Documents

Dead Stars - Paz Marquez Benitez

Description
Dead Stars – Paz Marquez Benitez THROUGH the open window the air-steeped outdoors passed into his room, quietly enveloping him, stealing into his very thought. Esperanza, Julia, the sorry mess he had made of life, the years to come even now beginning to weigh down, to crush--they lost concreteness, diffused into formless melancholy. The tranquil murmur of conversation issued from the brick-tiled azotea where Don Julian and Carmen were busy puttering away among the rose pots. Papa, and when wil
Categories
Published
of 16
470
Categories
Published
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Similar Documents
Share
Transcript
  Dead Stars – Paz Marquez Benitez THROUGH the open window the air-steeped outdoors passed into his room, quietly envelopinghim, stealing into his very thought. Esperanza, Julia, the sorry mess he had made of life, theyears to come even now beginning to weigh down, to crush--they lost concreteness, diffused intoformless melancholy. The tranquil murmur of conversation issued from the brick-tiled azotea where Don Julian and Carmen were busy puttering away among the rose pots. Papa, and when will the 'long table' be set? I don't know yet. Alfredo is not very specific, but I understand Esperanza wants it to be nextmonth. Carmen sighed impatiently. Why is he not a bit more decided, I wonder. He is over thirty, is henot? And still a bachelor! Esperanza must be tired waiting. She does not seem to be in much of a hurry either, Don Julian nasally commented, while hisrose scissors busily snipped away. How can a woman be in a hurry when the man does not hurry her? Carmen returned, pinchingoff a worm with a careful, somewhat absent air. Papa, do you remember how much in love hewas? In love? With whom? With Esperanza, of course. He has not had another love affair that I know of, she said withgood-natured contempt. What I mean is that at the beginning he was enthusiastic--flowers,serenades, notes, and things like that-- Alfredo remembered that period with a wonder not unmixed with shame. That was less than four years ago. He could not understand those months of a great hunger that was not of the body nor yet of the mind, a craving that had seized on him one quiet night when the moon was abroad andunder the dappled shadow of the trees in the plaza, man wooed maid. Was he being cheated bylife? Love--he seemed to have missed it. Or was the love that others told about a mere fabricationof perfervid imagination, an exaggeration of the commonplace, a glorification of insipidmonotonies such as made up his love life? Was love a combination of circumstances, or sheer native capacity of soul? In those days love was, for him, still the eternal puzzle; for love, as heknew it, was a stranger to love as he divined it might be.Sitting quietly in his room now, he could almost revive the restlessness of those days, the feelingof tumultuous haste, such as he knew so well in his boyhood when something beautiful wasgoing on somewhere and he was trying to get there in time to see. Hurry, hurry, or you will missit, someone had seemed to urge in his ears. So he had avidly seized on the shadow of Love anddeluded himself for a long while in the way of humanity from time immemorial. In themeantime, he became very much engaged to Esperanza.  Why would men so mismanage their lives? Greed, he thought, was what ruined so many. Greed--the desire to crowd into a moment all the enjoyment it will hold, to squeeze from the hour all theemotion it will yield. Men commit themselves when but half-meaning to do so, sacrificingpossible future fullness of ecstasy to the craving for immediate excitement. Greed--mortgagingthe future--forcing the hand of Time, or of Fate. What do you think happened? asked Carmen, pursuing her thought. I supposed long-engaged people are like that; warm now, cool tomorrow. I think they areoftener cool than warm. The very fact that an engagement has been allowed to prolong itself argues a certain placidity of temperament--or of affection--on the part of either, or both. DonJulian loved to philosophize. He was talking now with an evident relish in words, his resonant,very nasal voice toned down to monologue pitch. That phase you were speaking of is naturalenough for a beginning. Besides, that, as I see it, was Alfredo's last race with escaping youth-- Carmen laughed aloud at the thought of her brother's perfect physical repose--almost indolence--disturbed in the role suggested by her father's figurative language. A last spurt of hot blood, finished the old man.Few certainly would credit Alfredo Salazar with hot blood. Even his friends had amusedlydiagnosed his blood as cool and thin, citing incontrovertible evidence. Tall and slender, hemoved with an indolent ease that verged on grace. Under straight recalcitrant hair, a thin facewith a satisfying breadth of forehead, slow, dreamer's eyes, and astonishing freshness of lips--indeed Alfredo Salazar's appearance betokened little of exuberant masculinity; rather a poet withwayward humor, a fastidious artist with keen, clear brain.He rose and quietly went out of the house. He lingered a moment on the stone steps; then wentdown the path shaded by immature acacias, through the little tarred gate which he left swingingback and forth, now opening, now closing, on the gravel road bordered along the farther side bymadre cacao hedge in tardy lavender bloom.The gravel road narrowed as it slanted up to the house on the hill, whose wide, open porches hecould glimpse through the heat-shrivelled tamarinds in the Martinez yard.Six weeks ago that house meant nothing to him save that it was the Martinez house, rented andoccupied by Judge del Valle and his family. Six weeks ago Julia Salas meant nothing to him; hedid not even know her name; but now--One evening he had gone neighboring with Don Julian; a rare enough occurrence, since hemade it a point to avoid all appearance of currying favor with the Judge. This particular eveninghowever, he had allowed himself to be persuaded. A little mental relaxation now and then isbeneficial, the old man had said. Besides, a judge's good will, you know; the rest of thethought-- is worth a rising young lawyer's trouble --Don Julian conveyed through a shrug and asmile that derided his own worldly wisdom.  A young woman had met them at the door. It was evident from the excitement of the Judge'schildren that she was a recent and very welcome arrival. In the characteristic Filipino way formalintroductions had been omitted--the judge limiting himself to a casual Ah, ya se conocen?   --with the consequence that Alfredo called her Miss del Valle throughout the evening.He was puzzled that she should smile with evident delight every time he addressed her thus.Later Don Julian informed him that she was not the Judge's sister, as he had supposed, but hissister-in-law, and that her name was Julia Salas. A very dignified rather austere name, hethought. Still, the young lady should have corrected him. As it was, he was greatly embarrassed,and felt that he should explain.To his apology, she replied, That is nothing, Each time I was about to correct you, but Iremembered a similar experience I had once before. Oh, he drawled out, vastly relieved. A man named Manalang--I kept calling him Manalo. After the tenth time or so, the young manrose from his seat and said suddenly, 'Pardon me, but my name is Manalang, Manalang.' Youknow, I never forgave him! He laughed with her. The best thing to do under the circumstances, I have found out, she pursued, is to pretend notto hear, and to let the other person find out his mistake without help. As you did this time. Still, you looked amused every time I-- I was thinking of Mr. Manalang. Don Julian and his uncommunicative friend, the Judge, were absorbed in a game of chess. Theyoung man had tired of playing appreciative spectator and desultory conversationalist, so he andJulia Salas had gone off to chat in the vine-covered porch. The lone piano in the neighborhoodalternately tinkled and banged away as the player's moods altered. He listened, and wonderedirrelevantly if Miss Salas could sing; she had such a charming speaking voice.He was mildly surprised to note from her appearance that she was unmistakably a sister of theJudge's wife, although Doña Adela was of a different type altogether. She was small and plump,with wide brown eyes, clearly defined eyebrows, and delicately modeled hips--a pretty womanwith the complexion of a baby and the expression of a likable cow. Julia was taller, not soobviously pretty. She had the same eyebrows and lips, but she was much darker, of a smooth richbrown with underlying tones of crimson which heightened the impression she gave of aboundingvitality.On Sunday mornings after mass, father and son would go crunching up the gravel road to thehouse on the hill. The Judge's wife invariably offered them beer, which Don Julian enjoyed andAlfredo did not. After a half hour or so, the chessboard would be brought out; then Alfredo and  Julia Salas would go out to the porch to chat. She sat in the low hammock and he in a rockingchair and the hours--warm, quiet March hours--sped by. He enjoyed talking with her and it wasevident that she liked his company; yet what feeling there was between them was so undisturbedthat it seemed a matter of course. Only when Esperanza chanced to ask him indirectly aboutthose visits did some uneasiness creep into his thoughts of the girl next door.Esperanza had wanted to know if he went straight home after mass. Alfredo suddenly realizedthat for several Sundays now he had not waited for Esperanza to come out of the church as hehad been wont to do. He had been eager to go neighboring. He answered that he went home to work. And, because he was not habitually untruthful, added, Sometimes I go with Papa to Judge del Valle's. She dropped the topic. Esperanza was not prone to indulge in unprovoked jealousies. She was abeliever in the regenerative virtue of institutions, in their power to regulate feeling as well asconduct. If a man were married, why, of course, he loved his wife; if he were engaged, he couldnot possibly love another woman.That half-lie told him what he had not admitted openly to himself, that he was giving Julia Salassomething which he was not free to give. He realized that; yet something that would not bedenied beckoned imperiously, and he followed on.It was so easy to forget up there, away from the prying eyes of the world, so easy and sopoignantly sweet. The beloved woman, he standing close to her, the shadows around, enfolding. Up here I find--something-- He and Julia Salas stood looking out into the she quiet night. Sensing unwanted intensity,laughed, woman-like, asking, Amusement? No; youth--its spirit-- Are you so old? And heart's desire. Was he becoming a poet, or is there a poet lurking in the heart of every man? Down there, he had continued, his voice somewhat indistinct, the road is too broad, tootrodden by feet, too barren of mystery. Down there beyond the ancient tamarinds lay the road, upturned to the stars. In the darknessthe fireflies glimmered, while an errant breeze strayed in from somewhere, bringing elusive,faraway sounds as of voices in a dream. Mystery-- she answered lightly, that is so brief--
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks
SAVE OUR EARTH

We need your sign to support Project to invent "SMART AND CONTROLLABLE REFLECTIVE BALLOONS" to cover the Sun and Save Our Earth.

More details...

Sign Now!

We are very appreciated for your Prompt Action!

x