My Street This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Few cars are seen passing on Rua José Portolano as the tropical sun makes its grand entrance. Only a few stray parrots, a mangy mutt, and a pigeon or two herald the start of the day. This hundred-meter stretch of crooked pavement located in Jardim das Imbuias on the south side of chaotic metropolitan São Paulo is lined with walls, iron gates, and an ­occasional palm tree. The cars that ­frequently bump up and down the road vary from an old beat-up VW bus to a new model VW bug.
Near the 8 o'clock hour, a hurried collegian pulls into his customary space parallel to the sidewalk. He jumps out and joins his fellow med school comrades in white. The other students sport sweats embossed with “Physical Education.” A buzz of excitement swirls as they hurry to join in the festivities of freshman initiation.
Another lone figure is seen off to the side of the cars. He too is in uniform: flip-flops and street clothes with a reflective jacket. Every day he takes up his post along the street's margins, faithfully guarding the vehicles left in his care. Throughout the lazy hours, this elderly gentleman sits and watches and casually converses with his fellow car keepers. In his comically high voice he gossips and laughs the afternoon away, keeping an eye on the cars but a vigilant watch for returning students, from whom he will collect payment.
Other more youthful students are plodding down the street and entering a green gate. These are the attendees of Pan American Christian Academy. Taking up almost the whole block, the walls of this fortified institute of learning are a pronounced feature on the quiet side road.
Sounds of laughter, bells announcing classes, buzzers governing sporting events, and buses rumbling to and from the far reaches of the city drift over the broken-glass-topped walls to the ears of the trash digger outside. The man's mind fills with fanciful images of hot lunches and beautifully fashioned garments, and he marvels at the possibility of understanding the curious inscriptions on the discarded boxes and bottles. His vision expands as he dreams of the riches the students enjoy, and he wistfully imagines his own children with those privileges. His elementary-age son and daughter giggle as they run past him, engaged in a game of their own making. His wife sits patiently in their open pushcart, awaiting the ­arrival of the school's trash.
The oversized gate creaks open and out clomps the school's maintenance worker, dragging a cart laden with bulging garbage bags. These bags are the primary source of the family's ­sustenance. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays without fail, they wait to carefully pick through the discarded items in search of treasures. The metal pop cans and scrap cardboard will bring in money. The janitor shares a rumor of a virtuous effort by one ­student to install recycling containers. This would spell doom in the mind of the father, who depends on the trash to support his family. He wonders how the wall of wealth can make someone so blind to his surroundings.
A bus growling through the gate with a puff of exhaust draws attention to the setting sun over the skyline of palm trees and cement walls. The students of both ­institutions have left, ­except for a few straggling veterinarians who are returning to their cars after a chaotic day at the animal hospital. By sundown, the only life along the street is the community of stray dogs hungrily picking through the trash, accompanied occasionally by a nosy horse or steer.
The night cools and the residents prepare their evening meals. On one end of the street, a missionary family from the Midwest United States prays over homemade pizza while music quietly plays. Wealthy Brazilian families will gather later for a traditional meal of rice, beans, and meat. A Brazilian college chancellor and his Dutch wife dine with their children and offer up a prayer for their eldest son, who is studying at Notre Dame. A retired professional soccer player and his young family gather at the opposite end of the street. The aroma of grilled garlic mixes with the sweat of the day and the paint fumes of the ­corner mechanic shop as the sun bids the world a colorful farewell.
The night deepens and most residents drifts off to sleep. But the night is still young for a motley crew gathering in the glow of the street lamp. ­Attired in black, graced with piercings and chains, and veiled in smoke, they meet to drink the night into a fitful bliss. Exchanges of money and substances occur in shadowy corners while the intoxicated hooligans shout and banter away their youth. An occasional brawl breaks the sacred silence of the night, and the dark is split with the flash of an explosion. Screams and gunned engines, then a wearied hush descends on the street. From the pre-dawn mist, a man on a bicycle makes his rounds, too late to catch the drunken action. “Twee-doo,” he ­whistles, announcing that the guard is passing by.
In the east, the sky churns with color and the birds begin to beckon the new day with song, as the sun once again enters from stage left.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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babar said...
Jul. 27 at 2:19 am
this is vry vry boring dnt waste your time go in to other website
 
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