Monday, August 29, 2005

vignette: shooting star

That last September afternoon of his brief life while he sat on an unmoving swing suspended from an acacia tree many times his age, Matteo Crisostomo, age 7, had his heart's desire come true. He was chewing a chunk of Bazooka Joe bubble gum, most definitely against the will of his indomitable mother, and thinking about nothing in particular, when he first noticed the shooting star, its pale tail almost invisible against the afternoon sky. Matteo knew instantly that this was his opportunity for an unexpected wish, ceased his industrious mastication, and thought about his dead father. In his mind's eye, he wished his father was alive again; specifically, that the man known as Antonio Severino would come back from wherever he went after he passed away, dressed as he had always dressed when he'd come home to his loving son - a stained white shirt under stained mechanic's coveralls, reeking of oil and paternal devotion.

What Matteo could not have been aware of, what he could not possibly have known, was that the shooting star was not, in fact, a shooting star, but a device of miraculous contrivance, older than the oldest thing on earth. It heard the young boy's silent wish as it fell helplessly into the embrace of unwanted gravity and responded as it only knew how - by granting desire and making the impossible come true.

The last thing Matteo Crisostomo saw, before the tree that supported the branch that supported the swing that supported him gave way to a sudden earthquake, was the image of his father, standing in tears in his soiled clothes, extending his arms in a moment of sheer bewilderment and restored life.

When the tree fell on the young boy, his father, the newly-resurrected Antonio Severino, was swallowed by the earth once more. The falling machine continued on its inexorable path past two provinces and a dried-up lake to the north, to the ill-kept backyard of Alejandro Santos, age 27, known ladies' man, never-do-well and suspected leftist rebel.

That was how the season of miracles for the town of Pilansa began.

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