Explosive!  Fiery!

Explo­sive! Fiery!

In 2001 I was in six­th grade, and I wrote a short sto­ry about a girl who died in the erup­tion of Mount Vesu­vius on August 24, 79 AD.  When I found out we cel­e­brate Vesu­vius Day at Kards Unlim­it­ed, I was inspired by my six­th grade self and knew I had to write a new sto­ry.  So here it is!  Enjoy!  And if you like his­tor­i­cal fic­tion, Kit Har­ring­ton sexy-man extra­or­di­naire is in a film apt­ly named Pom­peii.  Clear­ly, he still plays some­one who knows noth­ing because his char­ac­ter doesn’t leave Pom­peii when a “moun­tain” i.e. super dan­ger­ous vol­cano, starts going all wib­bly-wob­bly.  

Steamy!  But is it best kiss material?

Steamy! But is it best kiss mate­ri­al?

 

 

10:00AM August 23, 79 AD
Dear Diary,
I am spend­ing my sum­mer in Pom­peii and I’ve just arrived!  Mount Vesu­vius is so green and beau­ti­ful I wish I could live here year round.  Pom­peii may be the lush­est and green­est place I’ve seen in all of Rome!  There are orchards and vine­yards every­where; just a tes­ta­ment to our favor in the eyes of the gods.  Although the vil­las, grand baths, and paint­ed cary­atids are love­ly, I always prefer nat­u­ral beau­ty.  The hus­tle and bustle of the work­ing class has a beau­ty all its own; anoth­er rea­son I love vaca­tion­ing here.  This city is a true melt­ing pot.  I can walk next to slaves and freemen alike.  Like work­er bees in a bee­hive, peo­ple move rhyth­mi­cal­ly, with pur­pose.  Mer­chants, man­u­fac­tur­ers, and farm­ers all work togeth­er to make this won­drous city run smooth­ly. I admire the work­ers and the slaves.  My days are so unbear­ably mind­less and bor­ing.  Although I am “noble” and wealthy, my life seems so unim­por­tant com­pared to theirs.  They live; I watch.  Even the pros­ti­tutes have a more glam­orous life than I. 

RobertDuncanson-Vesuvius_n_Pompeii_1870

I want more than any­thing to live.  I guess I’m only six­teen, so there’s plen­ty of time.  But isn’t that always what peo­ple say before some­thing trag­ic hap­pens?  “I thought I had more time.”  Even eighty year olds on the brink of death mum­ble about think­ing they had more time.  It’s sad real­ly.  I’m so tired of wait­ing for my life to start. 

I am going to a fes­ti­val tonight with my best friend, Octavia!  She knows how to live!  Octavia has been our house ser­vant for the past eight years. I can­not believe she has been a slave her whole life.  I look for­ward to spend­ing my sum­mers with her every year.  Last year, before I left to go back to Rome, I kissed her.  I don’t know what came over me.  It just felt right.  I nev­er had a chance to talk with her about it.  Dad­dy saw and smacked me lat­er.  He said that that sort of behav­ior is for whores and serv­ing girls.  He says the only girls that do that are the ones who get paid.  It isn’t a thing prop­er girls should do.  I don’t like any of the boys in Rome.  I also don’t like that I will most like­ly be a bar­gain­ing chip for my father to gain more polit­i­cal pow­er once he decides to mar­ry me off.  With my luck it’ll be to a man just like him, but may­be even old­er.  

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Dad­dy doesn’t want Octavia and I to have any sort of friend­ship.  He says that a politician’s daugh­ter should not asso­ciate with peo­ple below her sta­tion.  Dad­dy is such a social climber, soon enough I won’t be able to asso­ciate with any­one.  Moth­er doesn’t care about my friend­ship with Octavia, as long as Mother’s wine glass is full, she doesn’t care about any­thing, least of all me.
Sin­cere­ly,
Lucre­tia

 

8:00AM August 23, 79 AD
Dear Diary,
Today is the day Lucre­tia final­ly arrives for the sum­mer!  This past year has been so try­ing, I’m look­ing for­ward to spend­ing some qual­i­ty time with my best friend.  I just hope her father isn’t too over­bear­ing.  I’ll just make sure his wine gob­let is over­flow­ing at all times and he’s occu­pied with the appro­pri­ate kind of flesh.  I haven’t told Lucre­tia about her father’s las­civ­i­ous ways.  I’m sure she has an idea; how could she not?  I’ve walked in on him with the sta­ble boys more times than I can count.  Some­times, I’ve even walked in on him with the hors­es.  His wife def­i­nite­ly knows; why else would she keep her­self in a con­stant stu­por?  I work in a house filled with secrets and bal­anc­ing them so that no one is the wis­er is my most impor­tant respon­si­bil­i­ty.  Lucretia’s father is the most con­trol­ling man I have ever met. 

 

They are decent enough peo­ple to work for though.  They nev­er abuse me, like oth­er slave own­ers have in the past, they feed me well, and, for the most part, they let me have a friend­ship with Lucre­tia.  Slaves have upward mobil­i­ty, so one day I hope they decide to grant me my free­dom.  I could also mar­ry a free­man and declare a child before the mag­is­trate, but mar­riage has nev­er been some­thing I want.  I may be a slave, but I have free­dom.  I look at Lucretia’s life and it’s more con­trolled than mine is.  Sure, she’s pro­tect­ed from a lot of ter­ri­ble things in this world, but she doesn’t have any real friends and rarely leaves her lit­tle pro­tec­tive bub­ble.

 

Tonight, Lucre­tia and I are going to the fes­ti­val to appease the god Vul­can.  Vul­can is the god of met­al work­ers and destruc­tion.  I hope to show her a grand time!  She kissed me before she left last year.  I’ve been think­ing about that kiss all year.  Lucre­tia has the most beau­ti­ful eyes I’ve ever seen, soft and cat-like.  That night on the dock, when she kissed me good­bye, her eyes seemed to glow like fire­flies.  Lucretia’s par­ents are hav­ing a feast before the fes­ti­val.  I will have to cook and serve, but they always get the high­est qual­i­ty food so I don’t mind. I’m expect­ing a feast of grapes, apples, figs, and fish.  Fish is a sta­ple here in Pom­peii.  Our shell mid­dens are huge!  Any­way, I should prob­a­bly get to cook­ing, if I’m going to be pre­pared for this feast. I want every­thing to be per­fect!
Sin­cere­ly,
Octavia

 

Noon August 23, 79 AD
Dear Diary,
It’s anoth­er rumbly day in Pom­peii.  Tremors are pret­ty com­mon here, but they are more pow­er­ful this year.  May­be it’s all in my head, but Vesu­vius also looks larg­er and the sea lev­el looks low­er. I have nev­er heard of a moun­tain grow­ing in size, so it must be in my head.  Unless of course it’s a warn­ing from the god Vul­can.  

Thanks NASA! Further proof that Vesuvius is a big ass ornery volcano.

Thanks NASA! Fur­ther proof that Vesu­vius is a big ass ornery vol­cano.

In 62 AD, I was born.  My moth­er says that Vul­can was angry because I was stub­born and wouldn’t leave her bel­ly, so he sent an earth­quake to shake me out.  The ground shook and Mother’s water broke, then I came scream­ing out!  I wish moth­er would tell more sto­ries like she used to.  Now she’s always star­ing into a gob­let of wine.  She used to be so full of life; and now, she’s dead.  I think being mar­ried to my father killed her.  She’s a walk­ing corpse, so far removed from real­i­ty she doesn’t even real­ize I’m here.  I try to take her on walks to the sea with me, but her hands shake like Vesu­vius when she’s away from her wine. 

 

Any­way, strange signs have been occur­ring for days.  I hope the ora­cle pre­dicts that Vul­can is pleased with Pom­peii, but it doesn’t seem like­ly.  After the earth­quake in 62 AD destroyed tem­ples, homes, and altars, peo­ple rebuilt them big­ger and grander than ever before.  This, of course, was in an effort to please Vul­can.  I don’t think the gods lis­ten any­more.  A moun­tain that rum­bles and grows in size and a shrink­ing sea can’t be good.  May­be the first earth­quake was to warn peo­ple to leave Pom­peii for good.  I love it here, but I feel uneasy.  There’s an eeri­ness about that moun­tain.
Sin­cere­ly,
Lucre­tia

pompeii

10:20 AM July 23, 2015
Dear Diary,
I have nev­er worked at such an impor­tant archae­o­log­i­cal site!  I am doc­u­ment­ing all of it!  I’m on my cook­ie break writ­ing in you!  I am so for­tu­nate to work at Pom­peii!  My aunt is in charge of an exca­va­tion group here and I was lucky enough to join.  Ever since I was a young girl, Pom­peii has fas­ci­nat­ed me.  Pom­peii is tomb and time cap­sule.  It shows how real ancient Romans lived, even the com­mon­ers.  No oth­er sites show the com­mon­ers in such an illu­mi­nat­ing light.  A trade hub filled with vaca­tion homes, the peo­ple nev­er knew they were liv­ing on an off­shoot of a lava flow.  They nev­er knew they lived inside the “death zone” around Vesu­vius.  

Excavations

Exca­va­tions

In 1748, a farmer found traces of Pom­peii beneath his vine­yard.  Ever since, exca­va­tions have tak­en place.  I am a descen­dent of said farmer and so is my aunt.  I guess being fas­ci­nat­ed by Pom­peii is inherit­ed!  Archae­ol­o­gists have been dig­ging through the mas­sive pile of vol­canic ash and mud for hun­dreds of years unearthing death pos­es, stat­ues, altars, vil­las, mosaics, and, my per­son­al favorite, the beau­ti­ful mar­ble cary­atids.  It’s fun­ny to think we under­stand so much about their lives from their deaths. 

pompeii-ash-body

We have been exca­vat­ing since ear­ly May and I found some­thing that could be one of the most impor­tant finds to date.  Even more excit­ing than find­ing out that cary­atids were paint­ed!  I have found two diaries which may con­tain firsthand accounts of the erup­tion.  I believe they belonged to two girls who lived in a vaca­tion vil­la.  We are exca­vat­ing around two bod­ies in the low­er sec­tion of the house now.  There are two shapes in the frigi­dar­i­um, rough­ly the same size lying next to each oth­er hug­ging.  It’s like they were try­ing to seek shel­ter in the coolest place imag­in­able.  They must have been burned ter­ri­bly before they died togeth­er.  I don’t know if they were best friends, lovers, or two strangers unit­ed by their con­fronta­tion of a grim and ter­ri­fy­ing death.  I can’t wait to get it trans­lat­ed.  The only firsthand account in exis­tence is by Pliny the Younger and, no offense to Pliny, but the diaries of two teenage girls would be the find of the cen­tu­ry!  

RomanBaths13

One things for sure, they were nev­er going to escape a ten mile mush­room cloud of ash and pumice that erupt­ed for twelve hours.  A giant cloud of hot ash and gas surged down Vesu­vius, engulf­ing the city and burn­ing or asphyx­i­at­ing all the peo­ple who stayed in their cel­lars.  The lethal cloud was fol­lowed by a flood of vol­canic mud and rock which buried the city.  The erup­tion last­ed three days.  The only way to sur­vive was to leave and many who tried didn’t make it out in time.  After the erup­tion, the sea retreat­ed and a tsunami rolled in.  If the gods tru­ly did favor cer­tain cities, Pom­peii and Her­cu­la­neum were not those cities.
Giu­lia

Two lovers.

Two lovers.

So, what do you think?