Luís wept. Pedro looked from the cradle to the bedroom door and back.
– It’s OK. Mummy will be back soon.
Stuck to the wheelchair, he felt completely unable, completely powerless, and really useless. He was becoming nervous. He couldn’t see nor hear Cláudia’s footsteps along the hall. He didn’t want to call for her because he knew she didn’t come for some reason. She was certainly making dinner or filling the washing machine or…
– Fuck! – he cursed. His nervous system was getting upset to the point of his breath beginning to become instable.
Although he tried hard, he couldn’t help to feel anger for the delay in Cláudia’s help and for having put himself to the condition of tetraplegia. Luís shouted desperately. From the corridor came a strong bang of a pan hitting something hard in the kitchen.
– Fuck, is she deaf? I am a real son of a bitch! Who is the bastard that leaves his wife nine months pregnant at home and goes to the pinewood to practise car rally? Then I had my punishment from God…
Pedro couldn’t get rid of all that guilt that tormented him during the twenty-four sombre hours of the day. The only time he would not concentrate on it was during physiotherapy for one hour and a half. He considered that he was guilty for the accident, that God punished him and broke the springs in the shock absorbers for having left his wife alone at home.
Luís was almost breathless.
Cláudia… – shouted Pedro. No one answered.
He was confused and with a heavy headache. He was reliving his accident time and again at high speed. He moved his head quickly, which was the only part of his body that he could move… His eye glasses fell.
– Oh, my God… she left us! – he looked at the cradle – She abandoned us, my little son! We will be dead already when someone comes here and finds us. Sweat poured down his face.
– Cláudia… Claúdia… – he yelled and no one would answer. The mucus from his nostrils mixed with the tears down his face. The phone rang. No one answered. It rang again… Pedro was sure she had left them. She couldn’t hold the burden. That instant, Pedro’s head fell abandoned over his chest… he fainted. Sudden silence filled the room.
Pedro opened his eyes. The first image he saw was the lamp on the ceiling. He heard some muffled voices.
– He is waking up… – someone said. He heard someone calling his name. He turned his head a little and saw his mother-in-law’s face.
– The child? – he asked.
– Your sister is giving him a bottle… he is OK.
– My sister? What is she doing here? What are you doing her? Where is Cláudia?
– You know… – the woman started crying uncontrollably. He was afraid.
I phoned here several times and she never answered. I was worried and came here. I knocked at the door and nobody answered. As I heard the baby crying, I asked the neighbour for help and we forced the front door…
– Cláudia has left? – he asked.
– Yes, my boy. She couldn’t stand it anymore and left…
The lady let herself sit on the bed and cried.
– When I got in, I came running to the bedroom and you were passed out and the child was crying his lungs out. Mr Júlio laid you on the bed and I caught the baby from the cradle… when I went to the kitchen to prepare his bottle… there she was lying on the ground lifeless! – she cried.
Pedro felt sore all over his body. It seemed as if they were extracting all his bones through the nostrils. He couldn’t even feel anger. All was guilt.
You know, the forensic told us it must have been a brain bleeding. You know, she was a diabetic and lately she didn’t take much care of herself. Poor thing, she didn’t take any care of herself… it was too much for her and she let her health to last worry.
Pedro closed his eyes. He felt even guiltier. He understood that God’s punishment destined for him was even bigger than he had ever thought. His Cláudia, his mate… that woman was now so far that she could never kiss him again. His fighter was so good at healing other people’s wounds… and nobody could heal hers.
– Pedro… Pedro! – a soft hand touched all his face. The voice was familiar.
– Wake up, hubby… – Pedro opened his eyes. He looked at the smile in Cláudia’s face.
– Come on, get up! Francisco is here at the door. You made arrangements for a rally practice at the pinewood.
Pedro was motionless, raised his left hand and caressed his wife’s belly.
– Tell Francisco I won’t go.
Cláudia looked at her husband, shook her head and smiled. Before she left the room, he asked her:
– Did the boy kick you much tonight?
– The boy? Didn’t we settle not to know the gender before birth?
– Well… I know it will be a boy!
All was guilt from the project A STATE OF MIND
Photo: Sérgio Moreira
Text: Adão Baptista