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?