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Where the Infinite Unfolds

By Dulce Maria Cardoso
Translated By Ángel Gurría-Quintana


Dulce Maria Cardoso's Violeta among the Stars, translated from Portuguese by Ángel Gurría-Quintana, is out this week from MacLehose Press. Cardoso's lyrical, stream-of-consciousness prose takes the reader into the mind of Violeta, a woman who has just experienced a near-fatal car crash. In the excerpt below, taken from the beginning of the novel, Violeta reflects on the decisions that led to her accident.

 

suddenly

I should have stayed at home, I should have stayed at home, I should have stayed at home, for some time, seconds, hours, I can do nothing,

     suddenly I stop

the position I’m in, head down, hanging by the seatbelt, not uncomfortable, strangely my body does not weigh me down, it must have been a hard crash, I opened my eyes and found myself like this, head down, arms resting on the car’s ceiling, legs dangling, the awkwardness of a rag doll, eyes fixed, listless, on a drop of water that clings to a vertical shard of glass, I can’t make out the noises around me, I start again, I should have stayed at home, I should have stayed at home,

     refrains are so tedious

for some time, seconds, hours, I can do nothing, I must have landed very far from the road, rain beating on the car’s plate metal, wheels spinning in the air, chirp, chirp, crickets, no, no, it can’t be crickets, tick tock, indicators blinking, inside the water drop, only my eyes unable to look away, only my eyes, my car overturned on empty ground, my travel bag tangled in a bush, the waxing products, the free samples for my customers and my account books strewn in the mud, further away a shoe in a distant puddle, the headlamps still on, the rain, the trails of fireflies flitting until they die on the ground, chirp, it cannot be crickets, everywhere splinters of glass shimmering brightly, shards chasing the night away,

     I should have stayed at home

the hot liquid dripping from my mouth is blood, I recognize the taste, my mouth is a pulp, hot, too hot, disgusting, I want to move, to free myself from the seatbelt, my hands do not obey me, two lifeless limbs, my legs, two absences, and my eyes fixed, inert, on the light-filled drop of water, a light-flooded drop, almost catching me, defeating me, I resist, I start again, I should have stayed at home, I should have stayed at home,

     suddenly

I feel no pain, I am not afraid, my eyes drowning in the drop of light, my ears ringing with the sound of crickets,

     I might no longer exist here at this moment

     this moment might no longer exist for me  

I drive through the darkness

gently, I glide along the road that is always the same, leaving it behind even as it renews itself ahead of me, a generous tongue swallowing me, black, infinite, I move on, guided by the cats’ eyes at the side of the road, the steel crash barriers, the wind twisting the leafless trees into sad skeletons, lines sketched in charcoal against the sky, the electricity pylons, scarecrows holding hands in a line that goes nowhere

     gently

I move on toward the place where the infinite unfolds, my head in a pleasant spin, earlier this afternoon I sold the house, I signed away the deeds with the silver pen, my hand did not tremble, I did not hesitate, if I expected it to be easy it was terrifyingly easier, I am traveling on the night of the storm, people have talked about nothing else over the past few days, the weather forecasts, civil protection authorities, in cafés, my customers, a single subject,

     a storm was announced

the only topic of conversation, so much fuss and it might all come to nothing, they always get it wrong, who can foresee nature’s whims, words exchanged, it will be worse by the seaside, my head in a spin that feels good, I stretch a hand out blindly to the right, I am feeling around for my cassette tape, from today everything will be different, I say it again, from today everything will be different, the rain beats down on the car roof with a noise that should scare me, it thickens the car windows, doubles them, thousands of burst drops against the glass, watery webs torn apart by the wind, gusts of wind reaching speeds of up to, I defy the stormy night,

     I drive through the darkness

my hand blindly seeking a voice that will calm the storm, lightning, a trace of light from the beginning, in the beginning there was only light, in the beginning there was only light and we were already blinded forever,

     bêtises, ma chérie, bêtises

I find it hard to breathe, a pain in my chest, a single subject, you always drink too much, my heavy body following the hand, the same difficulty in the simplest of gestures,

     freak, freak

another lightning bolt, a pretty neon cleaving the dark, I find the cassette tape, thunder, the darkness roaring, it would not be hard to believe that the sea has replaced the sky and is pouring down over the earth, I move forward, as if over the sky, a road that goes on and on into the darkness, I put the cassette into the tape player, I press rewind, scratching the silence, a single subject at the service station,

     look at that fat lady falling over drunk

 

Violeta among the Stars by Dulce Maria Cardoso, translated from the Portuguese by Ángel Gurría-Quintana, is published by MacLehose Press on June 24 in hardback, £16.99. Used by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.

 

Related Reading:

"What Happens When We Sleep?" by Haytham El Wardany, translated by Robin Moger

The City and the Writer: In Lisbon with Patricio Ferrari

"Plague Diary" by Gonçalo M. Tavares, translated by Daniel Hahn


Published Jun 21, 2021   Copyright 2021 Dulce Maria Cardoso

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