In loving memory of John Alec Entwistle, the greatest bass player in history, who left the material world 19 years ago today.
Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.
I’m now sharing from a brand-new project, an alternative history with the working title is A Dream of Peacocks. My synopsis is still a work in progress, but here’s the beginning:
What if one of the most famous love stories in history wasn’t unrequited?
When Dante Alighieri and Beatrice Portinari meet as children on May Day 1274, they’re instantly drawn to one another with a strong, precocious love. Their dreams of marriage come to an abrupt end when their fathers arrange their betrothals to other people, but an unexpected second chance comes when they’re both widowed in their early twenties.
The previous excerpts drew heavily from the second chapter of La Vita Nuova, but now the story begins to diverge from what really happened next. When Dante met Beatrice, he was overcome by violent trembling and messages from the vital, animal, and natural spirits (a concept written about by Albertus Magnus), but in real life, he didn’t discuss whether or not he actually spoke with his new love.
The word “windows” was frequently used in Medieval Tuscan to refer to the eyes.
The governing spirits had mercifully been subdued, returning to me the power of speech. “I’m Durante, but most people call me Dante.”
She tied the stems of two violets together. “Are your parents friends with mine?”
“I don’t know how well my father knows your parents, but we’re very grateful they thought of us and invited us to this party.” I briefly cast my eyes upward, then immediately resumed looking at the beautiful vision in front of me. “God decided to call my mother back to himself four years ago, and I don’t recall her ever mentioning an acquaintance with your parents.”
Beatrice’s emerald windows softened.
The eight lines end here. A few more follow to finish the scene.
“Please accept my sympathies. I didn’t realize your mother was with God. I shouldn’t assume everyone my age has two living parents just because I do.”
“Thank you for your noble words, but there’s no need to apologize. It’s a natural assumption.” Without waiting for an invitation, I took a seat on the other side of the windowsill and reached for several white irises. “Did you pick these flowers from a garden or around the city?”
“My family has a large, beautiful garden full of all sorts of flowers, herbs, fruit trees, and nut trees. There’s a lovely view of Firenze and the hill of Fiesole too. I’ll be glad to show it to you after I finish making crowns and garlands.”