Prologue

“Hurry!” She races to the top of the Morangogne-hill in the dark.
“Hurry!” She pounds up that road everyone loves, the one that runs east of the village between the meadows and straight to the top of the hill. They call it the earthbound comet.
The stars come out and start twinkling in the sky. In the moonlight, her wrinkles reveal her great age, but she moves like someone much younger. The white cat in her arms is even older. It struggles to cling to life as she climbs the hill.
“Not yet, not yet, just hang on! You will see him in just a moment. Hang on!”
In the meadow the insects and birds are silent, holding their breath. Only her panting and high-pitched voice break the silence.
Is she talking to the eastern sky?
She reaches the top of the hill and wails, “Where is he? Where is he?”
Holding the dying cat up to night sky, she seems to be searching for one particular star.
“There he is! There’s Rocco. Look, Rocco’s over there. He’s the brightest!” Her arms tremble as she raises the cat toward the stars, choking back her tears.
The cat’s eyes are almost closed. As they gaze at the star, it slips away.