Aer Cuid I (Air Part I)
Denía, España (Denía, Spain)
The roads were blissfully clear of traffic, as Diego Ortega had known they would be. He had picked this day, the sixteenth of July, for a reason. The rest of the town would all be gathered on the main street, or on the beach for the Bous a la Mar, the Bulls of the Sea festival. No-one would realise they were gone for several hours, possibly not even until night-fall.
He looked to his left at his fiancée, Carla Rodriquez, and kissed her on the cheek. She smiled, but kept her eyes on the road. Diego didn’t have a driver’s license, just one of the many reasons Carla’s father hated him.
Señor Rodriquez was a rich businessman, making most of his money on the stock markets. For the past decade he had been the richest man in all of southern Spain. A man like that wanted his daughter to marry a wealthy, civilized young man, preferably one of his many business associates’ sons. He had done his best to ensure this, bringing Carla to every high-society function since she could talk. He had sent her to an all-girls’ boarding school, to remove the threat that she took a fancy to any boy poorer than she.
But for all Señor Rodriquez’s efforts, he couldn’t stop her catching the eye of a young fisherman from the harbour, delivering his catch to the fancy restaurant where Carla had meant to be meeting the son of an oil tycoon. The son had bored Carla to tears, and she’d excused herself, saying she needed to go to the bathroom. Her date had been so dull he hadn’t even noticed she had taken her coat with her. She had crept out the kitchens with the help of a sympathetic waitress. And it was there that she had met Diego.
Diego himself had yet to understand what she had seen in him that night, him smelling of fish, hands still slick from their blood. But he knew what he had, and still saw in her. She was the single most beautiful woman he had ever had the pleasure of laying his eyes upon, her eyes jewels of deep brown, her chestnut hair cascading like a waterfall over her shoulders. Diego, quite understandably, considered himself the luckiest man to have ever lived.
Señor Rodriguez, of course, had disapproved of their relationship. Diego had known it would be a mistake to meet the man, but Carla had insisted, and he would die a long time before denying her anything. They had all met for dinner at the same restaurant Diego and Carla first met. It had been an absolute catastrophe. Within a half-hour, both men were shouting at one another, while Carla sat on the verge of tears, seriously considering making another hasty exit.
Naturally, Carla’s father had forbidden her ever to meet with Diego again. Naturally, Carla defied him any chance she got. And now, they were eloping.
It was ridiculous, Diego thought. Did people even elope any more? They probably didn’t need too. Men like Hugo Rodriquez were a dying breed, and fathers no longer had the same influence on their daughters as they had once had thirty years ago.
But that was all in the past, Diego told himself. This was a new beginning. They would head west, to Portugal, where Señor Rodriguez had even less influence. First, they would head south, to Alicante, and then west. As far west as either of them could ever go ...
They passed a sign informing them that they were now leaving Denía, and they both burst out laughing. The sun shined right above them, not a cloud in the sky, the horizon in the distance the couple’s only destination. They had made it.
Then several things happened at once.
The car’s clock struck twelve.
Clouds suddenly gathered in the sky above their car, a horrible murky grey.
And a single raindrop fell from the sky, landing on Diego’s arm as it hung out the car’s side-window.
Diego heard a voice, that both boomed and whispered the word “Bien.”
And less than 1,180 kilometres away to the east, an old Irish pound coin hit the surface of theFontana di Trevi, and caused a huge ripple. This ripple shook across the world, faster than the speed of light. A ripple unlike anything ever seen before on this planet.
It was a ripple, but not of water.