The Woman In The Villa

The earth had shaken off and on for the past few days, a dark cloud had seemed to come from the mountain. She had woken up from her midday nap to the clouds darker than they had been. She looked around her room, the paintings of her and her husbands sex life adorned the wall, it reminded her of how much she missed him. She looked out the window to see that her husband’s ships were still not back in the bay and that it still seemed to keep getting darker little by little. Many of the people had stayed after the first tremor that sent the first cloud into the air. She was one of them. 

Looking in the mirror she re-applied some of her makeup. Generally it was the street whores who wore such bright makeup but she pulled it off, her body was the exact replica of the Venus statues all around rome. Wide hips and a rounded face. She could have been the statue herself with how pale she was. Since her parents were wealthy politicians she had her choice in the matter of who she could marry. She had picked one of the wealthiest spice traders in the city. She had listened to the story of how his family got into the spice trade when he told it at dinner enough times to where she could recite it by heart. She pouted her lips and then smiled as her thoughts crossed back to how she pulled off her makeup better than the street whores. To her it was because she was much more filled out than them. The majority of the married men looked at the whores as other couples passed by in the streets. 

“Aleia, you have to come with me.” She looked at him with a longing in her eyes before she spoke.

“You know that I would love to. I have to watch the house. Your house, Manlius.” He placed his hand on her cheek and shook his head and then said.

“Don’t tell me that. You need to get over your fear of the water.” She frowned at him and turned towards the large mountain over their city.

“I promise, I’ll go soon. I hate that I’m missing out on a trip to Venice,” she said, her hand clenched as he rubbed her shoulders.

“You’ll be missing out on more fine things than all of what my family owns.” She sighed and turned around to look him in his eyes. She leaned up and kissed him on the lips.

“That doesn’t matter to me. I just want to spend more time with you.”

She and her slaves walked out into the streets, the smooth white washed stone under them held a dark secret that they wouldn’t give up until later that day. She looked upon the houses as her slaves followed behind her with baskets. She loved this route to the market, there was a dog that barked at her from one of the other rich homes. A mosaic that said ‘Beware’ with a vicious looking dog on the ground in front of the gate was one of her favorite things other than the view. She walked by the grand theatre where she liked to spend a lot of her time. But she hated the amount of beggars that tried to get money after a show was completed. Every part of the city was pretty except for the beggars. She would have loved it if each of them would be wiped out. Their grimy hands had ran through her white long linines and dirtied them more times than she could count. To her the poor were a disease, an unsightly blight. 

She looked back towards the water again to try to see if her husbands ships were back into the harbor yet again. Those years ago when she had married her husband, a large factor was the option to go out and see the world. Seeing the world was a dream of hers. Instead of going out on his trading voyages she spent most of her days sleeping or talking with the other rich women.

Today she was going to the market today to prepare for the dinner that she was going to be hosting later that night. There was always a tension at the parties because the other women were always trying to outdo one another. For that reason she didn’t trust the slaves to go to the market alone. They had been barbarians before they were captured and sold to the rich families.

 On her list was a plethora of food. She looked at the loaves of bread at the market until she found the perfect one, she placed it in the basket and another tremor shook the ground. She heard someone behind her say that the gods were angry and she sighed, she didn’t quite care. What could they do? Reign hell down upon them? No. If they decided to kill the crops they would just get food from somewhere else. While in her thoughts she had collected more food, what would be a grand dinner. As she and the slaves walked back to her villa, two more tremors had hit, they had been getting more frequent all day and the sky was getting even darker as more smoke began to pour out of the mountain as time passed. 

Passing the poor district she raised her nose at the poor children that ran after her and her slaves for food. A long time ago her parents had been attacked in the poor district, all of their belongings that had been on them were stolen. Including their clothes. That had just given her more reason to hate them. A month ago she had to whip the slaves because she had found out they had passed some of the food from the market to the poor children. They hadn’t done it since. She felt that it was the parents fault they couldn’t provide for their family anyways. That’s what her parents had taught her. That was an idea that was solidified after they had been robbed. She opened the front door for her salves, she was absent minded and looking towards the ocean. The longing that she felt to be in italy with Manlius had grown stronger with each passing moment. She looked to her female slave and then back to the water, the slave knew that she was being addressed when Aleia spoke. 

“I’ll be back, just get the food ready to be cooked.” She looked at her nails after clenching them into her hand. Her nerves had gotten to her without her realizing. Her pointer and middle fingernail were bitten down. 

Her toes touched the water and she looked over to a boat that was rising with the waves as they ebbed in and out. She could have easily have boarded it and she really wanted to. She wanted to get out of Pompeii and see the world. After walking the dock to the boat she looks up at it and grabs the side. A whole new life was out there and she was missing it. She began to swing her leg up to climb onto it but she felt almost as if she was cheating her husband out of his offers for her to sail with him. She had never gotten that close to getting onto one of his trading vessels. She sighed and walked back to the house, she felt as if the waves were trying to draw her back the entire time.

She looked at the food her slaves had laid out before preparation. The slaves had started the fire and looked at Aleia as they were waiting for her to give directions.

“You can start cooking, they’ll be here by the time you’re done.”  She told the female slave. She looked out the window and saw that it was almost pitch dark outside. She was confused because she had not been out that long, the tremors had been getting even more frequent and stronger. She walked to the window because she heard a faint pattering, almost as if hail from the northern countries was raining down. She watched through the window as the unknown cause of the pattering kept raining down from the sky. She screamed and backed away as a large rock came crashing through the window pane. She didn’t see anyone in the streets that would have thrown a large rock, she had thought it may have been the poor children convinced by their parents. The sound of the rocks became extreme, as if the entire city was throwing rocks at her villa. 

She ordered the slaves to board up the windows, and they hurriedly left the food unattended to do so. The sound of people running through the streets echoed over the sound of stone on stone. As it got worse some of them tried to seek shelter, she could hear them knocking at the door screaming for help and to be let in. She looked out the door and saw that some of the women she had invited over to dinner were there. Aleia took the grim satisfaction as she turned away from the door. She walked back to the table. She could barely see the water through the rocks that fell from the sky.

“I wish I was with you my love.” She said as she sat at the table, the smell of the food she had been cooking coming to the burning point, just as the molten lava cascaded through the city. Everyone was equal in death.

(This is something I would like to possibly come back to and add more to in a few spots)

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