How I lost my foot

It was dark. It was freezing. It was unbelievably freezing. But I had to endure it. There was no way I could go back there without finishing the dare. They would skin me alive. The fear of not fitting in, of seeming like a coward, drove my actions. There I was, standing on the frozen lake, peeing my name on the ice. Not my proudest moment. The darkness caressed my naked body while the cold pierced through it. Why did I have to have such a long name? At that moment I could only curse my parents for the day they decided to have a son named Constantine. Don’t get me wrong, I like my name. It is very unique and I’ll never find anyone else with the same name, unless a strike of bad luck hits. But this was a different kind of strike of bad luck I could never have imagined would be attached to my name: the day I had to pee it in a frozen lake.

The trees seemed to laugh at me as the wind stroke their leaves. All the others were watching. This was my moment, it was now or never! Although I had already been there for a full five minutes with stage fright, it was now or never. So I started. It felt great to relieve my bladder of all those beers I had consumed. It just sucked it had to be on the ice, naked and with everyone watching. Things were going well, you could somewhat discern the letters from each other, but when I hit the second t I heard a crack. That wasn’t good but I chose to ignore it, as my thinking abilities were at that point non-existent. All that was filling my head was the fear of having to go back there with an unfinished mission and spend the next three months with only half a moustache. No way. Not when I had that job interview lined up after months of trying. So, for my own doom, I continued. I continued like a warrior. I peed my entire name on the ice. But, as stupidity is my middle name, I decided it was time to put an exclamation point at the end of my name to, you know, make a statement. While I motioned my hands to form a straight line with the last of the pee I had in me, because I was standing too close to the work of art, the ice gave in. My entire right foot went down into the water. It could’ve been a lot worse, but there you have it. That’s the story of how I lost my foot.

Leandro’s mission

It was a day like any other and Leandro was playing in his grandfather’s barber shop, alone. He knew he was not supposed to be there now, he was supposed to be in his bedroom doing his homework. But that was so boring and practicing his karate moves was a lot more interesting. When he was about to get the moves from the movie Karate Kid right for the first time, he heard voices approaching. He could notice it was his mother talking to his grandfather. In a panicky move, he hid in the big cabinet next to the chairs, that was always kept empty for no reason.

  • I know you just want the best for us, but you have to trust I know what I’m doing. He is my son, after all. You have been of great help, dad, but you have no idea what I’ve been through with the boy before we moved in with you.
  • Then tell me what you’ve been through!
  • It’s too complicated.

He could hear the tingling of the shampoo bottles. Hopefully grandad won’t decide to use this cabinet for the first time today!

  • You have to tell him where he is. I know I don’t know how it came to be, and you don’t need to tell me, but you have to tell him. He is your son, he deserves to know!
  • It’s too dark for him to know. It would crush him. You know how he idealises the man even without knowing anything about him. I can’t crush his dreams of one day meeting him.
  • But don’t you think it’s worse for him to have this illusion that’s not based in anything but his own imagination last forever?

They suddenly stopped talking. Was that sound mother crying? What could be so horrible that they did not want to tell Leandro? Who were they talking about?

  • The thing is, dad, I don’t know where the bastard is. I never saw him again.
  • Didn’t you live together?

Marina sighed.

  • Ok, dad, here’s the truth. We never lived together. It was a rape.

There Marina started sobbing and Leandro could not understand why. What was this thing called rape? Why was mother so sad about it? And who the hell were they talking about?

  • Oh my god, my daughter, I am so sorry! I shouldn’t have pushed you to say anything. I had no idea…
  • Do you see now why I can never tell Leandro who his real dad is?

“His real dad”? Of course he should know! Why on earth would mother try to hide such a thing from him? And what was grandpa sorry for? Leandro couldn’t understand any of it, he could only feel the anger arising together with the sadness. He wanted to cry. He wanted to burst out of that cabinet and beg his mother to tell him, to give him the answer to the ultimate question: who was his father after all? But how could he? He was frozen. He didn’t understand why, but he understood that there was a terrible secret his mother was keeping from him, and now his grandfather was in on it. They were both hiding something. The two most important people in his life, keeping secrets from him. What a horrible day that suddenly become.

  • I know it was a horrible thing, and you are so strong, my daughter, for going through this and coming out as such an amazing woman on the other side. But you still need to tell him. Not about the rape, of course, but tell him all the rest. He deserves to know. He can’t keep this monster on a pedestal forever.

A few minutes went by before Marina could say anything. But the answer to the ultimate question was at last revealed:

  • Ok Dad, you’re right. I’ll tell him. Everything. Tonight. He’s been living a lie for 8 years, it’s time he knows. And it was about time you knew as well. So here it is.

Could this be it? Could this be the moment he found out the answer to the ultimate question?

  • It was the man you trusted to take care of me while you were gone. It was godfather João. And after that night, I never saw him again. Now can we please go buy those groceries and leave this be for a day?

As he heard the footsteps moving away, his chock could not be greater. And now Leandro had a target for his mission: to find godfather João.

A lingering butt

Edith woke up with a lingering pain in her butt. It was the fourth day in a row she felt something on that spot. She had tried a few different tricks she learned from her mother that always worked miraculously when she was growing up.

At first, she thought it was a mosquito bite and just tried not to scratch it. The following day it seemed to be bigger with a noticeable hole in the middle and she did the obvious keep-it-clean plus Band-Aid. No luck. When she woke up once more to find it even worse and after spending the whole morning going through some drawers, she finally found and used the old MMM: mommy mystery medicine.

But with Edith’s luck, of course by the end of the day the one cheek of her butt was twice the size of the healthy one and all around the now even larger hole, it was almost black. In a very desperate doctors visit she learned the infection was on the verge of giving her tetanus, but treatment would take only a week since it was caught early.

Now lying in bed, still half asleep and with a lingering butt, she remembered the cause of the wound: she had sat on an old nail that fell from the wall onto the couch.

The phone quest

After a week at home waiting to be called for work, Edith woke up on a Friday afternoon. The phone was ringing but she couldn’t remember where it was, her memory would only take her as far as the living room. There was only one thing to do: run for it, except her clumsiness was always worse in those first hours of the “morning”. She burst out of bed, but before reaching the door her clothes exploded out of the closet on top of her. She had to swim her way out of it like trying to find the surface after being drowned by a big wave. Finally getting out of the bedroom and into the kitchen, it was like the appliances were laughing at her with their blinking lights: why were they all on? Wondering how the apartment didn’t burn down during the night, she quickly turned all of them off. The idea was running to the living room, but that carrot on the floor had other plans and made her fall down. She bumped her knee hard on the floor, but threw the carrot even harder on the wall. When she miraculously arrived in the living room, it was completely filthy and she could barely see the floor. This was no time to tidy up, so kicking stuff out of the way would have to be enough. The problem was that one of those pillows was actually her cat, who attacked her foot like a tiger. Still in pain but away from the cat, she heard the phone ringing underneath the couch cushion. Now the much desired phone was in her hands and when she was about to press the button and answer, a huge crow flew onto the window glass and in a slow motion dance the phone jumped out of her hand, landing on the floor. Gladly, she managed to answer and say a weak hello, but work was no longer possible. She said goodbye and went back to bed.

Qualquer coisa!

Corria mais que imaginava ser humanamente possível. À direita o muro mais alto que já vira, à esquerda o perfume mais doce. O contraste era perturbadoramente maravilhoso, enchia meus sentidos com certezas que despertavam a curiosidade de ser incerto. Cada falha no cimento me remetia à imagem de uma pétala que exalava o perfume. Na verdade, os olhos não alcançavam as flores. Mas meu olfato apalpava cada fibra e percebia cada vibração que formava as diversas cores cintilantes. O pólem enchia meus ouvidos e o cimento meus pulmões, numa sintonia que cantarolava o ninar de minha mãe.

Embalado por essa sinfonia misteriosa, corria. O tempo parecia não existir apesar de ser o propulsor das minhas pernas. Não as sentia. Me vi na beira de um precipício gramado, o muro continuava e o perfume se intensificava. As pernas, estáticas. Precisava continuar. O único caminho aparente era um arbusto de espinhos.

Cordas aveludadas de cetim emaranhadas entre si emanavam espinhos de luz e fluíam como ondas, suaves e arrebatadoras, atravessando o abismo do oculto com graça. Era tentadoramente deliciosa a ideia de surfar em sua crista, mas o perigo era iminente. Eu temia. Temia me apegar demais àquela dualidade encantadora. Cedi.

No primeiro passo já consegui sentir o êxtase do fogo que ardia e aliviava ao mesmo tempo. Seu fogo era mais quente que mil sóis e purificava o ar enquanto queimava. Uma brisa fresca também brigava por espaço, incitando as chamas e curando as queimaduras.

Tudo apagou. Acordei.


My fingers ached, waiting to trace the line of his small, neat ear and the blunt angle of his jaw. As he approached, I began to get even more nervous and wonder what would happen if I could touch him, imagine the sparks. I was able to play my every move in my head, but never to guess what his reaction would be. That was the thing about him: this mysterious aura around that big, mature strong man.

When I was about to drool, he came to me.

“A Mocha Late, please.”

Before I could even open my mouth, he gave me the money and moved to the other end of the counter to wait for his coffee. Something had happened, he wasn’t usually in such a bad mood. I just wish I know what it was, because for that man I would literally move mountains.

“A cookie and a cappuccino, please.”

By the time I finished the next client, he was gone. Just like that. In one second he came to my direction, the next he disappeared leaving just my hope that he would come the next morning.

My shift ended just like any other, I got my stuff and started to leave. I was hungry, tired and thinking about Mr. Mystery as I would in a normal day, but I felt something was different. I had a feeling that would be the day to change my life forever. Silly thoughts, of course. Those things only happened in movies and novels. But wouldn’t it be nice if –

Everything went black and I could only feel the cold street floor on my back.

“Are you ok?” said the angel’s voice. “I’m so sorry, I was distracted and didn’t see you coming. Are you hurt? I can drive you to a hospital if you need.”

I opened my eyes and was certain that was an angel.

“Don’t worry, it was just a car door.” She helped me up. “Besides, I was preety distracted too. I’m ok, really.”

“I just feel so terrible about it. Let me make it up to you somehow, please.”

“Oh, you don’t have to.” God, I need to spend more time with this angel!

“Where were you going, if you don’t mind me asking? Do you have any plans?”

“I was just going home, actually.”

“So I’m taking you out to lunch. I insist.”

She insists, there’s nothing I can do.

Lunch went great and I could just wonder what an angel’s business would be on earth. I always thought they had better things to do.

“Do you want to come in for coffee?” It was a long shot, but I had nothing to lose.

“I would love that” I was surprised.

Coffee went even better, although we never got to drink it. Now I knew she was just a rebel tired of heaven experimenting a little with humans. But I didn’t care, as long as she was with me.

I told her all about my earth, and she listened lovingly. She told me all about her heaven, and I payed close attention. No fear, no judgments. Just the two of us, and nothing else existed.

I can’t say we lost track of time, because it was no longer a known concept for us. We just felt like it was enough, and it was ok. We kissed goodbye and she left. Because past and future weren’t in our minds, we never bothered to exchange numbers or arrange to meet again. It was what it was, and we accepted it. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even think about all that at the time. And then, suddenly, she was gone. 

I went to work the next day as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. And that was exectly how it felt.

“This might seem a bit weird, but could I speak with you about something?” How could I had not noticed him coming? It didn’t matter, he wanted to speak with me about something.

“I have a break in ten minuts. Do you want the usual?”

“Sure, I’ll be waiting for you at the table.”

“A Mocha Latte coming right up.” I was smiling.

As I walked tword Mr. Mystery, my creative mind was stuck and it was impossible to imagine what he wanted. I went anyway.

“This may sound out of the blue and maybe even a little creepy because we never actually met officially – although we see each other every day, but maybe you don’t even notice me… ah… anyway, what I’m trying to say is sorry about yesterday, I was kind of in a bad place and ended up not treating you very nicely. I’m really sorry.”

No reaction.

“That’s right, we haven’t been properly introduced. I’m -“

Mr. Mystery, I thought.

“Don’t sweat it, I usually have a lot worse clients. And you are very polite all the other mornings, so no problem at all.”

“Oh, so you do remember me?”

“Kind of, yeah.” Awkward.

“Listen, I know this is all just crazy, but would you go out with me tonight?”

That came out of nowhere!

“Ah… Sure, I guess…”

“Great! So where should I pick you up?”

“We could just meet here later, is that ok?” to keep at least some of the mystery.

“It’s a date! I’ll see you at seven?”

“Yes, that’s fine.”

“Perfect. I have to go now, but see you tonight.”

And through the door he went. I still couldn’t process what had just happened, but needed to go back to work. And so I did.

It was a bit weird to be sitting down at my work place, but now as a client. I still couldn’t understand that unusual morning. Everything went down so fast, and now I wasn’t even sure what to feel.

He came in, big nervous smile on his face. “Shall we?”

I loved dinner and we had the most interesting conversations. Politics, Human Rights, movies, art, books, expectations, interior design, silly jokes. Could this be happening?

He took me home and was the perfect gentleman. Never crosses any lines, still showed interest, kept things slow so I wouldn’t be overwelmed. Was that what I wanted?

The next morning, he came in smiling more than ever and as he walked tward me I remembered all the passionate dreams I had with Mr. Mystery that night. I took my break without hesitating and sat at one of the empty tables. His smile was bigger now. He kissed me on the cheak, my body warmed up. He came closer, leaning in my direction. This was it.

My fingers ached, waiting to trace the line of his small, neat ear and the blunt angle of his jaw. As he approached, I began to get even more nervous and wonder what would happen if I touched him, imagine the sparks.

For a still unknown reason, I looked outside at that very moment. There she was, my angel. Without hesitating, I got up and went to her. She was just passing by, but her force pulled me. Now we were just passing by, together.


Joana era uma mulher como outra qualquer. Comia, dormia, dançava, paquerava, ria, chorava, saia com seus amigos, escutava música, via TV e levava sua vida sempre com calma, dando um passo após o outro. Ela gostava muito quando alguém acariciava seu cabelo. Não tinha uma alimentação tão saudável quanto desejava, mas não chegava a ter problemas sérios com isso. Joana era apaixonada por filmes! Desde os mela-cueca até os de dar nó no cérebro, ela via todos. Também lia as notícias de vez em quando. Mas o que Joana mais gostava sem dúvida alguma era de chocolate, não vivia sem.

E dessa forma, Joana passava seus dias. Acordava, ia trabalhar, voltava pra casa, dormia e depois fazia tudo novamente. Até que um dia as coisas chegaram ao fim. Foi exatamente como dormir: aos poucos e depois de uma só vez.

Joana acordou e se arrumou para o trabalho. No caminho, se percebeu irritada com o passageiro ao seu lado no ônibus. Mau humor de sono. Chegando no trabalho, teve um dia difícil. O chefe acordou virado e resolveu descontar em todo mundo. Voltando pra casa, funk alto no ônibus. Quem não se irrita com isso? Chegando em casa, não encontrava as chaves dentro da bolsa. Cansaço de um dia longo. Ligou a TV, um filme de drama. Disseram que é bom. Chegando ao fim, lenços espalhados pelo quarto e Joana a chorar. Normal, drama bom é drama com lágrimas. Hora de dormir.

Dia novo, vida nova. Mas não necessariamente melhor. Joana se viu imaginando bater a cabeça do homem que cantarolava dentro do ônibus na janela até que ele parasse. Ele não parou. No trabalho, clientes burros. Voltando pra casa, trânsito infernal. Filme ruim e tempo desperdiçado.

Três é o número da sorte, otimismo deve ajudar. Mas não para Joana. Dessa vez, a cena em sua cabeça era uma bala na testa do cidadão que não parava de mexer no banco do lado. Reunião de pessoal, pelo menos a cadeira estava quentinha. Espera – ainda não colocaram aquecedor de assentos na sala de reunião gelada. Menstruação inesperada! A calça branca não ajudou. No banheiro em meio a resmungos, veio o esclarecimento: os dois últimos dias eram apenas TPM. Apenas? Isso era fala de homem. Malditos pensamentos enraizados de uma sociedade machista. Chocolate, a palavra mágica. Gavetas vazias, desespero aumentando. Lojinha da empresa fechada, desespero tomou conta. Ainda faltava 3 horas para o fim do expediente, Joana enlouqueceu de vez. Bateu na porta do chefe. Não, enxaqueca não foi uma boa mentira. Mas e o chocolate? Ia ter que esperar.

Três horas depois parecia que três anos haviam passado. Joana só queria chorar. Faltando 10 minutos para a hora de ir embora, alarme de incêndio. Evacuação do prédio. No local de encontro, explicação sobre o teste e instruções. Lágrimas e gritos internos em Joana como se um fogo a consumisse de dentro pra fora. Manter a pose era cada vez mais difícil e sinais de inquietação apareciam. A caminho da porta da frente, o matraca da empresa a pegou de surpresa. Quando ele morava no sul, presenciou um incêndio. Uma amiga foi parar no hospital com algumas queimaduras. No mesmo hospital, uma freira tinha um bebê. Esse filho mais tarde foi presidente da república. Brasília tem uma escola de dança perto do Palácio do Planalto, mas só gays são alunos. Falando em alunos, o colega de classe de seu sobrinho comentou que seu bairro é na favela. Imagine só, morar na favela. Lá tem muitos incêndios. Uma vez um senhorzinho disse… PARE! O exercício de incêndio na hora de ir embora já não foi suficiente, seu matraca? Joana saiu pela porta enquanto o papagaio falava sozinho. Finalmente liberdade. Mas não para Joana.

Na esquina da frente, um carro passou muito rápido em cima de uma poça de água nojenta. Pelo menos camuflou o sangue na calça branca. Lágrimas de verdade agora podiam correr junto às gotas de lama. Como se esperar 47 minutos e meio pelo maldito ônibus não fosse desagradável, o desgraçado resolveu quebrar no meio do caminho. Chovia muito. Joana notava os olhares, mas resolveu ignorar. Até que uma senhora resolveu abrir a boca. Uma moça tão nova e bonita devia procurar ajuda pra reverter sua situação de moradora de rua. O ônibus já estava parado há 19 minutos no meio do nada e fora da rota da linha. Motorista novo sempre errava naquela curva que não deveria fazer. Uma segunda pessoa decidiu exercitar seus músculos faciais e dizer que não era justo uma pessoa tão nojenta e fedida num lugar tão fechado e cheio. Deixando os outros passageiros horrorizados, Joana começou a arrancar tufos de seu cabelo enquanto cerrava os dentes. Um deles rachou com a força. Quanto mais ela tentava aliviar a raiva, mais ela sentia. Agora, ela já chorava aos soluços como um bebê com fome. E foi então que chegou o segundo final.

O que para o universo inteiro foi apenas um segundo, para Joana foi uma eternidade. Ela sabia o que estava para acontecer. E dentro dessa eternidade, ela só conseguia pensar em uma coisa. Pensava em como tantas notícias aparentemente importantes passavam despercebidas em sua vida por falta de interesse em se informar sobre o mundo. Será que o mesmo aconteceria com ela? Será que sua história também passaria despercebida aos olhos de pessoas desatentas? Será que sua história chegaria a virar notícia? Será que alguém além daquelas pessoas que estavam no ônibus com ela algum dia saberiam do que aconteceu? E será que isso permaneceria na memória dessas pessoas? Nada disso importava mais. Era chegada a hora.


Joana explodiu de TPM.