Raising Stars Alessio A.
I surf the smelly, ancient streets of Amboise, expertly weaving myself through the canals. deep inside my rag of a shirt, I clutch the most important message I have ever been asked to deliver. I told those bullies becoming a messenger wasn’t a waste of time, I thought. At my destination, I face the antique door, surrounded by its frame. Before I have a chance to knock, the door is opened. The man seems unsurprised of me, and almost as if he knew the exact time I was to arrive. I found myself facing Leonardo Da Vinci. I did not expect Da Vinci to look anything like he did. He had a long, stubby nose, cracked lips and wrinkles around his eyes and nose. “Here is the message s-sir.” I claimed proudly while I hand him the package, a little bit scared. “Thank you young man,” Leonardo states, with a heavy Italian accent, “and what be your name?” “Uhm... Alphonse sir,” and I run off, now too nervous to say anything else, afraid I might say something that could insult Da Vinci, forgetting to charge him. As I strolled towards our orphanage, inevitable thoughts invaded me. I have messed up. I should have asked him something else; I should have stood up and tried a conversation. How many times will I get to meet someone as important as Leonardo Da Vinci? What I didn’t know was that the times would be uncountable. That same night, I could not sleep. This was not only because of my failed encounter with Leonardo Da Vinci, but because I knew the bullies were awake. My Church’s orphanage bedroom was a long, narrow hallway, lined with bunks, with barely any room to maneuver. My bunk was at the very end, well earned with over 10 years of attendance. That brought me back to the thought of my parents. I tried not to think about them, but the same thoughts and questions invaded me, mainly, why did they let me go? As I thought, I noticed the bullies crawling up on
me. I pretended to wake, hoping I would scare them away, although I wasn’t surprised when all they did was snicker. There were three of them, and they did something completely unexpected. One of them was a boy, about 17 years old. 10 years ago, his twin brother had been adopted, and the loss had broken him down. The other was a fat, relatively new girl, who apparently had lost her parents in an unknown way. The leader, a tall, thin, repugnant teenager walked towards my bed, then raised his fist and brought it down on my stomach. The pain was incredible, and the only thing that prevented me from screaming was the fact that I couldn’t breathe. I tried to calm down and rolled out of bed, opened my eyes, and screamed. “Stop bothering me! I’m tired of it! I heard some snickers, but they were gone. The other orphans started to wake, complaining. Then, “What are you shouting about young man!” The nun shouted. She was the mean one. The next morning, at the messenger office, something incredible happens. Alexandre, my boss, murmurs to me, “Young Alphonse, yesternight, Leonardo Da Vinci himself comes to my door, and requests you, Alphonse to become his private messenger.” I am too shocked to speak. This would mean getting to know and meet Leonardo several times, in addition to this, becoming a private messenger was an honor to any messenger. My boss continued, “In fact, there is a message for him right this very instant.” I pick up the package, and think; I cannot wait until I see the bullies’ faces when they know who I am now! I try to keep my face neutral, but it is impossible to hide the look of glee on my face. It is the second time this week I face Leonardo’s home, and this time I have a chance to knock before he opens the door. He looks exited, almost desperate. “Do you have the blueprints?” Da Vinci asks. I think as if I was talking to any man, rather than Leonardo, but his accent is hard to evade. “Blue prints?” I ask. “Yes, the message,” he continues, “the package, tell me you have it.” I hand him the package, “Yes sir, I have it right here.” “Y-you didn’t see it did you?” He asks, almost shouting, definitely desperate. I thought I heard him murmur “It’s encrypted anyway.” “No, I did not, it is against our messaging proto-”
“Yes, yes, very well,” he interrupts, “keep the change,” handing me a handful of money. “Also, Alphonse?” “Yes sir?” “I knew your father.” And he abruptly closes the door, and the click of the key is clearly audible. Again, most of the night passes sleepless, with intervals of nightmares. My eyes ache, but I cannot manage to close them. The bullies do not lurk in the shadows, yet my stomach still manages to sting from last night’s blow. My father knew Leonardo Da Vinci? I thought, why did Leonardo lock the door? Lastly, my final thought, before sleep managed to overtake me, who was my father? The third package I delivered to Leonardo Da Vinci was irritably heavy. To my advantage, it also seemed to be continuously cold, which helped battle against the beginning of summer. I could not carry it hidden, and the journey exhausted me, but the thought and curiosity of my origins poured strength into me like a fountain of energy. I arrived at Leonardo’s doorstep, and when he opened the door, he snatched the package from me like a hungry wolf, chucked handful of money at my feet, and closed the door behind him. Unfortunately for him, I had patience. I waited, and waited, and waited, past dinner time and past praying hour. Finally, Da Vinci opened the door and whispered, “I have sent an assistant to notify the orphanage of your absence,” then continued in a deep voice, heavy with Italian accent, “I knew you would wait, just like your father would have.” In my relief, I pitched question past question at him, “who was he? How did he meet you?” But he quickly cut me off and mysteriously said, “We talk inside, but I will not answer all your questions.” We sat in a cozy living room, the stone structure keeping it at comfortable temperature. My mind raced with rapid fire questions, but I kept quite hoping Leonardo would start the conversation. And he did. “You may ask yourself, why the father of a poor, French orphan, raised by a religious community, may know me.” My heartbeat raced. He continued, “In 1503, 16 years ago, he decided to move on, away from Italy. Him and his wife, your mother, pregnant, came here, to this very city, and gave birth to you. The reasons for leaving you to an orphanage are unknown to me.” This was too much information to take in, but he continued. “I do want you to
know that his reasons were probably good ones, and that both your parents were good people. In fact, your father was so trustworthy; he was the only person I could trust with the secrets of my creations, my paintings and inventions.” I was completely breaking down. Anytime now, I was probably going to run off, screaming like a madman. Leonardo probably didn’t realize this, since he did not stop speaking. “3 years ago, I came to this city, but it seems I am too late. They are gone without a trace,” There was a space of silence, “then I found you. Desperately looking for a descendant, I managed to get access to the vague orphanage records, and sure enough, I found someone with your father’s last name.” I was crying now, tears streaming down my face, celebrating my despair. What is my last name? What is my actual nationality? Finally, I managed to choke out a question. “W-w-what is my last name?” Leonardo also responds slowly, as in savoring the name, or the pressure. “Alphonse Bianchi” My heart beat so fast I could barely breathe. The name didn’t mean much, but it revealed secrets. Apparently, I was French with Italian descent. There it was, the name I had been searching for almost my whole life. Then, a very interesting question popped into my head, and after some deep breathing, I managed to whimper it out. “W-why were you looking for a descendant?” “Well,” Leonardo Da Vinci answered, deeply and life changing, “I was hoping you would be just as trustworthy,” and then the pressure was too much, and I passed out into uncomfortable dreams about fingers and toes. A handful of hours later, close to sunrise, I awoke in a comfortable, fancy bed, my thoughts dancing around my head. I never slept in a bed before. I drifted in and out of sleep, lightly resting. Suddenly, I jolt awake, and the events from last night sink in. After I gather the strength to pull myself out of bed, I zombie walk my way to the door, but I’m not surprised to find it locked. Instead of finding a way to escape, I lie down on my bed and digest last night’s happenings. I wake with Leonardo staring at me. In the last couple of hours, I had developed anger against the Italian, and I began to think this was a massive trick. He continued last night’s conversation as if nothing had happened. “Your father was also well known, and for a selection of
years, he was known as Niccolo Da Vinci.” I felt as if I would pass out again, “but I want to ask you a final question, and if you refuse, I will leave you alone for the rest of my life.” He paused, and I listened, “I have become solitary, unsocial, and I have not shared any of my works for many years. But, I want to.” I closed my eyes and listened carefully, because this was going somewhere wild and unexpected, “Would you, a 16 year old French orphan, become a secret keeper, as well as my companion for the short years of the rest of my life?” And I raised my stars.