• Malu Baumgarten

Reflections in the Light of Rain

The story of Johnny Skai - episode 2


The rain pounds the car unrelentingly, producing an incessant hissing sound. The windshield wipers struggle under the water that falls in torrents. Ahead, all one can see is the liquid landscape, a road melted into the sky. The car moves slowly, and Johnny tries to identify here and there a piece of asphalt, a tree, the distance between his car and the one that just overtook him. The beautiful Brazilian sky and the green that surrounds the southern road seem to dissolve in primal fear. His eyes and legs fail, he is lacking sanity to face the enraged nature. "Keep your left Johnny, you are bending to the right, we will end off the road", says his partner. Johnny obeys. The woman is his lifeline, she who saves him from the fear, the blindness, the legs that do not obey.

The car is a black Sentra with an automatic transmission, rented a month ago in Porto Alegre, the capital of Brazil’s utmost southern state. They rode the 400 kilometres to a beach in the Santa Catarina’s neighbouring state on a sunny day in January. Johnny and the woman travelled singing, playing their favourite songs to each other, happy to be together for the first time on a road trip. Everything is new for Johnny, the intense blue of the sky, the friendly people, the colours of summer. In Toronto, the sky is now winter gray. Above all, the sea mesmerizes him, and although it is too hard for him to go down to the beach with his legs, more than once his partner asked the lifeguards to carry him to the sand, where he rested among women in tiny bikinis and little children playing with their dogs, under the balminess of a setting sun he wished would never end.

The first signs that all was not well, came slowly. A little difficulty in reaching the bathroom, a fall in the shower. Driving on dirt roads, the woman would say “keep your left Johnny, this way we are going to fall into that ditch to the right”, or “be careful, you are about to run over the old man on the bicycle”. He felt that his legs were gradually becoming stiff and would not perform even the minimum movements necessary to drive the car. She noticed that his right eye was bulging a little, and when she asked, he confirmed, the view on that side was foggy. 

On their returning day, the rain started soft and grew big.

Johnny is afraid of his eyes that do not see, of the legs that do not recognize commands. The road is dark, and the night has come early. Ten years ago, he had left the doctor's office on a clear April afternoon, the neurologist’s raw words hurting inside his ears: "You suffer from an incurable degenerative neurological condition, which will only get worse over time." Johnny does not want to die. He gazes at the road with his almost blind eyes, and feels the woman's warm hand on his arm, listens to her voice repeating over and again, "you can do it, Johnny, we'll get here, I'm here with you." No, he will not die. His body has been betraying him for a long time, but now he has the woman, and it is she who saves him from the blindness, from his legs that refuse to obey, from the brutality of the world.

34 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All