A Cidade Da Luz

A Cidade Da Luz

July 27th


 Praça do Comércio

6.21 PM




“That’s a nice picture, be sure to add a filter, might not get as many likes with Nashville than you’d get with Juno.”

“Shut up. If you’re not gonna help get out of the frame.”

“I could pose for you. How about this?”

“You’re ruining a perfectly good view.”


“Seriously, Adrian, knock it off.”

“Why? This isn’t amusing to you?”

“No, not in the slightest. I don’t know where you got into thinking you have an amusing bone in your body. Twit.”

“Oh come on, you kill me, you break my fucking heart Soph.”

“Try inhaling more nicotine, seems like it might work.”

“Oh, you’re talking about mom? Ah, clever. That’s mean by the way.”

“Have you ever seen her without a cigarette touching her lips?”

“Well…I think there was that time in middle school where she was yelling at Mr. Carson for stifling my artistic abilities, but I’m not sure that counts because she lit one as soon as we were off school property.”

“Oh yeah, I almost forgot about that. You really set a precedent to all the other kids thinking of painting a mural on school property.”

“Yeah, that’s me, the regular rebel; fuck the police et cetera, et cetera.”

“And only in middle school, Jesus, Adrian, it’s a miracle you don’t have a record.”

“My father’s a lawyer.”

“You make it so easy to despise you.”

“Aww, I love you too. Now hand me the phone, let’s take some classy pictures and post them on…well everywhere to make others feel inferior.”

“Okay, but you better not outshine me.”

“I’ll try my best but it’s hard to dim down natural beauty…-Eh, hey, don’t laugh, you little shit.”

“Make sure you get the bridge in the background.”

“Oh right, and we shan’t forget Jesus over there, he’s a bit blurry, but I think…yeah, we fit him in the frame.”

“This actually looks decent. Oh, look my hair looks so nice, yours looks like a hedgehog slept in it.”

“Well duh, it’s like the sexy ‘I just woke up’ look. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.”

“Ugh, whatever. –Don’t you think the bridge looks so like…I don’t know, cool.”

“Cool? Jeez, Sophia, you know that’s a replica right.”

“I…yeah, I mean totally, but it’s still cool, you know.”

“Yeah, I know.”



July 27th


 Praça do Comércio

6.21 PM

In all fairness, it was the worst day of the week for walking around the city. The sun blazed in the sky, all but a white orb, narrowing into the pale blue horizon. If one wished for clouds, they were out of luck, because not a single puff of white comforted the square with shade. It was like an enclosure, the square, surrounded by buildings of yellow and white with archways holding them up and in its most grandness a great arch of white so gleaming it could have been carved out of bone drizzled tourists and locals from underneath as they visited the square in a steady trickle. The sun hit it with such intensity it almost blurred out the ornamental decorations climbing up the arch, reaching at the idle stretching sky. In the middle of the square stood a statue of a man on a horse and the woman dressed in a flowy gown of lilac, talking into her cellphone leaned against the monument she couldn’t name. She took a heavy gulp out of her water bottle and then brought a cigarette to her lips, inhaling deeply, the smoke curling up around her in the humid air. She barked something at whoever was on the other end of the line and sighed exasperatedly, waving her jeweled hand while gazing at two young figures standing by the cooler riverfront. The tiles, almost like stairs descending into the water that painted them a darker shade of gray. Two pillars stood on each side of the slant to the river, like a gate of sorts, promising relief from the uncanny neatness and glistening of marble. The figures, a young man and a woman, the other dressed in a suit, waistcoat and all, and the other in a spaghetti strap top and shorts that truly reflected their name, stretched their arms in attempts to take photos with their phones. They struggled to fit both of them in the frame, glancing back at the woman by the statue, and then at the stretching bridge across the river. The woman by the statue flicked her cigarette, stepping on the butt, staining the diamond shaped pattern of the gleaming tile with black ash.




July 28th


Praça do Marquês de Pombal

 12.45 PM

“Mom, I told you if we walk down this street we’ll just end up back at that square with the dude on the horse. Remember? With all those yellow buildings and the marble, remember you said you wanted to remodel the kitchen with the same stone or some ridiculous crap like that…”

“Your brother says it’s this way, he seems pretty sure of himself. We’ll just follow his directions and get on with it. I don’t understand why we need to do this whole sightseeing shebang anyway; we came here to enjoy, to be on vacation, so why the hell are you two stressing me out?”

“Aaaalright, let’s take a sip of some nice cool water and calm down, because according to this contraption over here, we’ve got a long way to go.”

“We could just take a cab.”

“Mom, seriously, that would be beside the point of sightseeing. How much do you expect to see from a car window?”

“I expect to enjoy the AC. Besides, everything looks the same. I got it, cobble streets are bad for heels.”

“Help me out here, Adrian!”

“Okay, mom, Sophie, should we maybe stop for coffee, or….Valium. I don’t know, something.”

“That’s a very snide remark, Adrian, and I don’t appreciate it, you know very well Dr. Madison prescribed that Valium to me for a good reason, and I still think it’s because you two drive me up the wall every –hold on, I need to get this.”

“Saved by the iPhone.”

“Mmm, well someone had to bite the bullet, Soph, she was gonna chew your head off.”

“I don’t understand what she has against some culture. I mean the lady drags us half way across the world and expects us to sit in our hotel room or go to shopping malls. I get that she’s about to  divorce Richard and wants to blow all his money before the shit hits the fan, but I feel like…We should even try to absorb some of this culture or like even pretend like there’s a shred of authenticity about us.”

“Why pretend?”

“I don’t know, Adrian, maybe I’m just tired. I didn’t get any sleep last night with you on the phone all the time.”

“Hey, I can’t help the time difference.”

“Maybe if you weren’t so co-dependent…”

“Ha! At least I have someone missing me back home.”

“Don’t remind me. Let’s just walk along this nice little promenade and enjoy the sun!”

“Is she following us?”

“Yeah, and bumping into people.”


“People are going to hate us.”

“Don’t they already hate us by default? We’re American tourists.”

“That’s such a stereotype. I don’t want to be a stereotype. Stereotypes suck. They’re the root of all evil.”

“The root of all evil, Sophia, you go too far sometimes!”

“You’re saying there’s something good about stereotypes?”

“No, I’m saying there’s always something behind them and –Oh hold on. It’s Jackson.”

“Oh my God, look at you. You’ve got a dopey smile all over your dumb face.”

“He wants to know how it’s going.”

“Tell him we’re in dire need of help.”


“Or better yet, tell him you love him and the two of you can get married, move to another state and save me from the mushy gushy romance, ya? Sound good?”

“Be careful what you wish for. If I leave you’ll be alone with mom.”

“Yeah well, why don’t we just look at the fancy buildings?”

“They are pretty fancy. I’ll send Jackson a picture.”





July 28th


Praça do Marquês de Pombal

 12.45 PM

The scorching of the sun had become unbearable. Every word uttered and every step that carried them forward sent a jolt of irritation up her spine. The straps of her shoes, the color of lavender and made out of tasteful leather, found a way to dig into her skin, chafing and burning. The heels, well, they managed to slip into every crack in the strange cobble stone path that continued across the city centre. Yellowish stone and black ornaments danced under the steps of millions, glistening and slippery, nothing like the asphalt back home. It seemed awfully redundant and time consuming to cover each street with tiny bricks that did not match and had to be specially fitted like in a game of Tetris. The words that kept falling out of her mouth, they barely touched her lips, barely felt like her own, like someone was dubbing her entire performance in life. They were bitter and poisoned, which had her wonder if that’s the way it worked. They pumped you up with toxins and expected it to stay concealed within such a fragile body. Surely there had to be an outlet and it looked like her words were bringing up heaps and heaps of poison. Oh, how she’d thought this trip would have changed everything, would have been something beautiful to look at. But despite the rich trees offering shadows and shade, the mesmerizing facades of buildings in all colors, seemingly older than any thought that ever occurred to her, the smell of pastries and coffee wafting in the air, they were all still exactly who she remembered them to be. And as she once again listened to the bland, emotionless voice, carried half way across the world through a cellular connection, her thoughts drifted away, watching her children walk in front of her, bantering, as usual. They didn’t suspect a thing. They were enchanted by this beautiful city, vibrant and beautiful themselves, just like they ought to be. Words like terminal and treatment options seemed so out of place here in the midst of people who went about their lives like it was and endless climb, something that almost reached towards delusional immortality. She’d let them have that, because it was important for every young person to feel that way until the sweeping reality of life kicked them to the ground. Besides, immortality wasn’t such a delusional concept after all, this city was a perfect example of that, with all its statues littering the streets, the focal points for every crossing and square.

She had no idea who they were.

But she did know they were immortal. They lived in stone and marble. Watching people live and die while they never did. Those bastards. They never died with people gawking at them, speaking their names, taking pictures with them, immortalizing them all again. Over and over.

Perhaps the next time her children took one of those ridiculous pictures they posed for she would join them, and then she too could live a little longer.

The baby blue sky above stretched for miles and miles, so bright it burned her eyes, could have turned her blind. The breath in her lungs, for the first time, felt much fuller. Sophia was snapping a picture. Adrian making a face at her. The vendors by the streets smiled. She dropped her phone to the ground, watching the glass shatter into crystal cobwebs, catching the light.

Sightseeing, it was like rubbing salt into her cuts.


Images by Danielle Amorim.


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