LAquilone du Estrellas

Dean Francis Alfar

L'Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars)
By Dean Francis Alfar
6 January 2003

The night when she thought she would finally be a star, Maria Isabella du'l Cielo struggled to calm the trembling of her hands, reached over to cut the tether that tied her to the ground, and thought of that morning many years before when she'd first caught a glimpse of Lorenzo du Vicenzio ei Salvadore: tall, thick-browed and handsome, his eyes closed, oblivious to the cacophony of the accident waiting to occur around him.
Maria Isabella had just turned sixteen then, and each set of her padrinos had given her (along with the sequined brida du caballo, the dresses of rare tulle, organza, and seda, and the diadema floral du'l dama -- the requisite floral circlet of young womanhood) a purse filled with coins to spend on anything she wanted. And so she'd gone past the Calle du Leones (where sleek cats of various pedigrees sometimes allowed themselves to be purchased, though if so, only until they tired of their new owners), walked through the Avenida du'l Conquistadores (where the statues of the conquerors of Ciudad Meiora lined the entirety of the broad promenade) and made her way to the Encantu lu Caminata (that maze-like series of interconnected streets, each leading to some wonder or marvel for sale), where little musical conch shells from the islets near Palao'an could be found. Those she liked very much.
In the vicinity of the Plaza Emperyal, she saw a young man dressed in a coat embroidered with stars walk almost surely to his death. In that instant, Maria Isabella knew two things with the conviction reserved only for the very young: first, that she almost certainly loved this reckless man; and second, that if she simply stepped on a dog's tail -- the very dog watching the same scene unfold right next to her -- she could avert the man's seemingly senseless death.
These were the elements of the accident-waiting-to-happen: an ill-tempered horse hitched to some noble's qalesa; an equally ill-tempered qalesa driver with a whip; a whistling panadero with a tray of plump pan du sal perched on his head; two puddles of fresh rainwater brought about by a brief downpour earlier that day; a sheet of stained glass en route to its final delivery destination at the house of the Most Excellent Primo Orador; a broken bottle of wine; and, of course, the young man who walked with his eyes closed.
Without a moment's further thought, Maria Isabella stepped on the tail of the dog that was resting near her. The poor animal yelped in pain; which in turn startled the horse, making it stop temporarily; which in turn angered the qalesa driver even more, making him curse the horse; which in turn upset the delicate melody that the panadero was whistling; which in turn made the panadero miss stepping into the two puddles of rainwater; which in turn gave the men delivering the sheet of stained glass belonging to the Most Excellent Primo Orador an uninterrupted path; which in turn gave the young man enough room to cross the street without so much as missing a beat or stepping onto the broken wine bottle; which in turn would never give him the infection that had been destined to result in the loss of his right leg and, ultimately, his life.
Everyone and everything continued to move on their own inexorable paths, and the dog she had stepped on growled once at her and then twisted around to nurse its sore tail. But Maria Isabella's eyes were on the young man in the star-embroidered coat, whose life she had just saved. She decided she would find out who he was.
The first twenty people she asked did not know him. It was a butcher's boy who told her who he was, as she rested near the butcher's shop along the Rotonda du'l Vendedores.
"His name is Lorenzo du Vicenzio," the butcher's boy said. "I know him because he shops here with his father once every sen-night. My master saves some of the choicest cuts for their family. They're rather famous, you know. Maestro Vicenzio, the father, names stars."
"Stars?" Maria Isabella asked. "And would you know why he walks with his eyes closed? The son, I mean."
"Well, Lorenzo certainly isn't blind," the butcher's boy replied. "I think he keeps his eyes closed to preserve his vision for his stargazing at night. He mentioned he had some sort of telescope he uses at night."
"How can I meet him?" she asked, all thoughts of musical conch shells gone from her mind.
"You? What makes you think he will even see you? Listen," the butcher's boy whispered to her, "he only has eyes for the stars."
"Then I'll make him see me," she whispered back, and as she straightened up, her mind began
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