It’s hot. Hotter than normal on this August day. I was the only one who had any inkling as to why the heat was so unbearable. For months I have urged so many to leave, but the woman who calls me sister, Eudocia, had instilled unto them the notion that I was insane. The reason was so unknown to me as to why they wanted everyone to perish in the flames when my words could help them leave and protect their families.
Night, after night, I see the mountain explode into ash and along with it our beautiful city. Why was I cursed to be the only “oracle” in Pompeii to know the truth of what was going to happen? So many lives could be saved if they would only listen to me. My husband Rogerius and I finally came up with a plan. If no one was going to listen to us then we would leave and start fresh outside of this city.
“Ah…” The sharp pain that had become more and more frequent happened again. I knew that telling Rori would just… complicate things. We had to get out of here. It was going to happen today I just knew it. I packed the bags with shaky hands trying to ignore the pains that were coming more and more frequently.
“Amara, you need to let me do the packing. Our child is almost due. If you want it to be born safely out of Pompeii then you need to relax.”
My sweet husband tried to convince me to sit down but I could not do it. For the sake of our small family we had to leave before the city burned to ash. “No, we need to leave as soon as possible…ahh.” The pain was getting more and more intense.
“Ama,” he said softly finally setting me down. “The baby is coming is it not? My father was a doctor. I know from the look on your face that it is soon.”
“Yes, and so is the ahh,” another painful contraction. This time paired with fluids flowing from underneath my dress. “No, it cannot be born like this. I cannot let it turn to ash.”
“It looks like you could use some help.”
No, not today. The satisfied voice coming from our home’s doorway was none other than Eudocia. Next to her was her lover and high priest of Pompeii, Ambrosius.
“No… please… not now,” I tried to protest, but Ambrosius pushed Rogerius to the side and pulled me onto a table. Guards came in after them and held my husband back while my horrible sister lifted my dress for all to see.
“What are you doing to my wife? I am her husband and a soldier so give us the decency of privacy!” I could hear my Rory cry while I felt our child’s head trying to come out of my body. I could not move. I could not do anything. I was trapped.
“Well, there is no other need to examine. I can already see the baby. I guess all you can do right now is push dear sister.”
The only thing I wanted to do at this moment was keep the tiny infant inside of me as long as I could. What did she want with it? What was she going to do? I cried in both pain and anguish. I could not let them take or hurt my child. “Please, what are you doing? I need my husband. Please let him go!”
“Sorry, but this child is too important,” Ambrosius said with a wicked smile. “You will see why once we are finished with you and your part.”
“I need to know now…” I screamed in pain. I tried so much to keep it in, but it was as if there was some kind of spell that was forcing me to push.
All I could do was hear my husband’s helpless scream as I had no choice other than to push. All I could hope for right now was that my sister would show mercy and allow me to hold my infant. I pushed only a few times and she was out. Her screams were the only warmth in this cold room. My sister was already armed with warm blankets to wrap my daughter in.
“Please… let me hold her.” I begged.
Eudocia looked from me to my daughter and gave the most horrible smirk I had ever seen before turning out of the room and into the streets.
“No! Please!” I cried. I wanted to hold her in my arms. My little girl. Phoenix I would name her if my evil sibling had not stolen her from me.
“She is better off with us. Not you.” Before I could say anything to the high priest, he put a finger in my mouth that had what I could only imagine was blood on it. I gasped as visions of previous lives poured into my head.
“I’ll see you in the next one. Next time I will have more control over you,” the bastard promised.
The “priest” left with all his men for what I could only assume was out of this place. I laid there crying. There was still so much pain and what was left of the birth inside me. I did not care about any of it at this point. I looked over at Rogerius who came running to me.
“What did he do to you? Are you alright? Come on, we need to go get our daughter back!”
“No,” I said weakly. I knew that I no longer had the energy to do anything. We heard loud booms coming from the direction of the volcano. This was penance. I was still paying for the horrible things I had done. “You. You go Rori. You need to save our Phoenix. That is her name. She must know her true name. I cannot leave. We will meet again in the next life.”
Rori cried holding me tightly but knew my words to be true. He had to protect our daughter. He ran out with nothing to his name and escaped. I laid on the table breathing heavily trying to get over the memories I was forced to have. Poseidon? Ares? Nionia? The third of which held no significance to this world. What was the next life going to bring me? I felt the heat consume me as the ashes fell into my home.