, I knew that I could, but I didn’t want to wake you up. Having you sleeping by my side was all I ever wanted.

Beatriz Bracher

Beatriz Bracher's first book, Azul e Dura (2002), won the Clarice Lispector Award from the Brazilian National Library. Her novels and short stories have been translated into Spanish and German, and she has two novels forthcoming from New Directions in 2018.

Edgar Garbelotto is a Brazilian writer and translator. He is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing: Fiction at the University of Illinois. His translation of João Gilberto Noll’s novel Lord is forthcoming from Two Lines Press in 2019. He lives in Chicago, where is currently working on a novel and a collection of short stories.