Published: September 27, 2007
Aunt Anas words had invariably coloured her judgement on the place, she thought.
Eva clicked gears and shifted on the seat of her bike as she sped down the hill towards the small town centre. After being liberated from the Academy shed headed straight for the museum on the edge of a small town, where she could at least get some peace. It was quiet in Whittleby, more a village than a town, surrounded by looming hills and dipping valleys. Black hair flailing wildly behind her, like a flag caught in the wind, Eva increased her speed, letting her skin soak up the suns rays, which beat down on her in the mid-morning light. She decided, tossing her head carelessly, shed study her plants again, noting them carefully. And shed dream of Brazil.
She contemplated her last conversation with her Aunt. She had unwittingly shared her desire to visit Brazil, and see what she had dreamed of violently for the last ten years of her caged life. She wanted to see what her father had seen, all those years ago. She wanted to feel what her father felt, know what had compelled him to drag himself from all that he knew and loved in Portugal, and join his older sister. She yearned to know what he knew, what plants did what, what animals made which sound, which paths could take you through the Amazon rainforest safely, and which ones were deadly; infested with all manner of vile and dangerous creatures that would take your life as easy as a man could snap a thread.
Her aunt had merely laughed. Much to her annoyance, Eva thought, creasing her brow into a frown that caused her fifteen-year-old face to reduce in years, and look like a thoroughly spoilt child being refused a pony, or some such whim. Her words were wasted on Aunt Ana, who had a low opinion of Brazil, despite the fact she was technically Brazilian herself, and spoke like the natives. She idolised modernised Portugal, not the enticing, exciting Amazon. She had said this, many times, speaking of it in their last phone call together, on a Monday evening. Brazil? Alive with buzzing? Ana had exclaimed, disbelief prominent in her voice, This place is as alive as our natural remedies. Which are all dead. She had added that last part as if Eva couldnt work it out for herself. But Aunt - Eva had protested. She was cut off. And also, she had continued, to the acute annoyance of her niece, who couldnt get a word in edgeways, Your father asked me if anything should happen, that you should study in England. I want to honour his wishes, rest his soul. And Im your Tia, not your Aunt. Im Portuguese, speak Portuguese to me. Even with that infernal accent. Eva slammed the phone down at that point, imagining her Aunt, laid back and smoking, merely shaking her head as she sat on the veranda. Now she could only see Brazil through her Aunts eyes, dead and disappointing.
Eva shook herself of her memory and slowed to turn. She look doubtfully at the shorter way, and then at the large cut on her hand, still red raw from the sharp turn. She turned down the longer way, the way that circled the lake. If she was going to persuade her Aunt to let her come to Amazonia, she needed to be in one piece to do it. Oh, Amazonia, all the things shed heard, all the pictures shed seen. How could her Aunt not love it? And how could she love tourist ridden, polluted, impure Portugal? It was upsetting. Very upsetting.
If Eva had stopped being upset for a moment, or maybe if shed looked behind her for one minute second, she might have seen what was coming. Maybe, if shed turned to the side of the road instead of straying into the middle, she might have seen the black car speed past, on its on way to its own destination. Or maybe, if shed risked the short cut, she may not have come into contact with this car at all. Unfortunately none of these scenarios was in play, and Eva gasped out in surprise as the car slammed into the back of bike. The car screeched manically as it swerve left, then right, back into the bike. She flew - really flew - into the air, the wind knocked out of her. She rolled, tossed into a patch of mud by the lake. She could still hear the car screaming in fury as the driver lost control and charged towards the lakeside. In movies, when a monster, or some such bad character came after the hero, Eva could be heard to shake the television, and scream Move!! Just MOVE! Which, incidentally, were the same exact words her head screamed to her as she stood, rooted to the ground in abject panic as the car tumbled over to the grass, right to where she was standing.
Sense grabbed her just in time, and she leapt out to her right, yelling incoherent words. Hands slick with mud, she scrambled desperately in the grass, panic thrashing terribly in her gut. Her balance had been knocked wild by the way she had soared through the air, and she stumbled, this way and that, as she ran, berating her legs for not carrying her faster. The vehicle, now having completely dominated its driver, it seem, snaked in reverse, tossing around angrily. Eva didnt see this, however, as she reached her muddied hands into her pockets, rummaging frantically for her mobile phone. She pushed buttons, almost unconsciously, abandoning the effort when she saw the black car shrink into the distance. She started in terror when her mobile thumped to the floor. Shed been trembling so much shed dropped. Eva whimpered, and crumpled to the ground, where she promptly burst into noisy, relieved tears.