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Arrows in the air

Written by Miguel Dracul

Edited by Iana Araújo

Translated by Natalle Moura

Copyedited by Vanessa Guedes

“I’m afraid to live my whole life and real­ize that in the end, nobody ever felt that hav­ing me around made any dif­fer­ence.”

The sin­cer­ity in Gael’s con­fes­sion was scath­ing. He was sway­ing the bottle of some sweet al­co­holic bever­age, which he did not bother to read the la­bel when someone offered it to him. He took a sip and stared at Cairo in si­lence.

The way Gael ac­ted made it clear that he wished to carve in his memory everything about that night. At that mo­ment, he was mem­or­iz­ing the man in front of him, his braids done close to his head, eyes slightly an­gu­lar, dark pu­pils, long eye­lashes, thick lips, and black skin. His style was ag­gress­ive: com­bat boots, black t-shirts, and flan­nel shirts bought from thrift stores where grunge still resided. He smelled of woody per­fume and books. That was how he would like to re­mem­ber Cairo.

In turn, Cairo matched his friend’s earn­est gaze. He was ana­lyz­ing Gael, not be­cause he wished to mem­or­ize more than he already had in his mind, but be­cause the con­trast between how he was per­ceived in school and how he be­haved him­self next to Cairo in in­formal mo­ments was as­ton­ish­ing. Gael had dark hair and light eyes, the tanned skin of someone who liked to spend time in the sun. One of the best stu­dents in his class; it was easy to find him in the lib­rary sit­ting on the floor amidst broad book­shelves. Quiet, Gael usu­ally didn’t mingle, but Cairo had never crossed paths with someone as sens­it­ive as him. When they be­came friends, he found out, for ex­ample, that Gael spent so much time in the lib­rary be­cause it was much like the one in his ho­met­own. He sat among books to feel closer to home.

They were at their  col­lege friends’ place, cel­eb­rat­ing the end of one of the hard­est sub­jects: Stat­ist­ics. Des­pite be­ing in dif­fer­ent years and un­der­grad courses, both of them had that class in com­mon. About twenty people got to­gether to drink, dance, and make small talk. How­ever, at some point a game of truth or dare had be­gun, bring­ing laughter and rev­el­a­tions about every­one present.

By that time in the earli­est hours of the morn­ing, the other guests had already left – in­tox­ic­ated and, who knows, happy with their night out. Cairo, how­ever, chose to ex­tend his stay. He al­ways had a cap­tive room in the Green Lemon Stu­dent Res­id­ence for Girls – the wo­men there were all friends with him. Per­haps one or two as­pired to be even more than that. Among empty bottles, for­got­ten clothes, and the or­ganic mess after a good party, Cairo and Gael were left by them­selves. The game was over and had turned into an in­tim­ate con­ver­sa­tion, where they both re­vealed things about them­selves without the need for any dare.

Gael had already said some non­sense about be­ing late and that he should leave soon, but a good con­ver­sa­tion, deep and sub­stan­tial like that one, did not hap­pen very of­ten. Any­one who had any ex­per­i­ence with hu­man re­la­tion­ships and watched them closely could tell that this was a life-chan­ging mo­ment for both of them. Gael was the one who broke the si­lence. “What about you? What are you afraid of?”

“I’m not afraid of any­thing,” Cairo replied. “There was noth­ing mon­strous, scary, or vi­ol­ent that happened to me and that I didn’t sur­vive. Know­ing that you can keep go­ing after the dis­asters makes fear smal­ler. At least in my case, that’s how I felt.”

“I ad­mire that in you.”

The blue-eyed Gael said without look­ing at Cairo, and ended up not see­ing the smile in Cairo’s face when he heard the com­pli­ment There was a touch of shy­ness in the re­ac­tion that rarely came to the sur­face. Gael fin­ished his drink with a long sip, got up, and threw the empty bottle into a trash can be­fore say­ing:

“I think I’m go­ing to drink some wa­ter to sober up and go home. It’s late.”

Late… Or maybe he was just un­com­fort­able with how much of him­self he had re­vealed to a man who just told him that he wasn’t afraid of any­thing. Love is a game of chance and both of them were com­pet­it­ive. Such a po­s­i­tion was like be­ing at a dis­ad­vant­age: Gael feared that his feel­ings would be­come too ap­par­ent. 

Cairo shrugged. “I can still talk for hours.”

“You are tougher than I am,” he ad­mit­ted, grudgingly. “I’ll just go to the bath­room first.”

“I’ll bring you the wa­ter, so I get a glass for my­self too.”

It was a po­lite ges­ture, but usual for Cairo. Al­though his clothes ex­uded an at­ti­tude, he liked to take care of those around him. Like a prism, he re­quired the right light to re­veal his col­ors. He got up and went to­wards the kit­chen.

Cairo put his hands on the kit­chen counter and laughed out loud, pos­sibly sat­is­fied with the night he had so far. He opened the fridge and took a soda bottle filled with wa­ter and poured two plastic cups.

That was the mo­ment. He would leave the kit­chen with the one cup in each hand, re­turn to the liv­ing room, and he and Gael would face each other; fi­nally, they would stop dodging one an­other in that dance without touch. Their eyes would meet, and these young col­lege kids would kiss with the pas­sion and the con­nec­tion that only the in­tim­acy they slowly built could cre­ate. “It would be per­fect,” I thought to my­self, as I pulled my ar­row and tar­geted Cairo’s back, an­ti­cip­at­ing the love I was about to see the couple con­sum­mate.

“I think I’m pretty drunk…” Cairo ad­mit­ted to him­self out loud. He was all smiles; he prob­ably pic­tured the same scene as I did. I re­leased my ar­row. The plastic cups fell, spill­ing the wa­ter onto the red tiled kit­chen floor. Cairo let them go without hes­it­a­tion. In a su­per­nat­ural re­flex, he had turned around and now held my ar­row in his right hand, just cen­ti­meters away from his chest. “Drunk, not stu­pid!” he said, look­ing at me with ir­rit­a­tion.

“You can see me? But how?” I asked in shock. Even if he could see me, catch­ing one of my ar­rows in mid-air was an im­press­ive feat.

“Fam­ily of witches. It’s in my blood” he said, non­chal­ant. “Look at the mess you made me do…” he com­plained, re­triev­ing the cups from the floor to re­fill them again.

“Wow! Even for a witch what you did was…”

Cairo in­ter­rup­ted me. “What any­one with an ounce of com­mon sense would do. Why are you here?”

“My mother sent me. She just didn’t warn me that you would be so stub­born.”

“Your mother… like… The god­dess of love? Aph­rod­ite?” He asked, still hold­ing the ar­row, and point­ing it at me as he spoke.

“The one and only. She likes you, says you are very lov­ing, but you were in need of a little push to live the next stage of your ro­mantic life.”

She likes me? Does she re­mem­ber my ex? What does she put in the way of the people she hates, just so I know?” he said.

“She usu­ally curses them… Mom is cre­at­ive but quite tem­pera­mental, I must ad­mit. The point is: this is a gift” I say, point­ing at the ar­row. “Let me do my job and give it to you,” I ask, dis­play­ing my most cap­tiv­at­ing smile.

Cairo took a deep breath and cleared his throat. I knew he was at­trac­ted to me. Every­one is at­trac­ted to Pas­sion, no mat­ter how much some people may res­ist. His heart was already pound­ing when he said:

“If this is your gift…” he hes­it­ated, prob­ably try­ing to catch his breath be­fore my fig­ure; me, a na­kedGreek god. He was star­ing at me, un­blink­ing. “I want the re­ceipt. I want to be able to ex­change it for a new jacket”.

“Wait. What?”

I frowned try­ing to re­call some pre­ced­ent for such a situ­ation. Mor­tals didn’t be­have this way, what was the mat­ter with this boy?

“Do you know why I caught your ar­row in the air as if I’m Xena, The War­rior Prin­cess? Be­cause I knew it was com­ing. I can see the fu­ture, Cu­pid, and let’s say that fall­ing in love is not an at­tract­ive op­tion for someone with that kind of skill. I’ve seen enough people yearn­ing for things that I knew would not work out in the end. My­self in­cluded.”

“It’s not just your clothes that come from the nineties. Your ref­er­ences too…” I tried to soften the ten­sion with a joke. Al­though Cairo could pre­tend it didn’t work, the little smile I saw told me oth­er­wise. “I un­der­stand. You are afraid of fall­ing in love again be­cause you’ve been hurt be­fore.”

“I’m not afraid of any­thing,” he said, non­chal­antly.

“Psych­ics mustn’t tell lies, don’t you know? It af­fects their powers.” I warned him.

“It’s not a lie,” Cairo grated.

“You cer­tainly don’t think it is,” I shrugged. “But what if I as­sure you that this time it’s go­ing to be dif­fer­ent?”

“You can’t give me that guar­an­tee, Cu­pid.”

“Ah, okay then! The god of love can­not guar­an­tee any­thing, but your cer­tain­ties of which the sources are ‘The Voices In­side My Head’ and ‘It was re­vealed to me in a dream’, are un­ques­tion­able, aren’t they?” Cairo couldn’t res­ist any­more and laughed. “See? That’s what love can do for you. Give me one more chance and you will still laugh a lot, next to someone who ad­mires you, who re­spects you, and who thinks you’re a stud. Trust me; I’m very close to the gods in charge of dreams and what they showed me about Gael’s would make even my mother blush.”

Al­though he still laughed, Cairo was adam­ant. “It doesn’t work like that. I’ve seen dozens of people swear­ing eternal love and cheat­ing on one an­other. I’ve seen my best friends cry­ing while drink­ing liters of coke and eat­ing buck­ets and more buck­ets of ice cream be­cause someone broke a prom­ise and hurt them. I don’t have time for this. I will not fall in love. Never again.”

I snorted at the young witch’s petu­lance. The truth is, how­ever power­ful he was, his choice was lim­ited to how he would act in the face of his feel­ings. Cairo could even fore­see the pos­sible fu­tures born from such a link. Still, no mor­tal could choose not to fall in love. Nobody could.

End­ing the dis­cus­sion, he picked up the cups and headed for the liv­ing room. Gael had just left the bath­room and took the cup offered by his friend. Curi­ous about the changed ex­pres­sion in Cairo’s face, he asked: “Is everything ok?”


In­deed, things were not bad. They were just con­fus­ing. Sud­den and fleet­ing was the mo­ment when mor­tals real­ized that they had been over­come by pas­sion. They could deny it, try to bury it, run away un­til it was gone. They could choose to not live ac­cord­ing to the crav­ings that burned like flames within them­selves, but not to feel it was bey­ond their power. Touched by everything they had shared that night, Gael thanked him, already pre­par­ing to leave. “Time to go home. Thanks for the talk and the com­pany.”

“You don’t have to go. It’s dan­ger­ous to walk home alone so late. And be­sides, if you don’t mind shar­ing a mat­tress, I’ve got a room here. Or the sofa, if you’d like. The girls wouldn’t mind.”

Cairo looked at him in­tently. Al­most too close. Gael shook his head, clos­ing his eyes for a mo­ment.

“I have to go.”

“Why do you have to?”

Si­lence, and then:

“Be­cause if I stay here for an­other second…”

“What hap­pens?”

Gael hugged Cairo for a mo­ment and as he stepped back, he kissed Cairo good­bye on the cheek. How­ever, neither of them broke the hug. Cairo kissed him back on the cheek.

The third kiss they shared was on the lips, in­tense and sweet.

This hap­pens…” he sighed. “Good night, Cairo.”

Be­fore he could walk away com­pletely, Gael felt his friend hold­ing his arm.

“You still don’t have to leave. Un­less you want to. I for one want you to stay… hav­ing you around would make all the dif­fer­ence” he ad­mit­ted, pulling the other one back for an­other kiss, and then lead­ing him to his room. Gael was wrong in as­sum­ing that Cairo was the fear­less one.

That night, when they kissed for the first time, Cairo was not con­cerned with the fu­ture, with pre­dic­tions or whatever. He was com­pletely in the present mo­ment and that was when my ar­row struck him by sur­prise, without him be­ing able to an­ti­cip­ate it. I had wit­nessed enough couples com­ing to­gether to guar­an­tee some­thing: no mat­ter how many ar­rows were caught in the air, when the time was right, one would hit your heart.

Miguel Dracul

Miguel Dracul is 27 years old and is a fan of 90s series, RPG, and video­games. He was born in Campo Grande/MS, but grew up in the coun­tryside of São Paulo, in the city of Pres­id­ente Prudente. He has an un­der­grad de­gree in Psy­cho­logy at UN­ESP de As­sis. Dur­ing his un­der­gradu­ate course, he cre­ated the blog, Ob­scur­id­ade e Clar­id­ade [Ob­scur­ity and Clar­ity] in 2013.

He par­ti­cip­ated in the an­tho­lo­gies Além do Arco-Íris [Bey­ond the Rain­bow] (Rouxinol), De­cididos - Uma Cel­eb­ração Bis­sexual [Minds made up - a cel­eb­ra­tion of bi­sexu­al­ity] (Margem), Entre Portas e Histórias [Between Doors ands Stor­ies] (Bil­bbo), Histórias do Co­tidi­ano [A Daily Story] (Ver­lidelas), Tav­erna Bode Má­gico [The Ma­gic Goat Tav­ern], and Além do Sangue [Bey­ond Blood] (Sem Tinta), among oth­ers. Miguel is also a con­trib­utor to the Seleções Liter­árias web­site and an ed­it­or­ial pro­du­cer for Razzah Pub­lish­ers.


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