Short Stories

Zoe's Ark

It’s raining a lot, a lot out there.

– What a flood! – says the mother.

“We’re lucky,” says his father, “here quiet and warm.”

Zoe is at the table with her older sister, Marina, their father, their mother, and their younger brother is sitting next to them in the high chair because he is still a baby.

Marina, who is already at school because she is big, has important things to say and, to tell them, uses long sentences:

– This morning, at recess, Mateus, you know, Frederico’s friend, the one who has a red nightgown with Zorro, well, he attacked Maria, you know, the one who was my friend but now it’s not because he went to say Clara in the pool, you know yesterday at noon that my socks smelled like rotten Camembert cheese.

Zoe, who is smaller, burst out laughing. She didn’t understand the whole story, only realized that one girl had said Marina’s socks smelled like rotten camembert. And that makes you want to laugh.

– It’s not funny! – splashes Marina. “Stop laughing, Zoe, or I’ll never talk to you again!”

“You have to change your socks every morning, honey!” – is the mother’s advice.

“Yeah,” mutters Marina. – That’s what i do. My socks don’t even smell bad!

“Now let me see,” Zoe asks.

Marina kicks off her slipper and puts her leg on the table to put her foot under Zoe’s nose, which sniffs it carefully.

“No, it doesn’t smell like rotten Camembert.” Just a little grated gruyère! Says Zoe.

– Hey, Marina, where do you think you are? Grunts his father. – Be good at the table, please. Go, eat.

Zoe liked to tell a lot of exciting things like her sister, but she doesn’t know what. Then you remember to say:

– Today I had a dream.

“Oh, what a beautiful phrase you just said, my dear.” One day an important person said the same thing that you…

– I had a dream too! Many, even! Marina said very quickly, so as not to think Zoe was the only one dreaming in the family.

And it goes on:

“I dreamed there was a peeled banana in the tub and I couldn’t grab it because it slipped like a soap!”

Zoe bursts out laughing. Marina’s dream is really funny! The older sister is lucky to have dreams like that.

Everyone laughs at Marina’s dream. Even Leonardo thinks it’s funny and laughs out loud, banging his spoon on his plate to show his good mood.

– Well, let’s calm down! – said the mother, because Leonardo’s mash is spraying everything and the walls do not need to eat mash to grow, while the baby, yes.

“And you, my dear, what did you dream of?” Dad asks Zoe.

“With animals,” Zoe says shyly.

No one laughs, of course. Dreaming of animals is less fun than dreaming of a banana in a bathtub.

Zoe sighs. Too bad your dream doesn’t make anyone laugh.

– What animals were they and what were they doing? – asks the mother.

Zoe no longer remembers there very well. He tries to invent something funny, something extraordinary that causes astonishment to everyone at the table.

But nothing comes to mind. And then Marina disturbs her a little because she says:

– I know! The cows mooed, the goats bleated, the lions roared, the ducks quacked … and the chickens … the chickens cluck!

She thinks she knows everything, Marina! Even about the animals in Zoe’s dream she thinks she knows! Get some nerves!

– Not! Says Zoe. “My dream was nothing like that.” You don’t know why you weren’t even there. Just me. Me, and the animals, see?

This shut up Marina.

“So what were your animals doing, huh?” Come on, tell me, since you know that! – orders Marina.

Suddenly Zoe has an idea. And it says:

– They were getting married.

Silence around the table. Zoe wonders if she said anything wrong. But not. The father said:

– It should be beautiful!

“It was,” says Zoe. – It was very beautiful. Mr. Leo with Mrs. Leão, Mr. Pig with Mrs. Pig, Mr. Galinha with Mrs. Galinha, Mr. Cow with Mrs. Cow…

“You mean the sow with the pig, the rooster with the chicken, the bull with the cow …” interrupts Marina.

– Not! Yells Zoe. – She’s in silence. She’s silent. You weren’t even in my dream, so you don’t know!

And it goes on:

“The animals were all in pairs, all in Indian marriage getting married. And ready. And just there I was watching.

And the more you think about it, the more Zoe is convinced that she really dreamed it. She almost remembers and is even seeing them!

“And then these animals where they all went?” Asked the mother.

At that moment, Zoe wonders for a moment.

Then it says:

– It was, it was…

Marina suggests:

– To the sea?

Zoe is tempted to say yes. It’s beautiful, a wedding at sea. He says yes with his head and Marina is happy because she guessed.

“Yes,” Zoe confirms. – went to the sea.

“And there,” says his father, “and lowers his voice to create mystery,” they got in Zoe’s boat!

Zoe’s mouth is open.

– How did you know? Asks Marina. – You weren’t in her dream either!

“I wasn’t,” says his father, “but I guess!”

– Yeah, Dad guessed, you have that right! – proclaims Zoe.

Marina pout a little.

“If I guess,” says his father, “it’s because, one day, a long time ago, a story like this happened. The animals, to escape a much worse flood than this one, entered in pairs, male and female, into a tightly closed boat that drifted for a long, long, long time, forty days and forty nights! A wonderful boat called the Ark! And do you know what the person who brought them into the ark was called?

– Noah! Yells Marina.

– Yes, Zoe! Yells Zoe in delight.

– Almost! – the father laughs.

– Almost.

“So Zoe copied the dream!” Muttered Marina. – Someone had dreamed it.

Zoe feels a little sad.

– Is not true! – she says.

– Why – says the father – no one dreams the same dream of someone else, it is impossible. But sometimes, perhaps, over a long time, dreams come together. Maybe…

It continues to rain.

“We won’t be able to go play in the public garden,” Marina laments.

“No,” says her mother, “they won’t, but it doesn’t matter.” They come up with a funny prank to do at home.

 “No,” says Marina sulkily. “We won’t find anything funny to do at home.” The only fun will be getting bored.

But Zoe has an idea.

– I’ll make the chest under the table.

– Noah’s Ark?

“Yes, Zoe’s ark,” says Zoe.

“I’ll help you,” Marina decides.

Zoe goes to the bedroom. He takes the bear in his pants and Marina takes hers, which has a skirt, and they sit them under the table, which is covered with a towel and makes her a great secret chest.

– Mr. Bear and Mrs. Bear! Exclaims Marina.

They return to their room and take a small motorcycle and truck.

– Come on, Mr. Truck! To the boat with Mrs. Mota!

And they put a Barbie with Superman and a balloon with a ball.

And then they’ll look around the house for other things to get married and take to Zoe’s ark:

Mr. Pente and Mrs. Brush;

Mr. Sapato and Mrs. Chinela;

Mr. Cup and Mrs. Cup… of coffee;

Mrs. Bottle and Mr. Perfume Bottle;

Mr. Pajamas and Mrs. Nightdress;

Mrs. Mustard and Mr. Ketchup;

Mrs. Cookie and Mr. Chocolate Chip Cookie!

Leonardo also appears with two smelly socks.

“Go away, Leo, it stinks!” Says Marina bursting with laughter.

“I don’t want it in my chest!” Protests Zoe. – Go away, Leo!

The mother takes off her socks.

Cats, Leonardo tries to enter the ark. Mess up a bit, sit on Mr. Ketchup, spill Mr. Bottle.

– Daddy, mommy! Shout Marina and Zoe. – Come get Leo, it’s bothering us!

– So girls! – says the father. “There’s still a little place in the chest for Leo!”

“No,” says Marina. – No more room, the boat will leave

– Make an effort! – continues the father.

The girls think a little.

“He can stay,” Zoe tells Marina. – He is Mr. Brother and you are Mrs. Sister!

– It’s ok.

– Leo! He is eating Mr. Cookie!

– Then we’ll have to eat Mrs. Cookie…

“With ketchup …” Zoe adds, dipping her leftover cookie into the ketchup that runs under the table.

– Come see! – says the mother. – The sun is back!

The children all put their heads out of the chest to see.

“Isn’t there a rainbow, girls?” – asks the father.

Marina and Zoe run to the window. They stretch their necks to see, but do not see.

“No,” says Marina. – There is not.

“I say so,” says Zoe. – No, Papa, there isn’t.

“Too bad,” says his father with a smile. – We did well without him.

“But in my dream there was one,” Zoe says. – With eight colors!

– Seven! – contradicts Marina.

– Eight! Yelled Zoe. – And shut up. You were not there!
  Jo Hoestlandt Zoe’s L’arche Arles, Actes Sud, 2003 Adapted Text

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