Mary held the warm t-shirt close to her chest, folding one sleeve into her, then the other. It held that flowery detergent smell now, but there was a time when it smelled like him. She put it away. Next was a slim black dress she’d worn to parties. This one used to smell like many different men, but mostly alcohol. She hung it up. Another dress she used to wear was one from a movie she was in. She used to keep it around, marvel at how its sequins sparkled, how its tassels swirled as she spun with her dancer’s legs. Now, the color had worn out. She wasn’t sure why she kept it any more. She turned to the trash, but stopped herself. She hung this one up, too. Way in the back, where no one would see. Rainbow socks clung to the bottom. She wasn’t sure what these were doing in this load of laundry. They’d snuck in somehow. At one time, they were so vibrant and full of hope and wonder. She’d worn them in college, back when she was a freshman. They had holes in them now, but they were the most comfortable socks she owned.
Mary took a step back from the closet, hobbling on her prosthetic leg. All of these clothes were windows into her past, but they looked so faded and in shambles. She closed the closet door and turned off the lights.
December 1984: not a single cloud marred the skyline that noon summer day in Sao Paolo. But there was rain.
The favelados called it Imaculada Chuva, the rain being born seemingly out of God’s own eyes. For the first time in over a decade, the 95-year-old was able to bend his knees and kiss the muddy ground. The entire street knew him and they all rushed to help him up, thinking he may be dying. When they came up to him, they saw that he himself was crying. “Mary is crying for us,” he said. “The dead are weeping with forgiveness.” When Jose Carlos was young, he had led a sordid life. He led a bootleg operation 1920s, but there were rumors in the favela about his involvement with crime lords, that he did unforgiveable deeds on people just as poor as he is now. Jose Carlos never thought that God would offer a true miracle to the favela before he died.
Little Davi splashed his bare feet under the warm trickle of dirty water from the gutters above, unaware that his parents inside were making love after having a terrible fight over a broken dish.
The twins, Maria and Mariana, laughed infectiously as Maria fried plantains and Mariana sewed up her child’s torn pants. He had been playing with the older boys again and she was worried he was going to fall in with the wrong crowd.
The bare-chested men practicing capoeira at the beach stopped to squint at the rain falling from the sun. When the rain dried, the capoeira dancers at the bottom of the hill began their furious dance again, refreshed. Their lightning feet struck the air, kicking out rainbows over the hillside of the favela.
On that morning, the favelados said that all sins had been washed away, that they were given another chance and the favelados celebrated in the evening until their legs were no longer good for standing. When they woke up again, life resumed as it always had, though there was an exuberance in their eyes where, before, they were only the abused eyes of the desperate and forgotten.
Satan owns a classroom supply shop called “Fruit of Knowledge.” Its logo is an apple with a bite in it. There’s an arcing rainbow coming out of the bite. Satan sells only the most recent textbooks by the most liberal authors, some branches even carrying books about how to accept and understand homosexuality. Instead of the usual posters like the “hang in there” one with the kitten hanging from the branch, he has Harry Potter posters. Satan hopes that he can get students to start practicing the dark arts early by making them believe that magic is fun.
Since Satan has money, connections, and connections with money, Fruit of Knowledge has become a fairly widespread chain. Though it doesn’t fare so well in good, God-fearing places like Louisiana and Utah, the store’s popularity has really boomed in Godless places like San Francisco. It should be noted, however, that there has been an increase in sales in Alaska recently this past winter. The hellish textbooks make magnificent tinder for fires. In fact, book burnings make over 10% of Fruit of Knowledge’s sales in the United States. When asked about his popularity, his popularity, Satan just smiles and shrugs. He’s really very modest.
There was not a single cloud in the sky that noon summer day in Sao Paolo, but there was rain. The favelados called it Imaculado Chuver, since the rain was born seemingly out of God’s own eyes. Old man José Carlos cried as well. He bowed his old knees and kissed the muddy ground. After all the violence he had seen and caused in his life, it was miracle enough that he was alive. He never thought that God would offer a true miracle to the favela before he died. Little Davi splashed his bare feet under the warm trickle of dirty water from the gutters above. The twins, Maria and Mariana, laughed as Maria fried plantains and Mariana sewed up her child’s torn pants. The bare-chested men practicing capoeira at the bottom of the hill stopped to squint at the rain falling from the sun. On that day, the favelados said that all sins had been washed away, that they were given another chance. When the rain dried, the capoeira dancers at the bottom of the hill began their dance again. Refreshed by the rain, their lightning feet struck the air, kicking out rainbows over the hillside of the favela. For the entire day, the favelados celebrated. They only had this one day before the miracle rain would dry up again.
The rainbow was born after a long, dreary rain. Yes, there were still clouds, but the rainbow thought they looked pretty against the blue sky. The rainbow looked down at the ground and saw how the dew glittered and the streams flowing into the gutters looked so busy against the quiet streets. The birds, it noticed, were all flying out from the dripping trees, excited by the promise of fresh food and the opportunity to stretch out their claustrophobic wings. They sang as they flew. The rainbow saw all of this and reached its prismatic arms down to greet its true worshippers: the worms. For the rainbow knew that, like the blind earthworms lost on the pavement, it too would die as soon as the rain had dried from the ground.