For the full short story, go to: http://www.strangehorizons.com/2003/20030106/estrellas.shtml
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Dean Francis Alfar’s short story “L’Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars)” is an amazing tale of unrequited, one-way love. (SPOILER ALERT: Read the full story first if you don’t want to read the spoilers below. Because I’ve quoted in italics all my favorite passages from the story.)
The story is about Maria Isabella du’l Cielo falling for a stargazing young man. When told that he only has eyes for stars, she thought of a plan for him to notice her. She approached master builder Melchor Antevadez with a strange request.
“What I need,” she began, “is a kite large enough to strap me onto. Then I must fly high enough to be among the stars themselves, so that anyone looking at the stars will see me among them, and I must be able to wave at least one hand to that person.”
“What you need,” Melchor Antevadez replied with a smile, “is a balloon. Or someone else to love.”
She ignored him like most love-struck fools do, and insisted on a kite. Finally the master builder gave her a list of materials he needed; to complete the list would take sixty years. She accepted the task without hesitation.
Melchor Antevadez squinted at her. “Is any love worth all this effort? Looking for the impossible?”
Maria Isabella gave the tiniest of smiles. “What makes you think I’m in love?”
Melchor Antevadez raised an eyebrow at her denial.
What makes this story extra melancholic is that Maria Isabella hired a 14-yr. old butcher boy to accompany her in her task. After sixty years they came back with all the materials; the great grandson of the master builder had taken over from his late great grandfather’s shop. When Maria Isabelle was being strapped onto the kite, she tells the butcher boy (who had grown into an old man already), “This is certainly no time for tears,” Maria Isabella reprimanded him gently, as she gestured for him to release the kite.
And she never realized that the butcher boy had loved her all this time.
As she rose, he sighed and reflected on the absurdity of life, the heaviness of loss, the cruelty of hope, the truth about quests, and the relentless nature of a love that knew only one direction.
I wish I had read Dean Francis Alfar’s “L’Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars)” when I was younger; it would have saved me a few years lost in stupidity.