The Story of Antonio and Gabriella
It was night, or at least it always seemed to be so for Antonio. The days always went by in minutes, the night, hours. He was a poet, mostly because this was how he could define himself though he knew nothing else. He was an enigma to himself and to those who saw him, a hopeless romantic. While walking the streets on one of his midnight strolls (He had convinced himself that midnight was the most beautiful time, the beginning of everything) he thought he saw an angel. This was not due to a radiance of light (This he knew was the historical sign), for it was a damp and dark night, with a drizzle that only prickled the body to remind you it was there. No, this angel was a woman, wearing a silk white shirt and jeans accenting curves that made one wish it showed more. Antonio felt compelled by some inner force and resolved to cross the street to get to her, he had to know her. While crossing he tried to think what he could possibly say to avoid scaring this beautiful angel away, but reasoned that perhaps truth was the best option (After all what is a lie in the eyes of an angel? Eternal damnation?). As soon as his foot reached the sidewalk he heard himself say “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and existence would seem worthless to have seen you and not met you.” (Damn his poetic sensibility he thought) She simply smiled back, a smile that seemed to show knowledge of all that lived yet an innocence of all that was divine. “Stranger,” she said (Though to Antonio it sounded as if she knew him) “Do not seek beauty in this world for only its looks, seek beauty in the mind and the rest will follow.” (To Antonio’s ears this seemed like the most beautiful poetry he had ever heard) “Oh muse,” he heard himself respond “it is the mind that is the biggest temptress of all and beauty is just an illusion it brings upon itself.” “You are very wise,” she teased “perhaps I will date you , but only for your mind alone, sex is the physical expression that only the boring use to express love.” She paused. “I disagree,” Antonio replied “but for now I’d like to know your name.” “Gabriella,” she said (Antonio could swear he heard angels singing in the background) “but this is all I will give you for now, the rest later, now I must go, close your eyes.” She said this all as if to think otherwise would be unheard of. Antonio did as he was told though unconsciously he desired not to but something held him back. As soon as he could no longer hear footsteps he opened his eyes and she was gone.
For the next two days nothing crossed his mind except the possibility of seeing this angel Gabriella again. Time did not matter until it struck midnight, where he would walk to the same place he had met her only to find silence and darkness. After the second night he went home heartbroken and took a shower (he found solace in such things), overcome in the downpour he sank to his knees and cried “Oh beautiful lord, what have I done to receive such ill fortune?!” As he turned off the water and it trickled down the drain, part of his heart did too. When he rose and got out of the shower, half a heart was all he had left.
The next day he drank and drank, not because it helped his poetry, but for the pain in his heart. Again when the clock struck midnight he found himself wandering the streets, stumbling upon the avenue where they had met he cursed himself, only to hear a voice that made him go sick with confusion and with love. “Stranger,” (It was Gabriella!) “Why do you look so ragged broken and lost?” “Oh Gabriella!” he cried, running over to her beautiful figure and hugged her (He was overcome by spirit, both his own and the liquor, he didn’t give a damn) “I thought with you gone, all the beauty that made up this world was gone forever.” (Again his tongue had over spoke the situation, but he didn’t cringe) “I was testing you,” Gabriella said bemused “for if you could endure the thought of me for three days without sight, than truly you are worthy.” Smiling to herself she said “Now I ask, what is your name?” “Antonio.” The words slipped out as if they had longed to escape from the prison of his mind. “Well I will see you again, Antonio, tomorrow meet me here.” The following day Antonio was so excited that the sun seemed to last forever, it was the first time in a while that he could recall wishing for night. But perhaps, while he waits, it would be best to shine a little light on Gabriella.
Gabriella was found as a baby on a Sunday right on the steps of St. Miguel the Merciful by the local priest. He considered it a miracle. (After all with no parents, it was if she were a gift from God). By the age of two she already had an interest in the arts and eyes more enviable than the Virgin Mother herself. As she grew, more and more men’s eyes gravitated towards her, to them her brown hair, green eyes and full lips gave them a rush that they had never felt before. St. Miguel’s had never been more full. There was another man before Antonio who had mustered the courage to declare his love to Gabriella, his name was Francisco Elquebrada.
Francisco had been born with a bum leg, a horrible disfigurement that his mother had blamed on the devil himself (Rather than the alcohol she consumed while he was still in the womb, cursing the man who had abandoned her). Francisco expressed to Gabriella that his affectation had only made him more appreciative of true beauty, and that through all his years he had never been so stricken with love than in her eyes. Warm thoughts of love, admiration, and sadness all crossed her mind and she decided to let Francisco be her first. Yet her happiness was not to last, as a month later Francisco was found dead, shot in the heart. Police thought it was a suicide but Gabriella knew better, it was murder from those jealous that he had her heart in his. She swore she never again would be swayed by compliments on her beauty, and for the next couple years she held true to her word until she decided to move (Spur of the moment really) from Barcelona to Madrid. It was in Madrid where she would meet Antonio
Elated by his sudden great fortune, Antonio was so moved he began to write again and dedicated his first poem he completed to Gabriella. It went like this:
Que es amor en los ojos del amado
Listen, angel of my heart
Do you not hear the voices?
The pretty girls who are jealous
The men who wish they were yours
Oh beautiful one
You shine more radiantly than sun
If it were to cast its rays through the night
Why do you hide such beauty?
The radiance covered up by dark in the light
Is it insanity, or virtue?
That makes me love you
Although it should have never been
Que l’amor dans yeux du bien-amie
I say this for I could not in plain words express
What moves me
To you with my eyes undress
Oh virtuous one
I couldn’t love you more
So I say to you
Che questo e amore agli occhi dell’amato
What is love in the eyes of the beloved?
Antonio couldn’t help but feel proud of himself, especially with how his knowledge of languages showed Romance (in language form) from its most evolved to its most basic (Spanish to French to Italian). When he showed Gabriella the poem, overcome with emotion she made love to him and to Antonio it felt as if heaven had opened its gates to him.
They lay in bed for a while afterwards, silent but for the labored breathing they both shared. Suddenly Gabriella spoke “Tell me Antonio, what have you been doing all your life and how did you come into this existence?” and so Antonio told her.
Antonio had been born to an affluent family in Mexico City in the days where there was peace and prosperity, though he never liked to admit it. He had no luck with love in his early life aside from two girls who felt sorry for him and let him grope them for this was all he knew and it gave him happiness. He soon found he longed for more, but as he did so, the girls felt sorry for him less. Yet in his mind he wanted more than just to touch. For what he could not express to these girls, he wrote, soon his writing replaced the girls themselves imagining love, a passionate love that all lovers wished their own but from experience knew was too good to exist. His whole life became writing and one day a friend of his discovered his poetry and sent it into a national magazine. His fame rose as incredibly and passionately as his poetry, a phoenix reborn from the ashes of unfulfilled life. It was not that he wouldn’t enjoy the popularity, or the women that came with it, waiting to be seduced by the fire of his words night after night. He prided himself on the pleasure he gave others, the wordless looks women would give him of awe and admiration, the passionate cries he felt he alone could produce from their angelic faces. But he grew tired of the attention, the lack of privacy that pervaded his mind, body, and soul. He longed for escape and bid all of his friends and lovers goodbye and moved to Madrid. It was there where he found he had lost his will to write, without a talent he felt useless and feeble. He languished in his thoughts with a dark temperament that only the unlit streets in Madrid could rival. It was in this state he found Gabriella.
“Such a tortured soul!” Gabriella sighed “Why is it that men worry themselves with such thoughts of love and self love, the ego is an evil soul that we all must avoid.” Antonio wordlessly agreed.
They began to live together in Antonio’s flat; not for the sex, they agreed, but the company for their souls to last through the long nights. “You know,” Gabriella said one day as she came out of the shower (What shame is there in nudity? Certainly Gabriella felt none) “I was a painter once,” she said it with grace and humility as if it were nothing of talent “but I painted out of love, and I lost that feeling a long time ago.” “That’s ridiculous!” Antonio almost caught himself (after all he had been the same way) “You should never lose faith in your talents.” Slowly, his words would begin to take hold in her mind and his own.
They took walks together; their favorite spot was the Templo De Deblo, for its Egyptian mystique stood above the romantic city, an achievement in its own right. “I wonder sometimes,” Antonio remarked “maybe if we were simple people like the Egyptians we would not have such frustration and distortion that we face today.” He said this for the temple had stood for 2,200 years. “If there is not beauty in longevity than beauty to me is no more than a stranger. “Perhaps” mused Gabriella “this will be my next painting.”
And so it was, Gabriella stayed in the flat a couple days, laying out the Political section of the newspaper to protect the floors from the drips of her canvas (Politics, she maintained, were the purest of all evils mankind had thought of, and she could do her part by covering them up with art, humanity’s truest window to the soul) Her painting was a vivid masterpiece, to say it was as a photograph would say it wrong. Antonio stood in awe of the avant-garde canvas that lay before him, not just the noble Egyptian temple itself, but the words that flowed like leaves on a river out of it, colors dashed across the landscape as if they had more of a statement than the words themselves. Above the canvas rested a plaque with words carved out saying “Only simplicity in beauty may fool the Devil, the rest only fools yourself and God.” Antonio wondered why she mentioned God, as she didn’t truly seem like a devout person “When I was younger, I could not understand why my father wouldn’t allow me to dress like the other girls, I wanted to attract boys as well, for I felt that the right boy would not find me wearing ugly dresses, I wanted to wear jeans and tight shirts, I was naïve, but I also wanted to show my body, I wanted to feel free, fashion has that way with people. But my father always stopped me “Gabriella,” he told me “you may believe you are hidden and horrendous behind these clothes but only by these clothes will people see your natural beauty. Simplicity in beauty is what fools the devil, the rest is only you fooling God, never forget that.” Antonio could only wonder how Gabriella was a secular being, and how he could ever be so lucky.
So lucky he felt, so full of love, that Antonio decided that he would not feel like a complete man unless he married her and so he proposed. He sought no help in a fancy dinner or a romantic spot, for he believed romantic ideals were purely controlled by people not by materialism. Gabriella was flattered and could not say no, for she was too in polite and too in love to dare refusing him.
The wedding was to be in the summer and for them time passed very slowly, and every minute they had together passed too quickly, they wanted time to be endless and yet they wanted the wait to come to an end. Then one evening they decided to go out to dinner, a real authentic Italian place, with tables outside and waiters that smelled of olive oil and fine wine. Gabriella took time to break up the bread that was served before their meal, as if toying with it, yet her eyes showed no amusement, her lips pursed around the glass of red wine, drinking it with a scowl as if to say she thought it tasted like blood. Antonio had the veal, and seeing her mood, had very little else, yet for the life of them there was no conversation between the two. They left and held hands but she felt distant to Antonio, as if she was being drawn away by some unseeing force. She turned, saying she had to go pee and told Antonio she would catch up; exasperated, Antonio crossed the street, but his senses caught hold of him and told him to wait for her there rather than go any further. The light was beginning to dim from the sky and then he saw his beloved leave the building across the way, walking daintly, almost gliding into the street, her stoic manner minutes before now changed into that of radiance and happiness. She walked forward, poised. Antonio heard a car horn blare and the screeching of tires but knew it was too late, he saw Gabrielle fly into the air, as if she really were the angel he thought her to be. From the subsequent shock, Antonio became blind within minutes of Gabrielle’s death, as if she had given him one final gift, her memory eternally preserved as a pure living being, but this gave Antonio no solace. It was night, or at least it always seemed to be for Antonio.