Larissa knew the day had come when the last cat left town. It had been months since she began receiving the signs, which only she understood: the scent of sage rising from the manholes; the taste of iron in the fruits; the solar and lunar eclipses on the same month; the rats that overran the streets. She sat down to write, the way she liked, by hand. She knew her grandchildren said nobody used to do that anymore. She began with their names. She tore the notebook pages and thew the bits on the floor. Soon rats came to eat them. She thought about the school she went to, which had been long closed. The pages ended before the names and she stood up, leaving the rats which sprawled over her kitchen table devouring the notebook. With the pen still in hand, she squatted by the corner of the room, where the wall received no sunlight and was whiter. The act of writing fueled her memory, and the memory, her spite. She remembered her daughter, who she knew now called her senile. She drew her family tree, hurrying up with each branch while the rats devoured the previous one, chewing the bits of wall where her pen had just been. Some began eating away at the hem of her dress. More names: many neighbours, all of her lovers. The cashier who had winced at her teeth. Her dress was now rags, and the feet on her skin did no longer bother. Larissa recorded the name of each person, and wrote her daughter’s from ground to ceiling, so that no misdeed would be lost. By ten, moon turned dark once again. By eleven, power went down, and Larissa finally understood that in a lightless world there is no nudity. At a quarter before midnight, the rats started gnawing on her, starting by the feet. She smiled, and left a sole name for the end, which she whispered to the animal who bit her tongue away.

[English translation of my short story “Ninhada”]

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