The feeling was that of having something important to say, or rather to do, but not knowing how.
The world sparkled around him, but behind the confines of his workshop, beyond the entrance halls of the patrician palaces, and beyond the walls of that Venetian city, beyond the curves of an ancient Roman road that was lost towards dreams of silk and into excavations of other lost worlds, reborn as phoenixes.
Andrea moved away a little from the almost complete Ionic capital to test its balance.
He loved that creamy white stone, so easy to work that he could even use woodworking tools.
The light dust smoked the air in slow summer swirls, and in the dim light he almost seemed to be looking at those busts found who knows where, which had now arrived here from some distant life.
That mid-August afternoon, at the age of sixteen, in the Pedemuro shop, under those porticoes which not by chance were near Porta Pusterla, in that corner of the world, he was alone.
Any place at that time in his life would have been fine, as long as it wasn't Padua.
The mere thought still gave him shivers: for Andrea, Padua was master Bartolomeo Cavazza, from which he had finally decided to escape. He had found the courage, that's what Andrea was thinking at that moment. He had found the courage. Because he had also left his father Pietro, who was a friend of Bartolomeo, in Padua.
He had to leave his past behind. On the other hand, did the past still exist? Or existed only in his mind. The memory of the past existed. There was a fear that no longer had any reason to exist.
Andrea continued to refine the abacus without having to think about it.
It came naturally to him, as it does to all stonemasons with a few years of experience. Or not?
The thoughts wrapped themselves in his mind like the spirals of his work, thanks to the loneliness, the sultriness, the silence, the still afternoon, and the too many emotions that inhabited it.
Andrea was well liked by the two sculptors who had founded the workshop: he had entrusted himself to them, his mother's cousins, and there had never been a better choice.
Andrea knew it, because he was an intelligent boy who knew how to read looks, and pick up on the little things: he knew that they considered him the most gifted, and by now he was becoming convinced of it himself.
That naturalness was something more than practice.
He and that stone knew each other well, and would remain linked for life.
Somehow, he knew. Would he always have been a stonemason? The sculptor, perhaps.
Or, who knows, maybe the architect...
The composition of shapes within geometries fascinated him.
He was fascinated by that new style, which was not yet practiced in the state of Venice, but which was said to be in great vogue in Rome, in Florence, in Urbino, and in Ferrara, and in nearby Mantua, and in Milan... almost everywhere now, in the Italian courts that mattered.
The ancient fascinated him. The ancient fascinated him more than anything else.
A prolonged breath freed the palmettes and the echinus, which Andrea stroked with satisfaction with a fingertip.
One phrase had stuck with him, it must have been Count Girolamo Da Porto who had entered the shop to browse, before returning home one evening to the family palace, a stone's throw from them, in Contrà Porti. "The knowledge that geometry seeks is that of the eternal": it was a quote from Plato.
Andrea had stopped immediately behind the dark walnut shelves, opening his eyes and mouth just enough to let those words enter straight into his memory: he would have engraved them there, so as not to forget them again, alongside the other precious gems that fortunately passed through that corner of the earth that smiled at him more than any other.
Time had become eternal for that afternoon. Yet, it was getting late.