NOW WE SING
When Elis Regina died, she held her hands to her mouth as if to stifle a cry. Tears wet her eyelashes as it dawned on her that where she found herself was neither Heaven nor Hell. She left our world in 1982, around the same time the two halves of the great beyond were merged into one. This new co-ed system was a result of an epiphany of the Almighty: there were no completely good or completely bad people. All human beings were a mixture of both good and evil.
The Seraphim were not completely on board with this idea. “What about …?” They rattled off their list of the usual public enemies. God replied, “Even [name of any monster] sings to his grandchildren.”
The Seraphim were further shocked when a subsequent landmark decision proclaimed (with loud trumpet blasts) that not only were Transpeople right, but that from then on, God would use the new holy pronouns: they/them/their because, as They put it, no deity should be merely a Him or Her. God shut down the Seraphim’s arguments with ease.
“Don’t be so hypocritical,” he said to the indignant angels.
Elis arrived just in time to see this heady, new hybrid eternity. She stood in a hazy field of light that reminded her of a womb—what a womb might be like on the inside if a strong light were shining on it. It was a domed space that went on and on in all directions, and a soft peachy light bathed her face. Looking down, she noticed the tag still attached to her big toe and removed it. She was standing on something warm and dark reddish mauve. Its softness soothed her bare feet.
No. This was only a remembrance. There was no soothe and there was no softness.
She wanted so much to share her joy with someone. This was not Hell, where she’d always assumed she would go. Her life had been a wicked, wild ride, yet she had been loving, a good mother to her children. She wiped her phantom tears with the back of her hand and squinted. There were dark figures all around, and similarly alone, but too hazy to make out. They wandered away from her before she could call out to them. Elis would walk around like this for ten of our years before she found a person to talk to.
One day, (for us, to her the days were imperceptible) she heard a voice, and she turned around.
"Hermana, ¿no tendrás un pitillo?" (Got a smoke, sis?)
She looked into the smiling face of Cameron de la Isla.
"Com a escassez de ultimamente, faz tempo que não fumo. Eu sinto muito.”
(Since there's a shortage lately, it's been a while since I smoked. Sorry.")
She smiled back.
"Bueno, es igual." (No worries.)
He spoke to her in Spanish, and she responded in Portuguese, yet they understood each other perfectly. They were happy to share this new kind of moment outside of time, walking and talking. There was not much else to do. Each had heard of the other, of course. although their respective musical traditions were so different. The cadence of her Samba was strange to his ear, and for her, she found a Seguiriya impossible to count.
He told her his real name was José Monje Cruz, and she said that everyone knew that. He was famous the world over, except in the States, where if he was known, folks might remember him as that Shrimp Island guy.
In life, Elis was five years older than José, but she was only thirty-six when she died. He was forty-one. They laughed at that.
"Estás buena," he said. (You're very sexy.)
Then all of a sudden, he was sad, and now no words were needed. The sadness was mutual because neither one could feel themselves hugging or being hugged.
"Me cago en to', ¿y ahora qué?" (Holy shit, now what do we do?)
"Vamos cantar agora, cara."(Now we sing, dear.)
"Ah coño, por supuesto. Nos quitan la’ sensacione' corporale', pero la voz no hay quien nos la quite." (Ah, hell, yeah, of course. They can take away our physical sensation, but no one can take away our voices.)
"Sim fin." (Forever after.)
He was so happy, he kissed her on the forehead, knowing full well her skin would not feel it.