MY FATHER'S WIFE
Scipione Publishing House, São Paulo
Translated by Silvia Zanette Guimarães
From the age of 12
Some words about the book
Isabela is going through a difficult period. She finds herself obliged to deal with her parents' separation, besides the natural doubts brought on by adolescence. The diary is the space she finds to let out her doubts and anguish related to Aline, “her Dad's woman”, the turbulent relationship established between Daniel and Gabriela, her parents, and all the complexes that come with that age.
Isabela writes a diary where she talks about her life and her big problem at the moment: her parents are now divorced and she has to accept her father's new wife, Aline, a rich French paintress who came from Paris to live with him in São Paulo.
Isabela is very jealous of everything: Daniel, her father, and all the attention he gives to his new wife; the money they have together, much more than when the father was living with his first family; the jealousy, the hurt and the complains of Isabela's mother who sees herself as a victim; her young sister Jandira who is tender and has accepted the situation; and in special the beauty, the elegance and the happiness of Aline, who is a lady and tries to do everything she can to be Isabela's friend. The girl has eyes only for her pain and – more important - the collision of their cultures is inevitable.
When she finds out her mother has a new boyfriend and has lied to her all the time, she is so angry that things start to change...
Isabela likes drawing and it is with his art that Aline finds a language to talk to her. Lots of revelations come to Isabela: the ideas of Aline and the way she sees the Brazilian society; her past with a big tragedy which makes the girl really disturbed; and Isabelas' new boyfriend will help her to overpass her problems.
Below, the first pages of the book
Thursday, July 19
I changed journals, trying to start a new page in my life. I bought you, so nice and ornate. And you'll be even more so after I start drawing. But I'm forced to start my diary in a manner completely different from intended after being hit by this latest piece of news.
One weekend yes, one weekend no, you know how it goes. We go to my father's apartment, Uptown, or better, West Uptown, a much classier district, as my mom likes to say. And this was one of those no weekends, but he invited us to go to McDonald's, and, when that smarty decides to surprise us (my sister Jandira and I) then we start thinking, “he must want something”!
And sure enough: he was impatient and just burst right out, “Aline has moved to São Paulo - we've rented a house and we're going to live together.”
I didn't say a word.
Neither did Jandira.
“What do you guys think?” he asked, as if we really had to think something.
I looked the other way. A birthday party over in the corner of the room suddenly became very interesting to me.
Jandira just shrugged her shoulders and mumbled her favorite three words, “I don't care.”
My dad didn't know what to say.
Why does he think this is my problem? Let him live with anyone he wants. Makes no difference to me.
Of course, we already knew about this girlfriend of his. But she lived in Paris, you know how it is… She'd come visit him in São Paulo, and he'd fly to the capital of France to see her. I also knew they used to meet each other in other places around the world, but that was it.
To me, I always felt the French lady was just like any other girlfriend. When she was here, we would say we didn't want to go to his apartment, and we didn't. We didn't have the slightest yearning to know her, and it really didn't seem like he made much of a point of it either.
My mom got furious when I told her. She said that after a man finds another woman, he could care less about his kids. She's certain that very soon my dad won't even want us to visit him anymore.
I'll believe it when I see it!
Friday, July 20
I'm still a little groggy. My mom doesn't stop complaining, and look, she complains all the time! Now she's decided to start “complaining beforehand”. In other words, she's already fretting over things that haven't even happened.
Of course, her biggest concern is with the financial situation. Actually, with my mom, everything begins and ends with money. It's the highlight of her life, but who can say she's wrong?
She's always saying that my dad's alimony is too little, even though it pays everything for us: school, groceries, condominium fees, water, electricity, telephone, doctor, dentist, medicine, clothes, outings… Deep down inside, she's scared to death that he'll stop covering these costs. After all, she works as a real estate broker and doesn't really have a fixed income. When she sells something, things look pretty good, but sometimes she goes a few months without closing any deals. That's when she starts complaining about the market being bad, but she doesn't go look for any other work.
My mom wants my dad to give her the apartment, but he always says no. He says she can live in it for the rest of her life, but on paper, the property will always belong to both of them and should be left to us, the daughters.
He's something else, isn't he? Why can't he just put the thing in her name and let her have some peace of mind? What's it going to cost him?
As for my dad's girlfriend, my mom's sure he made a terrible choice.
“Can you imagine,” she says, “Daniel goes out and gets himself some French woman and brings her into his house. Who knows where she came from, what kind of life she led before, who she really is?”
And she goes about saying whatever comes to mind, a whole bunch of stuff I have no desire to go around repeating, but who can say she's not right?
Poor daddy, could he really be so dumb he never notices the stupid things he does? To walk out on a perfect woman like Gabriela, my mom, and go live with someone he barely knows?
My hair's a mess! I wanted to let it grow, but I can't, I get angry and end up cutting it. What to do. Curly hair's like hell. There are no creams, no brushes, to tame it! I've done everything, straightening, frizz reduction, but it only made it stick out all the more, and I think it looks even worse. Then you have those idiots who go around saying that angels have curly hair. I doubt it! I don't believe they're all blond, but I bet their hair is nice and straight.
I'm going to see if I can wash it and have it combed out for the weekend.
Saturday, July 21
My mom asked me if I knew how long my dad had been seeing this woman.
I caught on real fast. She was really trying to find out if they were still married when he met the French woman. Yeah, I'm pretty sure they were! But I didn't say anything so she wouldn't start crying all over again.
Man, did my mother ever cry when my dad left... I've got it all written down in the notebook with the black cover, but I'll never forget! Especially because I suffered and cried like crazy, too!
It was all so sudden... After a horrible fight, he just grabbed his things and left. My mom said he had gone on a trip, but he had actually just up and left.
She was a bundle of nerves... She cried over anything. Nothing Jandira or I ever did was right. And she kept repeating, like some broken record, “I did everything I could to make the marriage work, Isabela. I gave up everything I liked for Daniel. I just don't understand what went wrong,” and she would begin to cry again.
A few days later, my dad had a talk with us. He looked real sad, too. He said they were going to separate, but that everything would be all right. We shouldn't worry because they would always take care of us.
Grandma Sueli came to get us and we stayed with her for a week up in Belo Horizonte. Grandma said she wanted to leave our parents alone so they might reach some kind of understanding. But that never happened, and now I know whose fault that was! That good-for-nothing Frenchie! She was the one who stole my dad away from my mom.
I saw some pictures of her in his apartment. She's smiling in one, serious in another, and posing with a black cat. She makes me sick! Why doesn't she just stay back where she belongs and leave my dad in peace?
Vacation's almost over. I wonder what Mateus is doing?
He went traveling with his parents. I don't know where they went exactly, because he wanted to go to Disneyworld, but with the dollar as high as it is, his mom thought it best to go to northeastern Brazil. He was still trying to convince them both on the last day of classes, and I never did find out how the story ended.
I'm going to go eat a pizza with some friends tonight.
Sunday, July 22
I didn't do a thing this weekend and Sunday's almost gone. No doubt, this vacation was a real pain! I didn't even go to my grandma's out in the country! I could have gone, but she had to have some operation and she's still resting. My mom didn't let me go to my uncle's place. She doesn't like her sister-in-law very much and she always thinks there's going to be a lot of talking behind the back. As for her sisters, no news: two live alone, and the other two, with my grandma. That subject has always been a dead-end.
What about my dad's family? Oh, come on, everyone knows about that! They most definitely don't like my mom. And whoever doesn't like my mom, sure doesn't have to like me!
My mom says Grandma Sueli wanted a “classier” woman for my dad, which means loaded. And the two of them have had quite a few fights. My Grandpa keeps quiet, but I've heard him speak badly about my mom to my dad, calling the poor little thing egotistical and jealous.
Man, did I ever get mad at him. Can you imagine? To say something like that about my mom! She does everything for us. She lives to take care of her house and the people she loves. She doesn't go out, has no friends… What more do they want?
Her, jealous... How ridiculous! It's like she always says, they're nothing but a bunch of nitpickers.
I feel like going out, doing something, but it's no fun when you're by yourself. Some of my friends are around, but it looks like everyone's got something to do except for me.
I think I'll draw a little. I'm too lazy to write.
Monday, July 23
Wow! Another spectacle! Just to think that my dad is going to ask for a divorce so he can marry that French lady set my mother off. She says she won't accept it. She won't sign any paper whatsoever. If he thinks it's going to be easy to get rid of her, then he's got another thing coming! And then she makes a bunch of threats, but I don't know if she's saying that to him or just to me.
He just called a little bit ago and the two started to argue over the phone. I don't even know what he wanted, but she was so irritated she immediately started yelling.
My poor mom! She's in such a tough situation! Can't my dad see that? Doesn't he even feel just a little bit sorry for her?
Tuesday, July 24
My sister's really fat, and she just doesn't stop eating! Now me, on the other hand, I'm too skinny. But it's not the skinniness that bothers me, it's my whole body! I look like an ironing board: flat on one side, and flat on the other! When are my breasts ever going to start growing and popping out of my shirt, making me look provocative and sensual?
Drat! Two little thimbles! The only reason I wear a bra is so the little nipples don't show, because if it were for the size of my breasts, forget it!
And what in the heck am I going to do about this curly hair of mine?
Saturday, July 28
I really wanted to talk about Mateus. I haven't seen him since the beginning of vacation, but I can't stop thinking of my dad and that woman.
I met the work of art yesterday. We went to have dinner at my Aunt Silvia's and Uncle Luis' house. I think it was so more people would be around to keep conversation going. That was an excellent idea, because Jandira and I had already agree we wouldn't talk to her, which was actually not very difficult, since she keeps quiet most of the time. And when she does open her mouth, out comes this horrendous Portuguese, all wrong and with these throat-clearing sounds. When she talked to me, I just went "uh-huh" or "huh-uh", and reinforced the answer with my head so she'd be sure what I meant. I disappeared whenever I could so I wouldn't be forced to “say” more than that.
What did I think of her?
A bore. The predominant impression, a bore. Quite a bore. An extreme bore.
Let me describe the type for you. She's always posing: chic, charming, delicate to move and talk, elegant. Oh man, really stuck up. Tall, but not too much; thin, but with nice thighs, butt and breasts (I bet they're silicone!); her blond and super straight hair is waist-length, her teeth are just perfect in front, but all full of fillings in the back, because I saw them when she laughed. The only thing nice about her were her blue eyes, which I must confess I did find pretty, with their long, dark lashes. But we already know it's probably all make-up.
Everyone just kept fawning over her and it made me sick!
I can't explain it, but she kept watching me way too much. It's kind of funny, because she stares at me with this half empty look, as if she were thinking about something else, or even seeing another person. She's probably curious about me, but if you really want to know, I'm not the least bit curious about her. I know all about her kind!
Sunday, July 29
I forgot to mention she brought me a present: a perfume from Paris. It's one of those real nice and (of course!) expensive kinds, and a body lotion and a bar of soap. When she handed me the package, I didn't want to accept it. Who wants a present!? What I want is for my dad to come back home and for everything to be like it used to, not some gift from the woman who's taking my dad away. But, she insisted, and then in English, and very slowly, so she was sure I understood, she said, “When I buy a present for a person, I only give it to that person. So, if you don't want it, I'll go throw it in the garbage right now."
Now that was just too much! Not that I really believed it, but it was best to not take any chances. So I took the package and left it in a corner on top of some piece of furniture. I didn't thank her or open it. But then, later on, I was just too curious and took a look: wow! So cool! But I didn't say a word and I'm not even going to wear it near her.
Later on Jandira showed me the present she got. A doll dressed like a can-can dancer and a girl's perfume. She went nuts... I soon realized the little snot was starting to fall for the French lady and I told her off.
“So, now you're going to betray mommy too, huh?”
She started crying. I turned away from her in bed and went to sleep.
Monday, July 30
I doubt it's true, but she loves to pose as a famous painter. I bet no one has ever heard of her before here in Brazil! When she starts talking about her exhibits and the awards she's won, I just walk away. Her Portuguese is terrible and my dad has to translate for everyone to understand. It's a real pain, but they all just stand there fawning over her! And what's worse, I don't even want to hear it!
My mom won't pronounce her name. She just says Fifi, which is short for “your daddy's French poodle”. She says that the French don't like to bathe, but I don't know about that… That French person sure smells nice! She definitely wears plenty of perfume.
And her hair, every day... Well, it's best to not even bring that up!