MidReal Story

Renaissance Rivalry: Art, Love, and Betrayal

Scenario: Write a story based on the life of Lafite, one of the three Renaissance masters.
Create my version of this story
Write a story based on the life of Lafite, one of the three Renaissance masters.
I’m a bit ashamed to admit it now, but I first saw Isabella when my friend Niccolò Rinaldi and I were on our way to the Corso degli Adimari.
The streets were packed with people, as they often are in Florence, so much so that we had to push our way through.
But it wasn’t so bad because of the banners.
They were everywhere, hanging from the buildings and waving in the breeze.
Each one was so colorful and festive, and many of them bore the family insignia of the nobles who lived in and around the Piazza Santa Croce.
The musicians playing in the streets didn’t help much either, especially the drummers.
Their drums beat out a rhythm that just made you want to move.
It was like we were already celebrating something, although I couldn’t say what exactly.
We’d been walking in silence for some time, though I suppose it would be more accurate to say that we’d been talking to ourselves.
We were both lost in thought, trying to figure out what we wanted to do with our lives.
“I just want to be known as a great artist,” I said at last.
“I want my name to be known across the continent, if not the whole world.”
“Well, you’re going to have to work for it,” Niccolò said.
“You can’t just expect people to come looking for you.”
“I know that,” I said.
“I have to do something so great that they won’t be able to ignore me.” I was only seventeen at the time, younger than Niccolò by three years, and he already had his own workshop.
He’d been quite successful for his age because he’d gone out and made people notice him.
I didn’t have a workshop yet, although my father was fixing up a space for me in our house.
I’d apprenticed with Leonardo for two years in order to learn how to paint, but he’d been too busy with his experiments to teach me anything beyond the basics.
And so I’d gone off on my own and taught myself how to draw and paint.
“I still think you should try to work for one of the great masters,” Niccolò said.
“I mean, if Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo thinks your work is worth looking at and takes you on as an apprentice, don’t you think it would be easier for you to get noticed?”
“The only way I’m going to be able to get noticed is if I keep painting,” I said.
“Besides, they’re both working in Rome now, and I have no intention of leaving Florence.”
“They both came here first,” Niccolò pointed out.
“Florence is the place where all artists come to get known.”
“And where a lot of them end up dying poor,” I retorted.
“Which is why I need a patron,” Niccolò said.
“But how are we supposed to get one?”
“And what if they never pay you?”
“Then I’ll go to Rome with Leonardo,” Niccolò said with a shrug.
It was a reasonable plan, but it still made me nervous.
Rome was far away from Florence, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to leave my family behind, even if it meant that I might be able to make a name for myself down there.
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“Look out!” someone screamed, and I turned just in time to see a man stumbling through the crowd, pushing an old woman in front of him as he went.
She fell to the ground, and the man kicked her as she tried to get up, knocking her back to the ground again.
He was about to hit her a third time when someone else grabbed him from behind and pulled him away, but the damage was already done.
The old woman lay on the ground, her face bruised and bloody, moaning softly as she tried to get up again, but no one was paying any attention to her anymore, not even her attacker, who was being led away by the city guard in chains.
The crowd had moved on as if nothing had happened, and that would have been the end of it, except that someone was screaming from a balcony above, “Let me go!Let me go!
Someone help me!”
I looked up just in time to see a woman struggling with two men who were trying to pull her back inside before she could jump over the edge, but she managed to break free of their grasp when they weren’t expecting it, and she fell forward over the railing, flailing her arms as she went.
I didn’t have time to think about what I was doing, let alone come up with a plan of action before I started climbing up the wall, using the rough stone for traction as I went, and in less than a minute, I had reached the balcony where the woman had been standing and pulled myself over the edge just in time to reach out and grab her around the waist before she fell farther than my arm could reach.
She was heavy, and it was all I could do to hold on to her, but I managed it somehow, and with one last burst of strength, I hoisted her over the railing and into my arms.
We both stared at each other for several seconds, and she could hear my heart pounding through my chest while she caught her breath again, and then she smiled up at me and said in a soft voice, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” I said, unable to take my eyes off her face because she was so beautiful that it hurt to look away from her, even for an instant.
She had long black hair that spilled over my arms like ink, framing her oval face like a picture frame, and smooth olive skin that made me think of cream, as well as dark eyes that were large and almond-shaped and fringed with long black lashes, which gave them an exotic look that made my heart beat even faster than it already was.
I’d never seen anyone like her before, and yet something about her seemed oddly familiar, as if we’d met somewhere before or maybe even been friends in another life.
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“I’m glad you caught me,” she said, and then she cleared her throat and added, “I don’t know how to thank you enough for what you did.
“Thank you is enough,” I said, and then she smiled at me again, and my heart did another flip inside my chest, and suddenly, it was all I could do to hold her and not kiss her, even if the whole world was watching us.
I knew then that she was the kind of woman who would haunt me for the rest of my life, and the realization left me breathless with desire and longing and something else that felt just like love.
All of which was impossible after only knowing her for two minutes at most, and yet that was how I felt about her.
“I’m Lafite Devereux,” I said, and then she said, “Isabella Rossi,” and we both smiled at each other again.
But before either of us could say anything else, we heard someone calling Isabella’s name from behind us, and then two women were coming around the corner and running towards us, and as soon as they reached the balcony, they both wrapped their arms around Isabella and started hugging her and thanking me and crying all at the same time.
Suddenly, my head was filled with a whirlwind of emotions, and my heart was racing so hard that it hurt, and I knew that if I didn’t do something to calm myself down soon, I would probably pass out on the spot.
I felt dizzy and weak and sick with love and passion and something else that felt just like fear, except that wasn’t possible, and so instead, I just stood there and watched Isabella being torn from my arms, which left me feeling sad and desolate and more alone than I could ever remember being before.
But most of all, I felt as if my whole world had been turned upside down in the time it took to save Isabella’s life, and yet that wasn’t possible either, and so instead, I just stood there and stared at the spot where she’d been standing only seconds before and waited for the world to make sense again.
But it never did, and so after several minutes of waiting for Isabella to come back to me, I finally gave up hope of seeing her again and went back to my room instead.
I spent the rest of the day thinking about Isabella and wondering where she’d gone and whether or not we’d ever see each other again.
I also dreamed about her that night, and in my dreams, she came to me and called my name, and when she came into my arms, she felt like home, and suddenly, everything was right with the world again.
And then she turned away from me, and as she walked away, she left me feeling empty and alone and heartbroken all over again, and so as soon as I woke up, I went back to work on my sketches in an attempt to forget about her once and for all.
I only started thinking about Isabella again after a few days of drawing and redrawing her face on paper, which was the only thing that helped me feel better after losing her, and even then, it was only because Niccolò came into my room one day and saw what I was doing and asked me what he could do to help me forget about her.
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I didn’t know,” he said after a few seconds of looking at my drawings, “but you’re in love with her, aren’t you?”
I didn’t want to admit that he was right or that I’d ever see Isabella again, but there was something about the way he said it that made me feel as if he already knew that we’d meet again, and so instead of denying everything or telling him the truth, I said, “I don’t know,” which wasn’t a total lie either.
I didn’t know how Niccolò could help me forget about Isabella or if we’d ever see each other again; all I knew was that he probably thought that falling in love with Isabella was a bad idea since we’d both come to Florence to become famous artists, and so instead of saying anything else to him, I put my sketches away and asked him if he wanted to go out with me later that night.
Niccolò said yes right away, and so after finishing our work for the day, we went down to the local tavern together in search of food and drink and maybe something more that would take my mind off of Isabella for a while.
I wasn’t sure if spending time with Niccolò was the right way to do that or if he even knew why we were really there in the first place, but going out with him seemed like a good idea at the time, especially since he was an artist like me who understood what it was like to fall in love with someone you hardly knew or who wasn’t good for you in some way.
It also helped that Niccolò was a good friend who would never judge me or try to hurt me or come between me and the woman of my dreams, no matter who she happened to be at the time.
We had a good time at the tavern that night, and even though we didn’t find any food or drink or anything more to help me forget about Isabella, we did find a lot of other artists who were there for the same reason, and who had come there looking for inspiration in all of the same ways we had.
All of whom were too busy drinking and talking and making music to notice us, and so Niccolò and I spent most of the night sitting at a table in the back of the tavern discussing our work and everything else we could think of as well.
“I don’t know,” Niccolò answered after asking me why I’d fallen in love with Isabella, “but you should probably forget about her and find someone else to fall in love with instead,” which was easier said than done.
“You should probably go back to Venice,” I answered, and then he laughed at me, and then we went back to talking about our work some more.
As for Isabella, she wasn’t there, either, which should have made it easier for me not to think about her anymore, except that she was still on my mind, and so as soon as Niccolò went to bed later that night, I went back to my room and started sketching her face again, only this time, I drew her entire body instead.
I also drew her with another woman who looked just like her, and then with another man who looked just like me, and then with another man who looked just like Leonardo da Vinci too.
And as soon as they were finished, I tore them both up and threw them away in frustration because they weren’t good enough to keep or because keeping them would have been worse somehow too.
And then I went over to my bed and sat down on it for a minute before getting up again and going over to my desk to finish my work for the night.
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