The Face That Weathered the Storm by Andrew Cadle ’18

Rio de Janeiro has been a cultural hub along the Southeastern coast of Brazil for over 400 years. Luella, a woman nearing the end of her lifetime, has lived in Rio her entire life. As a young girl, she dreamed of writing stories that would one day be kept in libraries and acted out on stage. Founded in 1810, the Biblioteca Nacional is the seventh largest library in the world and the largest in Central America. As a young girl, Luella would walk up and down the aisles, admiring the vast number of books in the library. Theatro Municipal, built in the central region of Rio in 1909, remains one of the most beautiful and important buildings in the area. Luella loved going to see plays at the theater with her mother throughout her childhood. When Luella was in secondary school, she began writing stories. At the time, Brazil was under the rule of a military dictator by the name of João Goulart. Goulart did not allow for the citizens to write freely because he feared that someone could speak out against him and his regime.

To avoid the harsh treatment of the regime, Luella moved up into the Tijuca Forest under Pedra da Gávea. Pedra da Gávea looks over the lively city, literally. Due to erosion, one side of the mountain resembles a face. Here, in a small wooden cottage, Luella began writing again, chasing her childhood dreams once more. Using a wood burning stove to keep warm, Luella spends her days writing in her cottage or walking throughout the trees, notebook in hand. Goulart’s regime ended in 1985 and Brazil returned to democracy. This ended the rampant censorship and allowed for new freedoms of expression, promoting creativity and experimentation in expressive culture. Luella knew that with the regime being overthrown, her writings could finally be released to the public, and maybe even find their way into a library or on stage. So, Luella began writing about the regime’s downfall.

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Far out in the South Atlantic Ocean, near the island of Trinidad, lived twin brothers, Lloyd and Floyd, and their little sister, Darby. When they were younger, the children’s parents went out to find the mainland and never came back. From this moment on, Darby became determined to find the mainland and figure out where their parents went. Floyd and Lloyd, on the other hand, were perfectly content with kicking back and living life. Darby was no man, woman or child though; Darby was a hurricane. Hurricane Darby was big, broad, and mean, but she hadn’t always been like this. Starting out small like the rest of us, Darby was known as a Cat 1. Being the baby, Darby got picked on by her older twin brothers, Floyd and Lloyd, for wanting to travel and find out where her parents went. Growing tired of the bickering, Darby was determined to travel and grow to be the biggest hurricane the world had ever seen and demolish whoever took her parents. Like her parents though, Darby didn’t know that days after reaching land, hurricanes weakened and eventually died off.

So, she set off.

Churning through the seas, Darby traveled every which way in search for the mainland, not knowing where exactly she was going. One calm morning, Darby spotted a mountain range in the distance––the southernmost tip of the Andes. She set her course for these hills, not caring if it was where her parents went or not. As she got closer and closer to the tail of South America, Darby picked up size and speed. Darby tore through coastal towns and villages alike while travelling Northeast towards one of Brazil’s most notable cities: Rio de Janeiro. Darby made sure to stay close enough to land to wipe out the coast, avenging her parents, but far enough away so that she wouldn’t get trapped on the mainland.

As Darby continued to ravage through the Southeastern coast of South America, she came upon the largest nation on the continent, Brazil. Having heard about the sheer size of Brazil from legends told as a kid, Darby figured that if her parents found land, it had to be along the 4,650 miles of Brazilian coastline. After sweeping through the southernmost part of the continent, Darby had grown to be one of the biggest hurricanes the world had seen, and she wasn’t slowing down. The farther north she got, the closer she got to the major cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. If Darby reached these cities, her already high death toll would skyrocket, given the combined population of 18.4 million people. Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo had seen two hurricanes in the past, but that was too long ago for anyone alive to remember. Therefore no one knew how to prepare for the coming storm, so they didn’t. Like his people, João Goulart stayed in Rio, attempting to “wait out” the storm, when in reality, he didn’t want to look weak to his people by fleeing the coastal region.

Not seeing her parents in São Paulo, Darby shredded through the massive city, leaving little behind, and set her course for Rio de Janeiro. Even though Rio’s population was just over half of what São Paulo’s was, Darby was not going to give up on finding her parents. As Darby began to rip through the southern reaches of Rio, Goulart saw the damage being done and began preparing to flee the city; Darby intended to prevent this, for she knew how harsh the leader was, and theorized that he had something to do with her parent’s disappearance. Darby was determined to hit Rio with everything she had. The Biblioteca Nacional and Theatro Municipal were among prominent buildings that were obliterated. Pages from books and scripts littered the skies above the area where these buildings formerly stood. Goulart and his cronies were engulfed in Darby’s might and were just a mere addition to the rising death count.

Hitting Rio came with an unforeseen price, though; Pedra da Gávea. Acting as the face that watches over the magnificent city, Pedra da Gávea calming stood tall and sturdy as Darby whirled through the city below and eventually smashed into the base of the mountain. Hurricane Darby slowly began to disperse and as she grew smaller and smaller, she realized that her parents’ search for the mainland resulted in their deaths.

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Living high up in the hills of the Tijuca Forest, Luella had completed her story. Isolated in the forest with no one to know about the status of her health, Luella passed peacefully in her chair, with her book,The Face that Weathered the Storm” closed on her desk. Luella would never live to see her dream of one of her writings be published or performed on stage, but her story of Hurricane Darby would in fact find its way on shelves and screens across the world.