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Hugo Mezena




Translated by Jackie Hopkins



THE NEW NORMAL IS THE NEW NORMAL IS THE NEW NORMAL IS THE NEW NORMAL



They were at home. I mean inside their house, not in the normal sense of the phrase, but stuck inside. It was that detail, more than anything else, which made all the difference. They were the most ‘ordinary’ people you could imagine. They lived in a nice part of town. It wasn’t the most expensive area, but they could say where they lived without feeling even slightly awkward. They didn’t go away on holiday every year, nor could you tell just from the way they dressed that they couldn’t do whatever they wanted. They were, in fact, people who saw themselves as being just like anyone else. Nobody would ever vote for them if they entered a TV contest but they weren’t so void of personality that new friends would start to drift away a few months after they’d met. Neither of the two was brilliant, but nor were they so boring that you’d break out in a cold sweat at the thought of spending an hour in their company. They weren’t the type of people about whom you might say “hey, let's go for dinner with the so-and-sos but make sure you don’t let them talk too much”. In truth, nothing about their day-to-day lives made them feel special. They had just never thought of themselves as people whose lives could be thrown off course in the way that they were. Their names were Mateus and Alice, they were forty-two and were in charge of project development for a big multinational which was restructuring its business plan. Under normal circumstances, they would have been more than happy to get the chance to sit on the sofa for as long as they wanted, but since all of this had begun, they were finding it hard to spend their days productively. Mateus had found a broken tile behind the fridge which had led to him spending more time than usual in the kitchen. Alice would sometimes see him on all fours doing his best to fix the problem. The multinational might be keeping them on in spite of turnover decreasing by a third in the last year. Perhaps their contracts would be renewed. There was no way of knowing. The only thing they knew for sure was that nothing would go back to how it was before – before the restaurants closed, the shops shut, before everything was so silent and still that their every move, everything they did, each of their deepest and most insignificant thoughts took on a harrowing air of sadness. Their names were Mateus and Alice. There were times when the broken tile was truly intolerable. They had already debated closing off the whole area with a plastic sheet. There was duct tape in the second drawer from the top next to the stove. Their names were Mateus and Alice. Their names were Mateus and Alice. Another possibility was to find a house where they could actually live. Another city. A new planet where they could start afresh. Their names were Mateus and Alice. Their names were Mateus and Alice. Their names were Mateus and Alice.



 

Hugo Mezena is the author of Gente Séria (novel) and As Velhas (short narrative). He has written opera librettos, as well as two melodramas for narrator and piano, A cidade, o gato, and A praça, o tambor. Some of his works have resulted in pieces of visual art and music. He lives in Lisbon.


Jackie Hopkins was born in Llantrisant, Wales, and studied Beginners’ Portuguese and Spanish at Lincoln College, University of Oxford. She studied a module in Advanced Translation as part of her degree and has been involved in translation projects for the Iguaçu National Park (Brazil), and ‘Colegio Santa Ana’ school (Spain). She has lived in Brazil (where she worked in the Iguaçu National Park), and also in Spain, Morocco, and Japan, where she worked as a qualified TEFL teacher. She has a great interest in language learning and is currently focusing on learning Arabic (Moroccan dialect) and Welsh. She hopes to complete a MA in translation studies in the near future.

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