Short Stories | Contos


“I got bread!,” shouted a brute in high school while groping Lucy’s buttocks.

“You got toasted!,” she retorted, hitting him right in the eye with Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain.

This is Lucy Bread and the moment was magic indeed. Never more in her all entire life she would be a victim of abuse. The brute got blind, she was expelled for the first in a million times and in all of those she couldn’t care less. Expulsion, sacking and debt became natural in her life. A happy life, believe it or not.

Lucy Bread had the genius of being highly responsible without taking life too seriously. She had her moments of grief, as anybody, and let them go away. Sadness did not deserved to be clinged by her heart.

“I am leaving you,” howled her first husband, “and the kid goes with me. You better stop laughing!”

Smiling widely, Lucy Bread scanned the condescending dimwit expert on money making from crotch to eye.

“Do you really want to fight me, win me over? Are you sure?” When it came to stabbing her heart, Lucy Bread’s voice had the calm, persistence and reach of a deadly epidemic. “Are you really considering destroying your daughter’s childhood out of spite for her mother? Do you really want to drawn your money there?”

“You won’t have a chance!”

“Try me.”

He did. For years. Lucy kept on laughing, as well as her daughter. The kid learned from the best and her dimwit father had to realize no money could depress that woman.

“How can you do it?,” asked one friend at the job center. “How can you be so happy while living in tragedy?”

“Find me a better way to deal with it.”

“You’re a nut case,” said one lover. “Too bad I don’t have the balls to cope with such invulnerable joy.”

“People are taught to solemnly cry and suffer with dignity. I taught myself to let all tears pour fast and laugh it out when I’m done.”

“You’re on denial.”

“And you’re deaf. I just told you I get all the grief and mourning done in one blow. No more annoying and tedious sadness, believe it or not.”

“You should coach people.”

“I’m not that presumptuous. People don’t laugh because they’re chicken.”

The second husband of Lucy Bread had the maturity to make no judgment and learn from her. I’ve never seen a happier man. I envied him hard and my wife noticed that.

“Would you like me to be like her?”

“I would like to be like her,” was my digressive response. “We should all be like her.”

She gave me the glare of immediate divorce and I kept my mouth shut to the moment I widowed. I don’t know if I fell in love with Lucy Bread. I eat a loaf of bread in her honor every night and do my best not to care a thing.

Saturday, August 28th 2021

Short Stories | Contos


Insomnia. Hell. For at least a couple of months, Raphael wasn’t capable of having a good night sleep. He tried everything, until the walls and ceiling of his house couldn’t contain him any more. That’s how long walks at 4 AM started.

He didn’t use the elevator. Eight floors down the stairs, echoing through the the corridors as a horror story ritual. In reality, it was worse than that. Pure sadness. The sadness coming from nowhere, revolving your guts for no reason. An immense boredom attacking stomach, lungs and throat, crunching the heart with spikes of ice that bring salt to one’s eyes from the recess of tears. Sea not coming ashore, currents from the depths.

The shower of automatic light in the hallway judged his escape. That instant of spotlight brought up all guilt from all his major and minor sins. Imperfection and delusion scanned, scrutinized by all those he cared for, and, worse than ever, those who were nothing to him. Raphael, the wannabe gentleman and reference of virtue.

A deep breath of cold mountain air was part of the ritual. It calmed him down, but not enough to go back to sleep. Long hesitation before starting the march. All routes were already made. Even the escape walk itself was contaminated with boredom and excruciating sadness. Time to get in to the rescue boat. Observation. Five senses eager for novelty. Look at my red nose! Watch the clouds leaving my mouth. Feel the cold on my eyelids, trying to find its way to my skull. He started walking.

Dampness everywhere. One had to be careful not to slide on the sidewalk. That would be funny, breaking a leg during insomnia. Moss grew between the slabs of concrete. That shouldn’t happen in a polluted city, as far as he could remember from the chitchat of some tourist guide when on vacations. Even paradises were a bore. He had been in a few. Most times they become hell. Too many boring people in them, doing their best to let loose the worst of themselves. Now he got the answer. The moss got fed up with paradise and went to the city, showing at early hours, away from boredom.

Is this why I am awake? He hastened the pace. The stupidity of his thoughts. Insomnia to escape from days of sadness and boredom. As if walking like that was the ultimate ecstasy, a moment of happiness to endure life, a therapeutic journey from a cheap self help guide.

“I just want some sleep, for Christ sake!”, he yelled in the darkness of an alley.

“So do I!”, shouted someone from a window. “Go home, you nuts!”

Raphael kept on walking as fast as he could. Not back home and certainly not from fear. Speed was needed. Speed in darkness. No destiny. Just nothing. Fast.

Saturday, June 5th 2021

Nuno Neves