The Romantic on The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Monday, December 9, 2013

Romantic Musings: The Romantic (pt 4)

Hadriel Alighieri had thought about Sophia Paula every moment of every day. When he roamed through the halls of his novels and books of myth, he pictured Sophia Paula as the heroine in the stories, and the goddesses of legend. He had secretly decided that one day he would write his own novel, and she would be the leading lady of his love story.
He gathered information about her family. Hadriel Alighieri had quickly learned that Dr. Fermin Luis Paula had once been an understudy of Dr. Juan-Gabriel de la Vega, the town’s previous physician. They worked together in La Ciudad, many years ago. Before Dr. Juan-Gabriel de la Vega journeyed north to Santa Lucia to visit his childhood friend, Padre Carlo Coelho. He remained in Santa Lucia; a small town nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain range after Padre Carlo Coelho explained the town’s need for a physician.
In the aftermath of the hurricane however, his body was found floating in the Santa Catarina River. Blue and bloated, it arrived on the banks, his lifeless eyes frozen wide at the unexpected arrival of death. The funeral would have lasted three days had his body not suffered the various stages of decay. After the one day, closed casket funeral, Padre Carlo Coelho had sent word to Dr. Fermin Luis Paula to come immediately.
And he did.
Within a matter of weeks, Dr. Paula arrived with his wife, La Señora Keila Paula and their only daughter, Sophia. Despite the handsome appearance of the doctor, it was evident that Sophia Paula inherited her elegance from her mother. La Señora Keila possessed an ageless beauty. The soul of a goddess lingered behind the brown veil of her almond shaped eyes. She was taller than most of the women in the village. Her smile was elegant and mature with auburn hair that fell in gentle waves just beyond her shoulders.
Swathed in a white alpaca dress, she glided across the cyan colored tile floor when she led Hadriel Alighieri through the long gallery. Sculptures and frescoes lined the walls. Sunlight fell between the pillars and provided adequate lighting.
“Hadriel Alighieri, come in,” Dr. Paula beckoned the boy when they arrived at the door to his office in the rear of the mansion. He sat behind a burgundy oak wood desk. A matching hutch and bookshelves lined the walls behind him, filled with numerous volumes of leather bound books.
Hadriel stepped forward. He observed copies of The Iliad and The Odyssey and The Arabian Knights amid medical encyclopedias. La Señora Keila took her leave, but the scent of lilac lingered.
“Do you always carry books with you?” Dr. Paula motioned for Hadriel to take a seat.
“Yes, doctor.” Hadriel’s stomach twisted in knots. The intensity of Dr. Paula’s green eyes gave Hadriel the impression that he could read his mind and hear the secret in his heart.
“May I?” Dr. Paula held out his hand.
Hadriel Alighieri handed him the brown leather bound book. Dr. Paula turned it over and examined the binding before he glimpsed the title and opened the book.
“The Divine Comedy.” He perused through the pages. With expert hands he explored its texture and condition. “Have you finished reading it?”
“Twice. This is my third read.” Hadriel shifted in his seat.
Dr. Paula nodded, impressed. “Which would you say is your favorite verse?”
“And I was told about this torture, that it was the Hell of carnal sins when reasons give way to desire.” Hadriel Alighieri recited the verse from memory.
“Tell me, young man, do you consider yourself a religious person?”
Hadriel Alighieri was perplexed by the question. He did not see the relevance. He had come for his check up, and with the hope of seeing Sophia Paula. He had not come to discuss theology. Never the less, he answered the question.
“No doctor, I do not.”
“Yet, you attend church every Sunday.”
“I like a good story.” Hadriel shrugged.
Dr. Fermin Luis Paula chuckled and returned the book. When he concluded his examination, Dr. Paula directed Hadriel Alighieri to wait in the garden. He would send for Sophia momentarily. The boy nodded and thanked him.
“Your father mentioned that you play the piano.”
“I know how to play, yes, but the only piano in town is at the church, and I only go there for Sunday mass.” To see Sophia, he thought.
“I have considered buying one for Sophia to learn how to play. Would you be willing to teach her?” Dr. Paula approached. “I will pay you for the lessons.”
“There’s no need for payment, doctor. I will gladly do it for free.” Hadriel Alighieri’s heart filled with hope.
“I know you will, but I will pay you anyway. For in the Good Book it says to pay revenue to whom revenue is owed.”
“Romans thirteen, seven.” Hadriel Alighieri said.
“You are familiar with the Bible.” Dr. Paula noted.
“I am familiar with many works of fiction.”
Though they attended different schools, for she studied at the Academy of Santa Lucia, a private school for daughters of noble families, they spent the afternoons together. Now everything was quite different from how it was the day they first met. Beyond the piano lessons, over the years, they had become inseparable.
They shared a passion for books and art. They loved music and dancing to the point of obsession, and went to fiestas together in the various villages throughout the province. One night in particular, Hadriel Alighieri introduced Sophia Paula to his friend Julia Loren. She attended the same school as he, and until that night, Hadriel Alighieri was oblivious to her secret crush on him.
Julia had agreed to meet at San Pedro Garza Garcia, a neighboring province to the west where La Mafia—a four-time Grammy Award winning band—had appeared to perform. When Julia Loren saw Sophia Paula, her lovely smile vanished. Julia's reddish brown hair fell over her shoulders, and complimented her hazel eyes. Her kindness broke past the toughest barriers of a person, because she genuinely cared about people. Hadriel Alighieri however, hadn't gotten close enough to her to discover how sensitive she truly was.
She had lingered for a while, then Sophia Paula and Hadriel Alighieri decided to formulate a dance routine on the spot, and after ten minutes of crash-course style rehearsal among the crowded partygoers, they took their spontaneous act to the middle of the dance floor. The crowd parted like the Red Sea. Once their set concluded, they fell into each other's arms, and walked to the refreshment bar where they laughed and talked.
"You know that girl likes you, right?" Sophia said mid-laughter.
"Who? What girl?" Hadriel scanned their immediate vicinity.
"Julia!" She answered.
"What? No!" Hadriel waved off her observation.
"I'm serious!" Her emerald eyes held his gaze.
Hadriel simply shook his head, and smiled.
"Aren't you going to ask how I know?"
"What if I don't want to know?"
"But she's really pretty, Hadriel!"
"I never said she wasn't pretty."
"Then—?" Sophia asked. Curiosity swirled in her eyes when she turned her entire body towards him.
"Then, what?" Hadriel asked.
"Then, if you think she's pretty, don't you like her?"
"Of course I like her. She's a nice girl, and a good friend, but liking someone, and being interested are two entirely different things."
"Enlighten me?"
"Well, I can fall into like for a pretty smile, everyone does that; but it takes a whole lot more than that to make me fall in love. Friendship, for instance is rumored to be the foundation for love. As a friendship blossoms, that's how we find love."
"You've got it all figured out, huh?"
"No, not all, but I believe I have a grasp on the fundamentals."
She smiled and shook her head before taking a drink from her bottled water, but not once turning away her gaze. "Want to get out of here?"
"Sure." He shrugged, and they returned to Santa Lucia.
As they had done for the previous five years, they sat in the garden under the moon. They discussed their styles of prose, and artistry, because they both wrote poetry, and shared a propensity for sketching. They talked about their inspiration, their dreams, and how dancing was exercise for the soul.
Over the years, their friends had left for El Norte. The American border merely a few hours away had lured many in search for work. Though their parents had refused to let them attempt the perilous journey, they loved everything about America: the music, the movies, the books and the sports.
They compared their musical libraries, and found their tastes to be identical. Both favored the American R&B group Jodeci over Boyz II Men, despite the more harmonious vocalization style of the group from Philadelphia. Despite their Latin heritage, they contemplated how it was possible that they loved Italian gravy, but hated tomatoes.
They agreed that one-day, they would go Chicago and watch the Chicago Bulls play in the Chicago Stadium. They were avid fans of Michael Jordan, though Sophia Paula preferred to begin watching the games in the fourth quarter, which too often led to a debate about the lack of team loyalty and the meaninglessness of the first three quarters.
Then it happened. They sat together on the love seat in the living room. The Chicago Bulls were in the midst of the first three-peat of championships. La Señora Keila entered the room followed closely by a servant bringing tacos de lengua, and stopped to smile at them adoringly.
“Look at you two,” she clapped her hands together.
Sophia Paula and Hadriel Alighieri exchanged a curious glance.
“The two of you should be a couple. You’re like peas in a pod!” La Señora Keila declared.
Until that moment, Sophia Paula and Hadriel Alighieri hadn’t given the matter much thought. Despite his initial feelings, Hadriel Alighieri had remained silent, for fear of pushing her away. Though she had been the inspiration of his poetry, he never revealed to her, his romantic notions. He relished his time with her, and she enjoyed her time with him. There was no pressure. There was no expectation. There was only the innocence of friendship, and the echo of their laughter.
It was true that neither had mentioned another romantic interest, but they didn’t need one because they had each other. Though they had heard whispers among the boys and girls throughout the village—about interest in them—most had shied away from pursuing Sophia Paula and Hadriel Alighieri, because they thought they were a couple.
There did exist dichotomies between them. He ate slowly and neatly; he folded his napkins and set his utensils and drinks in precise positions around his food. Whereas Sophia Paula left the entire table a mess. She devoured food with a sense of urgency like a military trainee, which he found perplexing for a girl from high society. He preferred to have his room organized as opposed to her propensity for disorganization. Yet, that’s how they functioned, that’s how they found balance. They were Order and Chaos, the Odd Couple without being a couple.
But, in the realm of love, the echo of a broken heart is most thunderous when Order and Chaos collide. 

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