Flávia didn't think herself beautiful. She thought herself too thin, too far off the mark of the voluptuous women the men sought out.
I disagreed. The first time we met, I thought, this is the most beautiful woman in my world.
Flávia spent most mornings at the river. Even on days when her laundry load was light, she'd toss the dirty clothes into a bucket, hoist it onto her head, and walk the mile-long trail down to the water with her friends.
They'd arrive and claim their washing spots along the riverbank, each lugging a craggy rock to the bank on which they could scrub their clothes, splashing river water over each item and squeezing them out against the rock until the water ran clean into the stream.
Flávia made a show of washing jeans - her jeans, her daughter's jeans, her husband's jeans, her friends' jeans, and on. She'd grab onto the waistband, hurl them into the air in a spiral over her head, and slap them down onto the rock beneath her, letting out a war cry when the jeans made contact. Water would splash around her and she'd laugh, and it never was clear why the centripetal force was necessary, but it didn't matter.
Beauty evolves all around us, constantly. Flowers bloom, paint dries, water appears at the bottom of a well over and over again. We discover new wonders. We witness beauty transforming in our friends who are growing and learning. Perhaps there is a kind of law of conservation of beauty, because on most good days, it's not destroyed, it just changes form.
Flávia was very good at hiding the things that were not beautiful in her life. Mana Katarina, você tem secreto? It means: sister, can you keep a secret?
We see people who adapt to change gracefully. We see people who struggle to accept it. But eventually, the outcome is the same - we've either adapted, or we're dead. It's simple.
When Flávia and her husband split up, she became brazen, unafraid - to talk back, to tell the truth, to tell lies.
She and her daughter, Cesária, grew to be inseparable. Flávia centered Cesária in every decision, ensuring she had access to the best schools and instruction, and that she was surrounded by people who loved her.
And so she chose to devote her life to the one person who truly needed her.
She is the sixth in the story of the great danes.
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