Vignette 13: Write from the perspective of a wealthy citizen of Pompeii, who perhaps has many material possessions that are threatened by the eruption. What does he or she do? What does he or she try to save? This vignette should take place before and during the eruption.
Today, even surveying my vineyards does not bring me comfort. I have recently closed a very lucrative deal to ship my grapes and wine all over the province, and I should rejoice. A large shipment left a on a barge down the Sarnus just this morning. I try to distract myself with thoughts of expanding our villa, of journeying with my wife to the great imperial city, or of the fine feasts we will be able to host. Depsite all of these happy prospects, a cloud of foreboding rests over my heart this day.
A plume of dark smoke rises over the mountain to the north. I feel the same foreboding I did that day some seventeen years ago when the gods shook the earth, causing so much destruction. My storehouses underwent repairs for many years as a result of the catastrophic day. The earth trembles often as of late, and I fear another day of wrath. What have we done to anger the gods so? Have we not built them fine temples and sanctuaries? Do we not pay tribute? I can only suspect there are others who are less pious than I, and fear that I must share in their fate should the gods ire rise against us.
I cannot help but think back, and I look across the way I see my wife walking the grounds without a care in the world. What I would do to see the world as she does, such a sweet simplicity. It has taken us much to get here and yet at times it feels like all I’ve done was blink my eyes. For a moment this sense of unease disapates as for when I close my eyes it's as if I am able to go back to the day Lucretia and I met, I was walking home for a midday break. I enjoyed strolling down the beach which was not far from Don Marcelo’s vineyard where I was working at the time. The stroll home for lunch allowed me to soar away in a daydream and take in beautiful vista along the way. Little did I know that on that day mine eyes would see the most beautiful sight of all, Lucretia, bronzing her porcelain skin along the shore. I thought I was stuck in a trance as she lounged there with her long flowing hair and her bright brown eyes stopped me right in my tracks.
The joy when her eyes met mine, and to have her glance turn into a smile-filled gaze, I fell in love. It took a bit before I could get myself to walk over to her, but I knew I had to approach her. She, who made the world disappear, I had to know who she was and have her fall in love with me. I remember how my heart leapt when she allowed me to draw near and welcomed my ‘Buon giorno bellissima’ only to have it fall to the ground when she shared that she was in town visiting her uncle and would only be in town a few weeks. In the weeks that followed I spent every free moment I could with her. We shared our dreams and strolled along the shore for hours on end.
Our differences didn’t seem to bother either of us, it didn’t matter in the least. She knew my dream to run if not own my own vineyard and I vowed I would work to live that dream and give her the life she deserved. She smiled endearingly and whispered “solo baciami” and I of course would oblige.
“Faustus, where are you? You seem lost in your thoughts” said Lucretia, as she gently caressed his shoulder.
My husband Faustus - such a good man, who showed so much promise early in our marriage. I remember those heady days of falling in love. The way he greeted me that first day. ‘Buon giorno bellissima,’ His dreams of owning his vineyard. This is what happens when dreams come true, Lucretia thought. They change us, and then - are they still our dreams? or are they traps that prevent us from dreaming anew? She gazed over the vineyards, her eyes resting on the mountain to the north. The one that threatened to visit the wrath of the gods upon them all, Faustus said. Lucretia wondered if a life of privilege was in its own way an expression of the gods’ ire, for she and Faustus had never been so happy as when they were young, poor, and madly in love.
From far off came a low rumble. The sound grew as it neared and it seemed as if the entire earth were trying to throw off its shackles, trying to wake itself, not from a beautiful dream but from an unholy nightmare. The smell of sulphur chased the sound, adding terror upon terror. Lucretia could not look away as the mountain spewed steam, smoke, and the orange-red lava - an evil color, she thought - began to flow.
My diamond. My beautiful, rare diamond. The one treasure I never told Faustus I had. The diamond I would use to fund my life without him, if it ever came to that. Lucretia turned to run inside the villa and secure it. In the chaos of the eruption, she would never find it.