It’s Friday, November 13, 2020, and Antônia Silveira Cruz has just gotten home from school. She’s in her second year in Agriculture and Forestry at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. She wants to help save the Rain Forest. There’s not a mean bone in her body.
Antônia’s phone rings, it’s Vivien, her BFF.
“Hi Vivi, how’s things? Any good luck for Friday the 13th?”
“Hi Tôni sweetie, everything’s chill. I’m so excited! There’s a big party tomorrow night on Sugarloaf! It’s been so long! I’m so tired of being cooped up, it’s about time! It’ll be fire!”
“Lowkey I’m a bit shaky about going to a big party. The corona is still going around. I don’t wanna catch it.”
“Oh, common Tôni baby, it won’t be the same without you, all the Fam is coming. Yasmin, Efi, Zilda, Kari, Xerazade, Yara, and BOYS, Cauã, Enzo, Ravi…”
“You know I don’t care about the boys, I’ve got my Alex, he’s all I need!”
“Yeah, but he’s coming too, Cauã’s his BF, and maybe you haven’t noticed, but Efigênia flashes for Alex. You wouldn’t want her to steal your man now, would you?”
"Alright, I’ll be there. Bet."
“I knew you wouldn’t let me down honey.”
The two BFFs ramble on for about an hour as young women will do. After virtual kisses and hugs they hang up. Antônia is still nervous, but she has to go, she promised.
As soon as they hang up, she sees a message from Alexander. ‘Call me.’
“Hi Tôni, spilling the tea for hours with Vivien like usual, I guess you heard the news from her, right? We got DJ Allana, it’ll be hard, and that's on periodt."
“Yeah, she told me it’s on Sugarloaf, and that all the Fam’ll be there.”
“I’ll pick you up around eight, OK? Cauã and Efi are riding with us, it’s their first date.”
“Eight’s fine. See you tomorrow luv, good night.”
“Is everything OK? You sound pressed, I thought you’d be thrilled.”
“I’m just tired, no cap, and I have a paper to write for next Thursday, before the 3-day weekend. BTW, my Family’s having a barbecue next Friday, all my cousins, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.”
“Forget about your paper for now, chill, it can wait, you have all week. We finna get lit tomorrow night! Live your best life, YOLO, Carp Diem babe.”
“Alright, I’m so glad you’re here, I love you my Alex, don’t worry, I’ll glow up for you.”
“Good night Antônia, I love you too.”
She thinks as she hangs up ‘I don’t have anything to wear. I wasn’t expecting this.’ She texts Vivien “Shopping 2moro 4 new fit?” The answer comes back in a flash.
“Deadass my whip R URs?”
“U drive. 10?”
Vivien shows up right on time the next morning and they hit the streets to find their gear for the evening. It’s the first party since before the lock down and they want to look their best. They head straight to the Av. das Américas and they do the New York City Center, Barra Mall, and Village Mall. Not many people are wearing their masks anymore, as the number of corona cases has been dropping steadily. After 4 hours, having lunched together, they’ve both found their party outfits. Vivian has an emerald satin wrap detail dress with a plunging neckline and emerald high-heeled sandals, and Antônia is bubbling now and ready to party, with a grey and pink off-the-shoulder floral jacquard mini dress. She also found a square-neck skater dress with the same floral pattern for the family barbecue. Vivi drops her friend back at her house. All of the worry of the evening before has faded and joyful anticipation has taken its place.
When Alex arrives to pick Antônia up, her rival Efigênia is sitting up front with him, and Efi’s date Cauã is in the backseat by himself.
“Move it Efi, if you don’t wanna catch these hands, your place is with Cauã,” Her threat is softened by a warm and sincere smile. She’s confident. Alex is hers. “Nice fit. You’re snatched.” She compliments Efi on her look as she opens the door for her and waits to take her place up front. Efi is super sexy with a black velvet drape combi, a sleeve crop top and split midi skirt. Antonia can’t help but notice Alex’s eyes flirting with Efi’s thighs as she moves.
“Thanks, no sweat, you’re right, I was just warming the seat for you, sis. Your fit slaps too.” Efi smiles back. They like each other, and rivalry for guys is normal, as long as there are no dirty tricks or backstabbing.
Now that her rival is in the backseat, Alex’s eyes are now feasting on his Antônia, a whole meal. Her bubbly spirit perks him up. “Brilliant vibes! You promised a glow up and you delivered FedEx.”
On Sugarloaf, the music is already blasting when they get to the outdoor party. DJ Allana is one of the top DJs in town, so it’s big, and there’s not a mask in sight. Their group of friends all wave to join them. All the energy that’s been stifled for months is vibrating in the air as everybody lets loose, drinking, dancing, singing, clapping, loving, and all without a care in the world.
Everything will be alright, Antônia reassures herself as she goes to bed happy early Sunday morning. Finally, Efi hit it off really well with Cauã, and they’ve agreed to double date often.
As soon as she wakes, Antônia doubles down on her paper. It’s the Proclamation of the Republic Day and everything is closed anyway. She doesn’t think about anything else until she’s finished, just in time for the deadline. It’s already Friday, and the family barbecue. It’s Black Consciousness Day, so it’s a national holiday. Just like for the party, with the lock down they’ve hardly seen each other all year and everyone is eager to meet again like before. Decked out in her new grey and pink floral dress, Tôni’s the hit of the reunion, and there are kisses and hugs all around. It’s wonderful to be able to get close again. Only some of the boomers are wearing protective masks.
Ten days go by and Antônia’s mood is still as bubbly. She’s enjoying life and spending time with Vivi, Alex, Efi, and Cauã. Her studies are going well and everything seems wonderful. Friday evening after school her mother knocks on her door. “Tôni?”
“Yes mom, what is it?”
“Can I come in?”
Her mother closes the door behind her, sits on her bed, and beckons her to sit side by side. Her face is full of worry. She buries her face in her hands and starts to cry. Tôni puts her arm around her neck and tries to comfort her.
“What’s the matter mom?”
“The whole family’s falling ill. So far 15 of us have tested positive. Your Aunt Márcia and my dad are in the hospital. Someone at the barbecue must have infected everyone. You’ll need to go to the laboratory tomorrow and get a blood test too.”
“But I’m not sick mom, I’ve never felt better.”
“Even if you’re not sick, you might have the virus. Some people don’t get sick, and for some it’s terrible. We all have to test.”
Antônia is suddenly overwhelmed and breaks down sobbing in her mother’s arms as she realizes what’s happened. “It’s all my fault!”
“What do you mean? Nonsense. Of course it’s not your fault. Any one of us could be the carrier.”
Antônia’s words come out bit by bit, stuttering and punctuated by sobs. “No, it’s me… I infected… everyone. I don’t… even… have to do a… test to know it.”
“Don’t be silly.”
“I hu hu hugged and kissed… everyone, and and just… the weekend bebefore I was at a big… concert on… Sugarloaf. We were… all da dancing and having… fun. I should have… listened to my… conscience. I was wo worried… about going, but I…just missed my… friends so much. It had… been so long… since we had a… good… time… together.”
“Shhh, It’s alright. We’ll go do your blood test tomorrow darling. Maybe you’ll test negative.”
Antônia tests positive, as do all of her friends. Eighteen members of her family fall ill and eventually three of the older ones pass away.
The grey and pink off-the-shoulder floral jacquard mini dress and the square-neck skater dress are given to charity. She can’t stand the sight of them anymore.
Now, Antônia knows the meaning of that old saying ‘After the party’s over’.
Fiction based on a true story.