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  • Paula Brandao

Arabelle - The hospice


The room had a peculiar smell and as soon as Arabelle got into it she felt a peculiar scent coming from the air conditioning system. A chair was strategically placed in the centre of the room. Kate, John and some of the guests gathered together observing all the walls. Stuck to them, thousands of pieces of papers and in each one of them many words.

Arabelle started to read the ones in front of her. Like a puzzle, they matched, altogether, perfectly, with no excuses, and at the bottom of them, names and the expression “The hospice”.

A story that needed to be told. Arabelle’s father was a man of surprises.

The party was over, not only because Arabelle’s aunts had just arrived, but also because they explained the meaning of that secret. They also hadn’t seen it, but they had known it for so many years since their childhood.

When Arabelle’s father was a child he had a nervous breakdown. He was young, naïve and gullible. Some boys from his school tried to make fun of him, asking him to be funny. He tried but they laughed and in revenge he wrote in their notebooks and drew sketches of their faces. Grudges from nonsense were established. The director of the school invited him to leave the class and dismissed him. He was considered a mad boy. His mother, Arabelle’s grandmother then decided to take him to a hospice nearby for a treatment where he stayed for five months until the doctor justified there was no reason for him to be there. Back home he did not want to return to school and his mother bought books to teach him what she knew about life. That’s how he was educated. He was a special kid.

After some time, the boy became a young man, full of hopes and dreams. He had many words in mind and a habit. Transfer them to a piece of paper. The hospice had been a lifesaver after all and there he found himself, safe and sound.

One day he met a woman that looked at him with grace and love and respected his words. He married her and they had children. In their house, a basement to be opened only for his words. There he used to sit down every early morning to remember about himself, to put his feelings into words and emotions of a time when he was happy in a house where he met respectful people and could be free.

There was nothing so peculiar about the hidden room, but the words in each piece of paper were an invitation to knowledge, self-indulgence and love.

Arabelle’s father, that simple man who used to teach her the sound of the boats when they were at the lighthouse, was a wise man or a mad man. There were evidences and none at the same time.

From that party, memories, from her friends, loyalty as after that day they set the habit of meeting once in a while at the basement, to read and discuss silently, though their eyes about the importance of life and love and register in pieces of paper their own words of wisdom so one day they would never forget.

The end of the story nobody would never know, there was no diagnosis, no explanation or even a real fact, but there were words, revealed at an encounter, kept into a restrict number of people. In their minds. They had never had the courage to tell anyone else. It became a pact. No one would ever say it loud, they would only go there and be in silence, as a ritual altogether with the others from that night.

Arabelle was a happy woman, living in a house where the wind would come and go, her family would dream about life and live in harmony. She became a woman with a secret, secluded in the basement and owning her freedom outside when she walked towards the sea. And in the surroundings, composing the scenario, the lighthouse and the sea reassuring to her that life was a light that blinked from time to time, telling stories and making amends.

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