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The World Seems to Fall Asleep But It’s a Lie (excerpts)

Storm

What he really liked most was to see the storms coming in. His house was safe and most of the villagers went there to seek shelter. Some would cry from fear and others tried to hide their sadness from destruction. He, however, smiled. Every time there was a storm it reminded him of his childhood birthday parties: the house full of expectant guests.

 

Tempestade

O que mais lhe agradava mesmo era ver as tempestades chegar. A sua casa era perfeitamente segura e, a maior parte da vila, vinha resguardar-se ali. Alguns choravam com medo e outros não podiam esconder a tristeza da destruição. Ele, pelo contrário, sorria. Cada vez que havia uma tempestade era como os seus aniversários de infância: a casa cheia de convidados expectantes.

 

*

 

A Tale of Two Cities

Ashes covered the first city and men clumsily walked, like monkeys, over them. They wore old and worn-out clothes, and their faces were covered with masks in order to breathe better. They carried bodies from one place to another and threw them in open ditches that would later be covered with dirt by a machine.

There were almost no buildings because they had been destroyed by an incident no one was able to explain. “Nothing” would be the best word to describe the chaos this city went through. Those who were still alive struggled for a chance to survive and those who had given in to madness seemed to be transformed into living statues, praying.

The second city was, more or less, like the first one. The only difference was that people seemed to be sadder without ashes.

 

Uma História de duas Cidades

A primeira cidade está coberta de cinzas e sobre elas estão os homens que caminham desengonçados, muito perto do andar dos macacos. Usam roupas velhas e gastas e não lhes conseguimos ver as caras porque estão protegidas por máscaras para facilitar a respiração. Carregam corpos de um lado para o outro que colocam em grandes valas abertas que mais tarde serão cobertas de terra por uma grande máquina.

Os edifícios são praticamente inexistentes porque foram destruídos por qualquer coisa que não sabemos bem como explicar. Nada seria a palavra exacta que podia descrever a situação em que esta cidade se encontra. Um autêntico vazio. Os que restam lutam por uma hipótese de sobrevivência e outros, aqueles que cederam à loucura, quase que se transformam em estátuas dado o tempo que estão fixos a rezar. O seu corpo rígido e em silêncio, tal como toda a cidade.

A segunda cidade é mais ou menos como a segunda, se bem que as pessoas parecem um pouco mais tristes e sem cinzas, ainda.

 

*

 

The Shortest Wedding in History

It was much easier this way and, because of this, she had no reason to be nervous. Her future husband was in prison and in place of the groom there was the radio host. Apparently, this was the fifth wedding for which he was stepping in as groom. He was a fat man who always wore a cowboy hat, even if no one could see him from behind the microphone.

She wore a green dress and felt beautiful. They said I do and exchanged rings. The real husband was listening to the ceremony on the radio and was very touched. They were now married. When the ceremony was over she got in her car and drove home. On the way she threw the bouquet out of the window and smiled, thinking about her wedding night.

 

O Casamento Mais Curto da História

Isto assim era tão mais fácil. Nem era preciso estar nervosa nem nada. O futuro marido estava na prisão e, para o substituir no lugar de noivo, havia o tipo da rádio. Aparentemente, este era o seu quinto casamento desta forma. Era um tipo gordo e usava um chapéu de cowboy, mesmo que ninguém o estivesse a ver por detrás dos microfones.

Ela usava um vestido verde e sentia-se linda. Disseram que sim e trocaram os anéis. O seu verdadeiro marido ouvia toda cerimónia na rádio e comovia-se. Estavam casados. Quando tudo acabou ela pegou no carro e partiu para casa. Pelo caminho atirou o bouquet janela fora e sorriu. Pensava como iria ser a noite de núpcias.

 

{To read more stories from this series, please purchase Issue 39.1.}

 

José Duarte has a BA in Modern Languages-English Studies and an MA in North American Studies with a thesis on the TV series Six Feet Under. He is a researcher and instructor at University of Lisbon’s Centre for English Studies, where he is completing a doctoral dissertation on American cinema. He is the author of three poetry collections and two children’s books.

Translated from the original Portuguese by the author, with assistance from Lili Cavalheiro.

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