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1st July
posted by amber

Maria, on Beggar’s Mountain

This was the worst place she’d ever been. Even the shack in Rio das Secas where she and Ivo and her mother lived, so many years ago, was not as bad as this. There, the dirt floor was hard and smooth as cement, perfectly clean for they swept it daily, but this floor resembled the papier mache relief map of Brazil her son Xilton made at school one year, it went up and down, with bugs crawling in the high places and filthy water standing in the low places. Everything about the rest of the shack matched the floor. She’d looked at this degradation until her head hurt and she didn’t want to look at it anymore, but there wasn’t a single good and cheerful thing to fix her eyes on.

The only new and shiny thing in the place was the radio Eurico bought Fat Paulina, in appreciation for the service she was doing him, agreeing to look after his mother-in-law. Only it wasn’t looking after, Maria knew and Fat Paulina knew, it was keeping custody, it was detaining, it was imprisonment. An easy job – to imprison an old woman who could no longer walk.

Her legs had brought her to this misery. Her legs and her wicked son-in-law.

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