Absolution – Michael Anthony

Returning to the table, Doralice places a worn, old leather album between us. After pointing to her face and then the book, she pushes the album towards me.

It holds a ragged collection of yellowed newspaper clippings some quarter century old. I don’t need to read Portuguese. The grainy photographs tell her story. A small girl lies in a hospital bed, her head, face, and neck encased in bandages. Standing next to her, a bearded elderly man holds a long hunting rifle and what looks to be the severed claw of a jaguar.

Later clippings show a somewhat older girl with smaller bandages beside a doctor in a white lab coat. The caption is indecipherable except for the doctor’s name, James Malone; the words Estados Unidos; and, the name Doralice Vidal. The most recent clipping, from fifteen years ago, has a photograph of that same doctor and a taller Doralice standing in front of the house in which we now sit.

I run my finger across the album page, then point to her.

She nods, her smile flawless; her face smooth as alabaster. Has it changed? Am I insane? Does it even matter? With her story now known to me, I want to share mine. But, how do I tell her I failed to save my wife near the base of the Williamsburg Bridge? That blood-streaked ice cream puddle returns.

We watch the orange sun disappear behind that cruciform silhouette high atop Corcovado as strains of pagode music float down from the favela.

While I search for words, Doralice motions to my ring; pats her chest imitating a heartbeat; and makes that breaking gesture again. She’s right. My heart is broken. She holds her hands open in front of her heart; points to me; and, slowly brings her hands together, signaling what was once broken in her is now whole. Despite Doralice’s belief I saved her earlier this day, I know it is she who has saved me.

Michael Anthony is a writer and artist living in New Jersey in the United States of America. He has published fiction, poetry, illustrations, and photographs in literary journals and commercial magazines. Most recently these include the Tall Tale TV Podcast, Dime Show Review, Apeiron Review, and Goat’s Milk Magazine.
His work may be viewed at: MichaelAnthony.MyPortfolio.com.
Image by katemangostar/Freepik.

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