Lavie in the Frightful Light

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Photo by Victor Bezrukov (via Flickr)

Sixteen years old. Virgin. Hair in disarray. Without money to embrace freedom.

“Ungrateful Granny, lend me some money, I need to get to know life.”

“Lavie, there is no life on the street, only violence.”

Granny has a stone in her kidney which has hardened her to any passion.

“Unlikely Mummy, lend me some money?”

“Your father has a lover called Geysy Mary! Her father is a multimillionaire, the owner of a toothpaste factory! And she doesn’t have any children, she is as beautiful as a bird, without children, are you listening? … Lavie, stop bothering me.”

Unlikely Mummy is always like this, she never gives me any money.

“Daddy $?  I need some cash. No-one goes far at sixteen years old, thirty reais.

Daddy $ made himself all jaunty, puffed up his chest in front of me trying to hide me from view. As if I would envy his riches. Those who don’t fear envy, like Daddy, are those who know that happiness is worth nothing; it is just a bargaining in hell.[private]

I didn’t ask depressed Aunty, seamstress and suicidal. She lives at the very back of my house. I never really know if she is the sister of Unlikely Mummy or of Daddy $.

I packed one bag: a comb, a stolen blouse, a disease-ridden can opener, a battery, a post-it note with a drawing of a stem, a pot of scabs, a Joy Division CD and some shavings from the wall of my bedroom. Uniquely unique things.

I left kicking cans as I went. But you don’t need to kick cans, dreams or sunflowers. You need to kick the suppository of the world’s arse and let it suffocate.

I walked with my long and pale arms down three roads, I climbed up six ladders and slid back down them again. I spent my thirty reais on pastries, old records and matches. No-one is happy in this city. I decided to die. But my death would not be a joke. With the last throes of dignity that I had left, I promised: no, no way would it be something to laugh at. One thing worried me: a virgin in paradise? Once dead, I would instantly be relegated to being one of those saints that oversees the selection. “Selection, no way. I will die dissolute. I need to break my virgin seal.” – Resolute, I made my way to a dingy bar in Sao João. I sat down and leant my elbow on the bar. It was early; the sunlight still hurt the eyes. I caught sight of a man with a communist beard, a lyrical cough and an aristocratic watch.

“What time is it?” I asked.

“Nine minutes past six,” he responded.

“What time is it now?”

“A minute before the next minute.”

“Sorry to bother you, but what time is it now?”

“It is just about to stop being nine past six. It is nine past six for just thirty seconds more. Leave me in peace, pipsqueak, you’ve made me lose thirty seconds.”

“And what time is it now?”

“It’s nearly not nine past six any more. It’s nine past six. What difference does it make if you are nothing but a dysfunctional teenager? Why have you asked me so many times? Lassie, you should know that no-one is happy in even hours, only in odd. What makes people of our times happy, I mean, of our times, is a mere question mark. Everything depends on the cuckoo’s mood. Of the hand and its continual hammering. At six o’clock the city of São Paulo is inert. Those who pretend that they are happy and put on a fake smile don’t fool me. Because it’s six o’clock and the drugs which can bring a person contentment are only sold later on. At six o’clock look for the man who shuffles his flip-flops carrying a shotgun or the means to start a fire and you know that it will be some hours before happiness reaches this clockwork city.

“I know that it is not a good time of day, but I have no money.”

“Oh that evil metal! I can give you five reais, do you know how to count?”

“Of course! I had an abacus when I was little.”

“Excellent. So not very long ago. Go up to Sao João and count thirty buses.”

“Why?”

“So I can take advantage of your absence and enjoy my thoughts. For a bit of peace and quiet I will give you five reais. I cannot have a discussion with you, your adolescent mind is spoiling my plans.”

“I don’t need money or thoughts – all I want to do is die.”

“Throw yourself in front of a bus and don’t bother me.”

“I cannot die a virgin or I will be the butt of hostilities in the next world. Penetrate me, shove your dick into my immaculate fanny, time is moving on and I need to die. Initiate me and kill me, step on me like a chewed piece of gum! I beg you!”

“G-d would burn my eyes.”

“Primaeval! Brute! I deny God and am proof of His uselessness.”

The man gave me a kick on the bum. I knew, I just knew that he was going to do that. But I didn’t want to care. What difference did one more kick make now?

I don’t know why my heart started to hammer when I saw a boy of Apollonian beauty seated at one of the tables. He was glued to yesterday’s newspaper. I went towards him planning what I was going to say. Hi, my name is Lavie, I am the daughter of Daddy $ and Unlikely Mummy; he now has a new lover and no-one gives a damn about me.

No! Hi, I’m Lavie, I have a collection of scabs and matches. No! I’m Lavie, I am proof of the uselessness of G-d and I beg to be penetrated. No! I’m a teenager and I feel sexual lust, show me your member provided it’s not completely limp. No! I’m Lavie, I’m sixteen and I need to eat it with my hands, I am hungry for dick and death. That’s it! I’m going to say that to him. I started to walk towards the boy. He ignored me as if I were an irritating insect. He got up and left the bar.

Crushed, I went back home. No-one had noticed that I had gone. I took an enormous electric plug and gasping I headed towards the chandelier.

When he came into the room to have dinner, Daddy $ found me, his only child, dangling from the gallows, with a musical vibrator spinning at full steam in the middle of my legs, with my tongue hanging out and my eyes jumping out of their sockets, giving a last death rattle: Fuck you! [/private]

 

Translated by Hannah Bowers.

Hannah Bowers has just graduated from the University of Oxford where she studied Spanish and Portuguese.

Juliana Frank

About Juliana Frank

Juliana Frank was born in 1985 in São Paulo, and currently lives in Rio de Janeiro. She is a scriptwriter for cinema and television. She adapted the notorious novel Pornopopéia by Reinaldo Moraes for the cinema. Her latest novel, Meu coração de Pedra-Pomes (‘My Pumice Stone Heart’) came out in 2013, published by Companhia das Letras. ‘Lavie in the Frightful Light’ was first published in Portuguese in the Folha de São Paulo newspaper.

Juliana Frank was born in 1985 in São Paulo, and currently lives in Rio de Janeiro. She is a scriptwriter for cinema and television. She adapted the notorious novel Pornopopéia by Reinaldo Moraes for the cinema. Her latest novel, Meu coração de Pedra-Pomes (‘My Pumice Stone Heart’) came out in 2013, published by Companhia das Letras. ‘Lavie in the Frightful Light’ was first published in Portuguese in the Folha de São Paulo newspaper.

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