Back in the days of cigarettes

If by chance on that Thursday afternoon, after having felt a sudden and inexplicable urge to smoke a cigarette, Otávio had bought a pack of Marlboros instead of Derbys, Telma, who sat next to him on the bus and only smoked Marlboros, would have asked for a drag, which he would have given willingly, giving rise to a conversation about cigarettes that would lead to a conversation about Janis Joplin, which would lead to a conversation on the subject of “Let’s listen to a CD at my house,” which would certainly end up in sex.

After sex, Telma would tell Otávio that she lived in Mauá and was divorced, leaving him completely head over heels for her, and with a sudden desire to move in and live with Telma. He would then dump his job as an ICT instructor and embark on a bus to only discover upon his arrival that Telma had 3 small children who she hoped he would adopt: Moon, Sun, and Earth, the latter a baby at the time.

Initially suspicious, but later enchanted with the children, who on the second day already called him daddy, Otávio would stay home and take care of the kids on weekdays while Telma sold her hippie beads in Rio de Janeiro. Telma would then visit her family less and less often, in order to fully dedicate herself to her beads and to drinking, her other new passion. Telma would rapidly become aggressive with her children and with Otávio, who would try to defend them at all costs, until the day that, completely wasted, Telma would arrive home knife in hand and threaten the children in front of Otávio, who would take the first bus to Rio with his adopted kids.

Arriving there, the ICT school would not accept Otávio back, and in need of money to pay for a surgery for Terra, the youngest of the three who suffered from heart problems, Otávio would become involved with drug dealing, and thanks to his English speaking abilities and knowledge of Excel, he would soon earn a prominent place in the international drug operation. Earning loads of cash, he would pay for a decent education for the children, who would grow up to be very intelligent and disciplined, except for Terra, who at the age of 13 would turn out to have inherited her mother’s penchant for alcohol.

But in his routine as an international drug dealer, Otávio could not care less about the kid’s complicated problem, until the day that Terra, then 17 years old, in a heated argument with Otávio, led him to blurt out that Telma, Terra’s mother, was a hippie prostitute that had abandoned her in childhood. Terra would then pull out her pocket knife and plunge for a stab at Otávio, who would instantly pull out his 38 and hit her point blank in the chest. The bullet would be lodged in her spine and Terra would be left paraplegic.

Traumatized, Lua, the first-born, would then  decide to try her luck in Miami with her boyfriend. Sol, always scholarly, would study philosophy in Paris on a full-scholarship, leaving Terra in her wheelchair alone with Otávio.

And so, drowned in remorse, Otávio would quit drug dealing, become a member of the New Life Church and rent an apartment in Copacabana, where he would spend the rest of his days caring for Terra. Intimately, Otávio would know that he had suffered terribly, but that he would never regret anything he had been through and would always have the feeling and conviction of having lived a very full life.

But, as it happened, on that very afternoon, Otávio decided to buy a pack of Derbys instead of Marlboros, and consequently, he led a very tedious life, condemned forever to ignore all of those things that never had a chance to take place.

Tradução Luise W Mello Franco

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