The morning he first met Sophia Paula the bells tolled in the distance.
She walked with her mother toward the church wearing a yellow dress. She displayed a natural haughtiness in her stride, her head high, and her back straight, her gait gave the impression she was impervious to gravity and walked among the clouds.
Her short brown hair swept over her shoulders with bronze glints, thick and wavy. Her momentum remained uninterrupted when she cast Hadriel Alighieri a sidelong glance. It was as if someone whispered in her ear and she noticed him as a result.
From the terrace, he watched her pass. The songs of the girls jumping rope in the plaza and the haggling between merchants and customers in the stalls faded.
Their eyes locked until she disappeared below the leaves of a mango tree. It had been the first time Hadriel raised his eyes from his books. He lived in his books: novels and works of history and mythology alike. Aside from being an avid reader, he possessed a poetic disposition that he occasionally coalesced with his musical inclination. He learned to play the piano by numbers and longed to someday compose music with his poems.
His father worried that Hadriel suffered from a monomaniacal condition, for the boy seldom accepted invitations from the other boys in the village to play ball. That morning he set his books aside. Despite the heat, he dressed in the brown wool suit his grandfather gave him and followed the girl to the church.
The casual glance into her emerald eyes lured him onto the path of unrequited love.
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