The story of Dead Stars, written by Paz Marquez Benitez in 1925, revolves around love among three people: Alfredo, Esperanza, and Julia.
Alfredo Salazar, a lawyer on his early thirties then, was betrothed to Esperanza, whom he loved so much in his youth–Esperanza, who was beautiful, reserved, elegant, and distinctly not average. They were about to be wedded the following month, May, after about four years of engagement, although Alfredo seemed uncertain of his real wants. It is not to mean though that Alfredo is afraid to commit. He just fell in love with another woman on the six weeks preceding his and Esperanza’s matrimony.
The woman he fell in love with was a visitor to their town. He first met her when he decided to do some “neighboring” with his father, Don Julian, in Judge Del Valle’s house. It was not in his nature to do such, but perhaps out of fate, he allowed himself to be swayed. He seemed to have no regrets about it. Not when he met Julia Salas, Judge Del Valle’s sister-in-law.
They have found themselves in good company since. It was always a moment to cherish for both, particularly for Alfredo, that since then, he had been making the “neighboring” thing a habit. Each Sunday, instead of waiting for his girl (Esperanza) after mass, he was engrossed in giving his newfound love a visit.
Julia had given him new life. He admits the fact that he was incomparably happier with Julia than with Esperanza, but it is, too, a pain for him to hurt his fiancée. Julia is unlike Esperanza in more ways, one being that she was certainly less beautiful (physically) than her. It may be that, but she possesses some traits Alfredo found distinctively hers, and which traits that really caught him off the hook.
Those six weeks had gone too fast, although they were also full of meaning and of sweetness on the whole. Alfredo knew that he was giving Julia something he was not free to give, but he was “on all fours” in love that he lived only to the where he was, and lived it intensely with her beloved. He found it easy being with her, so easy that he could forget his worries about how the world would meddle him when they knew–Esperanza particularly.
Julia had been similarly enfolded with joy being with Alfredo, but his place was not home to her. One time while they were at the beach, a part of Don Julian’s farm, she told him of her parents’ wish for her to come home for the Holy Week. Before she left she told him of Calle Luz, a street in Santa Cruz where their house was situated, and also out of Alfredo’s insistence.
It was a heavy while for Alfredo— love, bewilderment, and pain altogether. If he were freer, he knew he would have decisively married Julia. But the circumstances just did not seem to allow such a chance. He struggled with the pain of having to choose between something he wanted to do against something he should do. Like he said, he wanted to be fair to himself first, but it is difficult. He would’ve wanted to do otherwise, but as he said, “there is a point where a thing escapes us and rushes downward of its own weight, dragging us along. Then it is foolish to ask whether one will or will not, because it no longer depends on him.” For his case, one, he was engaged with another woman for so long a time that to throw it all away in a snap would not only raise many eyebrows, but would crush Esperanza’s heart into pieces. Second, although he wouldn’t have wanted so, it was time for Julia to go back to her home place, far away from Alfredo’s.
In the end, we have flashed forward to eight years, and we realize that Alfredo had not chosen to act on his feelings and pursue Julia. Instead, he had chosen to marry his fiancée. He was not unhappy in his marriage; in fact he found his life to have simply ordered itself. But the thought of Julia, should he have chosen her, was haunting him like wildfire. She and their brief colorful past were always on his mind, although he did not want to...
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