Rainy day, bad night’s sleep. I’m driving. I would actually prefer not to have left home. Ahh.. A nap after a hearty lunch…
I keep going, unhappy, until I see a soaked boy pulling a heavy cart of recyclables. I stop complaining instantly in my mind.
Feeling this new “vibe” I find a spot and park in front of Poetria, a bookstore. I go in and stumble on a couple of actors who are building a stage set.
-Will there be a play tonight?
-Are you coming?
-Of course! I’m here, aren’t I?
Before I keep going I look down and come across an open book, flat out on the floor. A greasy volume, with front and back flaps turned. Why is an old book such as this here? Could it be that maybe one of the artists dropped it when I bumped into them?
I take the book, look at the page and notice two bloodshot eyes, completely high, staring at me.
-Who are you? – I ask, scared.
I sit on the floor, take hold of the gaping book and mumble:
-Please, go on, Capitolina.
“I was born very calm and gentle but I was presented with this name. My mother must have suffered excruciating labor pains to get back at me like that.
Or maybe this was my father’s idea? Maybe a poor people’s complex that, in the absence of an acceptable “pedigree”, make it up to their offspring with important names. Some said that it was in honor of the she-Wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus. Other, that it was derivative of the word Capitollium. It doesn’t matter, I always hated my name.
My consolation was a girl who lived on the street behind ours. Her name was Policena Aquilina. An Homeric heroin, maybe? Poor thing. Her sister, who was her mother’s favorite, was called Josephine. And you could say their family was wealthy, as their father was a judge.
She became Poli, the bravest and most disruptive girl in the neighborhood. Years later I I found out she had graduated in Medicine. Her sister became the “Fine Godmother”, a maiden aunt who spoiled her nephews and godchildren with her meager salary of a government employee.
I was always shy and discreet. For this reason, some have judged me cynical and disingenuous. I became Capitu, of the Hangover Eyes.
I can’t remember how I got this nickname, but whoever gave it to me, knows me intimately.
Hangover, yes, like those of a brave sea. Violent and deafening. Huge waves breaking against short walls of the beach, carrying away whatever they find, invading the land, cleaning, transforming and destroying everything lacking solid foundation.
This is me. The hangover behind my eyes con only be perceived by a few privileged who know my soul deeply. Does anyone really know how I feel?
When did Bentinho stop being my best friend, my inseparable life partner, to become this jealous and suspicious husband?
A faded man, that is how I see him these days. A bitter and bad tempered ghost, almost a grim man, as my grandmother used to say!
I can’t remember the exact day I woke up next to this stranger on a cold bed, in a dark room in a house that hadn’t been a home for so long.
Who knows if Bento Santiago would have been less unhappy if he had continued with his monastic life, as Mrs. Gloria had promised when she gave birth to him. Maybe this whole tragedy, deep down inside, is her fault.
Mothers-in-law! She had tried to deceive God sending Him a slave to serve Him in place of her only offspring, as promised before she could get pregnant. If she had fulfilled the promise to the letter, who knows if our story would have been less disastrous.
Then maybe today I would be married to Escobar. If fate had been less sarcastic, we would have grown old together. He would still be swimming in rough seas as it always pleased him. And I wouldn’t have this grim epithet on me. These days I do it justice. Hangover, yes! But now it is from raves, late nights out, blow and vodka!
I wish I hadn’t gotten married at all. Not long ago I found out I like living in my own company.
Capitu Santiago (of course I kept the surname just to tease them a little bit more). International blogger, fashion trends expert. Who could tell? My way of life is a slap in the face of that family. I spit on their hypocrisy every day.
Maybe, if I had chosen celibacy, life would have spared me from so much discord, pain, and rash judgments. Sometimes not even whisky and Prozac – happiness reinvented – free me from all the bitterness that came with all this hell.
But what’s the point in babbling on about this tragic irony? Now they have exiled me. They blame me and I was silently convicted for something they will never have the guts to prove. Ezequiel, my beloved son. For him I endured all the anguish of a long passionless, lustless marriage. For him, life was worth living. And I shut up.
I could have never imagined that Bentinho could be so vile. To tell a child – yes, Ezequiel was too childish, mea culpa, I take fault – that he was not his real father. How unacceptable!
I wish he had the courage to drink that poisoned coffee. Or, if his rage towards me was so intense, he should have served it to me. It would have been a noble revenge instead of a coward way to cash his frustrations on an innocent.
I will blame him for our unhappiness forever. Asshole!
To forgive him is out of the question, in this life and in the next ones, that is if they actually exist. My son did not grow up to become the man he should have been – a happy and secure man – because of the wickedness of his father.
I heard Bentinho is building a house just like his childhood home at Matacavalos Street. And that he is also thinking about writing his memoirs. I keep wondering who would read them. Such haughtiness!
I wish you a long and circumspect life, Mr. Bento de Albuquerque Santiago. I don’t need to wish you an unhappy old age, I made myself certain of it!
As for me, I can’t imagine myself growing old. I prefer to leave the party while everybody’s having fun. No way I will stay until the end, together with a gang of drunks and junkies lying on the floor.
Besides, I wasn’t born with the talent to become an affable granny who feels accomplished in wiping the snot from congested noses. Or cooking cakes on end until her arms are limp only to quench the little brats’ worms. This role was custom made for the sweet and holy Sancha.
I’d rather live the present intensely. To try to be happy after all and to the chagrin of some. The idea of a sick old age, with its decrepitude and probable dementia, terrifies me. I lose sleep just imagining it. Not even Klonopin will break me down.
Lately, however, my greatest pleasure is to be news in the media and cause a great discomfort to the whole Santiago family. What they called exile, to me, is freedom, albeit late!
The other day I was asked if I didn’t miss my former life in Brazil. I spent so long thinking about the answer that the person gave up and changed the subject.
When I managed to articulate my thoughts, the answer that came to mind was: Does an actress really misses her oldest character? Or does she simply shape herself to it, like to a comfortable sweatshirt, and when she finally takes it off, she feels strange at first?
On a second thought, I’m glad that my partner abandoned the question. I’m not sure I would make myself understood. In fact, that is something I can do without: to be comprehended. Ever since I’ve known myself, I am comfortable being indecipherable.
Recently I heard that I’ve been nicknamed Amy Winehouse. I admit I was flattered. But I’m sorry, nobody will be able to send me to “rehab”! Nothing contradicts them more than the life I live in exile. Here I am the sole owner of my house, my actions and my destiny. And they are the ones who pay for my independence. And for my silence.
Some time ago I was compared to a rose. You know what? I liked it. With my perfume, I can offer an entrancing trip. Or a deep suffering at the ends of my thorns. The choice will always be mine, of course. Scent or pain. I can offer both simultaneously, if I so wish.
I’m the owner of my choices, also.
I come to the conclusion that I was really named after a wolf. And a more appropriate name my parents could not have given me, what an irony! A wolf that defends her offspring at the expense of her own life, if necessary. An alpha female who got lost from her pack, howls from desire in heat.
Male wolves are monogamous by choice, as not to lose their partners. But dominant females, who knows?
Maybe one day I’ll send my discretion to hell. I’ll lose my mind e prove that not only my eyes are hungover. My whole body is a storm, my mind is thunder and my soul, oh, this is pure tsunami! If it weren’t for Ezequiel, my beloved son! One day maybe…”
Capitu’s eyes close, hre image fades. I close the book, leave it on the ground where I first found it and get up. Instead of moving on, I turn around and walk back to the door of the bookstore. I want to leave.
While leaving, I pass by the actors. Luckily both are putting on makeup, staring fixedly at the oval-shaped mirror. It would make a nice picture. Soon after, what goes through my mind is the relief of escaping without having to explain myself.
I’m dead tired and confused. I woke up at 4:40 in the morning and I couldn’t sleep. I’m going home. To take a shower, drink a cup of tea, get to bed early. That’s all I need. Later, maybe I’ll try to understand what I experienced today. On the sidewalk, a broken bottle of Heineken is waiting to hurt the first unwary person who won’t see it. I bend down to pick it up. A pedestrian passing next to me immediately exclaims:
A car passes close to the sidewalk. I feel the wind while it touches my topknot. On an Indian land, to be civilized can render you a scalp. But how do I know that I’ve not lost my head, or, at least, my wits, a couple of hours ago?
Sobre a Autora:
Cristina Bresser: Comunicação-UFPR, Proficiency in English-Cambridge University, Creative Writing University of Edinburgh. Agosto/2016 primeiro prêmio conto Captolium, I Concurso Literário NIDIL, Fortaleza, CE. Lançou seu primeiro romance, “Quase tudo é risível” pela Editora Benfazeja, 11/ 2016. Participou mostra “Literatura postal”, jornal Correio do Porto – Portugal.