Sopheap Pich, Drip from the Ratanakiri Valley, Sculpture, 160 × 231,1 × 7,6 cm, 2012.


Will transparency make us free?

Once again, not even the fogging of his eyes obscured the crystallinity of the panes; again she smiled discreetly. France. Ever since she had become President of the country, every dawn of the fourteenth of March was like this.

The “survival cells” – designed to ensure the maximum survival of their occupants at any cost – were five: one for “The monster” (in the center), and one for each of his children (numbered 01 to 04, all around cell 00, from the parent). The entire structure was absolutely transparent and remained so, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, year after year.

“The monster” and his children were taken there shortly after being found guilty of different crimes against humanity during the 2020 pandemic. Faced with the verdict, the 2040 People's Congress decided on the maximum penalty: exemplary collective survival. The five would be kept alive at all costs for as long as possible, and they would spend every day for the rest of their lives in adjacent but separate cells, in total sound isolation. And absolutely transparent.

When he got to 00, “The monster”, by then quite old, had just recovered from his third stroke. He had been brought back from a coma to the nation's general delight. He just vegetated, it's true, but it wouldn't be fair if he died without paying for his crimes. That was the allegation of the then deputy, now president.

Today, five years after that historic session in which she was also acclaimed as the country's highest representative, she was moved by the perfect crystal translucency of the survival cells exposed twenty-four hours a day to public observation. Inside them, the deadly (but now exemplary and harmlessly pedagogical) hatred in the eyes of her grandmother's killers.

Hers, the president's surviving granddaughter, were blurry.

* Luciano Nascimento He is a professor of Federal Technical and Technological Basic Education at Colégio Pedro II.

Originally published in the OFF-Flip/2021 Prize short story collection.

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