Wednesday, July 02, 2003

vignette: rodentine

From his vantage point high on the flying buttress overlooking the massive inner hall of the Katedral Grandu, Rodentine fought the tears that threatened to overwhelm his small, small form.

Far below him, his bride-to-be, the beautiful and pious Criselda Aljonsa Piedra ei Marquez, waited behind her magnificent hand-tooled seda veil; her eyes, brimming with unfathomable sorrow and unforgiving hope, hidden from the mummuring crowd that filled the vast expanse of the glorious cathedral of the Tres Hermanas.

The music had stopped long ago, giving the ugly buzz of unbridled speculation unfettered wings. Where is the groom? Where is Antonino? How could he desert her at the altar? How could he do this?

Rodentine (who believed with all his miniature conviction that he was the missing man known as Antonino Cervantes Domingo) shook with fury, causing the fur on his back to stand on its end, his whiskers to twitch convulsively, and his hind paws to attempt to gouge furrows in the ancient consecrated stone where he crouched, helpless and held hostage by the vision of an abandoned love.

“Ahem,” the slender rat beside him cleared his throat carefully. “Er, so that’s, that’s her?”

Rodentine whirled around to face his companion so quickly that for an endless moment he teetered on the curling edge of the buttress, before gaining a pawhold.

“Yes,” he said simply. “Yes, that’s Criselda.”

“She’s…attractive enough…” Moseline observed.

“Of course she is!” Rodentine whispered, giving Moseline a dark look that presaged a terrible storm of words waiting for sudden release. “I’m supposed to be there. It’s me she’s waiting for…that everyone’s waiting for.”

“Um,” began Moseline, twitching his nose, “…but you’re a rat, like me.”

“NO!” cried Rodentine, bounding away as his tears finally broke free. “I am a man! A man!”

He gritted his teeth and wiped his tears away as he retreated into the shadows. How could this happen? How can this happen to me? Oh Criselda…

“Ah…Are you, are you all right?” Moseline asked from a respectable distance. “I didn’t mean to upset you. But this, this is crazy talk. And you frighten me. Well, just a little bit.”

At that moment Rodentine just wanted to curl up into a ball and vanish from Ciudad Meiora forever. For part of him had begun to believe that perhaps what Moseline said was true – that he was a rat, was born a rat, and, after living the terribly brief existence of a rat, would die a rat.

The evidence of his senses was impossible to deny.

He looked like a rat, was as small as rat. He was a rat.


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