Issue 15 / Fall 2018
My fair skin suffers from excessive sun. I extracted the first crab clinging to my dermis when I was nineteen and the word cancer was uglier than the words fuck, cunt, wanker, or motherfucker. Nobody wanted to tell me the result of the biopsy, no one commented on that wound that never healed and turned into a long scar between my scapulae. Carcinomas are the least aggressive of malignant skin tumors. It only hurt when some features, twisted by disgust and metallic-distressed tones, questioned me WHATWASTHATINYOURBACK?
I reached my thirties and got a seahorse tattoo to cover the cicatrice. The expressions of terror were replaced by looks of greed from men and envy from women. A former defect became an accessory of seduction.
I turned forty and, with maturity, the number of injuries increased. First, I lost the tail of the seahorse to a Basal cell carcinoma. The dermatologist assured me that quitting sunbathing would not prevent my skin from ailing. The lesions are cumulative; the lack of sunscreen during my childhood and my adolescence had already left their legacy in my DNA. It was only a matter of low immunity and they would appear, uninvited. The late consequence of Johnson oil mixed with urucum by the time I surfed with my Morey Boogie. At every surgery, I felt as a terminally ill patient. I dropped the stressful job, the high salary, and the psychopath boss to set the swallowed rage free.
I became fifty, and the proportion of skin lesions doubled with the unpredictable level of pressure. For years, I had not read the word carcinoma in the reports. I moved to a house, sparing myself of invasive neighbors, to live quietly with my dogs. Until the rain began.
Old house, long renovation, I was elated when it was almost finished. The painters advised me to wash and waterproof the tiles since the residence had been repainted. The wasp service inaugurated a mighty waterfall in the bedroom’s chandelier. OHMYGOD, I feared a short-circuiting. The stonemasons were still around and assured me they left the electrical wiring in order, no need to worry. Then came the Internet technician, who swore he had not broken a single tile.
The guy who proclaimed himself a specialist in alarms and electrical fences, as bad as broken tiles, left a trail of peeled wires, ready to turn my dream home into ashes. But that I only discovered much later when Carlo arrived. He came to settle everything after the solicitous gardener had tried, after the contractor gutter had ripped me out of money, and the rain kept coming into the laundry room.
Carlo was from São Paulo, and used a modern technique of fiberglass, resin, and sealing. He came with an excellent recommendation. He arrived here blowing his chest and flirting, which I pretended not to notice. I needed him to solve the ceiling problem, not my lack of sex issue. In fact, sex shortage was not doing me any harm. I wanted to be well covered up in my house, with my books, my plants, and my dogs.
Eight months later and enough money for a new roof, a waterfall sprang up on the dining room table. No problem, glass, wasn’t spoiled. Damage made two small waterfalls that went through the dichroic installed to highlight the vibrant colors of abstract panels. Red remained on the floor, on the wall and on my face, red with anger. And Carlo still posing as Captain America, blaming the roof’s shape, the old tiles, the weather and wind.
Every time she hears thunder, my freshly rescued dog shakes, cries and tries to hide. In the last storm, I went under the desk with her. After I moved into this house, I became afraid of the rain too. I wake up at dawn during the downpour and peregrinate around the house inspecting infiltrations and leaks.
After a stormy night this summer, I woke up with five new spots on my left leg. Five. Injuries. At once. Fuck. Cunt. Wanker. Motherfucker. No. Carcinoma.
In surgery, the dermatologist, many years and many lesions extracted later, stunned, questioned me:
“Have you been through much anger?”
“Much, doctor. Rain anger.”
“Rain gives cancer, you know?”
Cristina Bresser de Campos is Brazilian, and she graduated from Universidade Federal do Parana in Graphic Design. She studied Creative Writing at University of Edinburgh in 2016. She has two published books, both in Portuguese: Torre de Papel (Paper Tower) in 2015, and Quase Tudo é Risível (Almost Everything is Laughable) in 2016. She is the winner of the 2016 prize from Centro de Letras da Universidade Federal de Fortaleza for the short story “Capitolium.” Her stories and photography can be found in many literary chronicles and journals all over the world. Her second novel, Hand Luggage was recently published by Canadian publisher, Ricky’s Back Yard.