New Writing from Vita Nova Issue No. 5
WORDS OF LIFE
Leaving Rio De Janeiro, 2001 January. One more cloudy and sweaty day. No-one is playing, nobody came to play as normally happens during weekends. It is early morning and the only thing I feel is the brisk pace of siblings grabbing spread-out toys, clothes and feelings to stick them into empty boxes. I go back outside. My parents are loading the old Beetle with bags stuffed with memories. Memories printed in photographs, remembering all four children born in this house, and left behind by housebreakers. Hopes of a safer life, living in a flat, surrounded by walls. It is our last day in a home which left deep prints and scars on all who lived there. A place of joy, where tools and toys shared a democratic space in a shed, where footballers and chickens ran together: some behind a ball, others from it. A place in which a lifeless tree is the main witness of bonfires set with forbidden books. Today there are no chickens. They are all gone. Roses remain hanging from the rosebush that isnâ€™t our goal anymore. I cannot remember how many punctured plastic balls we had, how many pictures in carnival fancy clothes or Christmas parties using the rosebush as a frame. No more marbles, hose baths, passion fruits, mangoes, cocoons and giant caterpillars melted with salt. No more trees or walls to climb and jump. And the cats? Today they are having a special day. For the first time in years they donâ€™t have a broom or a flip-flop stop them at the door frame. Come in! You are allowed inside the house! Just for today. They are everywhere now: kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, exploring new places, corners, smells. Probably, this is the last time as well. The doors and windows will soon be locked. Time to go. Everything packed. Remembrance and thoughts evaporated. Not a plant or a heart moving, all frozen in a summer day. Complete silence. The cats are eating the last leftovers, and as soon as the engine starts they come around with their tails up and run behind the car as far as the gate; their safety zone. The sky is dark grey now, bleeding and not avoiding its tears. by Paulo
Pause. Please. Rewind the Tape. Now you’re back, lying on a bed that is covered with the hideous fleece blanket we found in a charity shop. We laughed at how vile it was, so much so that we bought it, pink with a huge rose in the centre. I sing at you, ‘gypsies, tramps and thieves’ as it amuses me so in this haven. A caravan, in a park, run by an old man, who I believe is nearly eighty. No themes to tarnish the vintage of its beauty; like the original parks dating back to the sixties. We’ve absconded, you see, disappeared from the world, hidden away from the clouds. Pause. Please. Don’t press the button. Don’t change this. Leave it as it is. Leave it. Leave it!
Billy Can Billy can stick his finger up his arse. I’ve seen him. He’s awesome. Billy runs his hands over Sally’s breasts. Billy plays piano and we all sing along. It brings the family together. Billy tied his own shoe-laces -when he was five! Billy’s waving at Mummy.
Rasping, no response, I shake you. I cannot wake you.
Mummy took medicine before Billy was born. Thalidomide. Billy can’t say that word. I can. I can.
I wait like this, in a field of temporary homes, for a life time.
The sirens jolt me back, followed by blue lights, closing in. My body transports me up to a corner in our make-shift home. I watch green jump-suits, with badges, crawl all over you. My newly acquired friends arrive. One goes with you. I go with the other, to his house by the sea, awaiting your return. I cannot go with you. We are wanted by the authorities. The names we hold are not our own, the posters are up. The phone’s ringing. A voice that doesn’t belong to me howls. The death rattle: they tell me that will be what I heard. I have no idea what that means. I run, I don’t know where. I see bare feet hitting pavement from a birds-eye view. I feel nothing. In shop windows I see the reflection of a dead woman walking. by Gail
Verba Vitae is published by Vita Nova. We publish every three months and distribute free. Vita Nova is an arts organisation working with people in recovery from addiction. There are a number of weekly groups in creative writing, theatre and music., offering a safe supportive place to explore creativity, build confidence and express yourself.
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